27 May 2007

Diving into simple living

These are some of our girls.

Generosity was one of the values I hoped to develop when I left full time work to live simply. I used to be a technical writer and journalist and ran a writing business for about 20 years. When my husband was retrenched, we left the mining town we'd lived in for 13 years and came to live in our present home. I opened an office in our little town here and continued to work as a technical writer. H decided to retire but was bored after a year so he bought a shop in Montville. We had that shop for almost seven years and when we closed the doors, just 18 months after I'd closed down my business, it was one of the best days of my life.

I was convinced we could live well on much less that we formerly spent. I was sick of waste, I'd stopped shopping and I ached to live a more sustainable life. We owned our own home, had no debts and long ago had stopped trying to impress anyone with what we owned. The time was right. H wasn't sure that we'd make it with no regular income but to his credit, he took the plunge anyway and things have worked out really well for us.

The key to this for me has been to try to grow and make as much for ourselves as we can, be that food, drinks, soap, shampoo, gifts, clothes or entertainment. Whatever we use, we try to make it ourselves. Grocery spending is always done at the cheapest place we can find, which is usually Aldi. If we have to buy anything of a non-grocery nature, we start local and work our way out.

I started this post writing about generosity, so what of it? One of the few things I do away from our home now is to work as a volunteer at the local neighbourhood centre. On Mondays and Tuesdays I work on reception, teach budgeting, organise free worshops, give out food relief, talk to people and try to help as many as I can. At the moment I'm standing in for the co-ordinator who has been off sick all year. Basically we all do whatever needs to be done and often I come home absolutely worn out - physically and mentally. But the time I spend there is the most satisfying and rewarding time for me. It renews my spirit, it teaches me to think in new ways and it makes me better than I really am. But that's the nature of generosity, it gives more than it takes.


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