A life reinvented

10 July 2013
More than anything else, I am a mother and a worker. Shane and Kerry were 20ish, about to leave home to build their own lives, and although I'd continue being a mother, that hands-on parenting part of my life was over. What was left was a worker so I guess it made sense to return to the work taught to me by the person who gave me my working class values. My mother showed me the true value of work, and through that, how to be reliable, punctual and ambitious. Now that I look back, I think she must have almost given up on me many times because I was the worst student. However, I did remember most of what she taught me and when I needed it most, a few years after she had died, I remembered how to create a home and look after it.

Thanks Mum.

Luckily Hanno is a worker too and with him at my side, I wanted to create a workable system that would allow us to retire. I wanted us to leave paid work but to continue working to grow and home produce whatever was possible. I didn't want to be self-sufficient. I knew that was impossible with the amount of land we had, and our ages. Besides, I didn't want to isolate us, I wanted to be part of a community, helping when I could and being helped when we needed it.  Self-reliance was my aim. I wanted to take back the power that advertising and shops had over me and become independent again.

When I told Hanno my plan, he thought I'd taken leave of my senses.  Plan B - back to stealth mode.

By the time I mentioned it again, a few months had passed by, the kids were gone and although I was still taking the same amount of money out of the bank for housekeeping, I wasn't spending it. With my new method of shopping, home production, increased fruit, vegetables and eggs from the backyard, I was spending a fraction of what I used to spend. Hanno was out working at the shop every day so he didn't know what I was doing. When I showed him the savings, he started believing that maybe we could do this. A few months later he closed the shop and joined me at home.

When all this was happening I hadn't heard of simple living and it was only when I went online to research thrift and the frugal lifestyle that I discovered it was a real movement. I started reading books that I bought from America but I was disappointed that the way I was living this life wasn't mention in those books. My life was centred on work in the home and backyard and how that could support a simple life. I realised that I had to make my own rules and eventually I'd start writing about what I was doing. And that is how our lives have evolved since then - if it fit into our life and suited our values, we did it. We found that one thing would lead us to the next and by following that road less travelled, we discovered what worked for us, true happiness and each other. Again.

Changing your mindset is the most difficult part of changing. You have to be convinced that what you're doing is right and even though it involves a lot of changes, it will benefit you in the long run. I have no doubt that we can only change ourselves. You can't make anyone else change. We can show others what is possible but it is up to them to be convinced and to change themselves.  Giving up $200 haircuts for $25 haircuts and $800 dollar handbags for homemade tote bags takes strength and commitment but it's doable and it will help you with the other changes that follow. Actually, I think those changes are the easy ones, it's committing to daily change that can be difficult because you have to make that commitment every day. Happily, those daily tasks soon become habits and start to form your simple life.

Tomorrow - how to start living simply if you're 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, 5 years younger than Rhonda. :- )