Dare to be different

13 May 2008

I want to encourage every one of you who choose to live simply to do it on your own terms. There is no rule book for simple living, we all do it differently. I think that once you’ve got it in your mind to change from being a consumer to a conserver, many of the practical day-to-day things will come from your change in mindset. If they don’t, and you’re unsure about what to do next, just be guided by how you live your life now. Examine the things you do – your work practices, your chores, your transport, your recipes, your cleaning, how you cook, how you do your shopping – and one by one, make each and every task simpler, greener and more sustainable. Now that might be 100% simple, green and sustainable, but if it’s not, that’s okay! You do what you can do, you add to it later. It’s fine, no matter what anyone tells you.

I stockpile and shop monthly, with a quick trip to the local supermarket for local milk and cheese each week. But that is how I find it works best for me, there is no rule that says everyone shops that way. Try several different ways, then stick with the one that works best with your way of living.

I see so many other homemakers apologise for using a breadmaker. Why! If you want to use a breadmaker and it makes baking fresh bread for your family easier, use it. There is no rule that states the bread is less if it’s made in a breadmaker. The point is to make bread so you know what’s in it, you make it to your exact requirements and it's cheaper. Yes, your bread maker costs money to buy and run, but it pays for itself in less than a year and if you stop buying bread because of it – the bread that contains preservatives, colourings and artificial flavours, AND comes packaged to the hilt in plastic, then the breadmaker option wins, hands down.

It’s okay to say ‘no’ to others and ‘yes’ to yourself. Stop living to the expectations of others, slowly build a life that is unique to you. Make things easy for yourself. For instance, if you want to compost your kitchen scraps, put a little bin in your kitchen to hold the scraps and empty it every afternoon. If you want to go completely green with your cleaning routines, start with one thing first – like homemade laundry powder, then when you’re working well with that first choice, add others. Think about all these little things you want to bring into your life and make them as easy for yourself as you can. That way they’ll become an easy part of your routine and not a struggle.

Be mindful, make your own decisions, work out what will work for you and don’t feel guilty if you're reading your favourite blogs and you’re not doing what others are doing. I know a lot of you a guided by some of the things I say but if I do something that doesn’t fit well with you, don’t do it. Make sure that everything you do is right for you, not just being done because someone else does it.

Imagine your own life, and how you want it to be, then work to make that vision a reality. Don’t be put off, don’t listen to the naysayers, go with your heart and do what is right for you. I’m a non-conformist and I don’t fit in the 60 year old woman pigeonhole. I have always walked to the beat of my own drum and I have never looked to those around me for validation. That has helped me build this life I live. If I’d listened to all the advice I got when I wanted to change, I’d still be running a red hot credit card and wondering “is this all there is?”.

One of the great wonders of this world to me is that we’re all the same but all so different. Celebrate your difference and custom-make a life that fits you perfectly. Forget the blathering of women’s magazines, don’t do what your next door neighbour is doing, don’t copy your friends – or me – unless it is exactly what you want and need for yourself. Make your own version of this simple life. Life is never a one-size-fits-all condition, pick and choose the portions of other people's lives that suit you and custom make the rest of it so that your life fits you perfectly. If you try something that doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to get rid of it, or modify it to suit yourself. Do it all slowly, take small steps. You will never build a simple life quickly – it’s a slowly evolving process that never ends, but one thing is for sure, if you dare to be different, if you are mindful of your choices, if you downsize, declutter and get back to basics, the rewards are there for the taking.


  1. I was reading this post and nodding away (in agreement, not off to sleep!) thinking about how I've run our house over the last two years or so. Slowly changing, growing some of our food, doing all of our biscuit and cake making, working out the things that I can do from scratch here while balancing a full-time job and life with 4 boys as a sole parent. It's rewarding to be able to do what suits us and not give a tinker's cuss for what anyone else says. (Even if 'anyone else' happens to be my sister...)

  2. Well said. If we were all made using the same recipe and the same cookie cutter, then life would be truely boring. I love reading your posts! You are an inspiration to many. I say be as green as you can... if you want to be greener, the take it one step at a time... "you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time!"
    Have a great day!

  3. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I posted about this today. Dave and I have decided to go backwards for now. March to our own drum.
    Have a blessed day. Great post.

  4. My friend introduced me to your blog last week- thank you for everything you are doing, and teaching! Also, thank you for your comments today. Women are guilty of constantly criticizing ourselves, far too often. We do the best we can, and try to do a little better tomorrow!

  5. fabulous post. the best thing about this blog is the lack of judgement. That's a rarity these days

  6. Thanks Rhonda for your inspirational post. I agree with the taking it slow. If I tried to implement everything all at once when I started 1 year ago, I would have given up by now. I started with cooking everything from scratch and going to the Farmers Markets. We now have a Vege patch that we are eating out of, (only salad greens as yet but this is a start)and I'm about to make my first batch of laundry powdwer. I have even slowly converted my husband.
    Thanks again for your inspiration...


  7. Another wise post Rhonda, thank you. I've learnt so much from this blog and others like it, and from many websites and forums (especially MSE Old Style) and I'm so grateful for you and others who share their wisdom; its not possible for me to keep chooks, but I can choose to buy local and free range eggs; I'll never be self- sufficient for veg, but I can grow a few specials in pots and for the rest I buy local and in season; we can all do something, lots of small steps add up to a whole lot!

    I'm imagining my life how I want it to be and it will take me a while to get there, but I'm enjoying the journey! :)

  8. I just love your web page. You are an inspiration to so many and I look forward to reading yiour posts every day. As soon as I get up I turn onto your page but some times I forget the time differance between NZ and Aussie and then I sit and wonder if your are going to do you writing that day. Once again thankyou so much for your inspiration.

  9. I agree!!!! Each of us has to do what works for our family or we won't be able to sustain the changes we've made. With regard to bread making I use both a breadmaker and make bread by hand but I prefer my breadmaker most days. But, I have a question :) How do you store your bread to keep it fresh? I find the next day our bread is either dried out or too soft if I've stored it in plastic.
    thanks Rhonda!

  10. So beautifully said Rhonda. I live by my own rules and do what fits our lifestyle (not of others). Thank you so much for sharing.

  11. Having a reminder to celebrate being different and honor it is just what I needed right now. Thank you.

  12. Brilliant post. And so true. How often do we use the excuse that we can't do something "right" so we don't start at all.

  13. Have I told you lately how much I love your blog? It is my evening treat and oh, is it ever the perfect way to end the day -- peaceful and inspiring.

    With all the sweat and toil, it is easy to forget the beauty of the simple life -- your words never fail to capture that beauty and remind me why I have chosen this life of long hours and callused hands.

    Blessings to you, Rhonda.


  14. I'm another 'nodder' as I read this post and think about what you are saying. We haven't been on the simplfying road very long but at the beggining I decided to start slowly. I only do the things I know will be achievable at the time. Trying new ideas as I feel comfortable with what I am doing now.

    Thank you for your wonderfull words of encouragment. Long may they continue.


  15. Rhonda,
    I love your words of wisdom. It's a great feeling to do what you can and enjoy the benefits from our work. This weekend we ate a lot of the rocket salad we planted a few weeks ago, with the warm weather here it's been growing like crazy! My husband was picking some salad and eating the leafs straight from the pots it's growing in, and our daughter (almost 3) asked him: "daddy, are you a rabbit?" What a precious moment.
    How are the new chooks doing?

    Christine from the NL

  16. Well said!

    We weren't cloned in a lab for the convenience of advertisers and sales executives - even if it seems that way sometimes.

    Love the blog, keep posting.



  17. OH!! Thank You. Amen. Well Said! and JUST what I needed to "hear" this morning. You have a lovely blog and a beautiful outlook on life. I enjoy reading. God Bless.

  18. So glad I stumbled across your blog. You have a gift for teaching and I appreciate your topics. I've been inspired to be more frugal from viewing your posts. Blessings!

  19. Rhonda Jean,
    I just wanted to let you know that I've ordered my worms! 2#'s of them. They are not supposed to arrive until after the 31st of the month but I am ready and anxious. When I came home with container for them my husband told me that he believes I've officially lost it. The things I tell him I want to do and the things that I do are completely a turn from the person I was 5 years ago.

  20. Very well said! :)
    I appreciate your words of wisdom more than you know!
    Thanks so much.


  21. Oh, absolutely. Each one of us is unique, and therefore takes a unique path. We might look to others for inspiration - and I do read your blog for a daily dose of encouragement - but worrying about being unable to copy others? Not exactly productive. :-)

  22. Thank you, thank you SO much for this blog. I am having a really bad day today, I feel cut off, isolated and lonely because the way I live seems so off kilter compared to my parents, sisters, brother. They laugh at what I try to achieve, tell me over and over what a waste of time it is because I, little me, can do so little to change the world. BUT I so want my children to know there is another way to live, and I get so much pleasure from knowing I have saved a £ or made something from nothing....until the doubters make me doubt myself that is. And when that happens this blog is my saviour. I feel comforted, normal and useful. Thank You. Lynda (UK)

  23. I am also totally agreeing with everything you are saying here. Simply said, but full of wisdom.

    I enjoy reading those wonderful blogs out there, and love the fact that I could borrow neat ideas and cut them to fit our family's needs. But that is about it. Otherwise, contentment would not be ours.

    Thank you for a beautiful post!

  24. I need to utilize my bread machine again. With my little guy (who is very, very active), time is of the essence not to mention the bread machine would cost less in electricity than the oven!


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