Stop listening and grow up

28 May 2008

I have often thought that modern society has divided into two camps – adults and children. This might seem quite obvious to you but I don’t mean it the way it sounds. I mean that governments, corporations, media and the advertising industry are the adults and all of us are children. They tell us, we listen. We are expected to be dependent and compliant, we are told constantly that we will be made happy with ‘stuff’, that part of modern life is to carry a large amount of debt and if we work hard, we’ll be able to pay off our life as we live it and retire at 65 to enjoy what we have. We have these messages coming at us every day about what’s right for us and how we should live, and we are encouraged to be dependent and work in the system so that big business remains healthy, the country prospers and we skill ourselves in how to earn a living rather than how to make a life.

Now let me be the first to say that I love being an Australian with all the advantages that offers. I’m grateful that our country has a sound financial base, a thriving business community and a compassionate welfare system. I don’t want that to change. I want us to. I want us to stop believing the messages that one size fits all, and to see for ourselves the value of stepping outside what is considered normal. I want us to grow up.

We need to stop listening to outside advice about what makes us happy and fulfilled and find out for ourselves. For me happiness was found in being at home and working everyday to give my family and myself a quieter, safer, healthier and more independent life. I grew up the day I discovered that work at home is satisfying and significant. That is when I stopped believing that more money and more possessions would make me happy. As I worked more in my home, I realised that for me, happiness was found in being independent of the shops, being able to make do from scratch and in leading my life away from buying convenience.

That is what worked for me. I want you to find your own happiness. I can’t tell you what will make you happy, only you know that. I can tell you that happiness isn’t one thing. It’s a whole lot of tiny fragments that you find every day that add up to a deep feeling of contentment and knowing you’re doing the right thing. And I know that you won’t find true and enduring happiness in any shopping mall, I can only encourage you to look in places unexpected, and to show you through my blog that it is easy to live well outside the modern perception of what makes a good life.

I’m not telling you to give up your job if you work outside the home, I’m not telling you to live as we do. I am saying that whatever you do, fashion it to suit yourself so that it gives you a life worth living. If you are working hard at an outside job make sure you give yourself time to enjoy what you’re working for. If you’re working at home, be mindful of happiness and what’s around you, not just getting the job done.

Many people are stressed in their day-to-day lives and worried about their future. I think that is sometimes because they don’t feel in control of their own lives. Prices are rising, the climate is changing and often it all seems too much. But don't let that stop you, don't be scared into standing still, because that is the very time you need to do something. If you can gain independence by changing in some way, do it. I felt a growing independence when I started learning how to look after myself and I realised I did not need to shop to provide all I needed to live. When I knew that I could step away from what I was expected to do and instead do what I wanted, I started to build my own unique life. I moved away from the life prescribed for me by outsiders, I took my life by the throat and gave it a good shaking. In a sense, I grew up. I stopped listening to what I was being told, I identified how I wanted to live and then worked towards it, and that, my friends, has made all the difference.


  1. Hi Rhonda,

    Great post. Yours is the first blog i check in the mornings here in new zealand. i think we are about 3 hours ahead of you. You must get up very early!!! This post has really made me think. My husband and I have always lived a realtively simple life but of late i have become frustrated. The reason is i think i have been trying to accomplish too much and as i result i am doing nothing well and have piles of unfinished projects. I have 3 quilts to be finished up, several knitting projects unfinished, various parts of the garden in an unfinished state. IEven though I am working at simplicity, I have been sucked into the message from the government, media that the more i achieve the more successful i am. I have not been stopping to do a job well or find the joy in doing the job. My work around here have sometimes become tasks that need to be done. I want my life to be filled with the goal of blessing my husband, family and others. I dont want to be in a race to achieve. I need to stop and smell the roses as my husband always says to me. I hope this makes sense. Sophie in New Zealand

  2. It makes beautiful sense to me Sophie. I wonder what you'll do now. Please keep in touch and let me know what you change and what difference that makes.

    BTW, I get up at 4am. :- )

  3. Rhonda, This is a very powerful post and speaks to me exactly where I am.
    Thank you.

  4. Hi Rhonda,
    I loved this post. I'm bed-rid with morning sickness at the moment, so you've given me a lot to think about today.
    I used to be a shopping lover, but I find that the more I stay away from it, and the more I focus on things around my home and my family and making them happy, the more I am happy and I don't even miss the shops - it's weird, but I'm now rueing all the wasted money and time I spent on it, and I can't believe I'm saying that! Thank you for your daily encouragement - it really helps.
    Rachel from NZ

  5. Michelle, I'm pleased you got something for today's post. I often think of you and wonder. Take care, love.

    Rachel, I felt the same thing when I looked back on my spending. Now I just accept it and am pleased I know better. I hope you're feeling better soon. Hugs.

  6. Rhonda,
    I have been reading your blog for several weeks now and enjoy it so very much.
    Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  7. HI Rhonda,

    this is just what I needed to hear as I am finally coming to terms with where I want to be (after years of having being home too - crazy hey?).

    Also, like Sophie, I also read your blog early here in NZ, and often wondered about what time you got up -wow 4am? What time do you get to bed?


  8. I imagine this quiet revolution will lead to suburbs coming alive again with people. I'm sure most people have noticed in the last 10 years or so how suburbs are empty of life and living. People are off working and shopping!

  9. I needed to read this right now! I have been struggling lately with just what exactly I want ... a little bit of one lifestyle and a little bit of another (unfortunately they would not mix together). We had high hopes to move to our land in GA (purchased 11.40 acres there last spring), but the economic downturn has turned that dream into a very long range one. I'm tired of waiting for "someday" and have really been trying to move forward with simplicity and independence where we are here and now. I wish hubby were more on board with me, but he's coming around. I suppose my biggest struggle is accepting that I need to bloom where I've been planted instead of dreaming of something that may not happen.

  10. Good Afternoon!

    Thanks for these good thoughts. As I plan ahead for the day when we move our family to the ranch, I know there will be adjustments to be made to country living, but I think they will be good ones. I was linked through Alexandra, by the way, and am glad to have found you. I look forward to reading more!

    God Bless,
    Annette in Arizona

  11. Thanks for the words of wisdom Rhonda. You are so right, what works for one person may not work for the next. We must tailor our lives to what works best for each of us. But how nice it is to share ideas to help one another! Another inspirational post!!!

    Central Illinois

  12. Hmmm.... a message of freedom. What a novel thought! grin

  13. Another great post Rhonda.

  14. Around 11 years ago, I was turning 30, I realized that the so-called normal life we were living wasn't working for us. So each year for my birthday I have been changing just one thing within myself. It has been an amazing journey!

    This year we are growing so much of our own food, we got started on a very small scale last year.

    On Saturday, my Beloved and I made homemade soap. I was inspired by your soap, however we used just a beginner castile soap recipe. It's a wee bit crumbly on the edges but other than that it is lovely.

    As we were picking blueberries on Sunday we wished everyone we knew could just once feel this thing which comes when you hold in your hands home-grown organic blueberries, a bar of freshly cut homemade soap, or eat a homemade muffin with your very own fresh and free (especially pesticide free)'s contentment at it's highest.

    Thank you for all you do.

  15. I could imagine if we sat down to a coffee together Rhonda that you would be a treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom. Excellent post and thanks for the reminder that our life should not be lead by others standards but by our own - in trying to be green and live simpler it is easy (for me at least ;)) to read what others are doing and feel like I am not doing it right...

  16. Addit:
    Rhonda, I just saw on the 5pm news a story on blogging !! On the news of all places - they interviewed 3 "popular bloggers" and were talking about them generating income greater than
    $100 000. I visited the sites of these bloggers and also was directed to the top 100 blogs etc really have a niche and I cannot imagine these other blogs getting the number of visits you do...

  17. Rhonda,
    How right you are and how difficult it is...I looked it up, and the average Dutch man/woman spent 152 hours in shops last year, that's 25 minutes a day. Add to that all the commercials on tv, the ads in newspapers and magazines and it can only be imagined what it does to the feeling of contentment of what you already have. :-(
    I remember seeing an Oprah show a while ago about a woman who stopped shopping for a year, I think she and her husband saved 10.000 dollars and really enjoyed the time they had.
    Sometimes I get into that "I want, I need" feeling too, I don't like it but I do. Usually I can set my mind to other things, but not always. When it comes to shops and spending it's probably a bit harder to live in a city like we do, where there's shops on every corner and people in the newest and trendiest clothes. It's hard to avoid, but as I get older I get better at it.
    Christine from the NL

  18. I have been watching a BBC documentary called "The Century of Self" via youtube. What an eye-opener for me as an American and further encouragement to stop listening to what I've always been told to think and feel about my life as a consumer! It falls right into line with what you are saying. Use your own thoughts and be aware of influence from outside sources.

    And listen instead to folks like Rhonda Jean who is trying to splash some cold water into the face of zombie-consumption!

  19. Thank you Rhonda, for your ever-thoughtful words. I have just been thinking along these lines myself this morning, but you have put this argument so eloquently.

  20. So many things I need to do. My question for you is what do you store your 25 lbs of flour in while you're using it? I recently purchased 50 lbs because i heard it's supposed to increase dramatically in price. Just need some sort of plastic container or something?

  21. How funny that you posted this -- hubby and I spent dinner sniggering over a Readers Digest Sweepstakes letter. If you don't see much advertising, the stuff you do see gets more and more laughable. We also used it to teach our 7yo about how advertising works.

    WRT happiness, CS Lewis wrote in 'Surprised by Joy' that if you went looking for joy, you wouldn't find it. I think he's right.

  22. WOW Rhonda,
    Really impactfull blog for me..
    I will be reading it again...letting time for it to sink it and apply this to me...This is nothing I don't already know...just get "caught" up at times in the "outside" worldly stuff...Need to stop that because it makes me miserable!...
    Thanks for your great post!It spoke to my heart.

  23. Wonderful post Rhonda. Each family walks its own unique path. There's no one-size-fits-all solution.

  24. Great post.

    For all the parents of very young children I cannot recommend finding the book, "Buy Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Children" by Susan Gregory Thomas, highly enough.

    My eyes were opened to how marketers are now targeting children 0-3 aggressively to snag them into being brand loyal from literally the cradle. We are all collectively being manipulated and most people do not seem to care even if they are aware of it.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Rhonda,
    I'm so glad I found your blog. I have been reading your posts over the past several weeks. You are a huge inspiration! I love the idea of living simple. I've always joked that I must have been a farmer in a past life during the 1800's. I could have totally been married to Charles Ingles! The best news is that living simple in today's times would be much easier than it was way back when. Well, except that the teenagers are totally against it! What? no t.v., no fast food, eww, home grown vegetables? They just don't dig it. However, they do appreciate the idea that if for some reason in the future, we can't buy food from the store, we'll know how to grow our own! That's gotta count for somthing. Anyway, you have inspried me greatly and I have begun my family's transformation into living simple and your posts contribute a great deal to my continued education in this process.
    Thanks and keep posting!

  27. Thank you for such a great post. I have been thinking about changing my ways, but don't know how to go about starting. I found your blog through another blogger and I am so glad that I looked into it. I have been reading and slowly taking in your experiences, thinking about what you do that I can start for myself. Thank you for being a caring and sharing person.
    I went on my first shopping "spree" in months yesterday. That only happened becausemy money situation is not very good. I had to have some articles of clothing and I have been waiting to get those until I saved up enough. Then I also didn't want to go until I had plenty to buy to merit a trip to the mall. I saved gas! It felt good to get just exactly what I needed and no more, and to wait for it all, because now I appreciate it more!
    I do own a sewing machine and make most of my gifts, and I have just taught myself to knit. One day I will be able to do more. Thank you again!

  28. Rhonda jean

    could you do another post about soapmaking i have just started making my own and we be glad of the advice

    I have seen your tutorial but struggling for some ingredients so alternative recipes welcomed

    Sharron in the UK

  29. Hi,
    I just came back to post a link to YouTube, because I happened to stumble upon this and thought it was really interesting and totally supports what you wrote:

    They also have a website:

    Christine from the NL

  30. Thanks, I needed this today.

  31. Hi Rhonda,

    Governments around the world changed from their hands-off, you're-on-your-own to the coddling, we-know-best approach, when two things happened.

    The first step was women getting the vote. Where they once looked to husbands to provide security they turned to the government to provide it. Socialist governments began to sweep into power on the female vote.

    From that came the welfare state (or at least, big welfare handouts). With welfare handouts making it possible to live without having to work, welfare recipients began to vote for the party that would give them the most money.

    So, the problem began with women getting the vote but is exacerbated by welfare recipients pushing for more handouts.

    Before all the ladies here start pounding on my head, I don't think that women should be refused the vote, but I do think they should be taught the consequences of their votes. If you want the government to look after you, then expect a nannying state. If you don't then vote for the other guy/gal. I also believe that if you receive welfare then you should NOT be able to vote for more welfare.

    You can't complain about the adult/children thing when you wanted that adult government to protect you (instead of your husband/self doing it) all along.

    Sorry, politics always makes me rant. I do have proof of a scientific study carried out in the US and how the different states changed in government size upon women getting the vote in that state.

    You can flame all you like...

    P.S. Let me reiterate my thoughts:
    1. Women SHOULD have the vote - provided they understand the consequences of that vote.
    2. Welfare recipients SHOULD NOT have the vote - so they can not vote for more welfare

  32. Sorry, I couldn't let the comment above pass unnoticed. I'm a middle-aged woman who doesn't have a husband or father or brother (or any male 'authority' figure for that matter). I have supported myself since I left school. To whom may I turn for guidance? Or should I just be ignored since I don't fit society's roles of caring mother or loving daughter? OK, I'll turn off the sarcasm now (mainly because I don't want to sully Rhonda's fine and worthy blog - for which I thank you, Rhonda)
    Evelyn, UK

  33. Hi Evelyn,

    So you admit that you vote for the party that will give you the most support and yet, if you were Rhonda, I'd say you got the government you deserved. A government that treats you as a child because that is how you choose to be treated.

    I'd suggest you do as Simple Living suggests and look inwards for that support.

    Looking for support from the government may get you support in the short-term but in the long-term you're going to get interference in your affairs (look at DEFRA interfering with small-holders).

    Become independent. Learn to find support within yourself or your community. Ask a neighbour but above all, don't ask the government at election time.

    You're not alone Evelyn. You're in a community (both here in Blogsville and in 'real life'). If you need help, then ask. I'm in the UK too, if I can help I will (and thats a personal choice, not something forced upon me by the government of any flavour).

    Take care,

  34. Hello Yabusame

    Thank you for your reply. I'm sorry you misunderstood my post. I am independent and I have supported myself all my adult life. I'm actually very self-reliant! I think perhaps it is best if we leave this issue now as politics can be a dangerous area for internet discussion! (But I am quite interested that you think you know how I vote!)
    Cheers, Evelyn, UK.

  35. Yabusame has some pretty dodgy opinions. Of course he/she is entitled to them but they should be informed by the facts. Here are a few for his/her consideration. According to Andrew Leigh, a respected psephologist (someone who studies election results) from the ANU (Australian National University) since statistics were recorded in Australia, women have been considerably more right wing than men. Here's a quote from an article he wrote (

    "Are male voters from Mars and female voters from Venus? According to the first Australian election survey, conducted after the 1966 election, the answer seemed to be yes. Women in those elections were significantly more right-wing than men: nearly 10 percent more likely to vote for the Coalition.
    Over the following decades, the gender voting gap has steadily narrowed, with women becoming more left-wing (relative to men). Yet even in the early-1990s, a gap existed. If we had banned men from voting in 1993, John Hewson would have beaten Paul Keating."

    So, it might be an idea for Yabusame to check his/her facts before splashing his/her dubious opinions across the blogosphere.

  36. Evelyn,

    Thanks for your reply. I realised after I'd posted my response that I'd misready your original message but there was no way to remove mine. I'm sorry for the misunderstanding.


    Thanks for pointing out that ANU article, I hadn't read it before. My information is based on studies carried out in the UK and the USA. John Lott Jr and Larry Kenny (for the University of Maryland) produced a document entitled:
    'How Dramatically Did Women's Suffrage Change The Size And Scope Of Government?'

    You can find a copy of it here:

    Check this out too:

    It would be interesting to see how the studies differ around the world. I'm glad that at least one western democracy (Australia) appears to have independent women.

    I'm agreed that politics is always a dangerous thing to discuss online and I'll refrain from doing so henceforth (at least, on this blog). I did try to highlight that my opinions may be contenscious by my comments regarding flaming and head bashing in my original post. It was not my intent to anger anyone or start a flame war, just to give people pause for thought. If you don't agree with me, then thats great, just make sure you don't agree on a logical basis not because of a feeling you have. Hey, if your reason is good enough you might change my way of thinking too (after all, I reserve the right to change my mind).

    Sorry Rhonda and all, I always get hot under the collar when talking about politics. You should see me when I'm watching the news on TV, my girlfriend says its cute but I don't believe her ;-)

    (Token male on this female blog - kidding!)

  37. Hi Rhonda,this is my first visit to your blog and I have to say I love it!We have been saying for quite awhile now that people will have to go back to basics and learn to live more frugally we can't go on as we are!The only thing is, some will cope well and others will struggle, some have only ever known ready made meals and junk food and have never been taught how to make a meal from scratch from fresh ingedients let alone grown them.We have old fashioned values and are trying to live a slower pace of life and are quite happy to make do and mend! you are an inspiration and I have added you to my sidebar and hopefully encourage more to visit your blog so that they too can learn more about a simpler way of life! I think I need to make another cuppa I've lots more of your posts to read yet!Take care,love from Kathyann and the girls at meg's mum's muffins (UK)

  38. Hmmmm, Yabusame.... I'm not convinced. If you are relying on John Lott as the main support for rolling back the right for women to vote, then I'm afraid you are on very shaky ground. I've had a look at his work on suffrage and it seems to me that he confuses correlation with causation. Just because government spending increased at the same time as women's right to vote was propagated doesn't mean one caused the other. Also, I'm not sure Lott can be trusted. Perhaps you haven't heard of the Mary Rosh scandal where Lott adopted an online persona (Mary Rosh) to praise his own teaching. Not exactly something to inspire trust in his academic detachment. There's also some question (Levitt and Dubner, "Freakonomics") that he may have fabricated data for some of his research on gun control. Certainly no one else has been able to reproduce his results. All in all, Lott strikes me as someone who has a particular world view and then looks for evidence to support it. Of course he's not alone there, but we don't need to take such people, or their opinions, very seriously.

  39. There's a good summary of John Lott's academic 'achievements' regarding gun control at . Can't find any reviews on his work on women's suffrage though. I don't think anyone takes him terribly seriously any more.

  40. great post! i love your blog! xo


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