Changing how I lived

9 July 2013
So far we've gone through listing our values and working out what our priorities are, claiming our home and some of the financial matters that might concern us and help us live within our means. Today I'd like to talk about my next step towards simplicity. And I'd like to remind you again that I don't expect anyone to live as I live, I'm not saying that what we do here is the right way, or the only way, it's just how we did it ten years ago and how we continue to live right now. I hope you'll add a comment about your early days too.

When I closed down my business, I was burnt out and I guess I was stressed. I didn't know it then but  now that I look back I see the signs. In those first few days of being at home, after years of working hard and being raised in a working class family where work was what we did, I floundered. If work had defined my life, what was I supposed to do now? What would happen if I didn't earn my keep?

I began a new phase of life. I woke up in the morning and got my family organised. Hanno was working in a little shop we owned in Montville, Shane was at university studying environmental science and Kerry was an apprentice chef. And then there was me. Me alone in this house that I'd never really thought of as a home. I love the land here, that is what made me fall in love with being here, but my home felt alien to me.

I'd never really kept house like my mother and grandmother had but I remembered what they did and I started doing that, mainly because I had nothing else to do. After a couple of days, I decided there were a few things I could change. I started enlarging the vegetable patch and decided we needed more chickens. I also changed a few of the spaces in the kitchen and laundry because they were quite difficult to work in. Those changes made a difference to how I worked and how I felt about working. It started to feel good, I was beginning to see a purpose.

There was a slow, gentle pace that helped me eased my way through those early days and even though I'd lived there for a few years, I felt like I'd just moved in. I was seeing everything with new eyes and I liked what I saw and how it made me feel. All of a sudden, new possibilities opened up and those possibilities were as exciting to me as any big contract I won when I was running my business. I could see freedom and independence ready for the taking and all I had to do to claim it was to work in my home with the same energy that I used to work for money. I'd still get paid for the work I did but my payment would be better than money, I'd be rewarded with satisfaction, opportunity and self-determination.

In those first couple of weeks, I realised that if I could make the most of the money we had and what Hanno was making in the shop, we'd be fine. A saved dollar was worth more than a dollar earned because we didn't pay tax on those saved dollars. Every dollar we made was taxed about 30 percent, so it was worth 70 cents. Every one of our saved dollars was worth one dollar. It was so clear to me, saving what we had was the key.

I realised the modern way of housekeeping, cooking and buying everything we needed cost a lot more than it did when I was younger. And the increased cost wasn't only because of the passing years, it was because thrifty ways of cooking and efficient systems had been replaced by convenience. I thought about that while I was working in my home, I thought about it while I sat on my verandah with a cup of tea. I decided I would examine the work I did in my home and change everything I could that would cut the cost of living.

So there we were, living on the Sunshine Coast, about to move into the 21st century and I was planning on returning to a slower pace and a gentler time. I was about to reinvent myself as a housewife! I kept it quiet though. My family and friends already thought I'd lost it when I closed down my business, how could I tell them that I wanted to make myself and all of them happy with hot bread, warm soup, fresh eggs and vegetable gardens. No, in those first few months, I had to kept this a secret. I went into stealth mode and started developing a plan.

... to be continued.