17 February 2008

Not the step-by-step guide to simple living

As I clicked away on the needles yesterday I tried to compose a blog post in my head that would help those much younger than me work towards their own version of a simple life. I would really like to visit each and every one of you and discuss various approaches to simplicity and help you all get started on this path. Needless to say I didn't compose that blog post and although I would love to give you all a step-by-step guide to simple living, there isn't a one size fits all approach to this.

I am acutely aware that many of you read my blog to find a way of starting, and some of you want to find the motivation to keep at it, but I can't give you a magic formula, I can't say how I would live if I had small children, I am what I am and this is all I offer. I hope that by reading here about my daily life, and all the joys and disappointments it holds, you will see me as all too human role model who shows that life is not always easy, but there is joy to be found in the simple tasks of daily life.

If you look for it, you will find beauty and joy lurking in the ordinary.

I believe there is no one way to live simply. I have lived in Europe, in the Australian bush and in the city, in houses, flats and caravans, and I know with no doubt, I could have lived simply in all those places. Whatever your circumstances are, you can fashion a life that will simplify your daily tasks, help you nurture yourself and your family and lead you to discover that a simple life is like a patchwork - it's pieced together slowly, unpicked sometimes, composed of a mish-mash of colours and textures and is different for everyone, depending on the fabric of your life. But when one stands back from a completed patchwork, it's complexity becomes apparent. It's no longer pieces of this and that, it builds into a functional piece that gives warmth, beauty and comfort. That's how your simple life will build too.

So here are some general suggestions, some things that I have done, that have helped me find this happiness. I encourage you to pick your pieces from this list, and discover fresh pieces from your own life and surroundings, and make them work for you in your circumstance. You might use only one thing here, or you might use all of them, there are no rules, except the one to live well.

This is in no particular order, it's just the order they fall into my brain:

  • Keep your family close and teach your children, by example, both the little and the adult, that happiness is not on sale at any store, it is a homemade commodity.
  • Reduce your spending, pay off your mortgage as fast as you can, but enjoy life as you do it.
  • Learn to cook from scratch.
  • Learn to garden- even if you live in a flat or an apartment you can do this with sprouting, window boxes or a mushroom farm. If you have some space in the backyard, your options are greatly increased.

  • Simplify your laundry routines with homemade laundry powder, soap and green cleaning.

  • Cut down on the time you spend in the supermarket with stockpiling, menu planning and mindful shopping.
  • Don't listen to the naysayers.
  • Teach yourself to knit and sew.

  • Make your own rules. Don't listen to me when you know your own way is better.
  • Find the everyday beauty that surrounds you.
  • Make your bed every day. Make your home the kind of comfortable you enjoy. Fluff up your nest everyday so that your home is a haven and the place you want to come home to.

  • Push the envelope. Your life will probably not be the same as those around you. Try to find a role model but if you don't, walk your own path with confidence and know that you're teaching those who come behind you.
  • Learn to grow some of your food in your backyard. Eggs and fish are the obvious ones for me, but there are other options like meat chickens, milk cows, goats, quail and much more.

  • Develop simple values like generosity and kindness, then be amazed at how they will change you.
  • Look after your local environment. Get rid of all the poisons in your home. This must be done responsibility after contacting your local council or rubbish tip for guidance.
  • Save water, gas and electricity. Learn how to read your meters.

  • Slow down and learn how to appreciate the ordinary aspects of your life. About 90% of your life will be ordinary, the trick is to appreciate it.
  • Develop your independence. This will involve stepping away from the mainstream to reskill or learn how to look after yourself with a minimum of outside input.
  • Help others by volunteering some time to your community or school.
  • Be kind to yourself. Work out what it is that will make you happy, then do it.
This list is not nearly complete, nor could it ever be because all our lives as so different. If you have a tip that has worked for you, please add it to your comment as you may open a door for someone else by sharing it.

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, I hope you're enjoying your weekend.
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