22 July 2008

Building an authentic life

There is a season for all things. I know the way Hanno and I live now will change in the future. At some point, we will grow too tired to garden as much as we do now, and there will be a time we don't have chickens. We will always live simply, there will be no change in our philosophy of living, but the way we go about our day to day lives will change according to our circumstances. That is a healthy thing, all natural systems change.

That applies to everyone - simple living is a changeable feast.

It's quite clear from the comments made here that we are not all the same. Although most of us aspire to live our lives in a simpler, more gentle fashion, that is being done in many different ways. My blog shows just one way to live simply and I write sharing what we do in the hope that when others see how we live, it will show that change is possible. We have gone from being consumers to conservers and have made ourselves content in the process of doing it.

You will read here about what Hanno and I do and you will also read in the comments how others live their lives. If you are new to this way of living you may want to copy our lives, or wonder if you are doing the right thing because your circumstances don't allow you to. One of the ladies commented the other day that she couldn't have a vegetable garden yet because she had small children, others have commented that they can't keep chooks because they're in the city or their local authority won't allow it. Others are younger and still at university with no time to tend vegetables, some live in climates that are too harsh for livestock or gardens. Many don't have land they can cultivate, they either live in homes with very little surrounding yards, or they rent and aren't allowed to use their outdoor spaces.

That is okay, we all must live according to our own circumstances. My life is not THE model for simple living, it's just one way it can be done. There a many ways. So if you can't garden or keep chooks, or sew or knit, there will be many other things you can do. You have to look at your own life and examine carefully what you can simplify in your own life. I would imagine that most people could change how they clean themselves and their home, so maybe your cleaning routines could be simplified. There are posts here about green cleaning, how to make soap, laundry powder, how to clean teeth and hair with bicarb, and there are many sites of the web that share similar information. May be your first simple process will be to reduce the amount of chemicals you bring into your home for cleaning. Or is it cooking that you might tackle first? Simplifying your diet will flow over into how you cook and shop, and they are two important areas that contribute to a simple life.

I hope I can encourage you to start working towards a more simple and sustainable way of living. You don't have to do what I'm doing, you should be guided by your own circumstances. Your life might be screaming out to be changed in some way, that is where you should start. You might be already doing something I've never written about, or even thought about, and if so, I'd love you to tell me about what you're doing.

If you're on the edge of change, I encourage to dive in. Take small steps, be mindful of what you're doing each day, live generously and with grace. If you've made your start, keep at it. Don't give up. There will be difficult times and sometimes the work is hard, but moving closer to goals you have set for yourself and living according to your values will be very satisfying. Slowly you'll build the life you wish for yourself and looking back on your achievements will give you the provocation and energy to continue.

So be guided by my life but build your own into a one of a kind life that is true to the person you are. Remember there is a season for everything and we will all move from stage to stage as our circumstances change. There are many things we can aspire to, but living an ethical life that reflects your authentic self, and living that life out loud and as a model for your children, is, I believe, one of the finest things anyone could hope to do.



  1. Another lovely post. I know that I would love to be further down the path to simple living; but I am at where I am at, and I am so okay with that.

    Tomorrow is another day.

  2. Hello Rhonda, I love those words: "simple living is a changeable feast" - it says so much. For all of us, teeny tiny steps are a great way to start. Lovely to drop by here, as always. A happy day to you. Diana x

  3. I just stumbled upon your blog, I love it, please continue. I love your garden could you give more advice on gardening how-to.
    Thanks, I love your site.

  4. One of the little steps that I like to apply across the board is to slowly stop bringing in low quality, "throw away" items, plastics, and harsh chemicals. I won't stop using the ones I have now - I'll use them until they're done because it's either here or at the dump - but when they must be replaced, their replacements will be gentler, longer-lasting, better quality and more frugal.

  5. I've made small attainable steps for me and it makes me feel good. I've made my own dishcloths; that small change has made me feel like I'm doing something good. It can only bring more changes into my life and make my life simpler and greener.

  6. Hi Rhonda, I think that we must be adaptable, things change in our lives and we have to think again. I believe that small changes are better than nothing at all. Best wishes from Brittany France

  7. Thank you again for your encouragement... and your wisdom..and you are so right that we will all go thru lifes changes......
    I just love your simple recipes and the way you preserve your bounty... I can hardly wait for the next post.....

  8. Hi Rhonda,

    On your last shopping trip, you did a 2 month purchase. How is that working out? I usually go every 3-4 weeks and sometimes in between if there are good sales. I would like to go less often.
    Thanks for another great post, keep up the encouragement!!!


  9. I've been enjoying your blog for about two weeks now and have been so inspired. This post hit home because it is along the lines of what I've been thinking lately. I got in the habit of postponing the way I want to live because of my circumstances, forgetting the things that I can do here and now...at 28, alone, in a small house with a small back yard in the midst of a big city. I'm not going to forget any longer.

    I've taken up enough of your comment space but I hope to do a blog post about this soon. I know you have limited time, but if it turns out well, I'll leave you a message about it. Thanks so much for letting us peek at your journey.

  10. OH dear, I am afraid my comment was lost. I mostly wanted to ask what part of Australia you are in as I have friends who just moved to Mt. Clare, VIC. I wanted to get a sense of how far that is from you.

  11. i am in the u.s.a staying with my daughter as her and her husband had a gorgeous baby girl late last month. this past week my daughter and i have spent so much time together making cloth nappies for my beautiful grandaughter. so not only will she not have a mountain of disposables to take to the rubbish, but we have had so much fun. baby ava will be able to wear the beautiful cloth nappies against her soft skin and perhaps the biggest thing to come of this venture is that my lovely daughter and i have made memories while we sewed. i live in new zealand and she is in the u.s.a and we dont get to see each other that often. i have 5 grandchildren now. i think i am rambline.

    sophie in new zealand

  12. Hi Rhonda,
    I have just got back from holidays at caloundra I must say things have changed in 2 years,mostly my-self and family.We found it all to comercialized after 2 weeks being in town and going to the shops every day for a look wasn't what my 3 teenage girls thought it would be. they were glad to be home on the farm and away from town,I must be doing something right in living a more simple life when the girls are missing it to.
    For me the best thing was to catch up on 2 weeks of your blog, you are a real encouragement to me and my family even my girls are reading now and telling me things to still change in our lives.
    Thank you for sharing your journey in life at this time with us.

  13. But Rhonda! You do it (voluntary simplicity) so WELL. We HAVE to copy you. It occurs to me that most of us haven't had much a model with this lifestyle.

  14. We are just starting on the road to a simpler life and are doing "what we can". I suppose it's a case of not running before we've learnt to walk. Do you have a recipe for soap? Something simple perhaps for a novice.

  15. The title of your blog is so apt. You really do seem to be 'down to earth' and fair in your views.

    My health stops me doing a lot of what I'd like to do but I've learned to be happy knowing that I'm at least doing what I can for the moment whilst looking around for other areas I'm able to improve upon. Some people have asked "what's the point of doing x if you're not doing y?" but every little thing helps.

  16. How inspiring, thank you. Living in the city with two small kids sometimes makes things complicated, but your words are a big encouragement.

  17. Well said Rhonda. Bang on the nail, as always :-)

    For me, it was realising the impact of my previous actions on the world and on me personally that made me want to change. I'm nowhere near perfect, but I take time and think before acting nowadays. I think that's all you can ask of anybody. Do what you can. A little action is better than no action at all.

    Have a lovely day everybody x

  18. Hi Rhonda, I found your blog through Belinda Moore, a homeschooling friend who has been a wonderful help and inspiration to me.
    I have spent time this afternoon going back as far as Nov last year on your blog. I have found much to read and think about. I have so many things I want to comment on and ask about.
    Is your soap recipe anywhere? I don't have soap in our house as it makes such a mess but do use a glycerin and oil based liquid soap, which is getting expensive to keep buying, it sounds like your soap may the answer to my soap search.
    I love the curatins in your kitchen/dining area - they are lovely!
    Bec xxx

  19. Trying to copy someone else's life leads to frustration, but we can learn and apply valuable ideas we glean from others!

    Of course trying to live simply in Australia won't be similar to living simply in Israel or Alaska. Simple living for a young woman newly pregnant with her first baby won't be similar to simple living of a large family, a retired couple, or a single college student.

    However, if you look, you will see we all have things in common. We all try to combat consumerism the best we can. While you are eating a meal made from the fruit of your garden, I'm reading about cloth diapers, going over baby equipment lists, figuring what is really necessary, and getting ready to get lots of hand-me-downs. And someone who is just starting might be figuring out ways to get rid of pre-packaged microwave dinners.

    We are all different, which makes life so interesting. :-)

  20. Two of the things we are doing to simplify are:
    1. Stop running out everyday. I think a lot of people are doing this because of gas prices, but it also simplifies your life. Not going away from your home every day gives you more time to do the things that need to be done and it saves you money because every time you leave your home you mostly likely spend money.
    2. Cutting down on our trash. We are trying to cut down on how much trash we produce for land fills. This simplifies your life by meaning that if your trash is less you have consumed less or you are reusing.
    Simplifying can mean so many things. You always say it so well. We each need to think of what we can do in our lives to give us and our society less stress. It will not all be the same. Every little bit helps though. It helps our sanity and the world we live in.

  21. Rhonda, thank you for another gentle talk to me personally. I have been reading for quite a while, and also reading other simple living blogs too. I cannot count the number of times I've wondered if I'll ever be "as good as" you. Perhaps I really should just work on being "as good as" I can be at doing things my way....whatever that is...

  22. Yesterday at work we were talking about the perfect summer holiday and what makes it that way, my criteria is to have no hydro and phone, so now if my coworkers didn't think I was a bit nutty before (I think many of them did) they sure do now. Our small travel trailer is the place that I really get to practice simple living, and come up with better ways of doing regular household chores. As I read your post today and start organizing our upcomming vacation, I remember back to when I first met my husband twelve years age, and the idea of doing this was so foreign I started with a list of demands that had to be met before I would even consider going to his camping familly reunion. How things can change. The most important part of my simple life now is to be flexable in all things.

  23. Thanks for the encouragement, Rhonda. I'm new to your blog and I am loving what I've seen and read so far!
    Thanks for sharing.

  24. Rhonda: you inspire me to look at ways I/we can be living more simply, and how to conserve the resources we have now. Not everyone will be in the same place, or doing the same things, but your blog, and the resulting comments, often give me ideas that I can implement now or hope to implement in the future. We can't have chickens, but we have found a wonderful couple living outside town that does have them, so we spend our money buying their eggs and helping them to stay in business. We try to support our local business also. We have a small garden, but it has expanded to double from last year's garden. As we clear our property, we are looking to plant blueberries and fig trees in place of ornamental shrubs. I use tupperware now instead of plastic baggies for storage or lunches, mostly. I am working towards cloth paper towels (is that an oxymoron?) for cleanups in the kitchen (for the less gross messes). I'd LOVE to store our runoff rainwater for our garden. That is on the list.

    Please continue to inspire and offer encouragement. I know, for me, it really helps. Thank you for all the time you devote to helping us all live a bit more simply.


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