Being aware and developing values

25 July 2008
Yesterday was the coldest day of the year here in our little home. It was raining and dark and just right for a day of reflection and knitting. Of course I made bread and did a few other chores - there was quark waiting to be made and a batch of soap to be stored away, but my focus yesterday was inside my own head. I need days like that because it gives me a chance to think about my life and what I hope for the future. The way I live my life requires quite a bit of thought. I like to plan what I do, concentrate on chores and activities as I do them, and then think about the value of what I've done.

I have always been a thinker but now I believe awareness is a big part of how I live. Simple living isn't all about the practical things we do in our day to day lives. There is a philosophy that goes with my life that requires generosity and grace to be ever present. Gone are the days I lived on auto-pilot, now I give more and expect less. Now I am mindful that my thoughts and actions are familiar bedfellows.

I have told the story of the sampler I made in an older post, but for those of you new to my blog, I'll tell it again because that sampler was a great help to me when I first embarked on this brand new life. Basically, it is that I could easily remember recipes for making soap and food and many of the practical things I needed to do, but I didn't always remember the finer things like being kind or not having more than I needed. I thought about how I could remind myself, every day, about the values I wanted to develop. I wanted a less-is-more approach to become a significant part of my life. So I drew that sampler, stitched it and put it in a frame to look at every day as I went about my life. Having that there in my kitchen reminded me of the person I wanted to become. A few years down the track, I felt confident enough in myself and how I'd changed to be able to give that stitchery away, now it lives with Peggy in the USA.

I'm a bit dense sometimes. I need visual reminders. It's easy to become caught up in the practice of day to day living, of putting food on the table and being organised enough to do everything I need to do. But now the sentiments behind that sampler, those important values, are ingrained deep within me. Now all I need are days like yesterday when I can sit and knit and think about where I am heading and what is the gentlest and most interesting way to get there.


  1. We all need reminders of what we are striving for in life! We get too caught up in the everyday tediousness and forget to look at the whole picture and just LIVE! I love that sampler and hope to make one for myself one of these days. Maybe in the depths of a frigid winter! Take care!

    Kristina in Nebraska

  2. Not only are you living simply but you are truly living, a authentic life. You have such a gift of verbal expression; in which you bring clarity to the philosophy, that we should all live by. For if we did what a gentler world this would be.

    Such eloquent and such a powerful statement when you said;

    "There is a philosophy that goes with my life that requires generosity and grace to be ever present. Gone are the days I lived on auto-pilot, now I give more and expect less. Now I am mindful that my thoughts and actions are familiar bedfellows."

  3. Thank you Rhonda, I think I need to make a sampler. I appreciate these reflective posts as much as your practical advice.

    Have a wonderful winter weekend.

  4. I went through something that started me on a different journey a few years ago. I'm not sure what sparked it off, something small that just snowballed into a strong desire to strip away alot of the "things" that surrounded me in life. Most of it probably was what I saw as a noisy, crass commercialist world and I just wanted to turn it all off. I didn't want to go anywhere or see almost anyone. I didn't want noise or TV or advertising or shops or cars on busy streets or news or nearly anything to stimulate the senses. And then I just wanted to see what was there, or left inside after everything was "turned off".

    I feel like I've come a long way, and as I think you're describing, simplicity and being mindfull and having a belief in a value that you can then act on is the basis of it for me. It brings much more authenticity to my life but it's still a work in progress. Life has certainly been challenging this year, but then a belief isn't solid until it's been tested I guess.

    Thanks for your post. It really gets to the essence of things.
    Kindest regards, Marilyn

  5. Ilove your sampler. I may take those words and use them in my own way on something that i can hang in my home.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Rhonda, thank you for reminding me how important my character is. I spend much time with the work it takes to live on less. I use to give constantly and then life delt me a few blows that really stung. I've pulled back been more concerned about myself and my needs. Fearful I guess. I needed your prompting today to know that it is safe to give and enjoy.

  7. Rhonda - I've changed you from "Friday" reading to every's just what I need right now.

    I've been out of blogging mode for our summer (Texas and 100 today!) and am just getting back in the swing of things... Can you please help me with something?

    I also am using blogger: how do you get the books listed in the format you have? I have a few books about farming, but when I list them...they are seperate and each says "I recommend". I don't like this! If you have the time to help me, I would appreciate it so much.

    Czech my blog out at

    Thanks Stacy

  8. Rhonda, I wonder why we call it simple living? As you said living this life takes planing. Hard work is another ingredient as well but you know what I wouldn't have it any other way.

  9. Stacy here again - I forgot to leave my email.


  10. "Hand and Heart Shall Never Part" - Your little stitchery sampler brings to mind this old saying for me. Thank you for a lovely and wise post.

  11. We could all use reminders like that in our everyday life.
    I don'e sew, but perhaps I'll write it out, and post it in our home.

  12. I'm the same way, I need visual reminders for my goals. You certainly found a very creative way to have them.

  13. Thankyou for this post Rhonda :)

    Reading your words, I thought of what lies ahead for me and pondered how to continue living simply on return to paid work in the future... how to follow the things I love, live simply, and still to make enough money to take care of my children and myself. Quite often in the past I've felt panicked by trying to decide what to do to earn money - worried that paid work will complicate our lives and fracture our calm.

    But your words brought a moment of clarity that paid work does not have to be something that other people recognise as worthy, so long as I am happy with its place in our family life and it is enough.

    In the past I have felt such pressure to achieve recognition from other people, especially with respect to money, but the achievments have felt unsatisfying. I'm so happy with our life right now; I know it will change, but I think I can work out how to continue the "enough" consciousness through the transition into the future.

    Your sampler words have been stuck to my kitchen bench for the last year - I like them too :)

  14. My family has moved to China and we live on the twentieth floor, so I don't think I will have chickens anytime soon, but moving here has forced us to live a more simple life. First we had to get rid of a lot of stuff to make the move. We home school our kids, so books had to come and they weigh a lot, so many other things didn't make the cut.
    I also must cook from scratch here and am amazed at how many of the other "foreigners" don't really know how to cook from scratch. They tend to eat out a lot, and I will say I still leave Chinese cooking to the chinese!! They are so good at it. But as far as western cooking goes, I enjoy making my family's meals. I also enjoy going to "my" local fruit and vegie lady, who is patient with my bad chinese and makes sure I buy the freshest vegetables of my choice. I shop there almost every morning after my walk/run and it has been a pleasure eating really fresh food.
    I have been talking with my hubby about living simply for a while now, and living simply doesn't mean not working. I think it is guarding your time and energy to do the things that are important and not to let the world set your agenda.
    It is easy to get caught up in sport clubs, dancing classes, chinese lessons etc. and not do what we really value. It has been an interesting adventure to "start over" and very intentionally choose what we will and won't do.
    I have enjoyed your blog for awhile now and I wish I knew how to find the ingredients to make soap. But learning all those chinese words seems too complicated right now, so I think I will just go make a cup of tea.
    Denise in China

  15. Morning Rhonda,
    Yet another fantastic post that encourages us to think about the way we are living our lives.
    Your sampler is on my list of craft things that I want to do. I am busy starting the pin cushion swap and also knitting a blanket each for my children when its cold in the mornings. So it will be more the ned of the year before I get started.
    My life is so busy sometimes that its hard to find those wonderful moments where you can think things through in your head :-). But I really enjoy planning and sorting things out when I have moments of peace & quiet.
    Hope you have a great weekend Rhonda.
    Lv Steph x

  16. Hello Rhonda Jean :) You put the feelings that are in many peoples hearts so fluently into words. It's a joy to read about your thoughts and musings.

    The sampler is a lovely idea, and something I'd quite like to make for my kitchen, so thanks again for the inspiration.

    Kim x

  17. At the start of this year I reached a point in my life where I knew it was all wrong. I didn't know what it was I needed or didn't need as it happened. Then I found your blog and I knew this was what I was looking for. I don't have a sampler on my wall, yet. When I need a spur on I go look at the veg garden.

    Thank you so much for opening my eyes and helping me on the journey to a gentler way of life.

    Have a happy day.


  18. Like Rita I used to give and give, until I realised that my own life was out of kilter. My biggest problem is learning how to look after my own needs. I can't get out of 'mothering' mode and find it difficult to protect my boundaries, to say 'no'.

    You seem to have achieved a good balance, with time just for yourself, to take stock.


  19. Thank you for the reminder ~ perfect timing as usual!
    We are dramatically changing our lives as of Tuesday of next week. I actually had a panic attack this morning when I was thinking about the changes coming, and the major downsizing. "Where will I put all my blankets, towels, sheets and such if I only have ONE linen closet upstairs? How will my son cope without a big dresser in his room, but only a closet?" etc, etc,
    How foolish of me. I have more than I need. We don't even use most of those things in there! I think I'll make a trip to the local abused women's halfway house and "get over myself".

    you have made a tremendous impact on me, Rhonda. I am going to stitch that "give more" pattern as a reminder once we are settled halfway across the USA. Maybe I'll stitch a few of them and give them away as Christmas gifts so more people will be reminded. I'll put your website on a little card that will go with it ~ and hope they will glean as much from you as I have.

    Thank you, Rhonda, for taking away my panic attack this morning, and God bless your day!

  20. A day of thought is what's lacking in most people's lives. That 'too busy for that' excuse is often quoted.

    Society tells us we're inadequate if we don't rush around at 100mph every minute of every day, and its wrong. Its making family life suffer, its breaking down marriages and screwing up our kids.

    I am so grateful to have found such a bunch of great people who take the time to live authentically, or at least make the effort to, and put family and friends above cheap possessions.

    Rhonda, you are the anchor for so many people and this way of living is, as I see it, the way to mend the world. If only the rest of the world realised it!

    Love to you all x

  21. Rhonda,

    Thank you for taking the time to write and for being so open an honest. I really believe you have to train your thoughts about how you want to live. There are too many ways to just spend your money on unwanted items of this world.

    I have been wanting to stitch your sampler. Just as a reminder "how to live each day"

    I hope you stay warm and if you have time please make up some more samplers to stitch:)

    Lots of Love,


  22. Wow... I am fairly new to your blog so this is the first time I've heard this tale. And I really appreciate it.

    Thank you for sharing your insights: it's important to share this kind of wisdom as we can all learn from it!

  23. Sorry, I just had to laugh - the coldest day of the year - and it was raining. Those are warm days here in Wisconsin, USA. To me, cold is when F and C are the same :)

    Just wanted to let you know that I thought of you (and the garden circle) as I ate my first ever garden delight. Cucumbers.

    You were right - it's an awesome feeling not just to grow a garden but to taste it as well. I had such joy in my heart. I swear - it was best cucumber I ever had. Thanks!

  24. Like you, I often have thoughts running through my head when I sit on my lovely little porch and do my hand quilting here in Austin, TX. I think about the good fortune of my life and that I have all I need to live a rich, true life, even though I live on a limited budget and have few material possessions.

    Thank you for your words of wisdom today.

  25. Dearest Rhonda, favorite word!! I just love this post, it shows what kind of person you are.

    We have always taught our children to be kind and giving.

    Once again, thank you for the words from your heart.

    Blessings to you and give your "furbabies" a scratch behind their ears.

  26. I'm new to your blog, and I just wanted to say how inspiring you are. I've already learned so much, and I'm thinking so much. (And isn't it amazing that you can do that when you're in Australia and I'm in England!) Thank you.

  27. Rhonda, I love this piece of stitchery and the thought behind it. I agree, sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in everyday life that we forget of the great things behind it.



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