13 June 2008

There is balance in most healthy systems

I want to carry on from my post about tightening your belt because there are more important things to consider. Yesterday I wrote about the containment of spending and conservation of money but I didn't write about where that will lead you.

That post needs to be balanced by one about the enjoyment and enrichment to be found in living within your means. There is balance in most healthy systems.

There may be several things you don't like doing in a simplified life, but there will be many things that make up for that, and they will probably be those elements you didn't or couldn't notice when you were living faster and bigger. When you slow down, you'll start noticing the small and quiet parts of your life that went unseen before. You may be surprised at how you feel when you bake a good loaf of bread for the first time or when you put your home made soap in the bathroom for the family to use. Inviting a friend around for coffee and homemade scones instead of meeting at the local Starbucks will keep you in touch with your friends and show them, but example, that you don't have to be waited on and have everything made for you. You are capable, you can do for yourself and you don't have to spend money in the process. These small actions are significant, they mark your change and they often bring joy.

One of the first things I did when I slowed down and starting living well was to be mindful of what I was doing. I stopped multi-tasking to get things done fast and concentrated on the one thing I was doing. I sometimes found this difficult because my mind was racing to get to the next, the next, the next, until I accidentally came up with a strategy that worked for me, and is still working. When I do something I like, when there is something to be savoured, when there is a new feeling, I stop and tell myself aloud: "this is really beautiful" or "I LOVE this" or "that feels lovely" or "this is a good thing". It marks the moment as a special one, I hear the affirmation, I remember it because it is verbalised and it slows me down. There is beauty lurking in the mundane things that surround you, you just need to slow down enough to find it. Of course there will be times when you'll find joy and meaning in a great occasion but sometimes you'll find the same meaning in the sound of your own breathing.

You may think that not shopping and staying home more will be tedious but use your time at home to make it a place you want to be. Your home is not just a box you sleep in. It's the space you truly relax in, it's the safe haven where you raise your children, it's where you express love, it's where you keep what you need to live, it's where you grow older and wiser. Such an important place should be warm and supportive of the people who live there. There are no benevolent pixies who will come in and make it a place you will feel at home in. That is your job. You must make your home the place you want it to be and you will do that not by following what is in a glossy magazine or shop window, but instead by following what is in your heart. Make do with what you already have to fluff your nest and make your home a unique place that reflects the person you are now.

So if you're on your transition from a life lived more outside yourself to one that is within you and around you, slow down, then slow down more, be aware of what you have and don't forget to tell yourself: this is good for me. Use your free time making your home the place you want it to be. If you have to sew or create what you need, what's stopping you?

This post is to remind you that the full story of tightening your belt is not all doom and gloom. It is balanced by the joy you will find when you do it. I hope you know now that by stepping away from what mainstream society has become you will discover how you fit into your own life and your environment. You're entering a period of conservation so remember that whatever you need to fluff your nest is probably already in your home. You are cutting back, becoming independent and are starting to provide for yourself. You don't need to buy another plastic thingamajig, you don't need one more thing that's been shipped from China or India. Use what you have, appreciate who you are now and tighten that belt. Start reskilling, recycling, reusing, renewing and regenerating, and you'll reinvent and rediscover yourself in the process.

It's all waiting for you, my friends.


  1. Your blogs make me hungry! I am going to try the veg tacos!

  2. I suppose this is the best thing I've found about Living Simply. It's the simple joys I find in making my own cheese or bread, the pride I feel in presenting granola bars to a bunch of hungry kids and saying "I made them myself!". The peacefulness of hanging laundry on the line. I'm still not "there" yet, still a ways to go, but the journey has been eye-opening thus far.

  3. Your comments are very true, as always Rhonda. Since begining simplifiying, both DH and I have found that we have no wish to go out, no wish to go shopping, in fact, it has become an unplesant necessity that we try to avoid whenever possible. Being at home, working in our garden, or just spending time with our chooks (and each other) seems a far more worthwhile use of our time.

  4. What a beautiful post. I am new here and enjoying your blog very much. I am just beginning on my journey "back to me" and am so thankful to the different things God is showing me every day. Thank you for your openness and allowing us to be a part of it. :) Hugs, Michelle

  5. I was just thinking recently how people I know don't invite each other to their homes, anymore.

    It is always "meet me here", or "meet me there". It now costs $9.00 or $10.00 to go to a restaurant for breakfast or lunch (more for dinner out), not to mention the price of gasoline.

    How much nicer to invite someone to your home. Perhaps I should start a trend.

    Yes... home as the place we feel most secure and happy.

  6. Wonderful thought-provoking post, Rhonda!

  7. These posts motivate me and encourage me to continue on the path we've chosen and for that I'm thankful to you, my friend!

  8. Yay for Rhonda - you express what so many folks think, feel and aspire to so elegantly. There is so much joy and peace in a quieter, more lived life. So much more room to connect with life - with what you are doing, with people you love, with the things and the life around us. What a gift for everything we do to be an act of love.

    warm hugs and smiles

  9. The first time I made my own tomato sauce from my own organically home grown tomatoes I thought, "What an exhaustive process! I'm not sure how I feel about doing this every year." Then my daughter came along and took way too much of it, then washed the excess sauce down the sink! To which I blurted out, "Don't you dare waste even a drop of that! This stuff is like gold! They're the best, sweetest tomatoes that I sweated over growing, picking and cooking half the DAY to make. It's just too precious!"

    Then I realised how satisfied I felt with my efforts. The next year I was more familiar with the process and the task became easier, and the next year easier again. It no longer seemed like an exhaustive process to make and it spurred me on to discover other joys in making things. After reading your post on mending I now take real delight and satisfaction in mending, something I'd previously convinced myself I never would.

    When I became willing to explore the processes that I'd previosly regarded as just drudgery I discovered something very different, real deep contentment. It seems to be something only found in the doing, not the telling. That feeling is hard to describe to anyone else, but you're so right, reminding myself about the satisfaction to be had from what I do is what makes it feel so worthwhile.

    When I found the rewards in doing for myself I began to think about what 20th C life had been robbing me of and how complicit I'd become with it. There's no denying the great benefits from certain advances but we've "thrown the baby out with the bath water" way too much.

    Regards, Marilyn

  10. Hi, Someone once said "Choose to be happy". I think this sums up your post. Cherrie

  11. Thank you for this timely post Rhonda. I was only thinking yesterday that part of the reason I forget things is because I never concentrate on one thing at a time. My mind is always elsewhere. I need to consciously slow down after a lifetime of trying to fit too many things in at once and be too many things to too many people. I believe that your concept is a principle, known in some religious philosophies as 'living in the moment'.
    PS I loved your comment about the pixies. I think DS waits for them to pick up his dirty socks and wet towels.


  12. Thank you!

    Such good feelings flowed out of that post for me. And you're absolutely right about the simple things bringing joy. When I have my little girl to help me make jam drops or even when we don our aprons together, there is that feeling of togetherness, of ease, and I guess that's real happiness.

    You have such a nice way of saying things.

    Have a great day

  13. Dear Rhonda,

    Not only are you so wise, but you are able to express yourself so eloquently on your blog.


  14. Rhonda,

    I am still learning to slow down.

    I am always doing something and thinking ahead of what I need to do next.

    I suppose I might not be enjoying what I might doing because I am in too much of a hurry to get it done.

    Rhonda how do you stay in the moment? I am sure you have a list of things you would like to do....how do you know what to do first?

    Do you do a little bit of yard work and then house work then stitchery? How do you manage your time when there is so much to get done?

    Now that is gardening season here we could spend our whole day in the yard but I would like to spend sometime working on my stitching:)

    Many blessings,


  15. Thank you for the wonderful essay. It sums up what I feel so completely, but I am not so eloquent...

  16. Hi Rhonda, I was thinking of this very issue this morning as I folded and stuffed my freshly dried in front of the fire nappies. The pleasure I get from stuffing, folding and smoothing these things is my guilty secret! Lisa J (p.s. brrrr..just started snowing here this afternoon!)

  17. Thanks for the balance you have provided. I am making changes little by little, but they are adding up gradually to become a better life. I am off to bake right now, so my son can have something homecooked to eat when he comes home from school. I can feel the love already!

  18. To stop multi-tasking has been one of the hardest things on my journey. I am always thinking of the next 'job' to do and when I need to do it.
    Today will be ' Do one thing at a time Day' and if it's not all done well then there is tomorrow.

    Thanks you for your words of encouragement each day.

    Have a happy day.


  19. Thanks for the beautiful post and the reminder. You are absolutely right. When you slow down, even washing dishes can become a kind of meditation and a peaceful joy, rather than a chore. I must confess to being always in a hurry these days. Thank you for the reminder to slow down.

    And yes, there is a real pleasure in being able to give your family and friends your own produce. I get a real buzz out of the children in summer reaching for a cob of sweet corn straight from the stalk or the early morning joy of picking the raspberries with my partner's son.

    Thank you so much for this beautiful post. xx

  20. My children love being home. My son would rather be here and watch a movie we own then go out and see one at a theater. My daughter is growing in skills too. They are learning independence not dependence on a false security that is collapsing all around us. They would rather enjoy what comes from their own hands as do I. I so look forward to this big house selling so we can own our home outright.

  21. Another excellent post Rhonda.....

    This morning we went and changed our library books and nipped to get some fruit and veg for the weekend......I started off my store cupboard with rice lentils and dried beans...........its only a little, but oak trees grow from little acorns.......

    Last year we grew drying beans, but none of the seed came up this year, hence the packet, O use beans to bulk up meat in casseroles and stews.

    Now a plea.........someone I think it was Fifi contacted me yesterday about quilting mags, your email address was not accepted, can you go to my blog and tell me that you have sent an email to the address on there....thanks.....

  22. Fluff the nest, I love that expression. :-) I see pigeons nesting from my kitchen window and they do it all the time. Most of their day is filled with either working on or fluffing the nest. I guess you're right about making it a real home, but the only problem I have is that sometimes I get so bored by the way it all looks. Perhaps because I'm home all day, I don't know. Maybe I just spend too much time staring at it, lol.
    You're a wonderful blogger, Rhonda. I really hope your bookwish will come true.

    Christine from the NL

  23. Just wanted to add, I mean I get bored of looking at our furniture and our interior, not the pigeons and their nest! :-)


  24. Rhonda, once again you have captured the essence of what I feel and expressed it more beautifully than I ever could.

    Thanks for your lovely words and inspiration.

  25. Thank you for taking the time to share.

    My hubby asked me why I like folding laundry so much. I told him because it's the one thing I do where I am totally focused on it. I don't think of anything else. I enjoy folding laundry because I know of the peace of mind it brings me. It makes me slow down.

    I've learned to enjoy cooking too but only if I have the time to do it. If I'm in a hurry then I won't cook, that's merely food assembly like in a factory. When I have the time to slowly cook I also enjoy what I eat. If I'm in a hurry then food merely provides sustenance.

  26. Man, I can't wait to sit down and really read these last couple of posts...I need all the help I can get with learning to downsize and live simpler, as we're quite over our heads financially at present. Thanks for the great tips!

  27. Rhonda,
    I love your posts. You seem to have a knack for inspiring me and making me hungry! As for Fluffing my nest, I have plans to paint my livingroom and dining room walls soon. I has taken me a long time to decide to do this because my walls are not normal walls, they are wood siding. I liked it at first but because there are no windows (only sliding glass doors) it makes it very dark and gloomy in the house. So, I'm going to paint the wood siding walls a sandy white color to brighten it up, wish me luck!!!

    Thanks for inspiring me once again!

  28. What a wonderful, uplifting post. Thank you for all you write, with wisdom.

  29. Hi Rhonda, Years ago I read a quote about "finding the mystical in the mundane, the sacredness in the ordinary"... your post reminded me of this - something I have been searching for and I think I may have stumbled across it with simple living & slowing down. I wake up with more joy these days! Many thanks Tamara

  30. Thank you all for your lovely comments.

    Renee, I never think that there is a lot to do. I just work according to the weather. If it's cold outside, or too hot, I work inside. When I'm tired of being indoors I go outside and work. There are things that I always do at the same time - making bread so it's ready for lunch; I make the bed after I have breakfast. I prepare food around lunch and dinner times. If I don't get something done, I don't care. Most things will wait.

    Slowing down and concentrating on what I am doing took me quite some time. I used to be a really fast thinker, doing many things at the same time. Stopping that took ages. For me, it was a matter of concentrating, and bringing my self back when my mind drifted to something else. Now I am mindful of most of what I do, but I still wander at times. I think it's a habit that you have to train your mind to do.

    Good luck with your house sale, Donetta.

    Christine, can you move your furniture around, or paint the walls? Often change doesn't take much effort.

    Good for you Angie! That's great. Last year we painted with a creamy yellow called Milk Maid and we love it.

  31. Since I have started to be a stay at home wife (not by choice but because of moving into another country and still waiting for my working visa) I have begun to enjoy being at home and baking bread, sewing, crocheting. At times I hope I never have to go back to work I am enjoying living such a more simple life!


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