Monday, 23 March 2015

We're open again, please come and say hello

by Rhonda Hetzel @ Down to Earth blog

Hello again my friends. After a couple of years rest I think there are many good reasons to open this blog again. We had a unique take here on simple living and many great ideas. My co-writers this time will start off with several of the moderators at the Down to Earth Forums and I'll probably add a few other writers as the weeks flow by. I'll start the ball rolling with a post I wrote and published a few years ago on my blog. I hope you enjoy it, I hope you're pleased the co-op is back and I hope you'll return again soon.

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If you decide to take the big leap of faith and turn your back on this consumerist society we live in, often you'll produce some of your own food, move towards a local community based economy, or you'll have a combination of the two. If you decide to make a less drastic change and simplify at home while earning a wage at work, your change will probably be governed, to a certain extent, by the amount of time you have when you're at home. Either way, there will be changes, and change is sometimes unsettling. It seems like such a big step at first but as you get used to it, and move into your change, a feeling of calm takes over as you begin to take charge of your life. When you think about it, the consumerist model that we all know so well, takes much more than it gives. It takes away our ability to look after ourselves, unless we have access to money and a shop; it removes us from our traditional skill set - the skills our great grandparents held close and passed on; and it takes away confidence, a sense of purpose and pride in our own productivity.



I created this little sampler many years ago. If you want to stitch it yourself, there is a pattern you can print out here.

When I first made my change it felt right almost straight away. As the days grew into weeks, then months, I realised that this feeling of calm and comfort came about because the work of simple life and self-reliance is nurturing work. I felt empowered by it. All that organisation, cleaning, fluffing nests, repairing, recycling, cooking, knitting, sewing and gardening - this work brings us together, it supports us and develops our spirit. When I put on my apron in the morning, I think of the work my change has brought me and I smile at the thought of it. This work has helped make me what I am today.


Living as we do is a gift and a privilege. To outsiders, what I do might just look like housework, but to me it's a daily decision and ever-evolving process to make the life I want and to create a home I feel comfortable and settled in. This is not passive cleaning and organising. It's a proactive and conscious process. I have taken charge of my home and worked out what I need to do to give us the life we want. It always involves work, if you're lazy, or expect things to be done for you, this is not the life for you. This life requires involvement, intelligence, dedication, patience, generosity and work - lots of hard work.


As I work through my day, I think about what I gave up and what I gained because of it. My change shifted my focus from things and money to people and feelings. I went from thinking about making money to looking for ways to save money. If you keep your eye on the prize - the prize being a good relationship with your family and that feeling of constant contentment, this life will give you someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to. You can't go far wrong with that.


Our days are fleeting and even if you're in the middle of raising a brood of small children and you wonder when you'll ever get a break, most of what we do lasts such a short time. Slowing down enough to enjoy each day - whether it is spent working in your home, in the garden, with your friends and family or away from home at a paid job. Embrace your work, it will make you stronger. Whether it is home-based or commercial, or a combination of the two, the work you do will equip you for life and enrich you. It might not seem so at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight, you'll see that those hard working days turned you away from some things and towards others, making you a different person in the process.


If you're new to all this, step up to it with enthusiasm. Rely on traditional ways but modify them when you have to and do your work your own way. If you have a good day, build on it tomorrow. If you have a bad day, go to bed early, have a good sleep and get up ready to get stuck in again. Every so often, think about all the changes you've made and be mindful of how far you've come. It may not always feel like it but you're building a new life and going against the tide to do it. That not only takes strength and resilience it also builds character and confidence. And if you build your life with all new those values, there will be no stopping you.