Sunday, 21 August 2011

Our common goal - self reliance

By Rhondajean @ Down to Earth

Around our neck of the woods a typical day goes something like this. I rise at 4 and write until the dogs want to go outside, I let them out, feed them and the cat, then go into the garden to let the chickens out to free range for the day. I count them all, check they have water, and encourage them to have a wonderful egg-filled day. "I will still love you if you don't give me an egg, but don't push your luck too far," I say.

Inside again, I finish off my writing and when Hanno gets up, I make breakfast. After we eat, I clean up the kitchen, put bread on to rise, make the bed, sweep the floor and get ready for whatever the day may hold. Hanno will work in the yard most of the day. He has his projects and the garden and he'll talk to the chooks, the dogs and our neighbours, and generally keep the place neat, tidy and in good working order. I will write, check the forum, and in between times, I'll do bits of housework, sewing, mending, knitting, baking or making soap or cleansers. It depends on what is needed in our home as to what I actually do.

Lunch comes along and usually it's fresh bread with salad from the garden or boiled eggs with soft golden yolks. After lunch we sometimes have a little nap and then I write again, or sew, or make household goods. Hanno will sometimes read the online newspaper or check out some of his German or political sites. It's an easy way to spend each day - our days are filled with our necessities but the pace is relaxed and gentle. Friends and family phone or call in, we have breaks when we want them. This is living how it should be - we are not stressed and we are productive. One thing is for sure, it is never boring. It just gets better with each passing day, we are more settled, more grateful and closer to each other because of the time spent working towards our common goal - self reliance.

We are fortunate in that we have no debt. Hanno is on an old age pension and I still get paid for my writing. We are both pleased that I am able to earn that money from home. Of course, no simple life can be truly simple without making the decision to dramatically reduce the amount of money spent. The less we spend, the less we have to work and the more time we have for real living. There is an incredible sense of freedom that comes with not having to work. I still do my volunteering, that feeds my soul and I'd be a lessor person without it. The pay off for me is in feeling useful, being able to use my brain in interesting and innovative ways and meeting the wonderful people who walk through the door. I am enriched by the work I do there and I can say with certainty that it is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. I can do that work because I'm not tied down to a job.

Even though there are many things to be done in each day, the practical day to day things are not the whole story of simplicity. Practicality and the work that goes with it is just one piece of the puzzle. You have to look inside yourself for the other pieces. Ask yourself if you're really living the life that will make you happy and fulfilled. Everyone's idea of happiness is different but if you're not even close to what you hoped for yourself and your family, you should start thinking about changes. 

Most of us have made a real effort of get off the consumerism roller coaster, if you don't you're just playing at this. Spending is the one true gauge of authenticity. If you're still spending on non-essentials while you're paying off debt, you're not going to reach those simple life goals anytime soon.

You have to slow down too. This was the hardest thing for me. I was a chronic multi-tasker, I always had plenty of things on the go at the one time and often I felt overworked and unappreciated. Now that I've slowed myself, I can be busy without feeling like I'll never get it all done. I take my time with each part of what I'm doing and I concentrate on my job at hand and not on what will come later. It's made all the difference and eliminated those feelings of being rushed all the time.

One thing is for sure, simplifying will always give you more work to do, it is never the other way around. But this is a different kind of work. It's work that will fulfil you and make your life richer because what you're doing is building self-reliance into your life. Instead of relying on others to make what you need, instead of going to the store to buy your food, you will be able to do a lot of that yourself. That builds self-confidence which makes you believe you're capable of doing more and more.

You will never be in the ideal place to start living simply. Often the move towards it comes when things are really chaotic in your life, you might have lost your job, had a baby, become ill or maybe you're just fed up with life on the roller coaster. You don't have to move to another location, everyone can start simplifying right where they are now. All it requires is for you to stop spending, to re-evaluate your life and to clarify what it is you want from life. The only thing that will be handed to you on a silver platter will be the one size fits all notion that you can spend your way to success and that being is debt is "normal". Everything else requires thought and planning. I'm here to tell you it's confronting, difficult and challenging. But if you can change, if you decide to focus on quality of life rather than the quantity of stuff you own, if you can break out of the mould that mainstream society has encased you in, then you'll have the chance to live a life like no other. Is the time right for you?


Jem said...

Thank you. I really needed that today. Your insight is right on the button for my life. Trying to simplify and stop the merry-go-round is the hardest task I have ever encountered.

dixiebelle said...

Interesting post! Like Jem said, it can be hard work. I blogged about it here, in response to your post Rhonda.

Amy said...

Hi Rhonda
Thank you for the reminder that we'll never be in the ideal place to start living simply! Since moving here I've been trying to remember that, and focus on being grateful for what we do have and what we are able to do and be right now, during a busy time in our lives. Amy

SARINA said...

Another wonderfully thought provoking piece of writing. I look forward to your book becoming available.

Tasmanian Vegan and Minimalist said...

This blog is so helpful and inspirational to me. I absolutely love it. Thank you so much for helping keep me on track.

Dani said...


You are quite right. Keeping up with the Joneses and / or having all the latest gadgets and gizmo's is confusing people - it's robbing them of how to be happy with what they have.

We are trying to show our children through purchasing, developing our small plot of land and through our actions / simpler lifestyle, that one can live a very comfortable life with very little of today's modern conveniences. And those conveniences we will have will basically boil down to a freezer, washing machine (of sorts - I'd like to find an old fashioned one which you load from the top and then when you need to "spin" you clothes you put them through the mangle), a computer and a TV - for my husband to watch his sport.

Our days will be spent outdoors, when possible, developing our green fingers / crops or indoors completing the “finishing” work one has when one builds.

I have spent quite a lot of time downloading and saving (to a separate hard drive) information re: "How to..." on a number of topics which should provide plenty of reading / stimulation when required :)

Getting back to basics / living a simpler lifestyle and realizing that most of the "have to / want to / need to" have items available in the world today are suffocating mankind, is, in my opinion, the only way one can obtain inner peace – with yourself, your world and your circumstances.

Ingrid said...

'Playing at it " has been twirling around my mind since I read your post. I think this is because I know I fizz along well for quite a time and then go "bang' and have a time of less focus and a bit of indulgence. Then instead of feeling 'happy' I actually feel out of sorts and uncomfortable because I know this is not who or what I am. So thank you for the great post. A timely, gentle reminder of what is important and fulfilling.

heartland frugalista said...

Lovely post. Thanks.

Sense of Home Kitchen said...

We have made changes to live a more homemade life and reduce our spending. As a result of the changes we made and assessing our true needs I have been able to resign from my full-time career, my last day of full-time work is August 31st. I am thrilled. I enjoyed my job as a children's librarian, but I have other goals I want to pursue. Articles like this are very encouraging.