28 November 2008

The reward

Strawberries picked in the backyard two days ago.

I have no idea what I'm going to write about today. Generally, I have a vague notion because I've taken some photos, but today, nothing.

I do hope all my American friends are enjoying Thanksgiving. As I write this it's 4.30 am here, 10.30am in San Francisco and 1.30pm in New York so I have visions of turkey and stuffing either being eaten or still in the oven. Whatever you're doing, whom ever you are with, I hope you have a lovely day.

It's been a very quiet week here. I rise at 4, write my blog, feed the animals, have breakfast, tidy up and then lock myself in the sewing room with the laptop to write most of the day. I look out to the garden, and often see Hanno working out there, but I remain seated, clicking away on the keys, sorting through notes and, sometimes, fighting the inclination to go outside. I have found over the years that writing is a brain function you have to work up to. When I first started, it was very difficult to concentrate, I would think about what I'd just finished or what I was going to do later. Now that I have built a routine around it, it's easier to sit and stay focused, but I still have to fight the urge to leave when I see Hanno outside working in the cool shade, checking pumpkins, pouring water on plants or talking to Alice.

We live a charmed life. Gone are the days of regular routines, having to do laundry every day, working for others, and being ruled by a clock. Our days here are often a duplicate of the day before but each day seems fresh and new. The familiarity of it all allows us to glide through our days with ease, tweaking this, mending that, planting, harvesting, planning and living well. Each day we piece together another part of our life's patchwork - a gentle jumble of doing what we have to do and doing what we want to do.

I didn't know this kind of contentment was freely available to those who persevered with the ups and downs of ordinary life. When I was younger and my family, my job and my housework drained all strength from me, I didn't know there was a reward waiting. But here I am, living the reward, and I am here to remind you of it too. There are seasons in our lives that we all must go through to reach the next stage. Some seasons, especially those in young married life when a mortgage is being paid and children are being raised, are so intense they sometimes blur the rewards of the work. But when you come out the other end and your children set out on their own lives, you set out on yours again too. Oh, it's sad to see them go, but you soon realise it's just another stage and new activities and tasks will soon consume you, while you build your life around the newness of it all.

So on this day of thanksgiving, no matter at what stage of life you're at, I hope you understand that if you're going through hard times or good times, they are the extremes of life. Most of it is just plain old life, nothing fancy, it's just breathing in and breathing out, and if you're smart, you'll see the worth of ordinary life and make every day count.



  1. Well said Rhonda,
    I am about to embark on my next season in life as I will be retiring at Christmas. They are trying to persuade me to stay on but the time has come to lay paid work aside and move on to the good life. Whilst my husband will not retire for a couple of years we can at least plan for him to have more time off (one week off in six). We enjoy the simple things of life and I'm looking forward to making my own bread and baking from scratch again. Thanks again for the inspiration.

  2. I love the concept of having seasons in life. It brings comfort in knowing that even though the leaves might be crumbling and falling from the trees it won't be long and there will be fresh blossoms!

  3. Thank you! What lovely words to wake up to. I'm definitely at the 'intense' phase of life. While I love motherhood with a passion and I have great kids, I sometimes take a little peek at the future and already have a very long list of things I will do then. But for now I try to find pleasure in the every day and even that exhausted feeling is a reward of sorts- it means I've worked hard and accomplished my day's work.

  4. Thank you for the lovely message, Rhonda. An encouragement to me, barely having embarked on this life of working, marriage, maintaining life...
    Striving to enjoy the days at this point while also looking forward to a more peaceful time.
    I'm thankful for your blog!

  5. Thank you for a wonderful blog, I discovered it 2 days ago. Made my first knitted face cloth last night.

    Enjoy the cricket today. Across the ditch here cricket is only available on pay to view tv. Mind you, if the results are like the last test we probably don't want to watch anyway, LOL.

  6. yes agree with what you say Rhonda - I am on the smae page as you re marraige, and at about the same stage in life. I have to say - this life is the best reward ever for the early days of hard work!

  7. What a beautiful post - you have such a lovely way of putting things. I'm having an absolutely chaotic day with my lovely children and neighbours popping in and a production line of handmade christmas presents (very messy), and a big pile of laundry and a BBQ to go to tonight, and I'm off to do the housework now so I can spend the weekend in the garden, and I'm feeling very grateful for the interesting daily things of an ordinary life, but I needed to be reminded to breathe in and out again and your post did that for me. Thank you! And I love this stage of life, but I anticipate the next stage eagerly too. ;o)
    The way the years are whizzing by, it will be here all too soon.
    Rachel L

  8. What a wonderful post even though you had no idea what to post at first, you hit the nail on the head with what you wrote. Had a wonderful thanksgiving because it was filled with family and friends. Bee

  9. Thank you for making me remember to stop and smell the Roses.

  10. I stumbled upon your blog via squidoo today. At home in upstate NY alone for the holidays while my wife & children are with family in Chicago made me reflect upon the seasons and life's twists and turns.

    Work calls to pay the bills in this season and thus I stay close to home. Encouraging words such as yours put the seasons of life into context. Happy Holidays.

  11. Rhonda - you've summed it up quite well. I feel very much the same way. We do not live by the clock either, but instead go though the days tending to life's daily responsibilities and enjoying the moments. I thought I would never get "here" but here I am and it's very good. :)

  12. Well said, Rhonda. I am in the same season as you are. I thought that I would never survive those hectic years of rearing children and paying a mortgage. I wish that I had known of the blessings and rewards of the seasons that lay ahead. One blessing of this season is the time available for reflection on all of life's seasons.

    At our Thanksgiving table today we learned that we will become grandparents for the first time in June! This is a grand seaon is so many ways.

  13. Hello everyone! Thank you all for your lovely comments. Welcome to Mickle and Christophe.

    Christophe, your comment made me smile. I felt your longing for your family, it's bittersweet. Happy holidays to you, my friend.

    Anon, congratulations!!! I am longing for the day I can proclaim loudly that same news. Hugs.

  14. Rhonda, a post idea that I know I would find useful.

    Looking at your strawbs (and the 5kg of mine in the fridge) makes me think that there might be a number of us who would enjoy a post that brings together useful preservation recipes for particular fruit and veg that's in season. I know it will be wrong way round for the northern hemisphere, but it would still be a resource for them come next year.

    So, maybe, strawberry jam, strawberry cordial, strawberry syrup - that sort of thing.
    Zuchinni slice, zucchini cake, zucchini muffins, zuchinni pasta, zucchini stuffing, zucchini pickles..need I go on.

    We had 40mm yesterday and another downpour this afternoon. The tanks are full and the dams are nearly overflowing. Sunday's snowfall is a distant memory.

    Lisa x

  15. Another wonderful, thought-provoking post Rhonda - reading your blog over the last few months has made me re-evaluate my life, and as a result I feel a contentment I have not felt for a very long time. Powerful stuff! .... thank you so much.

    Willow x

  16. Dear Rhonda,

    As always you seem to be imparting great wisdom, thank you for todays.

    I do have a request from your readers. I have been making your laundry detergent, which is great, but the problem being I bought the ingredients when we were in Queensland on holidays. I am now running low. To purchase Borax is no problem but washing soda is proving a hitch. I've been to our stock supply merchant, Coles New World, Safeway, Aldi, Bunnings, and 2 local hardware stores. NO luck. I live in Gippsland in Victoria Australia. Please can someone suggest where I might find it. I would appreciate any assistance.
    Thank you.

  17. Thanks Rhonda. Just finished the second face cloth - remains of a cotton yarn I've had hanging around since the mid 1980s.
    Send thanks and huggles

  18. Ok, I'm still stuck at you getting up at 4.00am every day!!!! I would be catatonic before a week was up! LOL!

    Totally agree with the rest of the post!

  19. Great post Rhonda,
    Had a short taste of the future today, with all the children being gone after dinner, save the littlest tot who was sleeping - the house was so QUIET and peaceful. My husband commented that this is the way it would be in 20 years, though it only lasted about 2 hours, it was a wonderful respite from our usually hectic life at home!

  20. It's funny you wrote about this on our Thankdgiving Day when my husband and I entered a new stage. This was the first Thanksgiving where we went to my mother in laws house without any kids. My oldest sone has his own place and a fulltime job as a plumber and he was on call yesterday and could not make the journey with us, and my younger son who is 16, started a part time job and had to work all day on Thanksgiving. I said, this is new to me and the first time in 24 years that I had Thanksgivng dinner wihout my children. With my boys getting older and in about 5 years we will be empty nesters entering another new stage in our lives and in about 20 years, we will begin retirement and hopefully reap the rewards of our hard work and have more freedom to live a simpler life. Although I am trying to start now to make life a bit simpler and a bit "greener" by growing more edible items in the garden, conserving electricity and water and before making a purchase at the local department store asking myself "Do you really need that? Can yo live without it? Can you make it yourself?".
    Thanks Rhonda for a great post and for stopping by my blog as well. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

  21. Oh this is lovely. Thank you for sitting at your computer and letting those words drift out so effortlessly. Seasons indeed. So agree with every word. Life is very very full now, but I am so glad that you can enjoy yours ath this moment and not fill it with madness. I will look forward to when I can do the same.
    thank you again. I feel restored!

  22. Ah Rhonda! What a lovely post to wake up to today. I know you tell everyone to be themselves always but I so wish you were a talking dolly on my mantlepiece some days. I could just pull your string and there would be just what I need to hear that day. Hey, maybe I've got something there. THE invention that would forever take care of all my financial woes and pay off this mortgage and school loans, just like that (a snap of the fingers can be heard). Would you mind if I borrow your likeness - and your voice? I do believe a guru Rhonda Jean talking doll would sell like hotcakes. Of course, I'd still pursue the Simple Life even with all my millions. 'Cause life just doesn't get any better than when you're living it with Purpose:)

  23. Hi Rhonda :) I am new to your blog.

    I know what you mean about needing focus to do your best work, I am exactly the same. Could you put up a thin coloured curtain so you still get sunlight in your room but don't see outside so you're not tempted (and distracted!) by wanting to go outside?

  24. Dearest Rhonda,
    What a wonderful post. I am in the 'intense' phase at the moment. While I am extremely lucky to be able to stay at home and raise our 2 year old I struggle with all the things I would like to do but don't have the time, like sewing, restoring furniture etc. I hope to have another baby next year as well as build our house, if these interest rates fall a bit more. I do realise that I will have less time again with a new baby but that is the choice I have made so for the time being these other (hobbies)will have to wait. I am learning so much everyday about motherhood & marriage (been married 4 years). It is really hard work! (both of them)!!
    Thanks again for your inspiring words.
    Take care & God bless

  25. We use a fly swatter but I admit to using fly spray sometimes when we are heading out (like last week when I counted 30 flies on the ceiling at 0630)...we have replaced fly screens on most of the windows of La Bella Casa but we still have to work out a solution for the old louvers as they are our main source of air flow.

  26. What wonderful words to remind everyone, that there is different stages of life, and to love and be content where you are. My hubby and I are home early in life, due to cancer coming into my life. We have been home for two and half years,now age 50. We miss working, and learning to take life as it comes. I asked hubby earlier, which were the best years of his life, and it all so near to what you have written today. I am enjoying your blog. I am in Mississippi,USA Wish I had a fresh strawberry!

  27. Rhonda,

    This is my first visit to your blog. I am at a very different stage in life--a single student, living in an apartment, but I found you via green cleaning. So happy to have found your blog.

    Greta in the US

  28. Well said Rhonda. My routine is just about the polar opposite of yours, I usually write just after everyone else is asleep, so often I think we are writing at the same time oddly. The routine does make it better though, otherwise my thoughts are all over the place. sometimes I don't even know what to say until I see it on the screen.
    You've been a great example for me as I've worked toward my own style and found my voice. Keep up the good work!

  29. Everyday Iam inspired to do more 'homemade'.

    I have been working up the courage to make the soap. I was wondering if you must have a special scale to make the soap?


  30. thanks for the beautiful post. it was an awfully nice thanksgiving... (so when it's 4:30 a.m. in aussie and 1:30 p.m. in new york are you just nine hours behind new york or are you a whole day AHEAD? please clarify lol) ... thanks for reporting from "the other side" ... i feel as though i'm on the OTHER other side ... young, single, free to do as i wish within the confines of "just starting out" of course ... haven't hit that middle portion yet (the kids/family part) though i'm excited for it! good to know with any amount of good fortune and plain old-fashioned hard work and determination i'll be able to live in another free, relaxing season again, too. best of luck to you on the book. i know how hard it is to sit at a must-do task, even when it's ultimately something you love!

  31. Hi I just found you from your comment on "just a little bit more" at free money finance. I was in love the moment i saw your blog title and tag line. This is so beautifully written. Thank you!

  32. Thanks for a timely post Rhonda! I've been through a very tumultuous season of nursing a sick husband and letting go of my first born. It all feels so sudden, yet your wrods bring comfort that in that the next season is ahead & it will be good too.

    Bless you,

  33. That's a beautiful post Rhonda. We're a young couple and have had a very intense season in the past year - getting married, buying our first home, moving, preparing for arrival of baby... sometimes, it feels like there isn't time for anything. But we know it will pass. We try not to let our days become a "blur". After all, time is too short and precious to wish it away... and I sure hope we will reach the next seasons of our life fully satisfied with embracing the previous ones.


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