Question what you do

6 November 2014
I really don't have any concrete answers. I think life is too chaotic and changeable to have answers that I'm always sure of. I have plenty of questions though. My strategy in my own life is to reassess all the time. What is working stays, what doesn't work is changed or dropped. Of course I have the values I live by, they're ever present, steadfast and unchanging, but day-to-day life, how processes are carried out, how things are organised, how often I do this or that - all that is changeable. How I do things may change. Why I do things never does. My life is values-driven. I hope yours is too.

Many years ago, when I lived a more mainstream life, there was  no self-evaluation and life stayed pretty much the same year in and year out. I followed fashion and didn't question much. Money was spent, and when it ran out, credit cards were used.  I find it surprising now to know that there was no long-term view. It was instant gratification on a daily, if not an hourly basis. It was all such a waste.

Now I question most things and even if I did they same thing yesterday I'll question whether it should be done, or done the same way, today. The way I do these mini-audits is to question my method and ingredients every time I make something we use here.  Soap, for instance, almost every time I make it, I ask myself the same question: do you want to add essential oils to this soap?  So far, every time, the answer has been no. It's not been quite the same with laundry liquid. Over the years I've questioned the sometimes lumpy consistency of it and started processing the finished laundry liquid with the stick blender to get a smoother liquid with fewer lumps.  Sometimes I'll read something at the forum or hear in a conversation, something that I want to try and when I start doing that thing again, I'll think about how the new way might be an improvement. I might try it once and then evaluate again. I always try to improve what I do. I never think that what I do is perfect and can never be changed and I've left behind forever the mindlessness of mainstream living, so the questions are simple but they're always asked. Sometimes I question the process before I do it, sometimes it's during the task.  It doesn't really matter when you ask the questions of yourself, but it does matter that you do.

As your life changes, as you grow older, when babies are born, when older relatives die, when money is tight and when the good times visit, you'll probably need to change your routines, methods and what you do to fit in with the new circumstances. Sometimes those changes will be long term, at other times they'll be fleeting. If you're happy for the time being about where everything sits, then question your values. Nothing is set in stone. You may have new information about certain things that you can incorporate into your life plan. Question it all, don't be afraid, an unexamined life doesn't amount to much.

If you've been living a simple life for a few years now it might be time to reassess, regroup and start asking questions. Do an audit to assess what is working, what needs tweaking, what can be left alone. But if you're like me and question what you do every time you do it, you may not need an audit, you'll be modifying your routines and processes as you go. But one thing is for sure, simple life will never be static.


  1. Thank you Rhonda for your insights. I too question the as-is continuously. Trouble is, if I change something in my routine or how I organize, it annoys my husband. He values the status quo always over the change, even if it is an improvement. Ah well. He gets used to it. :-)

  2. I am big on questioning, sometimes too much so. I have recently been asking myself some big questions (what are my dreams/long term goals?) as well as making small changes to everyday tasks such as baking bread (how can I make this better/cheaper/more nutritious?). It feels good to make progress towards a goal I've identified, no matter how small those steps.

  3. That's a good post Rhonda. I've nearly finished a really small book called "Eat that Frog" by Brian Tracy which is about tasks, organising your to list, goals etc and one of the things he states is that some of the things on our list can be dropped off completely (the low priority ones) if you question how these things will change your life. Always reassessing and revising over time allows improvement rather than "it's always been done this way" which is a bit of a trap I run into because I like familiarity. When I moved into this house 3.5 years ago I made up the laundry liquid as per your recipe but I didn't really like it and kept buying commercial stuff. A while later I came across a recipe for the dry mix and I made that and I never looked back and I whip it up in no time. So if one thing that suits one person may not suit another but find the one that does suit you and works for your family then that's a good thing. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  4. You make a very good point about being happy with the way things are... then question your values.
    If I become too complacent-- with blinders to my surroundings, there is a good chance I'm being LAZY. That is a value I DON'T WANT TO NURTURE.
    I'm also at a point currently, questioning the 'things' I hold onto.
    I appreciate your bringing this into light--

  5. Could this explain my seemingly endless need to rearrange the furniture?! ;-)

    1. HA! I used to do that too. It started when my boys where toddlers and ended when they were teenagers. I used to change the furniture around about once every two months. Hanno said he never knew if he was in the right house when he came home on late shift.

  6. I'm currently reassessing the way we eat even though we do eat "well". I'm thinking of swinging things generally to a slightly more vegan approach, reading and research suggests that the three older bodies in this family might be served well by that but I know there will be tweaking along the way.

  7. Essential oil to a perfectly good soap recipe?........I've tried it and the results are so ho-hum. It smells good for a while and then the lye eventual eats into the top notes of the perfume. I just love the plain stuff.

  8. It is only when I take the time to look at every minute of what I am doing that I feel I am truly being as frugal and mindful as I should. Those are the days that I enjoy the most! On the days when I am flying through the day, doing everything on remote, I am usually miserable. The biggest goal I have is to slow down and BE MINDFUL...not only of what I do, but of the wonderful world and wonderful life I have been given!

  9. Interesting post and equally interesting responses. My attitude toward life has never been one of complacency. Every day is bound to be different, each one with its share of challenges, laughter and tears, sometime much more of one than the others. While I plan what I want to do each day, usually making a to-do list out the night before (mostly to remind me to pay bills or buy things we need), I don't take it for granted that it is set in concrete. I might plan to do the washing, but if it rains, I leave it until another day. Naturally when I worked, my routines had to be planned around my working hours, but I'm generally flexible about when I do things and how I do them. If I hear about a way of doing something that I haven't tried, I'll give it a go to see if it will work for me. If it does, fine - I am happy to change my ways.
    If we wake up and the sun is shining, the MOTH might say 'Let's go for a drive', so everything else is put on the back burner and we're off!
    I'm not really one for goal setting. If we have the money to do something, we do it. If not, it waits, unless of course it is an urgent maintenance item on the house or cars.

  10. I feel like I am always going through a reassessment stage. I think I always will as there so many ways to do things and to live. Thanks for this post. It helps me know I am not alone in my pondering and figurings of how to change.

  11. Reminds me of this cautionary tale about "doing things as you've always done":
    "A young woman is preparing a pot roast while her friend looks on. She cuts off both ends of the roast, prepares it and puts it in the pan. “Why do you cut off the ends?” her friend asks. “I don’t know”, she replies. “My mother always did it that way and I learned how to cook it from her”.
    Her friend’s question made her curious about her pot roast preparation. During her next visit home, she asked her mother, “How do you cook a pot roast?” Her mother proceeded to explain and added, “You cut off both ends, prepare it and put it in the pot and then in the oven”. “Why do you cut off the ends?” the daughter asked. Baffled, the mother offered, “That’s how my mother did it and I learned it from her!”
    Her daughter’s inquiry made the mother think more about the pot roast preparation. When she next visited her mother in the nursing home, she asked, “Mom, how do you cook a pot roast?” The mother slowly answered, thinking between sentences. “Well, you prepare it with spices, cut off both ends and put it in the pot”. The mother asked, “But why do you cut off the ends?” The grandmother’s eyes sparkled as she remembered. “Well, the roasts were always bigger than the pot that we had back then. I had to cut off the ends to fit it into the pot that I owned”.
    Interesting ;)

  12. We are in a phase right now of having a good hard think about some of the bigger things that make up our farming lifestyle. On a daily basis I too make adjustments and find better ways of doing things or more often than not find the way I was already doing something is best for me. I don't know whether it is the weather (drought and heat) or just a time in my life that is making me reassess what and how much farming we will be doing but giving careful consideration to the subject can only be a good thing. No matter what the final decision.

  13. Taking stock/analyzing, asking the important and relevant questions to make decisions are such vital parts of stewardship. The encouragements you give on this topic are so important, yet basic to truly contented lifestyle within our available resources. We need solid values and the support of family and friends – where possible - to help root us to not only deal with the tempests and storms of life, but also to make the most of the in-between and good times, too. I was taught the fine art of assessment from a young age (at the ironing board, checking of assigned household duties, etc), planning and organization (from the daily chores list), and values from home, church and school. There was no TV or radio entertainment. What we embraced and carried with us was our choice. At college, many types of analytical thinking helped to set in my mind the value of constant /frequent assessments to reach goals. Recently, the access to the information via internet has broadened my world immensely. The links you list for weekend reading provide some wonderful opportunities to learn more about things I had not thought about but can make an important positive difference in how I see the world and how I can improve my stewardship. Many thanks.

  14. I think it is reassessing and analysing what we do that leads us to clarify what our are values are.

  15. Really enjoyed the pictures this time around. Lovely variation of pigmentation in the eggs! The colours of the garden are so vivid and inspiring and the bouquet of flowers is lovely, too! Good to be keeping flowers: attract pollinators, some serve as companion plants and then there are the wonderful edible ones!



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