27 June 2008

Independence, freedom and choice

I was feeling relaxed and focused as I went about my work yesterday. I pottered around the house doing this and that, and then worked on Shane's quilt in the afternoon. Hanno went to the dentist in the morning so morning tea was had, just me and the dogs, on the front verandah. It's my favourite place to sit and stare into the trees and think about life, the universe and our place within it.

We are fortunate people, we are happy living here. Just breathing this air fills me up and I know that if we continue living as we are now, working away at lives that are home made and filled with work and the satifaction it brings, our happiness will continue. We don't need the frills and trappings that have become part of modern life. I find the simple things we surround ourselves with and the work we need to do to live this way brings us the kind of contentment we never felt when we visited shopping malls and paid for our happiness. Like most others, we were conned into believing that work was a bad thing, something to be avoided, but since we discovered that work brings its own joy, we have never looked back nor regretted leaving behind lives that took but never gave back.

I look around our home and see a space that is easy to live in. It's beautiful here. The weather is lovely, we grow food all year round, we can keep our chickens, dogs and cat, we enjoy the many birds that visit us. We have a driveway a fair distance from the one lane road that leads to our house, we can close the gate on the outside world and feel content here. It's quiet. We sometimes hear children playing, a train going by at night or the whip birds and sacred kingfishers as they fly by with their strange screams. Otherwise is the gentle clucking of the chooks, Hanno hammering on one of this projects or the sewing machine buzzing away constructing fast stitches for me.

Just at the end of the front verandah a tomato is growing. It's a red cherry pear tomato and it's growing, against all odds, in a crack between the end of the verandah and the driveway of the garage. I have no idea how it came to be there but it has come to symbolise for me the way we live our lives. A seed planted in a hostile environment, going against the pattern of what has been before, and yet it thrives, bears fruit, and shows every day that difficult things are possible. We know that despite what is told to us by the media, and the example set by mainstream Australia, we can live well on $342 a week and we are happier now than we have ever been. When "they" tell you you need to have more to be more, don't believe "them".

How could you not love this life. No, we don't have a big TV or pay for the viewing of it, we don't have the latest fashions to wear, we no longer fly off to far away places for exotic holidays. But what we have is far more stable and significant than those passing fancies. We have built a life here that gives us enough work to fill our days and makes us sleep well at night, we are independent and we have the freedom to choose whatever we want to do each day.

The photo below sums up our day yesterday, and, I suppose, our lives as well. It's a gentle scene in the afternoon sun, showing that tasks need to be finished and the animals fed before we eat and relax inside. Yes, that's Hanno handfeeding Rosetta, our golden Hamburg chicken - naturally, Rosie and Alice sit and stare because food is being moved around and a crumb might fall.

Just to the side of the above scene, bean vines are weaving their slow path around upturned pots. One of the simple pleasure we'll be enjoying soon will be sweet baby beans pulled from the vine and eaten raw in the garden.

And over on the back verandah, fruit ripens naturally, a few bananas at a time, just enough for the two of us.

But the sum total of this life is much more than the individual parts because it adds up to give us independence, freedom, choice, security, joy and the comforting knowledge that we make our lives what they are. Like any good organic system there is a cycle created that shows us that what we put into our lives is returned to us ten fold. There is beauty is such a system, it is created by taking small steps, by using less rather than wanting more and by knowing that, at the moment, the work we do enables us to make whatever we want and need.


  1. Hi Rhonda,

    I haven't commented for a while but I have kept up to date with every post and been inspired.

    I've just been busy 'doing' instead of dreaming/thinking/reading about it! LOL!

  2. Beautifully said, Rhonda.
    And so much more than just physical sustenance for yourselves, you are giving to others, which will more than come back to you in Blessings-By-The-Bushel in friendships the world over.

  3. Everytime I read your blog (about every 2 days) I find myself sighing as it reaffirms that you can live simply. Thanks to you we have made some small changes around the house and the way we look at what we consume on a daily basis.

    My husband is taking paternity leave this summer (w/o pay) so we have double planted our veggie patch to trade the extra beans and carrots with a local farmer to get produce we cannot grow without a hot house here (like cucumbers)

    Thanks again!

  4. What a beautiful post Rhonda Jean.
    You describe the good life so well.
    New commers beware once you tread upon this path there is no way back. Any attempt to return to the old ways feels like betrayal.
    Keep up the good work Rhonda Jean.
    Much love Julie x.

  5. This is a very beautiful quote it makes me feel jealous that I'm not there yet. We will get there though, still lots of hard work ahead of us to get rid of our debts, and be able to live the life we want. Have a great day.

    Tracie xx

  6. What a lovely place you have.

    Sometimes people seem to feel sorry for me as financial pressures (my husband's illness and subsequent going on Disability) caused us to give up our big "dream house" and move into this small place in the country.

    I wish we had done it a long time ago. I it here.

  7. great post!! thank you-

  8. I always enjoy reading your blog. You and Hanno are lucky in many ways. I think your climate lets you live more economically than we can here in northeast Ohio where winter is so cold and relatively long. Even with a winter garden and canning, we cannot do without heating and buying food more than I think you must. And the luckiest is that you are both together. I miss my husband so much. And I am 63 with bad knees... Still, my son is here for a few more years while he finishes his graduate degree, one daughter and her family and my grandson are nearby, another not far off, and I have a lot of blessings in this present moment, too. I think reflecting on them is an important daily exercise!

  9. I blogged some words like yours yesterday, about choice. How our society tries to enforce how we live, and that I will stand up and make a choice.

    You inspire me Rhonda :)


  10. Rhonda Jean - I've been reading your blog for about two months now. Just enjoy it a lot and have recently linked to your site. I so love your easy, practical style and the gratitude that exudes from almost every post. (I also get a kick out of how you call them "chooks" and we call them "chicks". You weirdos - or wait - are WE the weirdos???!!) Please keep up the blessed work.

  11. Lovely post Rhonda. I have wondered before about the upturned terracotta pots - what are they for? Have I missed something fundamental here?

  12. Hello everyone, thank you.

    Hugs to you, Kristie.

    scrub oak, LOL! what sort of chicks do you hav?

    Robbie, the upturned pots are sitting on garden stakes to stop eyes being damaged when we bend over them ... and I like the look of them.
    :- )

  13. I love your post today -- as always! The man came today to take away my cable box, and it's so freeing. Now I don't have to pay $80 a month for the privilege of wasting my time!

  14. Your blog is like a breath of fresh air. The pictures relax me and your words inspire me. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

  15. I wish it was warm enough here in Tassie to grow bananas. I love the photo of the little plant growing out of the concrete Rhonda :)
    I don't know if you've seen this before, but I thought it might be something that you and/or your readers might be interested in:

  16. I love the way you live Rhonda. It's just the way I would love to spend my days. I am slowly getting our young family turing in the right direction, my main dragging anchor is my partner Scott, who thinks it's all to hard :) poor man. Keep writing, as I know that if you inspire me everyday, you do so to many others as well.

  17. What a beautiful post!
    Thank you so much for sharing your lives with us. You and Hanno are quite special people. :)

  18. I can't even find words to describe how beautiful reading that sounds to me. Thank you.

  19. That's the kind of life I want! Thank you for the inspiration. :)

  20. Rhonda,
    Great post, and I think from your words it's obvious you are a happy woman.
    I wish my mother would go back to gardening, the chickens, the making from scratch, instead of buying everything and waiting all year for the few weeks she can go on holiday. She says she's done enough of that hard work and just wants to rest now. Somehow she doesn't seem happier to me though.

    Christine from the NL

  21. I always find the pictures you share so peaceful. I especially love the one on this entry of Rosie and Alice waiting for a crumb to drop!

  22. Dear Rhonda,
    Wow...what a wonderful post.
    You have such a way with words...they truly connect with your readers.
    Blessings to you,

  23. Hi Rhonda,

    I so enjoy reading your blog and was blessed to have found it some months ago. It really offers me encouragement, peace, contentment, affirmation and direction in what I am doing here at home.

    I have to confess though, that I still do struggle at times with the worldly or commercial enticements. I still have to fight against the urge to want more than we can afford. We do live pretty simply, have four kids on a tight budget. I know we could squeeze a lot more of excesses out and I need to work on that, but sometimes I feel with teenagers in the house, it is a bit harder to do. They want new clothes, gadgets, thrills and adventures that can sometimes be quite costly.

    We have always enjoyed doing simple things together....gardening, cooking, sewing, drawing and reading....but still there seems to be that edge about them for the need for adventure too.

    Do you think this simple life came as a result of nessessity, downsizing, retiring or....... simply, wisdom after having done it all "out there", had adventures and experiences and "then" turned your hearts toward home and found even more happiness there....or perhaps even something else?

    I guess I'm just wondering about this for my children. My husband and I are quite content to be home and live simply....but the older children seem a little less inclined to want to do so.

    Does that make any sense?


  24. Beautifully written! I love your volunteer tomato!

    Thanks for letting us visit to see the grace of your days...

  25. Thank you for sharing that! I'm a new reader (I think I've read for about 8 days now!), and your posts just fascinate me! The picture of the little tomato plant growing out of the crack brought a big smile to my face--I love how you describe yourselves like the plant--it's perfect for us as well.
    We are finally moving to the country in 4 days, and I can't wait to get started with everything we'll do with our new place! You are an inspiration!!

  26. I read your blog every time Bloglines notifies of an update. Today I just want to say thank you for sharing your beautiful home and life with us. I look forward to reading your posts.

  27. Rhonda,

    Fantastic, I couldn't have said it better myself! It is hard making our way in the world we live in today. I only pray that our children will see the simple life and appreciate it.

  28. Hi Rhonda,

    I read your blog regularly and find it totally inspiring. Your life sounds absolutely wonderful and although I feel my life has become much simpler over the past few months, for a variety of reasons it won't ever be as simple as yours. It's lovely that you've managed it though.

    I love the photo of the dogs watching Hanno. That so reminds me of my own little dog and how patient she is when food's around. We have much to learn from our pets :)

  29. I am so glad I found your blog! I read it every day for its healing powers. Thank you for sharing your life and thoughts.


  30. Hi Rhonda,

    I am new to your site. I love it! I am looking to gain more knowledge about gardening, especially kolerabi, which I made tonight (but bought from the store). I also want to bake bread from scratch, we have no bread machine. Can you please help me? I am inspired by your lifestyle and committment. I want to learn to embrace a simpler life.

    Thank you!


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