Be bold, live a life you care about

9 August 2007
I live a life of contentment in a beautiful part of Australia. I grow some of my own vegetables, I keep a few hens in the backyard, I bake bread and preserve food. I live well with no debt on a low income. My goal is to continue living this way and if I can convince a few others to walk this path less travelled, I’ll be a happy woman.

There was a time when I worked as a technical writer, paid a mortgage and shopped at mainstream supermarkets and department stores. There was no method to my madness and I didn’t know where I was headed. Yet from the time I was around 25 years old I had a buried yearning to live the type of simple life my contemporaries viewed with contempt. In those quiet hours of 4.00 am contemplation, I knew that my future held a new direction where less was more and contentment would fill the sweet air I breathed; but I didn’t know almost 30 years would pass before I started to live that dream. I wish I’d been serious about simplicity long before I turned 50, because this way of life holds appeal for all age groups, and will change the way you view the world.

The most common question I hear regarding simple living is: “How do I start?” Well the answer to that seemingly simple question is not so straight forward. It depends on why you want to change. The end result will be the similar but your focus will be slightly different. Hopefully this blog will show you the steps needed to start living simply, whatever your reason.

I also want this blog to encourage people, young and older, to take charge of their lives by not buying into the materialism trap. I think there has been a major shift in thinking in Australia in the last ten years or so. As a society we are moving closer to a kind of moral and material bankruptcy because we trust self-indulgent, unsustainable promises that tell us living a good life requires the latest product in this year’s “must have” colour. We have to have the biggest and the best and it is fine to go into debt to get it. Those promises are problematic. They require that you mortgage your life, enclose yourself with debt obligations and work non-stop to pay for stress-filled fake living that doesn’t allow you enough time to enjoy what you have. Those promises don’t allow for enjoyment of the natural world, they encourage a consumerist approach to life when what is needed for long-term gratification is a prudent and simple one.

Your life should be about you, your family and the people you choose to include in your daily activities. What you see portrayed in today’s advertising is a false representation of modern Australian life. It is a glamorised lie to encourage you to spend money on products you don’t need.

Reinvent your life. Think about what is really important to you and develop a set of values that reflect your true beliefs. Respect and nurture your values. Discover what it is you really want your life to be and then make plans to live that life. Define for yourself what are needs and what are wants. Be courageous and change your attitude about what success means to you. Free yourself of the conventional idea of what you should own and want, strip yourself of pretension and in the process you’ll discover your true self.

I want this blog to take you on a journey inside yourself to discover your passions, uncover your true potential and to help you be the authentic you. Mindless consumerism masks us all. It surrounds us with junk that turns us into curators of merchandise. Free yourself of all that ties you down, be that debt, clutter, stress, envy, or wanting too much. In a world filled with overindulgence, simplicity will liberate you.

If you’re wondering why you work from dawn till dark just to pay the mortgage and put food on the table, this blog is for you. If you just bought more clothes and yet more things to put in your home and still feel a sense of emptiness, this blog is for you. If you don’t have enough money to live on, or if you have too much, this blog is for you. If you feel trapped by modern living, welcome home.

Many of us may voluntarily choose to live simply but even if it chooses you, the result is similar. You live a life that is marked by less rather than more, you organise your home to nurture and support you and your family members, you help develop a caring and supportive community, you make from scratch much of what you consume, you aim to live debt-free, you respect your environment, minimise waste and you are content with your life choices and the kind of person you are.

Living a simple life is about beating the system and not following the same road everyone else is on. Stop following what your friends and neighbours are doing. They’re probably up to their ears in debt too. Reinvent your life. Be bold, live a life you care about, simplicity can make you soar.

I hope this blog will help you discover the essence of simple living and how to apply it to your own circumstances. Please remember that we are diverse nation and have different aspirations. What is right for some is wrong for others. So cherry pick the information here and apply as much as you can to your own life while keeping an open mind about developing new strategies and ways of living that suit you. There is no one size fits all formula when simplifying your life.

To help you simplify I have included information about the practical aspects of day-to-day living. Some readers will already be familiar with some of the activities contained within these pages, others will be novices. There was a time when much of this was common knowledge but our consumer culture has conned us into relying on products to sustain and support us. We’ve forgotten old ways and instead work our entire lives to pay for merchandise that others create for us. The more we have, the more we want, and so the never-ending cycle continues. It wasn’t like that in the past and it doesn’t have to be like that now. We can relearn our collective heritage of basic skills and apply them to our modern lives.

So, what do you really want out of life? If you want more of everything, if you know that you’ll never have enough or be enough, then stop reading this blog now and go back to work. But if you want to live an authentic life, if you want to enjoy time with your family, if you want to help save dwindling resources, if you want to become more self-reliant and build your skills, if you want to discover the real you and live the kind of life you dream for yourself, then read on, the simple life is for you. When you know that buying more of everything will not make you happier and that saving resources is better than spending them, then you will really know that less is more. Welcome to your new life.


  1. wow, that's powerful piece of writing!!

  2. **And** you can have your blog made into a book! This is an excellent post (er uhm excerpt from the book--to be?? The bl-ook :o) You definitely have the gift of encouragement, Rhonda Jean. I'm going to print this out for the children. A loving hello and big gentle hug to you, my dear friend ((Rhonda Jean))
    Thanks again for your generous sharing. Jewels

  3. I will look forward to reading it! We live similarly in Canada, and I am very interested in your journey.
    I have also been "lurking" and now want to say hello and let you know how much I have enjoyed your blog!


  4. Wonderful Rhonda :-) Perhaps you can sell this as an ebook? It would be nice for you to have some financial gain from the enormous amount of time you must have invested in this project. I am extremely grateful that you are giving your valuable thoughts so freely here, but I would like for you to be rewarded in as many ways as possible. You truly are an inspiration to me. My husband knows your name now though I occasionally have to add "who lives in L----..." (we both know the area) ;-) You're my role model :-)

  5. Rhonda, what a great idea to write this book as a blog, we are so blessed to be able to have all your experiences and advice within such easy access. Thanks again and I look forward to each day that I log on and see what you have (beautifully) written about, and hopefully put into practise. Marlo

  6. Hi Rhonda, I feel privileged indeed that you are sharing your book on the blog. Many other bloggers seem to be writing books based on their blogs, perhaps the publishers will be more interested when they know you already have an established audience.
    Challenging people to really think about what they want from life and how they want to live their lives is a very honourable mission. Giving them some of the knowledge to get to that place is a kindness and a generous gift.

  7. I am constantly getting e-mails from blog readers asking if I plan to write a book.

    I always tell them that my blog IS my "book".

    I love your writing. If I remember, I came over as a recommendation from Jewels.

  8. Thank you Rhonda Jean for sharing such powerful thoughts! I agree that maybe you could sell "the book" as an e-book. Your instructions are greatly appreciated. Thank you again! Maria S.

  9. I agree with the idea of an e-book. I would buy it in a heartbeat, I only discoved your blog a month or so ago, but it is now a regular read. Love e-books, they don't clutter up the house, talk about simple. ;)

  10. Thanks Ali. : )

    LOL @ blook. Thank you Jewels. I'd love your children to read it. Mine have and they've showed it to some of their friends.

    Hello Niki, it's so nice of you to delurk and say hello. I love it when my readers make contact. I hope you enjoy your visits. I feel I should be providing tea and scones. ; )

    Hi Deborah, I'd given up the idea of publishing but all these comments have moved me to talk to H about it. He agrees with all of you, he thinks I should do an e-book. Hmmmm. Although I would like to get a bit of money from a book, that is not my primary motive for writing about my life. I believe that older women should step up and pass on what they know to the younger women. I hope in some small way that is what I'm doing here. You know, you reward me by saying I'm your role model. That makes me feel proud of what I'm doing and encourages me to keep going. Thank you. X

    Thank you Marlo. It's a blessing for me to be able to pass it on to such wonderful people.

    Jenny, thank you. I feel we have a similar outlook on a look of things. I appreciate your kind words.

    Hello Brenda, will you go ahead with a book? Let me know how you go if you do. Thank you for dropping by.

    Maria, thank you. I'll think about an e-book and maybe some fact sheets for things like bread and soap making type things.

    Ginger, I'm so pleased you found my blog. Thank you for stopping by regularly and for your kind words. It's a great encouragement to keep going when I know people appreciate what I write.

  11. Eloquent as always I love that you are a role model to us all and please continue with your book quest, in whatever format it takes. I love that you are teaching and passing your knowledge onto us "younger" women.

  12. Hi Rhonda, Carla Emery spent years taking her Old Fashioned Recipe Book around to publishers. She ended up printing it herself and selling it at markets all over America. It was eventually picked up by a publisher and still being printed today! I have three copies! I know you must do what is right for you but I would buy at least three copies of your book to!!!!Love Kirsty

  13. Rhonda your writing encourages me everyday.
    You remind me daily of what is important, how to stay on track and avoid the consumerist pitfalls that are regularly thrown under my feet.
    You remind me that simple is not always easier but always better.
    You remind me how good my life is and how lucky I am to have a mother who has taught me to sew, knit, crochet etc.
    I can say honestly that I have learnt something valuable from every single post.
    Just remember that Harry Potter was rejected numerous times before it was accepted by a publisher :)

  14. Hi Rhonda! I love Jewels idea of a "blook!" Perhaps you could do all three - a blog blook, e-book and a book!? YOu probably have enough readers, friends and fans scattered accross the planet that you could send us all 10 books on commission to sell and make a fortune! :o)

  15. You have a talent for conveying information as well as being able to knit dishcloths. Good content is no less valuable because its not in a book - and in fact may be more useful by not being so - so I think continuing to develop your skills in this medium and enjoying yourself is a good way to go if battling with publishers doesn't appeal. The internet is the new tool for information dissemination and to some extent community development these days anyway.
    I heard a very interesting talk on Radio National today that suggested that we should be radically re-thinking how we present educational information to the younger generation that you might find interesting
    (It's about 15 minutes into the audio)
    This guy's ideas on re-inventing learning networks made a lot of sense to me - there are some areas out there where the use of technology is still sadly lagging - as a bonus, I think he's over 60!

  16. Beautiful writing, Rhonda. We all appreciate what you share with us. I've nominated you for an award. Check out

  17. Thank you for sharing!


  18. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    Great food for thought.

  19. Lisa, thank you. You've always got wonderfully encouraging comments.

    Kirsty, I have Carla's book, it's a been a real help to me along the way. I reckon Carla would have had a blog had she not died too early. I really can't be bothered with the book now. It's not just writing of it - which I'm fine with, I don't want to get back into re-writes, editing and proofing. I'll concentrate on an e-book and think I'll get a lot more out of that than being tied down with a contract and a publisher.

    Michelle, thank you for your words too. You enrich my spirit by telling me that I've helped you towards a more satisfying life.

    Uh oh, duck herder has her marketers hat on. You'll regret that when I ask you to help market the e-book. ; )

    Hello Marg, welcome. H heard a similar broadcast, I think on the local ABC, from a woman who said similar things about the internet and how the concept of the printed book is old. I'm going to listen to that Radio National link you gave later today. Thank you.

    Oh my farm mom! A smoozer award. LOL what next. Thank you. I'll have to get back to this later.

    Hello Wildside and Elizabeth!

  20. I love your writing. I just linked to several of your posts at I can't wait to try making your scones, and I love your writing on simplicity.

  21. hi i really like your blog!
    do you know of anyone in the US that is doing similar work of documenting their simplified life?
    i feel like there is a lot i can get directly from what you have here, but since i am in the US i thought i'd ask :)
    thanks so much!

  22. Wow. I just found your blog, and went to look at this from the most popular link - and I can see why. It's fantastic to read of others living the life I aspire to - thank you!

  23. this is so inspiring for me to read. my husband and i made our decision to downsize before we ever had the chance to upsize! i read schor's book "overworked american" in the late 90's, just out of college. but even with the support of these wonderful ideologies, fresh college mind, etc. it was really hard work convincing myself that we could live on so little. it's people who are really doing it like yourselves that give folk like me the motivation to stick with it!

  24. ok lady!!!!!!!!!!! stop these WONDERFUL POSTS ALREADY! STOP! MY heart if full of happiness and I must say you have read my mind Rhonda Jean! I hope you do not mind that I linked to this post. You said what I have wanted to say but I can never quite say it without sounding proud or rude but you said this so lovingly. I am getting so many people wondering WHY IN THE HECK we choose to live off grid! I know why, we know why, my husband knows why, but for some reason I cannot adequately explain it to others. thank you for your wonderfulwriting today!

  25. Only found you yesterday! You're speaking my language, and as others have said you express it SO well! I shall enjoy reading about your journey as I explore mine!

  26. Were we separated at birth? LOL I was so glad to find your blog, to see that others choose to live a "simple" life with joy. We are physically challenged, and a simple life is the most practical for us. We have to work to the very limit of our capacity, but it's satisfying to do so. We are able to care for ourselves and not be a burden to our children physically or financially, which was impossible in a busy city. Keep up the very enjoyable and informative posts! You have a fan in Western Canada!

  27. Hi Rhonda,

    I'm 29 and I'd like to lead a life of simplicity. I'm getting ready to move into my first house and I'm looking forward to setting up routines and habits that support a life of simplicity. I have much to learn. If only my great-grandparents could be here to teach me the many lessons that I never learned in the name of progress. Anyway, I plan on not having a television-gasp! I feel like I have truly lost so many hours, days, months of my life watching TV so I've resolved not the spend the next 30 years of my life doing more of the same. It's small, but it's a start.

    A couple of years ago I spent a summer living at an orphanage in a third-world country. I had one small bag of clothes and I didn't want for a thing. I spent my summer with kids, friends, chasing sunsets, sitting under the stars, talking, sleeping, swimming, walking, eating, exploring. It was at times, emotionally difficult and physically uncomfortable, but it was the most satisfying time of my life. It was extremely difficult to return to the U.S. TV bored me as did entertainment news/gossip. I hated having to figure out what to wear, even the AC felt a little too cold and artificial. Ultimately it was short-lived. Now I spend most of my day staring at a computer screen in email triage while sitting in an office chair under artificial lighting. It's not satisfying. When I ask myself when I have been the happiest, it's never a memory associated with being on the internet or an email or a tv show, it's a real life experience, time with kids, friends/family, chasing sunsets, sitting under the stars, talking, sleeping, swimming, walking, eating, exploring. Isn't that something?!

    While I tell myself that the beauty of my life is that I can choose my own adventure, I tend to default to the consumerist, plugged-in American Way. I'm writing you today because I want to choose to go my own way, a better way and it's hard to do it "alone."

    Thank you for your blog which serves as an inspiration and outlet for many people who seek a better way.

  28. Been reading your blog for a little while now. Your life style is something many of us aspire to having. Not everyone has support from their spouses to make it happen. I dream about it but have to hold back due to my spouses insistence that he works hard for whatever he has. He`s not keen to downshift as he has no understanding for the time he might actually gain to spend on priorities. Your blog is my escape from the clutter and the worklife we have created around ourselves. If I would live on my own I`d change emediately. Keep inspiring us with your wisdom. I`ll keep reading!!!

  29. Thank you, Rhonda. This blog is for me! I have come here periodically over the last few years, and keep coming back. I live a relatively simple life already, but, prompted by you, want to live it more deliberately. Living deliberately, mindfully, is key to happiness. What I have decided to do, is embrace the life I have been given, starting from where I am; grow a beautiful and productive garden for my own healing and growing and because I love growing things;live with generosity of spirit and kindness; and essentially live simply and humbly, rejoicing in what I have.

    Sonya (no blog)



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