Flexible simplicity

22 July 2010
This is a continuation of yesterday post on living within a "simple life" framework.  The areas we're focusing on today are:
  • being green
  • housework
  • the work we do
This can be quite challenging for many of us.  It requires that we change our habits and often they are habits of a lifetime.  When you live a greener life you can get rid of as many chemicals in your home, which include chemicals you clean with, it may include giving up smoking, it will include disposing of disposables, for some it will mean growing their own fruit and vegetables, for all of us it means consciously moving towards reducing the amount of rubbish that goes to landfill, and if you have a garden, maybe starting composting or worm farming.

Most of the elements in this category will impact on all the others because greening your life will give you fresher local food, will change the way you eat and shop and it will save you money.  Don't fall into the trap of buying your way to a greener future.  Many of the "green" products at the shops are very expensive, but most of them can be made at home for a fraction of the cost.  Learn how to make your own cleaners, my recipes are here; reduce, reuse and recycle as much as you can; stop buying over packaged products and complain at the store about the packaging.  It is only when manufacturers realise that we won't buy their otherwise good product because it's not packaged in a thoughtful way that they'll change it.  Never forget the power of your shopping dollar.  If you can, make your own yoghurt, soft cheese, bread and any other product you use frequently.  Not only will it be tastier and cheaper, you'll stop bringing home all that packaging.  Ask the family to help you cut back on electricity usage by switching off lights, computers, iPod and phone chargers and appliances.  Try to adjust the temperature you will turn on your air conditioning or heating.  Even a couple of degrees makes a big difference over the course of a year.   Take shorter showers, use a broom instead of the hose for cleaning up outside.  And don't look at any of these points in isolation.  Add up the savings over a year.  That is when the difference will be noticed.

If you haven't already discovered the power of your own home, you are in for a delightful and beautiful shock.  Come closer and let me whisper this in your ear, because if everyone knows this, it will cause a revolution.  The work you do in your own home by creating a warm and secure place for yourself and your family to live in will enrich you and make you a different person. It saved me from a life of ridiculous spending and mindless acquisition, it slowed me down enough to allow me to see that there is beauty here, if I care to nurture and encourage it.  When I took the time to change my attitude towards my home, it not only gave me the energy to do housework and the strength to make the physical changes so our home better suited our family, it changed me in the process.  And it has been a beautiful change that I am grateful for every day.

Housework can slow you down and it helps if you concentrate on the job you're doing.  Don't think about what you'll be cooking for dinner, or what you'll be doing on the weekend.  Slowing down and being mindfull actually helps you get through the day.  And whether you're a first time mum or a retireee, take time out for yourself.  It may be a quick nap while the baby is asleep, a cup of tea and a book or a walk around the block.  It's important that you take the break.  Put YOU in the daily work equation, you need to nurture yourself and make sure that you are well enough to be the tower of strength that everyone expects you to be.

And remember, housework never ends, so don't try to finish it.  It will be there for you again tomorrow, so take your time, make changes that please you and try to develop a rhythm to your days.  Do the hard work in the morning and the easier things in the afternoon.  I see this work I do here in my home now as my job.  Some of it is outside and some inside, some of it difficult and some not so, some of it is repetitive and some new and exciting but all of it gives us the one place in this world that we are our true selves.  We feel secure here, we have made our home and our home has remade us.

Unless we're born into a wealthy family, all of us have to work at some stage to earn the money to buy what we need - be that a home, a car or our weekly groceries.  I hope you're not in a soul destroying job.  I hope that even if you don't like your job, you can find good bits in it, apart from the take home pay.  It's probably not the best time to be changing jobs with the economy the way it is, but when things improve, if you do really hate your job, look for something you like better.  Sometimes, even if you're doing the same type of work, the company will have less rigid policies, the workforce will be friendlier or the working environment will be healthier. You spend so much time at work, you should get as much of value out of it as you can.

Don't forget that your work can also help you live your chosen life.  You can take your lunch to work each day, take a bottle of water or a Thermos of good coffee, a book or knitting and make the most of your breaks.  And when you're doing the work you're being paid for, do your best, be respectful of your fellow workers and come home each day knowing that you used your skills in the most beneficial way and earned your money.  Trying to be your best and do your best will build self respect, and that is a powerful agent that will help you in other areas of your life.  The work you do outside your home is not a wedge you slice out of your life as if it doesn't matter.  It all matters, it's all part of your simple life and if it's not good, try to make it better.

As I wrote at the beginning of yesterday's post, this is a loose frame work of what many simple lives might look like.  The framework is flexible to accommodate all comers.  Shape your life to suit yourself, and don't expect it all to happen immediately.  Buying the organic or green products you can afford is fine, you don't have to be fully organic or green if you can't afford to be.  Try to make as much as you can at home, but if you can only make one thing, that's good too.  It all helps.  Doing what you can do at home is fabulous, you don't have to make every change possible right now - add things slowly, get used to them then add something else.  Don't get caught up with the name "simple".  It doesn't matter.  Just know what you want and go for it.  Don't be influenced by what others do.  Make your own way in your own time and you'll create a  simple life like no other, and when you do that, nothing else will be good enough for you.


  1. I totally agree with you Rhonda,and reading this has just bought home to me in more than a few places how blessed I am. I love my work,I love our home,I am so pleased that I can keep my Mum out of a nursing home and having a quality life with us,we are living simply and gradually changing our lives for a much healthier and greener one.However!! I always forget about taking time for me,reading this today has remined me that i am exhausted as i write this, I race to work,race home,do jobs race and do my community deeds which I love also and then race to get dinner on,no wonder in
    my early 60's I am feeling drained.I have many projects waiting to be finished in my loved pile of quilting,embroidery etc and have just realised that when Mum came to be with us I suddenly thought I could be superwoman and do all i had always done and more,and i am doing that but my loves have been left behind. I have just started to knit and crochet dishcloths when I sit and this week taught myself to do the crochet onto tea towels to hang.So I am learning but you have reminded me once again,to stop and smell the roses.Thank you Rhonda.

  2. So true! Simplicity is not only a way of doing things, it is also a way of being, thinking, existing. Thank you for another thoughtful and inspiring post.

  3. I like this sentence; "Don't fall into the trap of buying your way to a greener future." That is so true, we have all seen the "green marketing" that is going on.

    I also love the comment; "The work you do at home...will enrich you and make you a different person."

    Such wise comments Rhonda, thank you.


  4. Thanks for another inspiring post! I have been trying to take steps to a more "simple" life myself. I don't know many people (especially my age) who have the same mindset as I do. Technology is such a wonderful thing in that regard, that we can connect with others who share our goals and values, and uplift each other. I have such a long way to go, and really struggle in some ways with the changes I want to make, but I know I need to take it one step at a time.

  5. Hi Rhonda,
    Thanks again for the reminder that housework never ends, so you shouldn't try to finish it! I fall into that trap too often, then get annoyed that there are new dirty dishes or laundry to be done. I still haven't quite reconciled myself to the fact that it is all a cycle, so I do really like the reminders, and your gentle manner helping me to make peace with the aspects of my life in which I live the way I want to, and inspiring me to change those in which I don't. So thank you again!

  6. Ah yes, so important to understand that there is no finish point for housework, it took me a long time and a lot of frustration to 'get' that. Thanks, Sonya

  7. Thank you for another wonderful post. It was just what I needed to read this morning.

  8. Hi Rhonda,
    I teach first grade and thank you so much for reminding us to do the simple things we can and not to feel bad if we cannot do them all. I planted green pepper plants early in the spring they grew strong and healthy but then when the peppers are about 1/2 the size they should be the green pepper rots. I've decided that I make my own soap, sew, cook from scratch mostly etc. I used over $5.00 in bug repellent to keep the bugs from eating my plants. It's time to give it up for now. Maybe in a few years when not so busy I'll try again. Must not be my specialty.

  9. Very wonderfully put Rhonda--you always know the right words to say. I'm sharing this on Facebook, hope that's okay and that you're well....Big hug to you!

  10. Housework can slow you down and it helps if you concentrate on the job you're doing. Don't think about what you'll be cooking for dinner, or what you'll be doing on the weekend. Slowing down and being mindfull actually helps you get through the day. And whether you're a first time mum or a retireee, take time out for yourself. It may be a quick nap while the baby is asleep, a cup of tea and a book or a walk around the block. It's important that you take the break. Put YOU in the daily work equation, you need to nurture yourself and make sure that you are well enough to be the tower of strength that everyone expects you to be.

    And remember, housework never ends, so don't try to finish it.

    oh Rhonda,
    How I needed to be reminded of this,
    thank you so so much
    cheers Kate

  11. Hi Rhonda~
    This is beautifully said.......
    "come closer and let me whisper this in your ear....."

    I so appreciate the way you gently challenge us to change our attitudes in creating beauty all around us everyday for those we love. Anyone can do much with what they have been given.

  12. Housework is never finished. So true! A few years ago I decided to tell myself when I was done. I'd do one load of washing a day and one major job (like washing the floors or cleaning the chook shed)and I would decide when I was done. I was never finished but I set the time to be done. Then I would put my feet up for a leisurely cuppa and bickies and crochet or read a chapter of my book before the next round (pick up kids from school or get dinner ready, depending!). We have that power to choose when we want to be busy and when we want to be less busy. Thank you Rhonda-Jean for your good writing and wisdom.

  13. Hiya Rhonda
    I just wanted to pick your brain. We are moving house soon and will be renting and want to start up a vege patch but in movable pots or containers. Thing is, we're on a budget so I was wondering if you had any suggestions of either where or what kind of pot/container we could pick up that would be suitable. A friend recommended polystyrene boxes but I'm after something a little hardier as we will be there for at least 3 years.
    Love to hear your suggestions: thinking of growing lettuces, spinach, tomatoes, peas, herbs, strawbs, potatoes and the like according to season.
    x Cheers

  14. *smiling* thank you Rhonda for validating us as woman and home makers.
    After reading this post I was reminded of a conversation I had sitting at my kitchen table last week during a meeting with a Defence Community Officer. He said to me" Oh, so you don't work then?" - I glanced over to my kitchen with my bread rising in a bowl, at the cake tins on the bench that held freshly baked biscuits for lunches, at the knitted cloth drying on the bench, my minds eye went to the next room where the iron was still cooling. I could smell the pleasant fragrance of fading eucalyptus from my earlier floor washing... I turned to him and smiled replying "Define work" poor man didn't have a clue..

  15. I really agree with the concept that paid work is not about slicing a wedge out of the rest of your life. I think it's really important to be able to be an integrated person across all aspects of life, personal or otherwise. If you do things in your paid work that are incongruous with the rest of who you are, it's not going to support (and will likely seriously undermine) your sense of self, and self-respect. It can be really hard to maintain consistency over every area of life, but when you're working towards achieving it, it is so much more satisfying!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Anna x

  16. Can I just thank you for saying how the "me time" in a day is so important too. Sometimes we go flat out, putting ourselves last, and it is wonderful to know that it is just as important to take time out for a walk or read a book and not feel guilty about it. Oh, and that sewing/knitting isn't just an indulgence, but it is "work" also!!

  17. Thanks for another encouraging post, Rhonda. I'm self-employed and have been struggling to balance work/life for the last couple of years. Your words have made me decide that I need to get off the treadmill, and work out HOW I want to live, then DO IT :-)

  18. Just reread this post and all the comments and I was wondering if you could be my mum please Rhonda?

    cheers Kate

  19. I check in every morning to your blog Rhonda, to get some motivation for my day.

    Although I'm blessed with 3 beautiful boys, a wonderful partner and a house that could be my dream home, I am hampered by severe depression. But today your post touch me so much, I felt I had to write. What you have written with regards to housework and creating a welcoming home for your family is so right, and as an intelligent women I would advise anybody else that this is so important. But trying to do this for myself and my family is so difficult for me being almost paralysed by my depression. I know that sounds so dramatic, and I keep telling myself to pull myself together.

    Anyway, today it's dawned on me, how I spread my depression round my family by not making any effort to make our home a happy and inviting place to be. Today's post has really inspired me to try harder, and not just to survive each day, but to actually live it.

    Thanks Rhonda, keep up the good work!

  20. Thanks again Rhonda for a well written post. Love it. You always get me looking around myself to see what else I can add or take away to get my family and myself living more simply. I am not always encouraged at home to try and change things (hubby doesn't get it yet :) ) so it's very nice hearing it from you. Thanks.

  21. I work full time (45 hrs per week)and I really must remember that housework is never finished, that I can't rush around like a woman possessed to 'get it all done' at the weekends. A really timely post for me Rhonda - thank you.

  22. You are truley an inspiration. My husband and I dream to live as you and your dear Hanno do... with the addition of some foster children and our own running around. Thank You for helping me to realize that although we may not have this life for many many years and are just having our first child (next week! ah!) and are still living in the city... now is the time to start building our skills and lifestyle as we dream of it. I am proud to say we have not eaten store bought bread in months and I have started making our laundry detergent, which will also be used for baby's cloth dipes - and have made many many other changes to our living already. And we are happier for it! Thank you for your inspiration and beautiful words!

  23. This is a reminder that we all forget, especially as homemakers, wives, mothers...we tend to help everyone and try to do everything. Love the 'Let me whisper this in your ear...' Thank you so much for gently pointing this out.
    It's hard for me to take time out because it feels "Selfish."
    Also, there is the perfectionist in me too. My rest time consists of either tea, knitting, and radio drama, or tea and reading. The best thing is, the tea is homegrown. Green!
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

  24. Thanks for this series of posts on living simply, as I'm on my journey to that goal, along with my husband, 2 teenagers and a toddler. I'm learning, that as you say, one step at a time is fine. I don't have to change and do everything all at once, just learn to fit one thing at a time into our new lifestyle. I see this as a merging of the old ways with the modern world, and I love that I can create the lifestyle that fits with my views and beliefs. Thanks for the inspiration you give.

  25. Love this post so much. It's so encouraging. I'm know I'm way out of date with this posting, but just wanted you to know how much I appreciate what you said and say elsewhere.

    Sonya, WA

  26. Hi Rhonda,I just want to thank you for your inspiring and uplifting blog which I have been following for the past few years. I have been a (mostly) stay-at-home Mum for the past twenty years. Even though it was challenging and at times I felt like a social outcast, I look back now and realise how incredibly lucky I have been to have been able to be there for my children and husband and I dont regret a minute of it! I believe, like you in living as simple and un-materialistic life as possible and though I fail often in this ideal, the goal is always there. Reading your blog reminds me of what is important and validates the life-style I have chosen in a society where I usully feel that I am swimming against the tide.



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