Quiet contentment

18 June 2012
We've just finished our first decade of living in a more simple and mindful way and have come through that time much more self reliant than we were to begin with. To me, self reliance is the key to all of this. If we can make what we need, if we can mend and sew, if we recycle, reuse and repair, and if we produce fresh food in the backyard then we're relying more on our own skills and common sense than we do on shops and the system that upholds the current way of living. Anything you can do to move away from that system towards a simpler one will lead you to a more sustainable and mindful life. That system tells us to forget what we know, don't worry about learning anything, everything you need or want, and more, is in the shops. All you need to do is to work until you drop to pay for it.

Pfffft, not this little black duck. And not you either. You wouldn't be reading here if that was your mindset. We're in this together even though our methods and goals may be different - we are different ages and our daily circumstances are worlds apart; we're all living more simply and mindfully than we were. We are all traversing the same path.

I prefer walking on the grass in the backyard than on the marbleised floors of shopping malls. I prefer picking peas off the vine and crunching into them in the garden instead of ordering a garden salad at a restaurant and being horribly disappointed at the poor quality of their produce. I prefer to mend a favourite skirt that feels like a second skin that buy a new one. I don't want to add more land fill waste than I absolutely have to so I recycle and compost and yes, that takes more effort, but it feels much better to do it. I feel like I'm doing my bit.

Mind you it hasn't been all sunshine and laughter. Like everyone else, we've had our share of defeats and failures but we're more inclined to step up again immediately and get on with it instead of complaining and thinking someone will be along soon to fix it all for us. That has been the main lesson learned here over those ten years - that we own the failures as well as the successes, that we're responsible for both and we learn from both. Most of the time we linger between an attitude of calmness and quiet acceptance. Sometimes excitement creeps into our days and occasionally happiness lurks close by but they are spikes, not our normal life curve. I guess you could call our general state quiet contentment.  It's a good place to reside.

So as the years went by, while we've been learning about our soil and vegetables, as we've worried over sick chooks and cried over dying old dogs, as we've watched our children move away to find their own partners and show us their newborn babies, we've always had in the back of our minds that here in our home is where we belong. We feel connected to this patch of land and we feel that we're giving to it as well as taking from it. I have no doubt the old ways of doing things are the best and if you can use those old ways in your modern life, you can have the best of both worlds. Much of what is new is redundant here. We don't follow fashion, we're not slaves to our phones, and while we keep up with technology, we have no problems turning it all off to retain a balance that is not only important to us, it plays a big role in keeping us on this simple path. We need time with our hands in the soil, sensing the changes in the wind and watching the way the clouds change. We are more in tune with the seasons and the weather than ever before.

I know that if we accept that we are part of the natural world, if we know, really know, that for every roast dinner or chicken sandwich we eat, an animal has died, if we know as much as we can about the food we eat, including where it comes from, if we live within our means, if we keep mending, repairing, reusing, recycling and composting and if we keep living true to our values, then we'll continue to reside in that general state of quiet contentment. It makes me smile just at the thought of it.


  1. We started making the gradual move to self-reliance around twelve years ago. (Would have been earlier, but the council lost the paperwork for our new allotment for eight months.) Still don't feel we're as far along the track as we could be, but the past year has been dogged by illness and injury and has given me plenty of time to reflect.

    I'm on leave from work all next week, and will be able to sit down and write a whole new five year plan - what we want to do, how we're going to do it and when. I can work out what skills we can acquire by way of courses, and look for colleges running evening classes from September. I'll also be working out how to make room and time for being more creative. I never want to lose my financial independence, so if I want to move away from commuting, I need to find ways to supplement out of town wages.

    All in good time.

  2. I loved reading this, it fills me with a sense of calm purpose. I am so very excited to be moving to a new house with a yard- space for a kitchen garden- at the end of this week. I have a LOT of research to do! Any pointers on where to begin?

  3. A lovely post to start the week Rhonda.


  4. I love reading your blog posts Rhonda,they sound a bell deep within me and I find myself nodding as I read them.I'm slowly taking control back from those that say we don't need to rely on ourselves but just go and buy something new it will make you feel better,well it may for a moment but in the long run I'm digging a deeper hole for myself and my family because of our spending.I'm trying to be mindful of the re-use,recycle and make do moto every time I leave my home.Thank you for reminding me that no matter how small it is it's still a change for the better for the future of my family :) Barb.

  5. The connectedness to land is what is so special, I love being in my garden and seeing the wildlife coming in - viewing my patch of land as a safe haven (not happy that they steal my corn though! :))
    With development happening all around my little patch, I feel good knowing that I have a safe haven here for some of the displaced wild life.
    I am currently writting in my blog about the first Australians and their connection to their land. pop over for a visit if you like.

  6. we are in our 4th year along the path of self reliance,one of the things that i really love,is walking out the back door and picking fruits n veges that we grew...the feeling that everything is going to be ok because the gardens are full...we are a large family (8) so lots of bellies to fill with our garden we do not have to worry about where the next meal is coming from, I know where it is..it right out there in my garden

  7. Lovely blog! I've sent it to all my family who I'm trying to convert...

  8. I loved this post. I loved the way you said we own the failures as well as the sucesses. It has been what we have learnt too in our quest to be more self sufficent . I think the 'throw away ' society we have grown up in almost taught us to throw away 'ideas' if it got a bit hard too....I am glad we learnt that this is not the case!

  9. A lovely post to read this morning! Thank you.

  10. Rhonda,

    I've had this sheet that was threadbare down the middle and it finally got a huge rip. The sides were good so I cut them into a collection of 12" blocks, and cut the middle into odd sizes for the rag bag. Here and there I'll sit down and finish the block edges in various ways and have a stack of hankies started. The stitching is so relaxing.

    When I was 10 I spent the summer with my Grandma and she always made sure we had a sweet hankie in our purses anywhere we went. Mine aren't that fancy, but it's a nice memory.

    brenda from ar

  11. To Sascedar, if you are looking for somewhere to begin your research, I can't recommend Rhonda's book highly enough. It has loads of information and is a lovely read. For me, it has become like a reference book, but it reads just like a person talking to you. I can almost imagine sitting down with Rhonda over a cuppa when I'm reading the book.

  12. A perfect homage to the last decade of living, really living. You have brought so much joy and thoughtful appreciation to so many through your experience. Such a marvellous gift of happiness that you can add to your quiet contentment. Cheers to the next, Rhonda and family. x

  13. The warm fireplaceJune 18, 2012 8:54 am

    We are just starting out on our journey for a simple life, i feel it will help us and our world in so many ways, such a wonderful post, it is great to have a connection with home and land, and then use your skills to make life a better place.

  14. Beautiful. Thank you :-)

  15. We are two years into our journey and it is slow going. I really appreciated your post last week about the guilty feelings. It has helped me realise that we are on the right track. We are on our first season into our veggie patch and I've already made so many things I never thought I could do. My green tomato chutney was a hit! I have also been making our own cleaners, body washes, moisturisers, nappy cream etc for years. All this with two small kids, the youngest not even one and a shocking sleeper from the start. Your blog has made me feel very proud of what we've achieved, and inspired me to keep going. We are fortunate that, like you, we own our little slice of land that, while only being here for two years, we love dearly and will never move from. As we're in our early 30's I feel that over time we will take on more and more to support and sustain ourselves and our children.

    Thanks Rhonda!


    PS. Thank you for my signed copy of your book, I am enjoying flicking through it when I get 5 minutes peace from the kids :-)

  16. A lovely post Rhonda. It is always nice to read your reflections and joy in the decisions you have made to recreate your life. This post just affirms that my own journey is full of promise and that giving up isn't an option.

  17. I also sigh in contentment.
    "I prefer walking on the grass in the backyard than on the marbleised floors of shopping malls"
    This resonated very strongly for me

  18. It is a sense of quiet contentment, isn't it? Congratulations on your 10 years of working on it.

  19. I feel nice and calm and peaceful, just by reading your words. I'm fairly content with my lot in life too.
    Thank you for mentioning my blog. Well over a thousand people came to have a look. Amazing!

  20. Hi Rhonda, such a lovely post and so needed for me.
    Being Father's day I cooked a special meal for my best friend and husband, your baked beans,ribs and salad from my garden. My kitchen smelled like heaven and yes I made him Bringhum Young cake.....chocolate cake ,whip cream middle and chocolate frosting, [ no I am not LDS, but boy can they cook}. It was a lovely Sunday spent with my man and just hanging out, gardening, cooking and knitting.
    Thanks for all you do to encourage me.
    When will your book be available in the USA?

  21. Thank you for sharing some of your journey.

  22. That post is so true Rhonda, and I agree with your philosophy that we need to take responsibility for our own actions. So many people today feel that someone must be to blame when things go wrong. A much better attitude is to learn from our mistakes and quietly move on again.

  23. We are just now reaching the end of year 3 in our journey :) While we have changed, grown and learned so much, we have many goals yet to reach. There is no rush, it's a steady pace of moving forward ~ or backwards as I sometimes I like to think (back to simpler times...). I love the fact that we have a lot to learn still - it gives me motivation and purpose in my days.

    The quiet contentment that you speak of is slowly (thankfully) taking over my thought processes... it takes a long time to erase the "programming" of the rat race... to fully slow down and live in the moment is an absolute gift that money can never buy :)

  24. :) Look at that big boy!

    I'm curious Rhonda, the tablecloth in the last photo, is it fabric or oilcloth?

  25. Happy decade Rhonda :)
    Thank you for everything you have taught me so far. I look forward to my ten year anniversary one day.
    Have a wonderful day.

  26. Rose, it's oilcloth. With the kids around it's a godsend.

  27. Beautifully inspiring...Thank you Rhonda x

  28. Good morning Rhonda,
    i agree with everything you have said here. Great post and isn't it good to see so many like minded folk agreeing with you.
    Blessings gail

  29. I smiled when I saw the title of today's lovely piece: I bumped into a former boss a couple of weeks ago, and I hadn't seen her for about 11 years. Since then I've left the rat race and had my beautiful boys. This morning just before I read your blog she sent me an email saying that it had been good to see me and that I looked like "a contented mother of three sons". At first I thought this might have been a put down (it was a pretty competitive and materialistic industry that we worked in) but I now realise it's the absolute nicest compliment that I've ever received. I'm now living a life that reflects my values, and it apparently shows! Debra

  30. I love the concept of quiet contentment. We're not there yet but that's definitely my destination.

    I have to share with you a gold moment I had the other day. My 4YO daughter likes to help me wash up the dishes (yes, I know that won't last long but I'm treasuring it while it lasts!). She said to me, mum use that magic stuff again to clean the sink. That 'magic stuff' is baking soda. She's learning simple living already. I just thought that was gold :)

  31. I just love the picture of Hanno and grandson...so special! We are 4 years into our journey and have learnt so much!

  32. Your words touch my heart. Don and I are on this journey too, and our prayer is that our children and grandchildren will be drawn to the simpler way of living and learn to be content. Blessings, Carolyn in Florida

  33. Thank you Rhonda, your post has given me inspiration.

  34. g'day

    a beautiful post rhonda & one day i will make it there. have lived on my own place for almost 12yrs now & it's up & down. am currently trying to work on getting my vege patches going again.

    what's an oilcloth?

    hope everyone has a great week

    cheers :))

    selina from kilkivan qld

  35. I have been following your blog for over a year now and ever since I stumbled across it I have slowly started to change our way of living. It has been fantastic producing our own vegies. Back to cooking etc and our adult children have followed suit. You have inspired us so much Rhonda and have certainly made an impact on my life and my family. We have been tending to our vegies and fruit in our rental homes but last week we looked at buying our own little piece of paradise in Sunshine Coast Hinterland with still an easy commute to Brisbane for work. We are excited about the move and having an acre to play with. Now our journey is going to start all over again.

  36. I can relate to this blog post and the quite contentment! We have being trying to live a simple life for 3 years now and are loving it more and more. My home blog is www.debbiehome.wordpress.com (the blog that comes up with my name is my art blog)

  37. Morning from the wet Uk..we have been on oyr journey for about 4 yrs now..and you now what i am so happy and content..i love waking up and looking at my bedroom and knowing i made the pillowcases from fabric i found in a charity shop for 50p...then going down the stairs to my kitchen that we did ourselves and very cheaply too..too sitting in my dining room and looking out the window to my veg patch and the chicken house..it fills me with joy...doesn't matter what the weather is doing..its a new day and i for one am going to enjoy it..my crops are coming on nicely..and i am excited to harvest them..
    I have started to involve the littlies more with the cooking and preparing of meals and wow..i think because they have helped me to get it ready they are more willing to eat it..its so nice to give them a little basket and ask them to go get me a lettuce..
    Yes we keep up with the latest things but we don't have them..we both have mobiles but more often than not they are not on..tv is rarely on..and our house is full of books..so yes a quiet contentment fills my house and the lives of all those who live here..one day we will move to a small holding and go self sufficient..until then i am honing the skills i will need to make it work..
    thank you rhonda..your blog always make sense and brings inspiration..

  38. Cheers to 10 great years Rhonda, and many more happy ones to follow!
    You are absolutely correct - there is a quiet contentment in servicing your own needs in life without being influenced by consumerism and all the apparantly "must-have" material items.

    I know that the true joys in life come from simple things like spending time with family & friends and taking care of yourself and your family....

    Thankyou for sharing your life with us all, and keeping me grounded and motivated on my journey.

    Sarah from Jimboomba

  39. Beautifully put as usual Rhonda. Thank you for sharing.

  40. Just beautiful. Such inspiration and encouragement radiating from your thoughts. Thank you for sharing this with us. :)

  41. A friend shared your blog with me. She said she thought of me when she read your post. We are trying to live as you and are enjoying quiet contentment too. thanks for sharing.

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  43. How lovely. I took early retirement several months ago, on my 56th birthday. It seems like yesterday. My days are full with simple activities of my choice; I once again enjoy housekeeping, cooking, baking, dressmaking, shop less & less, take my time enjoying breakfast, read, walk. My evenings are peaceful and contented. My allotment is hard work (weeds, weeds, weeds) and I love it; it is my gym and my veggies production. My grandchild is a happy addition to my days. Being able to fly away to visit family abroad several times a year is important and enjoyable. I seriously suffer from an attitude of gratitude, although none of this contentment just appeared for me on a silver platter. It took much financial oversight over 30 years employment to pay for my little house and ensure that, if I were allowed to retire early, I could afford to live comfortably, ie without debts. And I was. And I do. I very mindfully wish the same quiet contentment to anyone reading this. It is a highly recommended state of mind. A feeling of "bursting" with peaceful bliss, tranquility, daily excitement, freedom, occupation, whatever you want to call it... every morning, every afternoon, every evening. My retirement. Bliss. x



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