29 July 2007

Location, location, location

This is our home.

I cannot stress enough that simple living is not about a particular geographical location, it is not something that happens only in the countryside, it is not confined to a certain city, nor to the suburbs. Simple living is more about a change in your attitude to your life and how you apply that change to the way you live. You could be living on the top of Mount Kosciusko, in a high rise apartment in Melbourne, in the suburbs of London or in the wild open spaces of Alaska; it is possible anywhere.

Natalie, in her Isabella in the 21st Century blog, wrote yesterday: "I used to think that to live a simple life I must up-sticks and head for a rural idyll; perhaps Dorset or Mid-Wales; there I would learn all about goats and pullets and clothe my children in hand spun woolly jumpers dyed with woad. I would also keep bees and make my own candles and balms out of their wax and mead out of the honey ... I've come to understand that simple living is not just for country folk, and it's definitely not just for the rich." Natalie knows.

The vision of packing up and leaving the city to live a simple life in the country is a common one, but it is not all that realistic. It’s often a romantic, idealised dream to live a life uncomplicated by traffic, pollution, crowds, violence and uncertainty. Sometimes people move to a location that looks perfect but when they get there, they can't find a job, the schools are too far away and the idyllic simple life they dreamed of is still out of reach. Their life is still complicated and difficult, but by different things.

This is part of our front garden.

One of my favourite aspects of simple living is that you make do with what you have. It's a really old fashioned thing, and the opposite of what's currently in favour - instant gratification and having what you want at any price. Simple living is not about buying a lifestyle, it's about making one. Instead of buying your simple life premade, you fashion it yourself from scratch. And just like a meal when you make it from basic ingredients, what you end up with is something that is suited exactly to you, it's not someone else's idea of what you should want. So if you're living in a flat in the city, or a small home in the suburbs, or even a larger place that you're not happy in, you can make it better by changing your attitude and by making the best of what you have.

Location is just a small part of a simple life. Along with location there is building a strong family; raising healthy, happy and decent children; reducing debt; not spending; reskilling yourself for the life you want to live by learning to bake, preserve, cook, mend, sew, knit and garden; building your community; getting to know your neighbours; slowing down and living with a peaceful mindset; cultivating generosity and kindness; decluttering unwanted and unnecessary possessions; being aware of your environmental responsibilities; reducing your use of water, power, petrol and gas; reusing, reducing and recycling; being grateful for what you have and making do. Maybe you can start on the many other aspects of a simple life and location might sort itself out while you concentrate on other things.

This is where I've done a lot of my thinking about the way I live and it's where we sit to enjoy our morning tea.

Make the best out of what you have right now - and that is if you're currently living your dream or if you are still far from it. That is simple living just as much as growing vegies, collecting eggs and making soap in the middle of an old growth forest. I can’t tell you what will give you a life of happiness, enjoyment and satisfaction, that is for you to decide. What I hope to do however, is to give you the courage to start moving towards simplicity, and to tell you as clearly as I can, that you can start living your simple life today.


  1. Beautifully written Rhonda.

  2. Once again a fantastic post. One day I too hope to live in elegant simplicity like you & H. I am babystepping my way there and making do with what I have.

  3. A timely reminder for all of us who are in the down-shifting mode. We forget that what we really want to do is to change how we are feeling on the inside and instead we focus on how we can change our surroundings. It is just another side effect of an economically-driven society. Just watch our politicians telling us we are fantastic and prosperous because of economic growth!!!!!When will they start talking about visions, moral growth and richness of community spirit. Thanks for another great reminder!

  4. I love that last picture of your back patio!

    A nice reminder post. One of the things I love about living simply is that it *can* be done anywhere and you CAN'T BUY IT! :)

    "Green" is the new buzz-word more than simplicity seems to be these days and folks are seeming to clamor to purchase just whatever it is to be "green."

    Now, I'm glad as anything that it's a buzzword and I really hope that the trend continues, but it is so ridiculous when people think they need to *buy* something in order to *be* something.

    I found it utterly insane when, a few years ago, the sleek and chic magazine, Simple Times came out. I know it's pretty popular here in the states. It seemed to exemplify for me what I've always considered the difference between "living simply" - which to some means living easily and unencumbered, streamlined, organized, and/or efficient - and "voluntary simplicity"- which speaks more to me of how I wish to live: more lightly and more gently, taking less from the earth and others, but not necessarily more easily.

    Thanks for another well-written post. :)

  5. Great post Rhonda. I love that veranda too, which direction does it face? I can't imagine wanting to get up after morning tea.

    cheers Lenny

  6. Thank you Kez.

    Lisa, I'm sure you'll do it one day, if you're not already.

    Peggy, thank you and welcome. : )

    Brenda, thank you for stopping by again.

    Bella, you always write interesting comments. Thank you for this one.

    Mrs Pivec, it's the front patio. If you look at the photo of the house, it's on that right hand side, near the garage. : ) Thanks for your thoughts on terminology. I used to think we'd chosen voluntary simplicity but I haven't thought about what to call it for a long time now. I just do it.

    Hello Lenny, thank you. The verandah faces east with the sun travelled over the garage during the day. In the afternoon is completely shaded. : )

  7. Hi Rhonda, You already know that I agree with everything in this post don't you.

    Every home should by law have a sunny spot for a morning cuppa.

  8. I think it's very important that fellow urbanites/suburbanites understand that a simple life is do-able in the town, more than doable. For me and my family it has given us a positive outlook on our very ordinary home and town. We enjoy the small businesses and markets etc and, if I were completely honest we may lack the skills to be proper small holders...but we can do baking, preserving, growing etc. Our small plot is manageable by our small family. We have seen a real renewal in allotment gardening in the UK, lots of women garden on our site. It's amazing how much you can get off a small allotment plot. Were giving half of ours over to fruit bushes for jam and freezing next growing season. Anyway, I'm nattering away as per usual. Thank you for mentioning me in this great post, what you've said deserves to be said over and over!

  9. Thanks for this post Rhonda it is a reminder to me to bloom where I'm planted.
    My Mum says "it's not where you live, it's how you live that determines your happiness" and I know she is right.
    Even though I live in the middle of the burbs, close to the M1 I have a 1200sqm block and a nice house that we own outright(YAY!)
    I have the time and resources to turn it into a little sustainable oasis which will hopefully encourage my not so simple neighbours to ask questions and be a bit greener in the process.

  10. Rhonda Jean,
    As usual you are so right on the mark. I can't say that I don't still pine away for a home in the country. I do. But I have really started to look at life and what I have as something that is mine and in my control. I agree that our simple lives can be and should be right where we are. Good post.

  11. I like Lisa's phrase: elegant simplicity. It is a vision os what we are trying to achieve. We make our home in the country and wouldn't trade it for anything. But country life makes demands that aren't simple or elegant at times. Like yesterday.

    Yesterday was definitely not simple. We arrived home from church to find a wagon with 5000 pounds of hay stacked on it. We had to bolt down lunch and start hauling it to the barn. We were bone weary and dirty when we finished.


  12. I great reminder about the mind set of it! Thanks!

  13. Wonderful post! Lots of "food for thought".

  14. Thanks for this post. My wife put me on to your site a few weeks ago. She has been reading for a while. I have reading your posts and how you write about your life.


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