17 April 2009

Just do it

Anna S by Carl Larsson from here.

I really enjoyed reading a comment from Elizabeth yesterday. She said, in part, “I have been reading your blog for some time but until last week I just read and wished but did not action in anyway. That is, until this last weekend when I thought 'just do it!' So, I have started knitting a cardigan, knitted three squares for a throw for this winter, and made a chicken soup using up a chicken carcass for the very first time!" It is obvious to me that Elizabeth has been thinking about how she wants to change her life for some time, and now she's just dived right in. Living deliberately, there is nothing like it.

When Thoreau wrote his book, Walden, he had left his job and set up in a small cabin to live alone in the woods. He wrote: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience ..." I think that is one of the most profound pieces of writing I've ever read and since I discovered Walden, many years ago, I have tried to live to the spirit of what Thoreau wrote in that one passage.

So what exactly is living deliberately? I guess there may be several different interpretations but to me it means taking control of my life, thinking about what it is I want my life to be, knowing what I want to do every day, or what I have to do to achieve my goals, and then living that life. Very few people have their life planned out for them and handed over on a silver platter. But what many people do is to just react to life. They have no real plans, they live each day doing what is expected of them, then, when something out of the ordinary happens, they react to it. There is no real plan, no map to follow, just reactions to what life throws.

Deliberate living is deciding what you want your life to become, working out the steps you need to take to make that happen, then, as Elizabeth said, just do it. You will still get life throwing the unexpected at you, but when it happens, you work to solve the problem, then you get back on track.

Those three little words, just do it, are the best advice for anyone hovering on the edge of a simple life. You might be hovering because you don’t know what to do first, because you feel you can’t do it all so why bother with a little bit, or you’re waiting for just the right time – until you move, you get that pay rise, you retire, the kids move out – whatever the right time will be for you, let me tell you there will be no right time. The only right time is now.

The other thing Elizabeth said was that she feels renewed now when she wakes up. I feel that way too. Every day you continue along the path you’ve chosen, you feel you have purpose and you feel renewed.

I think the economic crisis will bring a lot more people to this way of living but living simply is much more than a financial strategy, it's more than your location, it's more than how you manage your home or plant your vegetables. It's about you, how you think about your life and how you express your values day by day. Anyone can learn to make yoghurt, budget, knit dishcloths and grow tomatoes, the real trick is for your actions to reflect how you think and how you want to live. What good is it to list the hundred things you've accomplished if you're not made happy by what you do, if you aren't renewed by it, and if you don't do it with grace, humility and generosity.

When you deliberately choose this way of life, you will be doing things that bypass the conveniences of your old life, there will be many things you'll do differently, but if you do it well, if you really throw yourself into your life, if you live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, not only will you be living deliberately, you will be changed by it. Just do it.


Combine the following dry ingredients in a bowl:
1 cup self raising flour OR one cup plain (all purpose) flour + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup walnuts
½ cup brown sugar

Melt 125 grams butter (1 stick/4 ozs)
Add 1 lightly beaten egg

Mix the dry ingredients with the wet and press the dough into a slice tin. Firm it down before baking on 180C (350F) for about 2o minutes. Don't leave it in too long or the outer sides will be very hard. When cooked, cut into slices. You could substitute the walnuts for a cup of sultanas (golden raisins) or choc chips or any nuts you have on hand.



  1. Going to make this recipe RIGHT NOW!! Looks so good and so simple to boot!!

  2. I can really connect to what is said about Elisabeths comment. Reading your blog is very inspirational. I like cooking a lot and it makes me happy. The dishes though, I let them for my partner. Until now. Now I do them thoughtfully and give myself those ten minutes a day just to enjoy doing the dishes. Afterwards I rince and dry my kitchen tablet and I feel really satisfied.

  3. Hi Rhonda, thanks for posting the recipe. Your post is so meaningful to me in lots of ways.
    Thanks again for an inspiring blog.


  4. Hi Rhonda, thanks for posting the recipe. Your post is so meaningful to me in lots of ways.
    Thanks again for an inspiring blog.


  5. Thoreau is a treasured author in my life. Thank you for sharing a bit of him. :o)

    Living deliberatly. Yes. It's high time we (I include myself) stop *reading* about a simple life and start *living* a simple life! :o) Step by step this is what I'm doing. While I do much in the way of preparing foods from scratch, building my pantry, gardening, using a clothesline, wearing simple garments of classic style, knitting and other handiwork..currently I'm going through every closet, drawer and cupboard, determining what to rid ourselves of to lighten our load. This takes time and is a necessary task, in my humble opinion. :o)

    Thank you for this recipe - looks easy and delish!


  6. Those look delicious! Yum. I love your blog thanks for sharing all your tips and recipes on simple living they inspire me and I am sure many others as well!

  7. I was wondering who did the painting that is posted at the top? I was always interested in On Walden's Pond until I heard that his mother and sister brought him all his meals and came in once a week to do his laundry.

  8. I like this recipe and it's simple..thanks Rhonda!
    'Just do it'..I like that.

  9. You write so beautifully on such wonderful topics! I am definitely earmarking this post for future reference (as i have done with a many of your other posts). Since reading your blog, I have started my life towards simple living by cooking from scratch more (versus buying conveinence food) and started crocheting amigurumis.

    You are right most people react instead of conciously live. I have started that concious trip to claim my life the was it was meant to be lived. You are definitely a wonderful inspiration!

  10. I think one thing many people do not understand is that enormous power and direction becomes available to you once you "just do it" and step onto the well chosen path. The path itself will show you the next step - but that can only happen once we submit ourselves to it. I have found that "just do it" can then become a very natural process (not easy but natural!). Years go by. One day you turn your head to look back and you are amazed. "Wow, look where 'just do it' and the power of following a path brought me. Amazing!"

    We are never doing it alone. "Nature" is there waiting to support us, if we will only take one step and then another and then another.

  11. Rhonda,

    Thank you!!! This is the best post Ever!!!

    Marc is outside tilling a few more spaces for our garden beds. We are working on our chicken coop. We have little chicks down in our basement waiting for their new home:)

    I try to make healthly home cooked meals. I try to buy a little extra for my stock-pile. I have been working on making our home inviting to all:)

    You are so right....what are we waiting for??

    I think we try to wait for the "right" time and that time is Now!!

    Thank you!!


    and thank you Elizabeth:)

  12. Thank you for your words of wisdom!! I love the "JUST DO IT". I am the one who has been on the edge. Thank you again...Lisa

  13. Oh I'm so inspired Rhonda,

    What great words. "JUST DO IT". I, like jAne am getting rid of all our excess clutter. I feel guilty at times thinking that I wasted good money on this stuff but I do realize that at the time it felt right. My life is changing now and I'm feeling freer. I'm getting things done instead of procrastinating. I'm also learning not to be to hard on myself if I don't achieve as much as I had expected to do in my day. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Blessings Gail

  14. Hi Rhonda,
    Such inspiration in your words. So true to live deliberately and make each day count, for when it has passed it does not return. Thank you for all you share. Today, I am inspired to seize the day!

  15. Hi Rhonda,
    What you wrote in this post really rings true. It is so easy to get intimidated by what others are doing, and sometimes those first "toe-in-the-water" times of trying the unfamiliar can seem daunting if everything doesnt just fall into place the way we think of as ideal. Jack and I are learning to stop waiting for the "ideal moment" and the "ideal setup." Yes, sometimes tools are needed, but our biggest hurdles are sometimes in our own expectations rather than the reality of one step at a time. Last year, we grew only a few edible things, and much of what we did grow experienced bug damage, weather damage, etc. But I learned to make my own bread...not just one kind, but many. I learned how to enjoy cooking dried beans and peas and to eat out less, and to learn to knit caps on a very simple round loom. I could see it as what I haven't done...I can't knit using a pattern or needles yet, and can't knit anything but caps. I don't have homecanned goods filling my pantry. But I did have wonderful hand-knit caps for gifts, a freezer full of quantity cooking, some idea what to plant and not to plant this year for better harvests, and debts paid off with what we saved by spending half of what used to be our grocery bill. And it only gets better :) Just Do It..."it" is different for everyone, but it's whole lot more than what we reap by never trying.

    As always, love reading your blog, Rhonda

    Robbyn and Jack in Florida/thebackforty blog

  16. Hi Ronda Jean,
    A great post ,I agree 100%!
    Dh &I Love our lifestyle, we're free to do what we want when we want!Life doesn't get any better than this:o) Infact we both agreeded to that statement today!:o)
    Have a great wk.end!

  17. Your post today spoke to some current decisions we are making in our family's life right now, thank you!

    On the nut slices, I was wondering what a slice tin is? Would that be like a jelly roll pan or bar pan? If you're not familiar with those terms, they are approx. 11" x 15" shallow pans, just a bit deeper than a cookie sheet. The recipe looks wonderful BTW, and I can't wait to try it!

  18. Rhonda I'm in Canada and not sure what a "slice tin" exactly is. I'm thinking by looking at the squares that it's an 8x8 pan or is it something different?
    Also is that just a dollop of whipping cream you have on the top?
    They look so yummy I can't wait to make them myself.
    Thanks for a wonderful post once again!


  19. Enjoy reading your posts and would like to make the soap powder .I live in New Zealand and am wondering where to get cheap washing soda and borax?
    God bless,Maree.

  20. I came home today in elation. I have gotten good news, that a biopsy I had on Monday came back negative. Waiting for this news the last few days got me to thinking that this is what I do...I wait. I wait for my kids to come home, I wait to go to bed so I can get up in the morning to get ready for work and then go wait til it's time to go home. (Which is where I always want to be)
    I wait for my weekend to do things I could do during the week to free up time to do more on my weekends.
    I'm not waiting anymore!
    I just printed out the recipe you posted for the slices, I have all the ingredients and while I am *no longer waiting* for my rice to be steamed to finish my dinner, I am going to make those slices!
    Then after I eat and do my dishes I will do some work on an afghan I have been crocheting. Then when I go to bed I will have accomplished just a little more.
    After I have done my work tomorrow, I will see what I can do while I am *no longer waiting*!
    Thank you for this post...it has gotten me off my duff and on to better things!

  21. Also although this "simple life" is not always an easy one because it is so rewarding and so where you want to be on your path it never feels like a burden. I often end each day very tired but it is a very good tired. I feel so contented. So satisfied. Each day is a new day to learn something new or take another step towards independence. It is exciting in the best sense of the word. I so hope that more people take the time to be still and figure out what path they want to follow the rest of their life. No one knows you like you and if you have a partner all the better to walk together towards a new life together. My husband and I started a long time ago but there is always something new to learn or hone. One thing sometimes leads you down a new branch on that path.I don't have any of your writers skills but I do know the feelings you wrote about and would not change our life for anything. You have a chance to live your dream. To live the life you feel you were ment to live. If your life fits you the work it takes to attain it doesn't feel like work. Rhonda...you have written many inspiring pieces of writing but this one the other maybe 2 or so days ago that others said should be in your book I agree with too. This one if written on the back of your new book on in the jacket would have me wanting to buy your book if that is ALL you wrote!! Thank you again for sharing all your information and inspiration with us. Jody

  22. Hi everyone. I'm pleased you're enjoying my writing and that it may, in some way, help you life to your true potential.

    Gwen, I haven't heard that story about his mother and sister. Hmmm.

    Hello Robbyn, it's good to see you here again. :- )

    Claudia, that's wonderful news about the biopsy. It's also wonderful that's you've stopped waiting. :- )

    Cat and Laurie, a slice tin is like a deeper cookie sheet, but not as deep as a cake tin. On top of the slice I put a dollop of lemon icing:
    Melt one tablespoon butter, add ¾ cup icing sugar (confectioners) and enough lemon juice to make the right consistency. I hope you enjoy them.

  23. Thank you for the wonderful posting.It sums up how I feel these days.

  24. This post is just what I needed. I'm feeling very frusterated right now because we are at a fork in the road. We need to get out of the rental we are in now because it's too much $ for what it is. We want to buy, but the right opportunity hasn't presented itself yet. We have an option to rent a place 40 mins out of town and we can homestead on it, but I'm suddenly getting scared. I'm feeling hesistant to homestead on a rental and I'm feeling nervous about the commute to and from town.
    We just need to make a decision and live it fully. Just do it!

  25. I just began to read Walden this morning! I'm only half a chapter in and I'm hoping it soon bypasses the judgements of "modern life" and just gets on with the good stuff soon. ;) I do love Thoreau but I've never read Walden all the way through. Speaking of which, I think I'll go read it now!


  26. I believe that it can be overwhelming to just contemplate living simply without taking some small steps of action because for a beginner there are so many life changes to be made as well as skills to be learned. You know that advise about keeping clutter to a minimum, "when you buy something new, get rid of something old"? I do the opposite towards living simply.
    When I get rid of one cluttered or unnecessary aspect of my life, I find that I end up replacing it by reskilling in some new way, even if the "reskill" is simply to relax and let life be what it is.
    I hope this makes sense! It does to me:)

  27. Thank you, Rhonda. I have needed this reminder lately.

  28. Dear Rhonda I realy thought that there could'nt be two couples called Kerry and Sunny but obviously there is My appologies I live in Hervy Bay but I was living in Maleny about 3 1/2 years ago on Mountain View Road on the dairy of Gavin Miller I was there for 2 1/2 years and loved every minute of it
    Regards ELLIE

  29. Hi again just loved your post about 'just do it' it rang bells for me now I have to get off my duff and do some more things It is a hard job getting the other half motivated tho. Regards ELLIE

  30. You put what I've been feeling into words so perfectly. As I mentioned on my blog earlier today - I need to practice the discipline of "do the next thing." I started being more proactive several months ago, but have lately gotten bogged down with "life" and overwhelmed when I think of all the things I need/want to accomplish. I've been so blessed to read from you and your readers that I'm not alone! Thanks again!

  31. Yum! Your nut slices are on my list to bake this next week! Simple and I have all the ingredients. Thanks for posting the recipe.

  32. Hi again Rhonda
    Your post reminded me of a comment I'd made this morning on Ladyfi's blog:

    'It’s interesting that during the busy time of the year we stress and strain to get ‘bling’ and ’stuff’, while craving holidays of simplicity.'
    June in Oz

  33. Rhonda, I did make the Nut Slice bars and they are SO good. I put in 1/2 cup each chopped walnuts and butterscotch bits and used 2 eggs (they were really small) instead of one. Now I have to make some with chocolate chips. I think this recipe is a good base for all sorts of additions! Thank you so much from North Carolina

  34. Hi Rhonda

    I wanted to ask whether you would look at this knitting site and whether you would let your circle of knitters know about this great project to help South African Aids Orphans...


    Kind regards

  35. I love getting back into sewing. Fixing clothes instead of getting rid of them is fun (and less wasteful). Thanks for the recipe!

  36. The recipe sounds delicious especially with chocolate chips. What does UT stand for? I post recipes, and when I type UT, it means Uncle Todd. I'm just wondering what your UT stands for.

    Aunt Janet

  37. Ty Rhonda for your fantastic talk at the community centre. I made the laundry liquid and i must say how easy it was to make. Washes well and smells just like my dear old nan's laundry ( so brings back beautiful memories of the simplier days)
    Cheers Catherine

  38. I just made the recipe, used chocolate chips, was all I had on hand. It's turned out very nice, had to eat a piece while it was still hot. yumm

  39. I just made the slice recipe and it is still baking in the oven. Instead of using 1/2 cup butter, I used 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup applesauce to cut down on the fat a bit. It looks like it's going to be delicious. Thank you for sharing such a simple and memorable recipe!


Blogger Template by pipdig