1 April 2009

Finding your own path

Pebbledash picked it up, I am turning 61, not 62! Thanks Diana. Meryl, one of the volunteers I work with picked it up too. When I mentioned at lunch yesterday that my birthday was coming up, she said it didn't seem so long ago we celebrated my last birthday. Then it hit me, they gave me a morning tea for my 60th, I'm still a mere slip of a girl - I'm going to be 61. :- )

I removed the email subscription yesterday. I have to apologise for mucking you around. Those 30 or so people who subscribed yesterday will have to do so again when I find another widget. When I went to change a setting on the old one yesterday, I found they send advertising with the email. I won't be a party to that. Apart from not wanting to promote things you might spend money on, I don't know what sort of advertisement they might send. It could be anything. So I will look for a new widget but I can't do it today. And again, I'm sorry for this inconvenience.


I have been touched by the number of emails I've received lately from new readers wanting to live a life similar to ours here. I'm asked all sorts of questions about the type of chooks we have, how many water tanks, what food we eat on a day-to-day basis and how many loads of washing I do each week. Some people ask about when I go to bed, when I get up in the morning, do I drink green tea or black, what would I buy if I had the money and how do I cope with living on a restricted budget. It seems to me that these questions are about one thing - they are trying to find "the formula", they want to know how to live simply. But simple life is different for everyone, there is no formula, no one way to do it. The secret is to decide how you want to live, work out what values are important to you, then work towards the goals you set.

If you do that, if you develop a set of values that support how you want to live, it will be easier to pinpoint areas you can change in your life to reflect your values. For example, if you decide that one of the values you want to embrace is to live a more healthy life and buy local, you'd probably have to look at what you're eating and change how you shop. Instead of shopping only at the supermarket, you'd also need to go to local markets, find out with other local food is produced and then work out a way to buy it. You'd also look at the chemicals you have in the house, get rid of them and work out what alternatives you could use. If one of your values was to be more frugal, and through that work towards paying off your debt, then you'd probably start by tracking how you spend your money and work out a budget. Then you'd go through your bills and work out what you could do without - pay TV, the second car, ballet lessons for the children, your magazine subscriptions etc. Then you'd work out ways to save money in the home.

Shhhh, it's a worker in the front garden.

A few days ago, I made a big pot of pea soup that will keep us going for about seven evening meals, plus the occasional work lunch. That soup cost me four dollars to make and works out to be about 57 cents for the two of us each dinner time. Some people will look at that and think eating pea soup for a few nights in a row is boring and some would just refuse because they want to eat steak and three veg or roast pork. But I don't think like that anymore. That soup supports our simple values in many ways. The truth of it is that eating that soup helps us stay on budget, it frees up other money so we can buy fresh local milk, cheese and fish, it saves us money on utility bills because we only have to heat it up each day, it saves time because I don't have to cook a meal each night and it's a nourishing and delicious meal that we both enjoy.

Native violets have naturalised in the gardens and are spilling over into the lawn.

Some of the things many of us do during the normal course of a day include baking bread, walking to the shops, sweeping the floor instead of vacuuming, washing up by hand instead of using the dishwasher, stockpiling to save money and time, making yoghurt from scratch and growing some of our own food in our backyard. Now if I were new to this way of living, and I saw many of those common tasks of a simple home, I'd probably think it was too much work and why bother. Why do all that work when I can easily buy what I need. But the fact is that doing those things support the life I want to live, so doing them is not a bother to me. So you see, working out what is important to you, knowing what you want to include in your own life, and then doing those things on a daily basis, will help you live more simply and even though it will be tough at times, you'll stick with it because you're working towards your goals.

Hanno is preparing the front garden for the wedding.

Simplifying will never be about the colour of the chickens in your backyard, the brand of breadmaker you own, how many jars of jam and relish you put up each year or how many acres you 'own'. It is always about the way you think about your life and how you express those thoughts by how you live. I am flattered that many of you want to do things in a similar way to how we do them here and maybe some of you will settle into a life very similar to mine, but I encourage you think about your life, think about what is important to you and then set about building your life to support your values. We don't all have to be carbon copies of each other. In fact that is one of the things that is so appealing about this way of life - we can all express it in differing ways and still be part of the whole.

A Cecile Brunner rose, a tiny rose the size of a finger nail, is growing over the garden arch.

I don't want to put you off your changes, and I'm not saying don't copy what I do. I am encouraging you to be very clear about what is important to you. Before you start changing your life, you'll have to think about it a lot. Don't just dive in and do what others are doing. Think about what you hope you life will become, think about what you consider to be important, then the path you need to take will be clear. Often the first step is the most difficult, in this case it isn't. Your first step is to make a cup of tea, gather a pen and paper, then sit in your favourite spot and think about what you want and how you would like to live, write it down in bullet points. You might need a few sessions - just you, your thoughts and your pen and paper. When you have a list, go through it a couple of times and cross off what's not really important, keeping only those points you think will make you happy, fulfilled and content. That is your map, my friends. Once you have your map, then come back here and ask questions that will help you follow your map. I am happy to answer your questions, and many of the other readers are too. If you ask something in the comments, you'll get opinions from a few of us. But that's one of the beauties of a simple life. It's about communities working together to help each other and we have a wonderful community here willing to help you.


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