Embrace the work you do

23 June 2009
Life can be hard sometimes. We're working towards our big event this weekend. Hanno's done a lot of gardening and preparation outside, I've worked inside and that will continue until Saturday when we get the most wonderful pay-off for that hard work by seeing our son marry right here in our own home. You rarely get the good things without the work. It's like the simple tasks of soapmaking and composting - you put the ingredients in, add the energy and out comes something much better than what you started with. The hard work pays off, in soap making, composting and life.

I'm a working class woman. I might not slip easily into that category in terms of my education and previous earning capacity but in my mind I am, and will always be, working class. It is my heritage and my inclination, and I wear the badge with pride because I believe I have become the person I am because of the work I do. I have to tell you though, I don't enjoy all the work I do, but I enjoy most of it because I can see the rewards it brings, and it makes me who I am. I would be a lesser person without the work.

Maybe that was one of the reasons I was drawn to this simpler kind of life; maybe it was the work that attracted me, because there certainly is a lot more to do living this way. But I see that as a gift. Having productive work to fill the hours is not the hardship some make it to be. It is simply what it is - the work of life. I would rather spend my energy sweeping my floor, hanging the laundry on the line and gardening than walking around a shopping mall looking for things to buy, and then battling traffic to bring my bounty home. I would rather work to help provide a warm and loving venue for our family wedding than pay someone to do that for me. Our work this week is part of the wedding and we won't have the wedding we want without it.

I had an email from a young woman last week who wrote that she wants to live simply but she doesn't like the work and is there an easier way to do it? I'm not sure how to answer that question because for me, no, there isn't an easier way to do it, but my way won't suit everyone. I've said this over and over again, there are many ways to live life - simply or not, and you should all live how it suits you. There are role models that you can learn from but in the end it is your life and you should live it as you see fit.

But I encourage you all to try this coat on for size - this simple life coat may not fit all comers but if it does sit well on your shoulders it is a fine way to live. Of course, not everything I do will fit into your life, and some of the things you do wouldn't fit into mine. But that's good - that is part of the whole idea of it, that we are all different and we live accordingly. Don't be hoodwinked into believing that fashionable clothes or household goods are the answer. You will be forever buying the newest must have and paying for the privilege of it. Don't look at your neighbours with envy because they've just installed a pool or drive that new car - they probably have debt as big as their egos. And don't feel bad because you're working hard - it might be the making of you, just as it has been for me.

And for those of you who can't work as hard as you would like, do what you can and be pleased with that. We all know there are times, for all of us, when you just can't do the work ahead of you and if you are at that point now, accept it and do what you can, when you can. But if you are capable and healthy, embrace the work you do, either at home or at your paid job, and know that what you do not only produces it's own reward, it makes you stronger and will, over time, change you for the better.

How do you feel about the work you do? Is it part of you or do you see it as a necessary evil?

The button box


  1. Rhonda Jean - I simply adore your blog and those wonderful cotton washcloths. I am not a knitter or a crochet person... Know of anyone who might want to swap for some? I bought some lovely ones at a store but they are getting worn and the store is gone. I'd rather find something to barter it out with. Any idea's? Keep up the blog you are such an inspiration to so many people --
    Karen (Detroit, Michigan)

  2. I love the work I do! I homeschool my three children and live on a small farm we just started in the fall. We planted our first garden this spring and the results have been abundant! I have enjoyed so much satisfaction out of putting up that produce. We have 13 chickens and hopefully some chicks in 18 days. They provide us with fresh eggs. We have 3 calves that eventually will have babies and give us some grass fed beef. Our next animal purchase will be a dairy goat. I love hanging clothes from my clothesline and trying to conserve energy. My daughters and I have learned to knit and are now taking sewing lessons from a woman in our church. We make our own homeade bread and meals from scratch. The simple life is not "easy". It's tiring and sometimes frustrating, and you NEVER finish all on your list of to-do's, but it is oh so satisfying. And my children will know how to make do no matter what the economy is like when they get older. We are a family that works together and plays together, and that makes me happier than any designer clothes, maid, or new super duper appliances ever could!

  3. It has become a part of who I am. I think differently now. Out of crackers/bread/tortillas/whatever to eat? It's no longer a trip to the store, but to the washroom to mill some wheat and get baking!

    Need a gift? Check my stash of homemade lotions, salves and lipbalms. Add and bow and give!

    Time for dinner? Head out to the garden for some fresh greens and herbs--more veggies coming! Go to the big freezer for meat bought in bulk on sale.

    Kids bored? Get on the floor and play with them! Give them some dough and see what they make.

    I feel more a part of my life instead of just watching it pass me by sitting in a meeting somewhere.

    Do all the dishes drive me nuts? Sometimes! But I try to change my attitude and remind myself that it is worth it to create something natural for my friends and family. Am I tired? Sometimes! But it is a good tired from a job well done. Will I ever finish everything on my to do list? Um, probably not! Overwhelming at times, but I enjoy my life so much more now.

    Reading blogs like this one encourage and educate me on so much. I've learned how much I can do for myself and how to do it! Keep up the great work/life, Rhonda!

  4. Your right. There is no easy out for the simple life. This lifestyle is a TON of work but the rewards are well worth it!

  5. I am just about to embark on a new life of loving what I do! After 10 years at a big corporation, in a few weeks I'll be "retiring" and staying at home with 3 young kids. I could not be more excited to have the time to try more of the ideas I read on your blog! Soap-making is one of the first new skills on my list, and I'll be renewing my skills in bread-making.

    I think one of the keys to loving with you do is having the time to do it. If I have the time to prepare a Sunday meal starting in a clean kitchen, and then and clean my kitchen fully, I quite enjoy it. If I'm stuck making a quick unplanned thrown-together dinner in a messy kitchen, and then cleaning up "enough to get by", as quickly as possible, because it's the end of a long day and I should really be asleep, that's not so enjoyable.
    Housekeeping, like a lot of things, takes more careful planning that people realize, so that you don't bite off more than you can chew on any given day.

    I am interested in your comment that you feel you've always been a working class woman at heart. I feel the same way, although looking at my life the last few years you wouldn't think so (paying for childcare, living a crazy busy life in suburbia). I'm curious for a further explanation from you or any of your readers about what you think makes someone that way. I don't think it's only heritage, because my sisters don't seem to feel the same inclination towards working class. I like to think there's a certain brand of us people that want to work hard and get concrete results, but are also intelligent enough to think of all kinds of ways to make a household run more efficiently and happily. So, I guess, the intersection of people that are hard-working, creative, down-to-earth, and intelligent. What do you think?

  6. As I have a full time job outside the home, I often feel like my home becomes neglected. While I would love nothing more than to stay at home and raise my kids (expecting our first in November), it is financially not possible in this season of our lives. Hopefully someday I will be able to take more pride in my home than my "job", but for now, I still take immense pride in my home and all of the things I am able to do, even while working as a professional.

    I really enjoy your blog and look forward to more great posts!

  7. I loved reading your thoughts on work! I've always been of the philosophy that whatever I do I want to do well. When I worked as the charge nurse of a large Telemetry Unit, I told the nurses that we had much to get done and patients to care for but let's get it done with a smile and help each other. I never felt that I was too good to empty a bedpan or clean up an elderly person who soiled their bed. We had such a great unit and we got our jobs done well.

    Now I no longer work in a hospital but am working with my hubby on a tech startup. However, I still bring the same work ethic to this too. I get to work from home on the computer which I enjoy. I always take some time to read my favorite blogs. And I learn so much from people like you, Rhonda. You've stirred a desire in me for a simpler life. I may not yet be at the point of making my own soap but making bread ...you betcha! Thank you for giving me a glimpse of a different way of life. I'm loving it. And by the way, enjoy your son's wedding and be sure to post lots of pictures for your blogging friends to see, OK?

  8. Something Dawn (the second commenter) said resonated with me.

    I work full time as a teacher but at home we live as frugally and simply as we can. We don't make our own bread (we get our bread for free every Tuesday from the local bread shop) and we don't make our own soap or have chooks (not enough time) but we DO grow some of our veggies, reduce our waste as much as we can and think our purchases through carefully before we buy. (Living on one wage certainly helps there!)
    Like Dawn, I know that living like this is certainly equipping my boys to live their lives with all the skills they'll need to survive, regardless of whether the economy is dodgy or not. After all, it's just the old saying come to life: We cut our coats to fit our cloth.

    (When I was growing up I thought my Dad was the biggest skinflint... which is actually not too far from the truth. But when I was a single mother with no money and 4 small children under school age, I realised that I was incredibly well trained to keep our heads above water. Now... I just give them the skills without the skinflint attitude... it's a much better way to live.)

  9. Good morning Rhonda,

    We are about to return to the country to live. A village of around 3000 people. Our lives will change from city to country. Whilst I have enjoyed my time in the city, I really believe I'm a country girl at heart. I am not into malls, in fact I avoid them if possible. At 58 and 61 we are starting over again. Am I apprehensive? well yes, this move is a little scary as we leave behind some lovely friends and there is always the thought that I might not see them very often now. We will join in the local community activities and try to fit in as best we can.
    Does it feel like an adventure? Its funny, but at this age I'm not sure. We'll just have to see. I will enjoy having my chooks again and room to grow our own veges and waking up to the crow of a rooster and bird song rather than the constant hum of traffic. All in all, yes I think I'm going to like the work I'll be doing.

    Blessings Gail

  10. Good Morning Rhonda Jean,
    I'm so excited for you with your family wedding coming up this weekend. I hope you'll share some pics with us after the event. I'm sure it will be beautiful.
    I enjoyed what you wrote this morning - it's like soul-food. :o) I was thining about the email you had from the reader asking about living more simply without all the hard work. I can kinda sympathise in a way, as I think the simple life, with all the hard work attached, is a journey for my generation that is just being discovered. I'm in my 30's which means I was born in the 70's, and part of the 'me' generation where it was all about 'finding ourselves' and attaining a career and (I speak generally) having a fairly selfish outlook on life. For me, even though I had good parents, and didn't grow up in a wealthy home, things pretty much went the way I wanted, and it wasn't until I had children and the huge responsibility that is, that I began to see that life is not all play, and that if I wanted to enjoy this phase of my life (and I do), I had to find enjoyment in the mundane and in the hard physical labour that day to day life with children and a garden and animals can be. But it's a retraining process. I know I'm on the right track, but these old ways and old habits keep fighting with me. That's why I love reading your blog and talking with and listening to others who are ahead of me on this journey and can help and guide and encourage, which your blog does for me. I've jumped over the fence so to speak, from my old ways, but I'm still learning how to stick to the right path.
    I'm enjoying the hard work - I have found fun in it and fulfillment. I was looking at my hands the other day and thinking they did not look like the hands of a 30-something woman - more like 40-something, but I think I have less wrinkles in my face than some of my peers, because I'm not as stressed or worried or harried, but trying to slow life down. And I think I'd prefer wrinkled, rough hands to wrinkled, rough face. :o)
    This is kinda long... sorry! I'll be thinking of you all this weekend. Have a lovely time!
    Rachel L

  11. As usual a wonderful post! I love my work even when (or maybe especially when) its tiring or hard - makes me appreciate everything I have and all that I can do for others.

  12. I love the title of this post Rhonda... 'Embrace the work you do'... embracing to me speaks of lovingly throwing your arms right around someone or something and it is a choice. I have chosen to embrace this life of motherhood, homemaking, homeschooling and tending to gardens and eight acres of bushland. I notice many real estate ads for homes highlight descriptions such as 'low maintenance' or 'easy care gardens' but life is not 'easy care'; it occurred to me as I made kumquat preserves this weekend that this was not the easy choice, I could have bought a jar of jam at the supermarket but the choice involving less work would not have brought me so much satisfaction! I could have bought a loaf of bread and saved time but once again the
    I would have been denied the pleasures of kneading the dough, the aroma filling the kitchen and of course the health benefits. I am so happy that I made the choice to embrace this 'simple' life which involves hard work!
    I want to wish you and your family a beautiful day for this weekend! Many folks dread the day because of all the hard work involved and worry that something will go wrong or that it will rain (I was prepared and bought a white umbrella as I married in a UK winter but did not need to use it!) but you have chosen to embrace it and therefore you are going to enjoy every moment!

  13. delicious pictures Rhonda!

    I enjoy working hard, but it's the nature of the work that makes the qualitative difference to me. I was working 60-70 hour weeks as an academic, was constantly stressed, and just not happy doing what I was doing - despite the fact that I love writing, ideas and teaching. I felt enslaved and always under pressure.

    Yet now, taking a hiatus so to speak, (and oh how much things have changed since even 6 months ago - hhehe), I'm always "working" and my hours are long. Yet I love the nature of the work. I am now running the household, and the bread has to be baked, the vegie garden has to be tended, and I'm about to embark upon homeschooling my child. But even though it's "hard work", the rhythms are different, it's more soulful, and I find the work deeply satisfying, and empowering because I am less reliant on others to provide what I need in life. I'm actually very happy. Wow. I know that sounds a bit smug.

    This is despite the fact that we now live on half of what we used to (the withdrawal of a healthy academic salary has been challenging at times though!), and we have little spare cash. But I feel that our lives are lush despite the frugality, (I also have a love of beauty so I manage to squeeze in the little luxuries like flowers and other bits and pieces). Life is simpler and a lot less stressful - on the whole. But I doubt I would feel as happy or content if I just had a life of leisure, without the work.

  14. I would be completely lost without the work of my day. I have a two year old daughter, and a son on the way in a few weeks. My chores and her schedule are what keeps the whole family together and on the right path.

  15. I am laughing with tears in my eyes right now! Why? I just started my first full time job. It's only for the summer, just until I go to college in September. It is in a factory packaging mascara bottles. I'm miserable, and I found the reason why right away. It is meaningless work done simply for money.

    I've found that I don't mind doing housework and other things that most people don't like doing, as long as I can see that they are being done for a good reason. I can see no good in this job, and I am having a very hard time embracing it. The only reason I am even staying is because I have had a few people tell me they don’t believe I can work there, and I’m determined to prove them wrong.

    Your post was so coincidental that I just had to share.

  16. The work I do...
    If I go to my job with an attitude like, " I have so much to do at home and I'd rather be there" I can't stand my job. If I go with an attitude of, "This day will be a good one, and if it looks like it won't be I will cheer it up." My work day goes by fast and I usually end up laughing and trying to make other people laugh.
    At home if I get up and think there's just too much to catch up with, I will not even make a dent in what there is to do. If I get up thinking, I'll get done what I can. I accomplish a lot more.
    I really have to keep reminding myself to live IN the moment,and not think too faer ahead. I am much happier IN the moment!

  17. This was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you! I have been much too hard on myself about not being able to do everything. Oh, how I dream of the large garden and more, but for now it has to just a few pots of tomatoes, peppers and herbs. I have to remind myself that I can love doing just the little bit. If everyday I do one more thing, over time I will have accomplished much! Even if the one thing is doing the laundry or going to the farmer's market. :)

  18. We have lived simply for a long time. I have made soap and bread and grown a garden and had chooks and goats. But now in this season of my life I have late onset asthma (I'm 66) and cannot do many of the things I used to do. Needless to say I am discouraged.

  19. Hi Rhonda

    I'm a new reader to your site and I love what I've read so far. I grew up on a farm; my mom and dad were all work and no play which is something they regretted later on and which made me hate the farm life; I couldn't leave fast enough. It isn't until now (some 20 years later after I left) that I see the blessings you get by living in the country and living as much as you can off the land. My mom has a green body and she has the gardens to prove it. She loves taking care of her animals. If I could right now move back to the farm I would but my situation doesn't warrant that. But I can honestly say the only thing I DON't miss about the farm life is the mosquitoes. Good old Saskatchewan seems to be the breeding ground for them at times.

  20. Gorgeous pictures Rhonda, real soul food as our Kiwi pal said. I really do enjoy the work of the simple life. I love it's necessity. I look forward to the day when it's everyday.
    Thanks for the compost advice in comments yesterday, the Gardener is already pleased with the improvement!
    Enjoy your week.

  21. Rhonda Jean,
    I love this post today. Encouragement comes from you to all who stop by! I love the fact that you don't put pressure on anyone to jump in and just do it...but to really consider the cost, and do what you can!
    This year, for me, has been most difficult. I am facing physical ailments that I have not had to deal with in the past. I find myself having to slow way down. Take lots of breaks and not get too upset with myself over what I did NOT get done.
    I pray you have a most blessed weekend, full of the joy that a wedding brings. Congrats to the bride and groom!

  22. Dear Rhonda, I've just come home from my day at the mental health center and I'm tired! I work with adults and children who have suffered trauma, very often sexual abuse. Some days I can't see any rewards for the hard work I do. Other days are different:) What I do know is that this work drains me emotionally and physically as the years go on no matter how I try to replenish my soul. I would like to spend more time with my garden, my sewing and knitting, the chickens, my own family. The girls are all grown and the grandchildren are arriving. How I'd like to help out more with them. But, if you remember, Jerry and I have a h-u-g-e mortgage and we've not paid it off like we might have with a more frugal mindset (and a more forgiving economy - much of my retirement account is simply gone). But, we've decided that this place - as nice as it is and as much work as we've put into it - is not working for us. We have a buyer - we think - and then our plan is to take the equity (not a whole lot) and put it into a much smaller place. I keep waffling but eventually come to the Simple Life.

    I also keep coming back to your posts to give me courage:)

  23. I love to work, when it's worth working for.

    I sympathize with a few commenters here. I too feel what Tori is talking about in regard to her "job" as being meaningless other than for the exchange of money. Though I try each day to go to work, away from home, with a positive attitude, very rarely do I find pleasure in it.

    I love to work. I love to work hard. At home, on my weekends, I never stop. I am constantly working on projects to better the well being of ourselves. I try to better our home, our health, and our happiness. I love the tired ache after a day of weeding, cleaning, and baking. I feel the tiredness in my body as the result of something worth it. I love it.

    I only hope that in the not so distant future, I can find an opportunity where I can blend that passion from my every day life into a meaningful job.

  24. I love my work here at home. My family is happy which is the biggest reward.Yes sometimes I wish I had a job where there were other adults to talk to and a boss who said "Good Job" and a extra pay check.But all of that fades away when one of our boys says some sweet thing to me about dinner,or the treats I baked or for having the time for them always.Or when my husband notices an extra something I have done.
    Just the other day I found a new reward that is just for little ol' me,I have muscles from digging in the garden and hefting chicken feed bags.Who needs a gym and fancy classes? I have a great life that fills me up and lifts me up.

  25. Being a homemaker ... has no 'retirement' benefits ;) I'm doing the same things I started doing nearly thirty years ago ... but making my schedule more simple by not being on the go as much now that some of my children are on their own. Having home schooled for twelve years ... it's been easy and painless to transition more of my time to the garden and home. Not that I didn't attempt gardening before ... now it's more intense. When I'm in my fenced garden ... I'm in my sanctuary .. stress free zone. Even when I find some failures in the growing process ... I learn for a better next year's crop. I taught myself to knit about six months ago ... and now am interested in spinning wool .. so have that to explore. I am loving this phase of homemaking!

  26. Rhonda
    I so love the work that I do.
    It is so very rewarding. It is the career that I always longed for wife, mother gardener cook artiest and so forth. LOVE it. To me this work that I do is my freedom.

  27. Rhonda Jean: I just wanted to offer my congratulations to your son and (nearly) daughter-in-law! I hope the wedding is a wonderful family celebration.

    On the topic of meaningful work, if you do what you love, and gently ask the universe for what you want, you'll get all the prosperity and interesting work you would desire. It really is a question of attitude.

    AM of the bread

  28. Hello Rhonda

    I love this post! and all the comments too.

    I find that the work at home does have it's own rewards, such as looking out the window and admiring the scenery while my hands are in the sink washing up or pausing in the middle of hanging out clothes to tumble with my 2 year old on the grass.
    I also find that keeping busy with the simple life keeps me from turning into another desperate gossiping housewife ;)

    I wouldn't change anything about the fact that simple living requires work, it is a good honest work that enriches the life of my little family and brings such joy to the people who choose to live this way.

    Sometimes i have days where the housework feels like drudgery, but i much prefer to be washing cloth nappies and making bread than typing memos and doing presentations like I did in my old life.

  29. I think it only feels as hard work when you have a full time job outside and rush all day to get things done. When moneymaking isn't your priority anymore, the homemaking becomes easier and more fun.

  30. Dammit, you made me cry!! In the nicest way. I have been struggling recently with work. So much of it and so many demands. I have lost my simple life because other people's have been encroaching into mine... very difficult time. But your post has made me think... I know that I have to get on with whats going on here, but when it's calmed down... I will embrace that type of life that you so obviously suit. Cant do it all, but so so so agree with your point that its much better to do a few simple tasks and get satisfaction out of those, than to go to shopping mall and come home exhausted and unsatisfied. Oh thank you!! Will now shut up. XXXXX

  31. Rhonda, this is a wonderful post. I'm always fighting the housework that I must do, but surprisingly, this morning, feeling a bit low, after doing some housework, I felt better. And I've noticed this happen before. I remember reading an interview with Janette Howard, (our ex Mrs Prime Minister) saying when she was troubled she would throw herself into the housework to deal with whatever was troubling her.

  32. Re: Mark and Heather's comment, 'I like to think there's a certain brand of us people that want to work hard and get concrete results, but are also intelligent enough to think of all kinds of ways to make a household run more efficiently and happily. So, I guess, the intersection of people that are hard-working, creative, down-to-earth, and intelligent. What do you think?'
    May I suggest swap the label 'working class' for authentic, i.e. real people living real lives.

  33. Interesting comments about working-class. Funny, I rarely think about myself in terms of class. Many of the women I grew up surrounded by were stay-at-home mothers, with husbands in blue collar jobs.
    I do find it strange now that my younger sister describes us as being 'poor' growing up. I never felt poor. I knew my mum was extremely frugal, even a little stingy, but we had a home, car, food and clothing. I never went to bed hungry. I guess different people have different perspectives.
    As to the work of homemaker, it is contstant, tiring, sometimes hard and often thankless. But I have recently stopped defending my choice and just living it. My change in attitude has made a huge difference. I feel positive and happy. I recently blogged about this my other blog, http://knitsewbakegrow.blogspot.com/
    I'm also about to embark on home schooling my 12 year old son which is a huge undertaking at this point in time but I'm excited and looking forward to the challenge.
    Best wishes with the wedding, Rhonda. I hope you all have a thoroughly enjoyable day that is memorable for all the right reasons.

  34. I adore your blog Rhonda Jean. Just wanted to say that I love the colours!

    I love seeing all that you do...and it inspires me to do more. At this season of my life, all my precious things are packed in a box awaiting our move to Ohio once we sell this home...so I must wait. But I can't wait to begin our home again! I miss doing & creating. And yes, indeedy; I fall into bed tired. But satisfied!!


  35. Thank you for this beautiful post. Working with our hands is such a joy - yes sometimes it can be hard, but as you said, the end results are magnificent. A garden in its full glory, a hand knit sweater for a new baby, a beautiful meal made of ingredients all grown on your own homestead - joy!
    Have a wonderful weekend celebrating with your family.

  36. Rhonda Jean,

    I agree with you you can't have what you want without working for it one way or another.

    I like you love my work that I do in every day living and some how it isn't work at all.

    Wishing you and your family the best of days next weekend and congratulations to you all!


  37. You know, I have been told by so many women that they couldn't be a stay at home-er, couldn't homeschool because they couldn't take the drudgery. And although I have to admit that there is a fair bit of drudgery to it, I am also inclined to point out that *any* work, any lifestyle really has its fair share of drudgery. I have worked behind a counter, and behind a desk. My last job was one where I went from office to school to homes, sharing my *cough* expertise... from the outside it was fulfilling and fun. I got to dress in nice professional duds, go out for lunches and away for cushy conferences. But in reality that job had just as much boredom and senseless expenditure of effort as homemaking. Actually, in my opinion, even **more so**- because when I am at home, even the most distasteful task takes on profound meaning: I'm not just mixing up muffins, I am giving health to my children's bodies, and joy to their mornings. Scrubbing out a bathroom is never pleasant, but doing it with a young person alongside teaches them so many things, and passes on values of hard work and selflessness to the next generation. I ask you, what is more exciting than that?
    You wrote:
    "And don't feel bad because you're working hard - it might be the making of you, just as it has been for me."
    Amen, sistah♥

  38. I love the way you support the "what works for you" school of thought. Why does everyone think they need to do exactly what everyone else does? I still don't get that.

    And there are so many ways to live simply....and cut down on the work.

    For example, I love providing my husband and kids with fresh bread baked at home without all the crap in it. At the same time, I am wheat intolerant and can not eat any myself. This takes a significant amount of enjoyment out of the process of making the bread...because I so do want some myself and the smell.... Oh my! Anyways, so I use a bread machine to do all the work...and then take it out when the dough is all done and bake it in the oven (because I just like the finished product better that way). This cuts my handling of the bread down to almost nothing while still providing all the goodness for my family. Yes, I am using electricity others don't, but I am also keeping myself out of the temptation and keeping myself well in the process.

    Same with soap. Will get around to buying all that is needed and trying this when circumstances allow, but for now I order handmade soap from a woman that makes it like I want to and sells it to help support her family. Not as simple or frugal as it can be..but works with our current circumstances of yet another move staring us in the face and downsizing, etc.

    All this is still very much the simple life in our house...without the work the reader was unhappy about. There are ways.

  39. Hi Rhonda, thanks again for your thoughts.
    I do love most of the things I do in my life, including work. I work a full time job as an event coordinator for a small company and also run "my very small company" doing exactly the same.
    I'm also a reiki/karuna master and therapist.
    Two years ago I moved to the countryside, where I'm taming the yard, growing a garden, painting my furniture, baking my bread, cooking from scratch, making my soymilk and tofu, cleaning the house, composting...
    I'm also a member of my neighbours' association, working for the common wellbeing of the village.
    Well, sometimes I feel like I'm not doing enough, not accomplishing my life, sometimes I feel overwhelmed.
    But I know I wouldn't change to a life of meaningless consumption again.

  40. Hi Rhonda,

    What a good question! I love much of the work I do and other parts I think of as the necessary to keep us living the wonderful life we live...which I definitely DO love. When I find myself having a particularly hard time with a chore I try to slow down a little and look at what is making it so unpleasant. Sometimes it is my expectations for speed. Sometimes it is fatigue and once in a while, it is something more. But, by looking a little deeper I can usually find that something in me is making it less enjoyable.

    Often just letting yourself go deeply into the task can be so incredibly satisfying and mindful. A moving meditation in weeding, scrubbing, chopping whatever. That is often how I regain the joy in a less than pleasant task. And the satisfaction of work well done and self-sufficiency is so incredibly soul-lifting. It is plenty!

    Years ago a wise teacher told me that money is something that we are willing to exchange our life essence for. When I really began to think about that...I realized how much I'd rather use my life essence for myself, and my family and tribe than in exchange for money. And when I've been tempted to "go shopping" as I used to do, I'd think "hmmm...how much of my life essence, energy, joy and time is that pair of shoes worth? that fancy dinner out? that new car?

    It is another way to look at the work we do and give it value and understanding. I'd rather do this work than give away my life essence in unfulfilling ways to pay for someone else to do this work for me.

  41. RE the question about living the simple life but without so much work: It is work, period. However, there is such fulfillment in seeing what you accomplish and meeting the challenges you take on. When we lived on a big farm with a primitive [really] house and barn in Texas I was always so proud of myself when I took on a new task that normally my husband would assume; Watching him I'd often see 'the light" and say: "Hey I think I could do that!"
    So much for helpless females-

  42. I didn't start out this way, but I have grown to love the work I do. In the past, I was so focused on being a "career woman", that I missed seeing how empowering it can be, to be as self-sufficient as possible.

    Now, every time I learn a new skill, or manage something on my own, I am filled with a satisfaction that I couldn't often grasp in the business world.

  43. What a great post! I was just thinking this myself. I am trying to make my way into he work force for a few years, but right now I am enjoying the transition. I love the work of a homemaker- although, I must say that 5 years ago if someone told me I would say that- I would have never believed it. Thanks for all you do!

  44. I understand your reader's question: Is there a way of living simply with less work?" Sorry, I don't have any quick or definitive answers. But this I know, IF there's something you want (badly enough) or a way of life that is tugging at your heart--you WILL find a way to bring that lifestyle to pass. Keep in mind, that it may not be in the style you first envisioned.

    Case in point: I LOVE gardening--or more truthfully I love the idea of gardening. True gardening takes a great deal of work! I don't have the time or expertise or money to devote to gardening in order to bring my "fantasy" to life. However, I am perfectly capable of creating little flower beds here and there throughout the front yard. I'm also capable of growing herbs in pots and troughs. And now, I've just learned about garden beds that can be supported by sawhorses so a person can garden at waist-height and not have to bend to the ground (which is hard on arthritic knees).

    So, I've learned not to bemoan the fact that I don't have an English garden style front yard, or a knot garden full of herbs, or even a traditional vegetable garden. I've learned to relish my little spots of flowers here & there, my herbal troughs, and I'm looking forward to growing salad lettuces in those waist-high frames with Topsy-Turvy tomotatoes handing from the nearby fenceposts.

    Every life is different, every journey takes a different route. Don't beat yourself up because so & so does everything from scratch if that's NOT your style. Start by picking the things that matter MOST to you. Figure out a way to work them into your life and then it will be easier to make further adjustments.

    I've learned a great deal here and take encouragement from the stories of your lives. It's given me hope and courage to pursue my own changes.

  45. How are you going to enjoy the total satisfaction of a job well done and a life you love without working towards it? It is not Your life till You work towards it. It is sheer joy even though you are exhausted sometimes,.. you love it all the more! No one can make the life You want but You! :)Can't wait to get into it every day! They say work is not work if you love what you are doing...so I guess we aren't working!! :) Jody

  46. Pickled beets: Do you keep your pickled beets in a crock in the refrigerator OR do you can them? I keep mine in a glass container in ther fridge and wondered if I should be doing something else.

  47. I had to smile at the person who doesn't like the work of simple living. Thing is, the work has to be done anyway. It takes no longer to clean a toilet with vinegar than with bleach. And as you often say, there is no set simple lifestyle. For a young woman, the simple life may be more a refraining-from-doing: particularly, avoidance of overshopping! Reading up on green issues might be another place for her to start.

    I also smiled at your self-description as working class. I'm not convinced you have/had a low level of education, occupation, culture, and income -- that's the definition, apparently! And I bet that this wedding will not be like the one on Kath & Kim!

    As for my view of work: I love cooking, gardening, and my paid job. OTOH tidying and cleaning are dull, thankless drudgery. No-one in my household is naturally tidy, and two are children. Flylady has been helpful but it is all too obvious that she is an empty-nester.

  48. A lot of people are conned into believing there's a certain way to live life, which makes it all seem worthwhile. I've jumped on many bandwagons myself in the past, only to discover one consistent truth...

    ...until you work for what it is you want, nothing will ever be worthwhile.

    Whether you're working for a wage or working for the family, it's your own determination that brings the satisfaction.

    I believe it's eroneous to focus on the "job" as being the reason for disatisfaction. It's the person weilding the labour that ultimately places the value on it. :)


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