5 March 2010

A journey with no end

If I could, I would send all of you the magic words that would change your life to what you wish it to be.  I don't have those magic powers, all I can do is write what I know and hope that the way you understand those words helps you towards a better life.  The best I can do today is to say: slow down.   I received an email from a reader saying that she wanted the kind of life I'm living but doesn't know how to go about it. I wrote back to ask if she'd read the 2007 parts of the blog where I write about budgeting, paying down debt, housework, gardening, slowing down and being at home.  That explains how I came to this life and the closest thing I've written to the kind of guide she was looking for.  She wrote back asking if I could condense it for her.

No, I can't.

Everyone who reads here can take what they need from what I write, but what I hope everyone gets is that we all have to take the time to slow down and at every opportunity, add value to our day.  I add value to my hours by knitting, gardening, reading, sitting, talking, listening, watching and being still.  We can all carry out the tasks of a simple home and live a more simple life by cooking from scratch, sewing and mending, making green cleaners, baking and gardening.  That's the easy bit, although it takes persistence and the energy to do it every day.  The more difficult bit is to connect the dots and to make those simple tasks mean something to you so you enjoy doing those tasks on a daily basis.  The way I do that is to slow down, think about why I'm working in a particular way and to consciously enjoy what I'm doing.  Sewing isn't just sewing, cooking isn't just combining ingredients in a pan, I think about why I'm sewing, who I'm sewing for and how I can make it special, not just for them but for me too.  I feel the fabric, admire the colour combinations and take my time.  I don't want to rush anything.  I want the act of sewing to add value to my day.

There are no condensed versions of a slower and simpler life.  You have to live the full measure of it.  It is a life long process  - a journey with no end.  If you look for short cuts you will short change yourself because the point is not to get to the end fast or with more chickens or loaves of bread baked, it's to enjoy the journey.



  1. I have found it the longest journey of my life, but also the most joyous. Through all the hardships, becoming single, trying to save, becoming unemployed, trying to save. It is long, it is hard but it is beautiful.

    Great post!!

  2. Well said. For me, slowing down IS done by reading your blog (and others). Everything else is the constant whir of life - things move pretty quickly here in the Silicon Valley. It takes practice to slow down here. That can be said for anywhere else I suppose - too much rushing to and from.

    Thanks for the wonderful post. This afternoon on my break, I'm off to read those "2007" posts. Cheers ~ Conny

  3. thanks for reminding me to "just keep swimming"! needed this today :)

  4. I think a lot of people can feel overwhelmed. The hardest part is to find one thing to do and start there. Once you have got that one thing down then move to the next. Simple as that. You have to start somewhere and that is the hardest part.

  5. An interesting post as I go through the process of speeding my life up. I am a part-time teacher with 2 children. I have loved being home with them for the start of their wonderful lives, but am now ready to go out there and give what I can to my students. I love working part-time, but feel that it's not enough. I only partly connect to my kids, someone else gets them the rest of the time, and you can't tell someone else how to do things. It's not a control thing, it's my desire to be able to implement new things, build new skills with them, learn with them. So here I am, speeding up my life. I love it! I just make sure I remember to slow down on the weekends, and in the evenings if the demands on my time aren't too high. My kids are coping well, they have a wonderful father who works from home, so is with them before and after school, they don't need outside care.
    As long as I remember to slow down in the off times, smell the roses with my boys (and the coffee on Saturday morning brunches) and not give all of myself to one aspect of my life, I think this is working! But Rhonda, thank you for always reminding us to slow down. We all need it. Even if we can't or aren't ready to slow down every day just yet!
    Bless you :)

  6. This is such a wonderful post - every word so true. I particularly like what you say about taking your time and thinking about the actions you are making, visualising who you are making things for and their purpose. There is so much rushing these days that value is lost from experiencing these little things. When I'm baking in particular, I visualise as I'm stirring, a positive energy and - for want of a better word - love going into my food. I truly believe it helps life taste better. Thank you.

  7. I have found that by slowing down I'm becoming more connected with what I'm doing ... not just rushing through it to check it off the to do list. As you slow down ... life creeps into your bones and the scheme of life seems to make more sense and intertwine with everything. This is a lovely post, Rhonda.

  8. I just love you.

    I have learned so much being here each day and hearing your thoughts. The thing I have learned more than anything is that I cannot buy this life or find it or get it from someone else. I have to make it. It cannot be backed into. It must be intentional.

    So I learned to knit. It was hard. I had to sit still and think about it. I was all thumbs. But I knit now. I made myself learn it. Now it is mine forever.

    I hear so often people comment on my little farm, "I wish we could do that". My question is always, "What are you doing now?" Before we got this place we gardened, canned, and raised cows on borrowed ground. We lived in a tiny house in the city and made the life we wanted. Like knitting, it has been hard. We have had to think about it. We have had to fail and start again. But I am so happy to be here.

  9. Well said.
    I spent the whole morning making pizza dough and fresh pasta. It all takes time and well worth it. My family and guests enjoy each others company , food and I am proud to say the ingredients all came from the farm.

    I just inter-loaded some of the books you had mentioned in a February post and am truly enjoying reading Country Living, even though I have lived in on a farm my whole life it is comforting to know I am a real homesteader and love our life on the farm.

    Your blog is a treat in my day.
    Thanks a million.


  10. I love this slow journey we are on here at our home.Life seems worth so much more.
    On the days I get frustrated and want something done all at once I remind myself this, a forest can not grow in a day.There are layers to a healthy forest and you have to let those layers grow one by one so the whole forest can live.

  11. Thank you Rhonda, just what I needed today.

  12. Good morning Rhonda,

    What sense you have made in this post. Sure we will all have tough times but it is so important to enjoy the journey. Thanks for helping us all to understand this. If I enjoy this life I have then those around me will gain from my attitude and happy disposition and that make for a happy home full of contentment and peace. Have a lovely restful weekend.

    Blessings gail

  13. LOL - oh the irony of your correspondent wanting you to condense your writing :)

  14. What a lovely post Rhonda. Words to be comforted, inspired and live by. Today I washed and hung out laundry to dry in the wintry breezes we're having. I weeded and trimmed in my gardens too. Yesterday I made a loaf of bread in my bread machine. I also started another knitted dishcloth using your eyelet pattern.

    I feel really thankful for our life, a gift we are given each and every day.

    Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

  15. It is Like, "Lord give patience, RIGHT NOW!!"

    Not gonna happen...

    Patience is a process...

    It is slow...

    But so sweet!!

  16. Hi Rhonda,
    I have a book that sits on my bedside table that I have read numerous times. I refer to it so often. It is all about slowing down and enjoying life with your children. It is about simplifing our lives as busy mothers. I feel this book should be given to all mothers everywhere as it has had such a positive impact on my life as a stay at home mother.

    The book is called
    Mitten Strings For God, Reflections For Mothers In A Hurry.
    by Katrina Kenison.

    It's not a religious book as the title suggests.

    This book has taught me so much about slowing down my life and also about enjoying every moment as it passes. I highly recommend it.

    I have stopped feeling guilty about what I don't get done and have accepted that I can't do EVERYTHING.

    Rhonda, your blog is just wonderful and you are teaching people everywhere how to enjoy their life by slowing down.

    You are truly a 'kindred spirit'

    Blessings to you Rhonda!


  17. Sorry this is a bit off topic ... but when I last looked at your site (maybe a month ago?) I was disappointed that there was no quick way of navigating back to your oldest blog entries. The category groupings were terrific but I just wanted to go back to see where you started from and it was painful. Now it's easy! Thanks, Rhonda! Love your blog and am so inspired by it I plan to make major changes to my life this year - to simplify, slow down and reclaim my freedom.

  18. thanks for the post, it was just what i needed on my fri morning.

    i agree that it is the mindfulness and purpose that makes a difference. i don't like doing dishes and can easily become resentful if i feel like i'm doing it more than my partner. but this morning i just reminded myself that i'm excited about my friend coming to stay for the long weekend and i want things to be neat for her.

    thanks, have a great day! xo

  19. Another great post, Rhonda. For me, it is always the journey that matters not the destination.

  20. I love this post. Why does everyone seem to rush around, anyway? Where are they rushing to and why.....? There seems to be an almost covert competition to see "who can be the busiest" in society of late. Pencilling each other in for coffees to occur two weeks down the track, etc, etc - how regimented and tedious!
    I think we can all take something away from the message of SLOWING DOWN!

    Tracy (Brisbane)

  21. Beautiful words!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  22. I love this post Rhonda. The biggest lesson I have learned is I am not a failure when I have to step over toys or scoot laundry over to sit next to hubby and knit while we watch a tv show together at the end of the day. I now tell myself each day that there is no "I'm all done now" to my job. Being a Mommy, wife and homemaker is an on going event and I am now loving it. I no longer feel like another day passed and I didn't finish the job. I take time to enjoy the simple parts of my day...reading to my girls, knitting before bed, or taking note that I fed my family well today.

  23. Naturally I enjoyed you post Rhonda, always do, but today I have particularly enjoyed the comments. It really felt like we were sitting around in a big circle; some are pensive, some are optomistic, some thankful and some are downright funny. Acouple of very brief comments I know came from very deep women's wisdom.
    So thank you to you ladies, for your wonderful comments today.

  24. yes yes yes! and that is what keeps me coming back here - your daily reminders to slow down and make every day count. thank you for sharing here, really.

  25. this was the hardest thing to understand. To slow down! but after a little while you realise that it is the journey that matters. So unlike the rest of the world.
    But the payoffs are so rewarding.

  26. Thank you for this reminder. I needed it today. We have had a few crazy weeks lately but are usually fairly slow paced and I am remembering how much I miss that and to plan accordingly in the future. Thank you also for your recipes, tutorials, etc, they have helped me to look at our everyday things and processes much more critically lately.

  27. Thankyou for this timely reminder and a big thankyou to all the others out there who share their thoughts as well. I feel like I have friends who think the same as me or at last along the same lines and I agree with Tanya that it feels like we are all siting around a big table sharing a cuppa. Peace to you all.

  28. I think that simplicity and slowing down is suppose to go hand and hand. Enjoy the life you have and strive for the life you want.

    I am learning to deal with things as they come and only what I can do at a time. I can become a stressed mess. So I deal with what is most pressing first. That way I can give all my attention to things at hand and get them resolved before going on to something else and getting into a mess of running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

    Thank you for your wonderful site.

    God Bless.

  29. Oh Rhonda-Jean, you're speaking my language! I learnt early on, when I had little babies, that to survive the stress I would have to slow down, and fortunately I found the wise organisation known as Nursing Mothers, as it was called then, now The Australian Breastfeeding Assoc. It very much suggested slowing down, especially with small children in the house and made small booklets that helped remind a mother that time with the children was paramount and that if you got dinner on the table and the washing up done and maybe a load of washing, then you were doing very well! Emphasising the importance of the day for the child was profound and important although it couldn't be measured or assessed. Sometimes today I look at my friends who perhaps went back to work when their babies were young, they have 20+yrs work experience behind them and more assets perhaps, then I remember why I chose to slow down, savour the moment of childrearing and homemaking, and I feel proud, then I remember the wise women of the nursing mothers and their fabulous easy reading. We need mentors and you are definitely one of them. xxJen

  30. This is still the hardest part for me to apply but I do recognise it is the most important part. Have a lovely weekend Rhonda.

  31. One of the first things I did when I started reading this blog Rhonda, was read through all of your posts. It took me a couple of weeks to read through it all but once I did I felt so enlightened and knew what I had to do to achieve happiness. I did not want a condensed version as I there was too much valuable information to be read :)

  32. It is so, so, true! In fact, just this week I read one of your posts when I was feeling particularly frazzled by sickness and the kids, and all I need to get done around here.

    Your post helped me enough to be inspired to write my own post which was funnily enough, called, 'slow down'! lol

    I think with kids it is especially important to slow down. There are so many over scheduled children in this day and age, they are stressed, they are pressured. The best gift we can give them is our gift of time.

  33. What a good post. You really help me to take a step back and see beyond the rat race of just getting things done simply, cheaply, and efficiently. Thank you for reminding me to enjoy life!

  34. As they say: You can win the rat race, but you'll still be just a rat!

  35. Even if you weret o be able to condense all that wonderful information you put in your blogs it would be useless...reading what you do and how you do things is half the journey for me. Condensing it would take away all the fun!

  36. Such a well written post - Its so hard to slow down and reevaluate your life, to learn to appreciate and value homemaking and all it involves, rather than seeing it as something extra on top of the rest of life.

    And it is baby steps all the way. One thing at a time.
    Nic xxx

  37. so beautifully said! and what a great reminder...I needed to be reminded of this and why I do what I do. Thank you!!! :)

  38. Thankyou Rhonda!! I have returned to your blog after a month away from it. What a glorious post to return to indeed. As the new mother of our 11 day old babygirl, I too believe that time is the greatest gift we can give our children! It just doesn't seem fair to set a pace that rushes them through this life as they may miss out on all the joy that exists. Thanks for your post! As always, your calm, confident words of wisdom are perfect.
    Puccetta (Sydney, Aus)

  39. Hello everyone! Thank you all for taking the time to talk back to me. I really love it.

    Puccetta, how special, a baby girl! Congratulations to you and your husband.

  40. Chris_from_FranceMarch 05, 2010 5:54 pm

    Thank you, I learned a lot from this post.

  41. I have always known that the simple pleasures in life are the best and the journey to them is the most rewarding but it is easy to lose perspective some days, thanks for the clarity!

  42. Oh Rhonda, your writing is such a gift.
    I am only just starting my slowing down journey and I can see how long it is going to take. As Mrs Mac says - I feel so much more connected.

    I have made a few links to your blog today - I hope you don't mind.

  43. Several of us were chatting at work the other day, and I said I was looking forward to my day off. Someone asked what I was going to do, and I said, oh, get up early, take the dogs for a walk, start a loaf of bread, and maybe some yogurt, then I have some seeds to sort through and a few other projects, then I'll start a pot of vegetable soup and settle in to read for a few hours...this person looked at me in horror and said, oh my god, you're one of THOSE people! I was taken aback, then I realized that yes, I am! One step at a time, over a period of years, changing the way I live in small increments, I have become one of THOSE people....it was very validating (and quite funny, the look on her face was priceless as I described my "perfect" day!)

  44. I love this philosophy. It is really resonating with where my family and I are heading. I recently read a quote in "French Women Don't Get Fat" that is precisely what you talked about today. I so related with it that I wrote it down and think of it daily; "The journey is the destination." I am learning that every day holds beauty that I will miss if I don't take time to slow down and enjoy the process.

  45. I got a chuckle out of this post. What an oxymoron to ask for a condensed version!

    I love your blog Rhonda and you are my cyber friend that inspires me to keep doing what I've always done even when ridiculed for it.

    Throw it away and buy new! Why do you preserve food when you can buy it cheaper? etc etc etc......

    I'll send you a private email from Kentucky you can read at your leisure telling you a bit about me and my life here!

  46. Beautifully written.

  47. What a wonderful way to start my day! The post this morning has made me really think about your points: a person who wanted to "hurry up and enjoy life" made me snicker. But I know it is hard sometimes not to rush from here to there; we all lead such frantic lives at times. We don't have to. But we have you to help us remember that.

    I used to have a friend who lived like you advise. Anything he did was performed almost deliberately with great care; he enjoyed life and I learned a lot from him. He cooked and gardened and was a machinist; and he enjoyed his life to the full. It was the act of living and performing the task at hand, not the hurried end to it that mattered. He, and you, are so right!

  48. I love your new look Rhonda Jean! And a great post for March..renewal by taking slower steps in life so we can see(and feel) what is going on around us!

  49. What a lovely post Rhonda, thank you for pointing out all the beauty in slowing down and embracing each task we face as mothers, friends, daughters, wives etc.


  50. I am a first time reader...linked in via a dear friend....I'll be back tonight to read all of your posts...I love how you view life..I love your words and I am thankful you share this with the world..if we all could just slow down a tad..what a wonderful life we would have...

    Thank You...xoxo

  51. I think part of slowing down also comes with the different stages of life. I've lived a busy, hectic life as a Mom to three children and all their activities while growing up...as well as being a Registered Nurse in high acuity, critical arenas.

    Now, my children are grown and I have grandchildren. I'm retired from nursing and no longer have to make the life or death decisions (Thank God!). Now, I can focus on enjoying life one day at the time and creating that home in retirement that will be a peaceful, calm life for my husband and me. It's easier now. I still have to concentrate on being frugal, saving, etc. I now have time to enjoy baking, sewing and taking care of our home. I remember those days when I didn't have that luxury, and my heart goes out to the young people who still face that. You're time will come, but, in the meantime, do slow down. Enjoy the things you can along the way...


  52. So funny -- in a hurry to slow down! Part of *learning* to slow down is ... being slow and mindful. You can't get there in a hurry. It's so hard to get rid of that "fast" mindset in our culture, isn't it?

    As always, I enjoyed this post. Your blog has been very influential for me, and encouraged me to embrace being a homemaker. Thanks! kristin

  53. This is a wonderful post! So many people need to shrink their lives down to the necessary things and drop the rest. Everyone is different. Only you can decide for yourself what parts of your life need to be dropped and which ones should become priority.

    If someone is feeling overwhelmed, they need to take a good look at the difference between want and need. So many people fill their life with things they really could live without.

    Perhaps its as big as moving to a less expensive house and dropping other expensive hobbies so that you can spend less time working and more time enjoying life and "being still".

    Are the material things you want to own and the goals you have set for yourself really worth what it takes to achieve them? Only you can decide.

  54. Thankyou Rhonda.

    This is something I so need to learn, I always over plan my days, rush through them, feel guilty for what I haven't got done and fall into bed to start it all over again the next day.

    Not a good way to live and time for change I think. Today, right now I'm slowing down, I'm throwing out my plan for this day and focusing on only what I am doing at this minute.

    cheers Kate

  55. I think I needed this reminder right now - thank you.

  56. A great post. I was thinking along these lines last night when I was winding yarn from a skein into a ball. The winding process made me slow down and think about the yarn and how I was going to use it etc, rather than jumping straight in to my new knitting project. It was a very reflective time and one I'll be repeating.

  57. I am loving my journey and learning something new everyday. I am in awe of what you and Hanno you have achieved. I was talking to my husband last night about your '2007 posts' (yes I read through them all) and he is so on board I was dumbfounded. I didn't tell him either when I started saving and it wasn't until we needed some spare cash that I told him what I had been doing. He is finally a 'believer'. LOL!!!

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring post and look forward to continuing my journey with you.

    Manola :)
    Townsville (Mount Isa born and bred)

  58. Hugs to you too Manola, and well done to Mr Chong. Working as a team will make your life so much more rewarding.

    BTW, we have a couple of faint connections, Manola. I met Hanno on my 28th birthday when the girlfriend I was visiting in Mt Isa took me to Boyd's hotel. And Shane and Kerry went to boarding school in Townsville - the Catherdral School on Ross River Road.

  59. Just wondering if my comment was missed for publication yesterday? I know it happens sometimes, I've done it accidently on my own blog.

    This comment doesn't have to be published - I just didn't know how to ask any other way. :)

    I was very grateful when one of my readers reported their missing comments, via making another comment; as I wasn't realising where things were slipping through. It had to do with my email security software.

    You can email me on cdriley at bigpond dot com dot au, if you need to.

    I hope you're having a good (if somewhat wet) day. ;)

  60. chris, I published all the comments received.

  61. Thank you Rhonda for this post. I live a very simple life, but recently I have been feeling kind of blue with little motivation to sew, knit, bake or cook. Your words inspire me to take life into my own hands again. Today I will get out my quilting, make a rhubarb pie and enjoy the beauty of my life again.

  62. Thanks for the feedback Rhonda. I must have forgotten to press submit, or closed the page down - thinking I'd sent it.

    Ms Forgetful, LOL. ;)


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