DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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4 July 2016

Don't confuse what you need with what you want

There are many aspects of simple life that come easy to most people but one or two that seem to be more difficult.  The difficult ones tend to be the non-practical things that often have to do with acceptance and knowing what enough is. In an email that came last week, a reader told me that she feels a bit cheated at times by the simple life she and her husband are living. She said she enjoys the budgeting, organising, homemaking and cooking, she loves her children, but when she looks around her home, she's not proud of what she has and she never invites friends around because she feels her home is not good enough. The implication is that she feels her home is not good enough for her friends, that they won't feel comfortable there. But it sounds like she feels her home is not good enough for her. She wrote asking for decorating advice - it seems that her attitude is fixed and it's easier for her to decorate her way out of this rather than adjust her eye to appreciate what's around her.



A clean and tidy house has a beauty all its own. It may not be to everyone's taste, it may not be fashionable, expensive or something that you feel you can show off. But everyone's living circumstances are a matter of perspective. I think acceptance and appreciation come from being grateful you have anything. Many people do not. 



Not all of us live in show homes, many of us have humble homes that have the kind of appeal and character that weaves its own magic. We use ordinary domestic objects to decorate in an unpretentious way that is charming and authentic. Often there is the aroma of hot soup simmering on the stove or cakes and bread baking. These genuine things, the side benefits of home production, are what adds to the appeal of a home and gives it a true beauty that can't be bought - it has to be created and then nurtured. Nurturing your home will help you appreciate what you have. It generally means fluffing the nest by re-arranging and with sewing, painting and recycling, which soften the hard edges of homes, and people.  When you look around a simple home, it's not so much about what you've bought but in how you've spent your time.



Accept the realities of life, don't confuse what you need with what you want. Simple living isn't just about simplifying your physical surroundings, it's about simplifying your mind too. If you can't love your own life you're putting unnecessary expectations and limitations on yourself. Break free of mainstream ideas of acquisition and accept what is in front of you. By slowing down and being more aware, you'll see what's there in a clearer light. And in the end it's not about being surrounded by beauty but in your ability to see the beauty in whatever is there.  That could be a kitchen table surrounded by family and friends but some days the sight of steam rising from a cup of tea is enough.


58 comments:

  1. I teared up when I read that last sentence... it rings so true for me. What a beautiful post, Rhonda. It deeply resonates with me XO

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  2. Dear Rhonda ~ This was wonderful! Thank you for the loving encouragement you share here, for us to all have more peace filled and fulfilling lives.

    Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

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  3. While I very much agree with you, when my mother and sister recently came for a brief visit from half a continent away (and I was in process of a thorough scrubbing of the house), I felt embarrassed by the very old and tattered towels in the bathroom my sons share. In the master bath, the towels were in better shape, but as they're dark they'd become quite faded from several years' washing. Were they clean? Yes. Yet old, tattered belongings can make a woman feel somehow lacking... even a bit depressed. I didn't run out and buy new towels. There wasn't really time plus is wasn't in the immediate budget. New towels, though, have been added to my priority list. The old ones will be used for pet bedding and the worst cut up into cleaning cloths once replaced. Little things do matter sometimes, and if your reader feels her home is made up of many items that have seen better days, it might be why she feels blue. The key is to prioritize, then budget and shop carefully. Cheapest isn't always best for things like towels (I've found).

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    1. Agreed. I think I know what this lady means even if I haven't read the letter. It could be that she feels she does not know how to decorate effectively, and feels it is a bit beyond her. She might have a vision of what she would like to do; which does not necessarily entail having a lot of money, but somehow cannot make it translate. I am not all that talented in that direction either; it can seem a bit overwhelming. But using what you have is a good idea; and perhaps should could ask a talented friend to offer some suggestions. And yes, worn out linens and cracked cups are somewhat depressing.

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    2. I feel this too, while I appreciate and love my home, there are a lot of items that have seen better days. They have been patched and mended to within an inch of their life and some days this can get me down. I just would like to feel content but I also feel I would like a friend to share those feelings with. When I have bought something new my daughter just says it makes everything else look worse which knocks my confidence and I don't invite people round. I am going to work on this and clean and fluff my nest so that I can hold my head up and share time and tea with my friends here at home. Good luck to the lady who emailed, I know how you are feeling.

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  4. Oh, how I love this, so much! When I get that feeling that my home isn't pretty enough - or that "if only I had..." thought creeping in, I typically do just what you say, I clean a room really well, or move furniture around, or pick some flowers from outside and stick them in a jar on the table. Or, even give some things away! And it really does help me feel content again. Thanks for writing this and for the reminder to adjust our eyes and attitudes, not our pocketbooks ;)
    -Jaime

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  5. I had one of those slow days at home yesterday, just me and my home. I loved it. I did a bit of gardening, washed the sheets and re made the bed, made a loaf of sourdough and put a pot of pea and ham soup on for dinner. My home is not a show home, but it is tidy and clean and just the way I like it. My home is bigger than what we need now and look forward to down sizing some time in the future. I think, in a way, your home is a reflection of what is going on inside yourself. Being content with having enough is a good start. Have a wonderful week, Rhonda.
    Fi

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  6. This message is more for your reader who wrote you with that question, because to you, Rhonda Jean, it would be preaching to the choir. :) Making friends feel comfortable in your home is not about what you have or how it looks or how it's decorated, it's about your attitude as you welcome people into your home. I have a friend who lives in a fixer-upper that currently has no flooring, just bare concrete, and they are on a tight budget, so things are fairly bare-bones. Objectively, is it a showplace, or the most comfortably appointed home? No. But she often hosts our homeschool co-op, welcoming people in wholeheartedly, seats us all--with our children--around the big table in her kitchen, and we learn, craft, and share meals together. She is always ready to talk gardening or chicken care, and often has something from her yard to share (such as tea made from cranberry hibiscus leaves). A few of my friends and I are comfortable enough with each other that we can drop by each other's homes without worrying about whether they are "company ready--we don't care about legos on the floor, kids running in and out, or whether the hostess is in the kitchen washing out the parts to the milking machine while we chat. We care that we are welcome, that we get to spend time talking with a friend, that our children are welcome also. I've been in gorgeous showplace homes and felt incredibly uncomfortable or not entirely welcome (and also been in lovely homes that were very welcoming). If you welcome your friends wholeheartedly, they will feel welcome and comfortable. Greet them with a smile, a hug, an offer of something to drink (even just a glass of water!) and settle in with them to enjoy their visit. It'll be fine! :)

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  7. Beautifully put. I like to say, "If you want to see me, stop by anytime. If you want to see my house, make an appointment." Meaning if you come see me, my house might be in any sort of state depending upon what is going on. Usually friends are friends regardless of the surroundings so I've never had an appt. :)

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  8. I have never been one to like a cluttered home so as such we have pretty things in the living areas but the bedrooms I like to be "simple". This weekend we put 2 single beds , a cot and a bedside cabinet in one of our spare bedrooms and we have a cross stitched picture on the wall and an oil heater by the cot and that is it really. It looks nice and we could put the extra bed in there by removing the drawers. The wardrobe has shelves for clothing if people want to unpack their bags when they stay. The room "feels peaceful" People often think they need a lot of "stuff" to make a home feel homely but that is not always the case. I have friends who have lots of stuff in their homes everywhere and when I visit I like to see there bits and pieces but everyone walks to the tune of a different drum and we have to decorate and have our homes in a way that makes us happy, peaceful and content. Most of the items in the living areas of our home ( lounge, dining room, kitchen) have been hand made so they have special meaning. To the lady who wrote the email to you I would say to her that most people do not look around a home when they are invited to visit. They are there to visit YOU and not be nosey at what you have in your home. Make a pot of soup and have it with nice bread and sit at your table and enjoy the company of each other and don't worry that your house may not be what "society" demands it should be. Having a clean, nice smelling home goes a long way more that having lots of stuff in it :-)

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    1. I would like to stay in your room more than in the over-decorated room that I often stay in, which is in a guest cottage, but seems to be filled with all the cute stuff that the owner wants to display, not for comfort but for effect. Every time I want to get in the bed I have to remove twelve mostly decorative pillows. Then where to put them? On the couch? But the couch is for sitting, I thought, not for pillow storage. It all seems so silly to me! I like the phrase "beauty of function."

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    2. This that you wrote seems so wise: "But it sounds like she feels her home is not good enough for her. She wrote asking for decorating advice - it seems that her attitude is fixed and it's easier for her to decorate her way out of this rather than adjust her eye to appreciate what's around her." Changing something to make it more to her liking might make her relax so that she can pay attention to her guests, and not be self- or house-focused. Because isn't that the main thing, when friends or strangers are in your house, that you love them and care for them as persons, which requires a certain amount of forgetting of yourself.

      I try not to apologize to guests for whatever deficiencies I notice when they stop by, especially things like unswept floors or dirty dishes, because it intimates that they care about those outward things, and we want to assume the best about them, as you all say, that they came to see us and they know what the truly important things are.

      This is a wonderful post and I love reading everyone's comments, too, which are so full of good sense.

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  9. Thank you Rhonda, that was a very timely post. I have just made the decision to get rid of books whatever I have had for years but will probably never read again. They take up so much shelf space and now that I have children interested in books I need space for theirs. And then I can finally dust the cluttered shelves!

    In addition, this week I went through and washed the modern cloth nappies that I have as baby 3 is due only to realise the elastic has gone on all of them. I thought about buying more as it would be nice to have new ones but they are expensive and I don't feel I have had value from them. The department stores which still sell flat nappies no longer seem to sell covers either. Instead I searched online and asked advice and spent $40 on two new covers which should help my collection to last through until I longer need them. But I had to adjust my expectations - I told myself that if I didn't buy new things it would mean a little bit more time with my children before I had to return to work.

    A

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  10. Rhonda I think that's one of the most beautiful posts you have ever written. I used to read The English Home and dream of co-ordinating fabrics and furniture. Then many years ago you posted a picture of your freshly made bed. There was a home made quilt on it and the linens didn't match but it just seemed perfectly beautiful and homely and I decided on the spot to adjust my expectations.

    I never did get everything to match in the end but I now love my home, especially when I've just cleaned and put flowers about the place, or when I sit at my very old table which is cobbled together from recycled materials and drink tea with the children or friends.

    Madeleine.x

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  11. What a valuable post for all to read and think upon. In the hustle and bustle of life, we often miss out on that which is most precious: Sharing life with those we love. Having been out of commission due to surgery and ongoing chemotherapy, I found myself tickled pink to be able to clip the shrubs with my husband this morning. He did the bending and hauling away, but I felt like a million dollars because I was up and out and able to do something useful with the dear man who has been caring for me. Life is short and we can choose to love our families and the homes that shelter us, or not. I choose to cherish my humble life. Thank you for the reminder, Rhonda!

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    1. Good luck on your healing journey Pam! My sister just finished chemotherapy for breast cancer and she says the same thing now that she is feeling well enough to do little chores. It the small things that are sweet.

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    2. Blessings to you, Pam, on your road to recovery! As Barbie said it is the small things that really matter!

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    3. May you continue to enjoy many sweet, ordinary moments like these, Pam, for a long, long time to come!

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  12. Hi Rhonda, I never comment but today I really want to add my two cents worth. When I was first married my husband and I were lucky enough to receive hand me down furniture. Truthfully it was the kind of stuff people put out on the curb for hard rubbish. I appreciated it all, some became my favourite things. I still have them. However in my thirties I felt the Winter of discontent. I wanted 'new' stuff, my own stuff. That phase passed, the budget had no wiggle room. I can say what we did do was shop at thrift stores and garage sales, to replace things that had seen much better days. We also up cycled our existing furniture by painting it. We Repaired things as it was needed, sanded back and re varnished scratched furniture etc. perhaps this lady is living everyday with furniture that is in bad repair? I agree with another commenter that maybe a friend could help her. Teach her how to sew cushion covers or even a quilt, to place over a couch that may be in bad repair. I have found thrift shops an excellent source for fabric, they sell odd bundles for sometimes as inexpensive as 20 cents. I would encourage this lady to 'fluff' her nest. Priorities are important, never let your needs go unmet. However the wants have to stay in check. If the lady lives in Australia on nine life there are lots of tv shows about 'fixing up houses'. It's a great resource to see how valued older furniture etc is and how to up cycle what you already have. I hope if that lady is reading this it helps her to know that others have been in the same place. Keep on your journey it sounds like you have just hit a little speed bump.

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  13. When I was a young Mum I had a wonderfully dear friend who lived nearby (sadly she has now passed away) and whenever Joy (she was true to her name too) came to visit I would rush around and tidy up and feel a bit embarrassed because I didn't think my home maybe was up to her standard. I always remember her saying 'I didn't come to visit the house I came to visit you". That has stuck with me ever since.

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  14. A great post Rhonda. I live in a house that is 100 years old & never been renovated, there is really nothing beautiful about it, but I love being there because it is home, it has a really lovely feel to it. It's not how flash your house is that matters, it's how happy you are with your life & those you share it with. There are a lot of people who are very focused on what sort of house you live in & how old your car is, but you will never be able to keep up with everyone else so you just have to accept that and be content with what you do have.

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  15. This is such a beautiful and calming post. Thank you.

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  16. Such kind encouragement to those of us who walk a different path. I was reminded of a comment made to me years ago by a woman who was at our house for a work related cookout. I was commenting that I was a little concerned about leaving home for a few days as there had been a number of break ins around us. She looked at my house and said, "Well, you don't have to worry; your dining chairs don't even match. When they see that, they will KNOW you don't have anything worth stealing!" I laughed aloud because, you see, I had my grandmother's chairs around a table my grandfather built! I think I learned more about HER than ME that day! LOL Not long after, I had another guest who commented, "I love coming here. I can feel the love!" So, that's it for me. Fill your home with love as that is what people will remember...

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  17. My parents had a show home it was like living in a museum (horrible as a kid) My favourite rooms were mum's sewing room and dad's workshop they were alive with creativity and warmth. Having a show home creates unnecessary up tightness however it is a very individual line between pleasing to the eye and a lived in home. I went to visit my friends great nan 96 years old and she had a pile of mess on a bench. It was her projects. we had so much fun talking about the pram blankets she crocheted, the cot quilts she made and the hats and mittens she was now knitting by the fire. If she didn't leave that out I don't know what we would have talked about. It has inspired me though I hope I can still do my crafts at 96. She doesn't watch TV therefore very productive.

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  18. Hi Rhonda i love this post what you said is so true,thankyou for sharing ...

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  19. A friend once said that shopping is buying something that you didn't know you 'needed' until you saw it in a shop.....how true

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  20. Beautiful post and perfect in all you said. My husband had a life changing accident ten years ago and we had to transform our lives and begin again. This time money was lacking, health wasn't perfect and our home was more of a vision at first. It still is not a show home and is constantly being worked on as we save money but it is ours. Our lives are different now as we raise our own foods and live with the low cost no cost attitude on everything. I am thankful that we live in times where we have access to on line yard sales craigs list and freecycle as it has made all the difference.

    Thank you again,
    Jennifer
    New Mexico, USA

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  21. Thank you for the post Rhonda - your words are so true. Home is where the heart is!

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  22. Such a great post. It is important to feel happy and comfortable in your home but you don't need fancy things to achieve that. I agree with some of the other readers, declutter, find things you need/love second hand (or even being thrown out) and rejuvenate with a fresh coat of paint. Plants and flowers always help too. Years ago, while walking my children to school one day, I spotted a cast iron queen size bed on a pile of rubbish on the footpath, being thrown out by someone in the process of moving. I knocked on the door and asked if they were throwing it out and they said yes, it was no good, there were a few slats missing from the base and they were more than happy for me to take it. My husband fitted a few new slats to the bed and my daughter still sleeps on it to this day. It's amazing what people throw out. Another gem was a four poster queen size bed an old neighbour wanted to get rid of. She liked my pram (which I no longer needed), so we swapped and we were both happy. For me, homes that look lived in and loved with worn pieces, handmade items and personal things are so much nicer.

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  23. There been quite a few times I've use the same saying with my inhome client...Is it a need or want.
    Gee a lot of them thinks every thing is a need...Today I went and got a new vacuumed cleaner because it was a need, my carpet was in horrible shape.

    Coffee is on

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  24. Beautiful, encouraging words Rhonda. Thought I'd pass on this little quote that I think of often:

    Home is a lot of little things,
    The small smug song the kettle sings,
    The friendly creaking of the door,
    The sun upon my kitchen floor.

    God's blessings to you.

    Lyn in Northern New South Wales.

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  25. I never normally comment but feel this post is very important. Being content with 'enough' in our lives is a challenge as we are constantly told we need more to be complete, fulfilled or adequate in life. Gratitude and thankfulness for the life we have now is so important. We can spend so much time and energy on 'the future' that the joys of today are missed. Well written Rhonda. Thank you for a delightful blog.

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  26. Thank you! Just read this with my second cup of coffee at breakfast and it has put me in a lovely frame of mind. I am one of those people who suffer anxiety before I have visitors. Real friends and family are welcome to just turn up. I too think that a clean and tidy house is more important than frippery. Lovely photos, as usual, which beautifully illustrate your words.

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  27. Thank you for your timely reminder.

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  28. Hmmm, well I sort of understand the house proud thing. In our early attempts to be frugal we confused it with cheap and nasty - then we took your advice and starting buying the very best we could afford. It makes a difference to a home.

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  29. Steam from a hot cup of tea is one of my favourite things!
    kx

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  30. Wonderful post and so true. Our home---dubbed the little house in the big woods---is as simple as can be, but guests always enjoy coming here for muffins and tea around the dining room table. Or appetizers and desserts on the patio. Or soup in the winter. Or pizza any time of the year. I think you get the idea ;)

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  31. Very wise words. I believe your mind is a powerful access to appreciate as well. Your can mess your own life up with the way you think. I realized that when I was reading a book by Joyce Meyers. It's call The Battlefield of the Mind. Your reader may very well get a new perspective by reading it. It changed my life. Thank you

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  32. A wonderful post. Home is where you, your family and your animals are. It's not a showroom to be maintained, but a base to keep you all warm and safe. That we are lucky enough to be able to decorate it to reflect ourselves is good, but it should never be a process that has to be done to please the eyes and minds of those that do not live within it's walls.

    If visitors come to our houses they are usually coming to see us, not to see what we have and what we have done with it.

    Lifting your home and your mood is easy ... bring in some nature ... a jam jar or mug full of freshly cut flowers, be they cultivated or wild brings life and beauty to any room.

    I hope your reader reads your answer to her query carefully and takes time to digest it and the comments that follow it. If she is happy and content in her home and with what it contains anyone that visits will see this and most likely go away thinking that it's their home that is 'wrong' being cluttered with fripperies and be inspired to follow her lead.

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  33. I think it comes with age. I remember in my twenties I never let people visit unless I knew they were coming so I could clean it from top to bottom. In my thirties I learned how to make bread, cakes and biscuits and my desires in life changed. I wanted to feel like I had accomplished something other than a clean house. Now in my 40s I look around and see my dining table that I have had for 22 years and how it needs a french polish redone, and has needed for probably 15 years. I have my favourite coffee cups from over the years with no hanldles used as pen holders, containers for rulers, toothbrush cups etc I love my home now.

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  34. Lovely blog post Rhonda. I love my home. I think the kitchen might be my favourite room at the moment. I have a very old kitchen table my friend stored in the garage, with nailed lino on the top, which was going to the tip. I rescued it and cleaned it up. It's beautiful with turned cedar wood legs and a pine top. And that's where I do my prepping and my kitchen work. Like my mother used to. plenty of room to spread out the work - as there is not a lot of bench space.

    On that table I put my sewing machine - plenty of room for the fabric to spread out.
    put a board on the table and chop up my veggies.
    Sort the clean washing.
    Lay out all the ingredients when I'm baking. Plenty of room for baking sheets.
    Oh - and I eat there.

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  35. I so agree with what you have put into words. Our world of ads has tried very hard to change that perception. Some less fortunate end up in serious debts just to have things they really could do without.

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  36. I appreciate and understand all of what has been said here, but I'll add my two cents to say that without knowing specifically what this writer thinks is truly deficient, it is hard to offer solutions. Is it that her living room or home is a mish-mash of colors or patterns, a state arrived at by making do without regard to those issues at all? The answer may be paint and throws or slipcovers. Is it too small? Removing clutter will help. Is it furniture arrangement? Ask someone whose home you admire for advice. Some of these may require some money and effort, but not to the extent of buying all new. There is an old movie (Overboard, with Goldie Hawn) about a rich woman with amnesia who winds up in the home of a struggling single father with 3(?) boys, and there's a wonderful scene where he realizes how she has made the place into a warm home, using what is available.

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  37. Just could not let this post go by without saying how much I agree with every word you wrote. Perhaps, when I was younger, I might have been more concerned about "perfection" but now I am so thankful for our home and hope that everyone who comes here feels the love and warmth in our home. Happy 4th to all your American readers! Blessings to you and Hanno Carolyn in Florida

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  38. It sounds like most of us have felt this way at the start of transition to a simple life. Obviously none of us can see what this woman's home looks like to offer suggestions. But then it doesn't matter - like you said it is about really appreciating what you have. I love my home now and I want less stuff - not more. Comparing your home to others and 'keeping up with the Jones' will never allow you to feel content with what you have. Sometimes a simple change in how things are organised can help you appreciate a room/ home a lot more and a paint job makes a huge difference as it makes a room look cleaner. Really enjoyed this post/ comments.

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  39. I've just come home from visiting my Mum, Rhonda. She lives on a wide, bush property in the Far North. She lives in a very simple home that some might consider a shed! But, when I open her front door and I step inside, I see the kitchen table that doubles as her kitchen bench where she does all her cooking and where her friends come for a cuppa. I see our photos on the wall and dresser-tops. I see her basket full of cottons and wool for knitting and all around are the gifts her friends have given her over the years. Outside are her beloved plants and chickens. It's her home. In creating it, she didn't refer to catalogues and tv commercials that endlessly push for more, but to her own heart about what is important to her.

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  40. Well said Rhonda! I love the vision of steam rising from a hot cuppa on the kitchen table.

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  41. I love the U2 song that has a great line in it....
    "what you don't have , you don't need it now, don't need it nowwwww"

    Live simply so others simply live, less consumption, less waste that our descendants will have to sort out. Live by your values.

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  42. I agree that our attitude towards our homes are the crucial thing. I was talking with a friend and she told me she had stopped apologizing for the state of her home when people were over. It's easy to feel like whatever you have done to prepare for company is not enough - honestly, even with a meal cooked by a famous chef in a house with a complete renovation and hot air balloon rides in the backyard after dinner, we could probably still find something to apologize for. But why focus on the negative? That friend didn't really care about the dishes in the sink or notice the cats shedding. I have decided to stop apologizing as well.

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  43. While it's true that there is a big difference between wants and needs and often it's easy to confuse the two it's also true that sometimes filling a want will make a big difference it how a person feels about their situation. There is an old music hall song called A Little of What You Fancy Does You Good and I think there is some truth in that but the hook comes in with the phrase "a little". If you are not a seamstress and see a pillow in a store that will add a pop of color in an otherwise austere room maybe it's not such a big deal if you just throw caution to the wind and buy it! You don't take money that would otherwise be used for food of electricity but a bit of extra cash spent once in awhile for something that enlivens you can be good give a person a jump start on that day or week when a jump start is greatly needed.

    Having fulfilled a trivial want, this person might then feel encouraged enough to go to the library and take out books on home decorating on a budget or DIY projects for the home and just try one or two and find that they are generally doable and inexpensive and realize that she can make changes that give her a sense of control over her home decoration and a sense of accomplishment which will spur her on to greater things.

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  44. Wonderful post, Rhonda. Thank you>

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  45. We had friends long ago that felt this way about having us into their home which was just silly. Anyone appreciates being asked over to your home no matter where you live or what you have. Sadly, this constant obsession of what we had versus what they had finally ended our friendship. To this day I cannot understand why it was so important.

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  46. I think that taking a good hard look at needs and wants and figuring out which is which is really important. And best done somewhat often! A lot of times though, what may seem like a want, really is a need. I understand the desire- no, the *need* to live in a place that is aesthetically pleasing. If I didn't like the space I spend the majority of my time, what would be the point?

    That doesn't mean that I bought a whole bunch of stuff that clutters it up or takes away from the simple aspect of my life just to have an attractive house. A coat of paint in a pleasing and inspiring color, some paintings and weavings on the wall that I or my children created- these I would consider needs, and they are fairly easy things to do to create a space that feels comfortable and happy, but not cluttered or busy.

    Even though not all of us can afford (or have the ability to) renovate the space however we wish, most of us can add some simple elements. I would never overlook one's need to have a living space that is lovely, welcoming and makes them feel good to be there.

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    1. What may be a want for me may be a need for you. We're all different. We all have to decide for ourselves what our needs and wants are and then live with the result of those decisions.

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  47. Several of our neighbors have renovated their entire houses (beautifully) and suggested that we have a progressive dinner to check out each other's houses. I was embarrassed at the thought. I have lived here 18 years and have only been able to afford to do what was necessary to keep the place going. Our rugs are threadbare and the floor needs refinishing. I work from the living room and it looks like a sweatshop, but it is the reason I can afford to live at all. This would be a case where they really are coming to look at the house. I could just cry. My husband is of the opinion that they get what they ask for. I find it humiliating.

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    1. I agree with your husband, Malinda. And if I were to be invited into your home and found it in the way you describe, I can honestly day I'd value it for the work being carried out in your living room and admire you for using your home to its full potential. Not having the money to renovate is nothing to be ashamed of.
      If you really don't want your neighbours to see your home, tell them you have done no renovations but you're happy to be a part of the progressive dinner.

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