6 January 2008

Getting closer to your simple life

Sometimes I think people are scared to live simple lives. They look and see a life lived with none of the props of modern living like recreational shopping, one upmanship of the Joneses, no designer labels, new appliances, or dining out, going to the library instead of buying books, no pay TV, gossip magazines or convenience foods. The starkness of that scares them. They say they don't want to live like that but the reality is they don't want to give up the props, they fear they'd fall over.

As well as creating insatiable desire in us, magazines and TV are great time wasters. If you give them up you'll have much more time to devote to really living your own life. Instead of watching others live their lives, you can concentrate on yours. I guess blogs fall into this category too. If you're reading a lot of blogs trying to get motivation, but instead find you're wasting a lot of time, then you should limit yourself.

The truth of simple living is that you learn to be independent. It's the kind of mindset that sees strength, reliability and dedication to a purpose as an important part of life, and the props of modern living as an irrelevance that gets in the way. When you reach that stage you're truly independent. You live without constraint, you don't have to be any one thing, you don't have to dress according to fashion; you do what you do because you see a reason for it, not because everyone else is doing it. You are a non-conformist.

I look like the average Autralian woman of my age but my exterior deceives. I am not like my contempories at all. I do not believe the lie that buying more of what I want will make me happy. I believe I will find my happiness in the true and good things that I create for myself. I believe my happiness is in my family and friends, having a genuine purpose to my day, in being creative and productive. I wonder why my contempories want to retire and do nothing. I want to work - I know that work is good for me, but I want my work to be fulfilling, innovative and productive. I want my work to give me what I need to live, not the money to always buy what someone else produces for me.

Over the past few days I've written about green cleaning. I hope those posts show that you don't have to go to a supermarket to buy the latest detergent or the super duper toilet cleaner. You can cross those things off your list forever. You can buy generic products and make your own cleansers that work well, don't cost a lot and will move you further away from the consumer nightmare of modern life. Green cleaning is a good entry point to simple living. We all have to clean our homes, but this is a point where we can step up and make a stand. When you are happy that you can still keep a clean house, you can move on to other things - like stockpiling, buying generic brands, cooking from scratch and all the other activites that will spring from them.

Slowly you will start to live more simply. Inch by inch you'll see that rejecting modern views of life work well and that providing for yourself builds satisfaction and confidence. It seems to me that satisfaction and confidence are in short supply these days. Luckily we can all grow our own at home.


  1. Hi Rhonda, I've greatly enjoyed the green cleaning posts, they are very good and since I use several similar cleaners, I can testify to the fact that they work! I've got a questions about homemade veg. soap, did I miss something? Is there a recipe? I make my own lye soap using olive oil, lard and lye. Would this do for the wooden floor cleaner recipe do you think?
    My whole house is hardwood floor and I would love to make my own cleaner.
    Thanks :)

  2. Rhonda,
    You're making me think about a few things. I've been contemplating purchasing a few magazine subscriptions that would be helpful towards health & home, but I'm wondering if doing so will fuel a desire for more "stuff" - what might your thoughts be on that, even if it is a magazine that could be helpful in one's life?

    There is such POWER in living simply. Like you mentioned, many think the opposite. Not having to "chain yourself" to a way of life just because everyone else is, how empowering that really is. The chains may not be visible, but they are there. The enslavement is such that oftentimes people are not even aware of it, until they are buried deep.

    No-thank-you. I would rather live in my simple mobile home, with my old and simple worn car, not buying new clothes or furnishings. We are hoping to be free of debt after this year, and I cannot tell you how much joy that fills me with. This past year we lived on approximately 2/3 of our income - the remaining almost 1/3 went to mostly debt reduction, then home & car repairs. Our income was lower than the U.S. median annual household income & this year it will be even less due to changes at dh's work, but we will still be out of debt, with careful living habits.

  3. If it's okay to add I wanted to say that I'm learning to live with homemade cleaners as a better alternative. I've been tempted to buy those nice-smelling-natural-based cleaners that lots of ladies in the U.S. like, with named fragrances that sound like you could eat them.

    However, every time I turn away from such a purchase, I give myself a big pat on the back, enjoying the knowledge of the $$ I have saved instead. I'm keeping the dollars in my own pocket, instead of lining their pockets with them.

  4. Hi Niki. There is a recipe for soap in the archives but if you're making your own olive oil, lard and lye soap, that would be perfect to use on a wooden floor.

    I must say it's wonderful to read that many of the ladies here are green cleaning. Quietly we are all helping our planet recover.

    Lyn, I think that simple living is a consistent process of learning and evolving. If you think you will learn something from a magazine that you can't get anywhere else - like the library - then I see no problem in having one subscription. I've written before about money buying the "instant" things we want. Magazine subscriptions can fall into that category. If your library will eventually have that magazine, it's prudent to wait a month until you can borrow it, or if you want to read it when it comes out, read it in the library. That's how our library works - new magazines must be read at the library. When they are no longer the current edition, you can take them home. If your lirary doesn't have the mag you want, ask them to order it in. They will usually do that.

    And BTW Lyn, there is no greater compliment you can give me than: "Rhonda, You're making me think about a few things." Thank you for telling me that.

  5. Hi Rhonda. I am now the proud owner of two little buckets and one big one, four cotton clothes, some bicarb and some borax. I'm not entirely sure what to do with them yet but I'm learning so much from your enjoyable blog. I'm in the UK so usually read it late evening or early morning and you are making me think so much more about simple living. Out of your many words of wisdom over the past week the one that has stuck with me the most is to think of cleaning as being part of caring for my family. This is helping so much as I'm not a 'natural housewife' but I do love my family and by caring for the house I'm caring for them. Thankyou - Kathryn

  6. Hi Rhonda, I'll freely admit that when I was younger I was one to follow the others like sheep. Now I am over 40 I have enough self-confidence to withstand the gentle ribbing of the odd friend about my simpler lifestyle and even encourage them to join me in this path. Thank you for you constant encouragement and ideas.

  7. RJ, very interesting post. I've never thought of simple living as being non-conformist, and free-thinking. But you're right. From an anthropological perspective, I would say we're able to step outside of our societal norms and see what parts of those norms we'll keep, and what parts we won't. In that way, we're choosing for yourself, rather than things being chosen for us.

    And I agree with the tv aspect, as well. I'm finding that many readers are very resistant to giving up tv, but boy I just don't miss it at all!

    And LOL, lately I feel that I'm moving more like mile by mile rather than inch by inch. ;) But I'm glad I'm doing so!

  8. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    Thanks for another Wonderful Post.
    You are helping so many Ladies!
    Thanks for all the time you put into your Posting.:o)

  9. Hi Rhonda-I am finding that living simple is about re-learning how to do even the normal things in a new way and it has been a bit of trial and error, but I feel like I am taking things one step at a time and finally getting to the point that I am happier living greener. Every day I try to make small changes and they are starting to add up into a changed lifestyle-thank-you for all the encouragement and helpful ideas!!

  10. "It seems to me that satisfaction and confidence are in short supply these days. Luckily we can all grow our own at home."

    Good one, Rhonda Jean!

  11. I love this post. It articulates how I feel about the choices I make for my family every day. Though not near retirement age, I heartily agree that we all need meaningful work, and that 'stuff' is the biggest trap of the modern age. It's interesting seeing my boys come to grips with all this, and watching them make their own decisions about what is truly necessary to them and what isn't. (I don't agree with all their choices, but that's part of learning.)
    Growing some of our food, thinking before we buy and throwing all we can at debt is setting my boys and I free. (Or at lest, free-er...)

  12. Thanks.

    I am still learning about simple living, and started thinking that I need to buy a few books on the subject. Something about that seems odd: buying more stuff to learn about buying less. It seems to be a matter of learning by doing, as you wrote.

  13. Your blog is very inspiring. I am practically still a child (21) and this crazy, cut-throat, deceitful world is all I've known. I've been slowly taking steps to remove myself from this mentality, it's not easy, but I am happy with the changes I made, I finally feel free. I recently started making my own cleaning solutions, sewing my own clothes. One of my main goals is to learn to cook, I am terrible at it.


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