Simple living ain’t really so simple. It is definitely a life you need to choose with your heart. I was reading Rhonda Hetzel’s The Simple Life, and Dolly Freed’s, Possum Living simultaneously and decided that somewhere in between is where we should strive for.
I’m grateful that many people do love to work. I thought this when I took Arjan to Orthopedics. All the doctors, receptionist, janitors, nurses…good thing they desire or need to work. I thought this when I shopped at Raley’s…the cashiers and baggers, stockers…list goes on. We need worker bees and many people enjoy work somewhat. A productive life can be fruitful and satisfying.
However, most people aren’t doing what they love or even like. I think we humans like to be busy and social, so the problem is not going to a job, it is the job we go to.
Not everyone wants to do the same thing and not everyone wants wealth and fame. There are people that would much prefer cooking in the kitchen of a small vegetarian cafe rather than working at a Law firm. There are some that would rather clean houses than work as an engineer at a large company. Believe it or not. Some waitress dream of being doctors, and some housekeepers dream of an IT job. What if all of us could be doing exactly what we wanted to be doing, what we were passionate about, skilled and talented in.
I truly believe we come here with an agenda, a map and an agreement between us and God as to what we should create or how we should serve when we are reborn into this world. Problem is, we are born and forget it all. We lose touch with our instincts and intuitions, we forget to commune with God, to listen for Spirits gentle guidance. We then add all the advice and opinions of parents, teachers, peers…even co workers, friends and neighbors. We are no longer us…we are made up of what everyone else wants or needs or how they see us.
In this shelter in period many people wound up trapped in their houses with themselves and maybe family or roommates. It turned out bad, it turned out good. Some healing, some drama, and some realization. Many people were now off the roads and out of the office. No long commute, no 10 to 12 hours in an office. Kids pulled from long, boring days test taking and listening to endless lectures of no interest to them personally.
Now things are slowly going back to the way it was. Many people are finding a new sadness and fear. They ask themselves in the middle of the night as they stare up at the ceiling in the dark, “How can I go back to commuting 4 hours a day again? How can I return to that office doing that soulless work? And that boss? How can I send my child back to the school he or she was being bullied everyday? He or she has become so much happier since home…I’ve learned to bake french bread…my partner is gardening now…we are happy!”
Now, some of you can’t wait to get back to the grind and throw those kids back in school…this is not for you. This is for all the people that woke up emotionally and spiritually during this time of quiet and isolation. This time became a gestational period of growth and healing and awareness for many.
I say, don’t let it go. Take it with both hands fearlessly and dive in, jump into the void. Faith jumping as I call it. Jump and the net will appear. Jump and the Universe will meet you. All sayings I’ve heard, but tried and true. I’m a big jumper and thinking of doing some more soon with my husband in mind.
Bali didn’t fight me very vigorously when I insisted he cut down to four work days a week. When Arjan broke his arm he was eager to take time off, although it wasn’t necessary. He has taken off whole weeks since we moved here just to “get the wood chopped and stacked” or “to finish up projects”. He’s a worker bee, but I’m noticing his antenna are wilting a bit at the daily work grind.
We now live in an area filled with natural beauty of all kinds. We have good neighbors. We have a quarter acre yard and charming old house. We are now in heaven. We love being home and gardening, cooking, painting, baking, reading, napping, long walks.
We have two properties. One is a rental and we make a little extra money from it. But as I read my various books on simplicity I wonder if we shouldn’t eventually try and sell it, pay down this house and grow as much food as possible so Bali doesn’t have to work but a bit.
I work hard at all my little careers, however, I love what I do and it is a way to share, express and connect. Unfortunately, it is not bringing in enough to cover even the mortgage. Almost but not yet. So, I play and dibble, dabble away.
I don’t make much so I practice saving a lot. With my scratch cooking, baking, and a huge garden, I save. With learning to mend and sew, getting stains out and extending the life of clothes I save. With finding things free on Craigslist and sales at thrift stores I save.
Doing a big No Spend year is fun, yes fun, and will help so much. Someone called it a Super Saver year and I much prefer that. We’ll discuss that later in another blog. But my point is this…and I did take a long time to get here, it is work to save and live a simpler life.
You exchange kneading dough and weeding the garden for a long commute into the city. You exchange more hours with your children to love on them and be annoyed by them for dropping them off at a public school where there is bullying, peer pressure and tons of scholastic stress about subjects no one gives two cents about. You exchange hours working for a boss and making a company rich with hours going to garage sales and bartering over a toaster or pair of jeans, finding coupons for Dollar Generals next sale, making your own cleaners, and learning how to fix that bathroom sink yourself.
My family and I live such a blessed life. We eat good, and most organic foods, drink lots of fancy coffee drinks, live in a charming cottage, rent out another charming cottage, drive two good vehicles, own land, wear nice clothes, children have excellent educations, everyone is healthy and fit…or getting there, great social life, lots of entertainment, and lots of time for hobbies.
But here is the catch; we try to grow most of our food to cut cost of organics. I make my fancy lattes at home. Our properties were very old and sort of run down homes that no one wanted. They are charming now with a lot of our own labor and some help from handymen. Our clothes are thrift or handmedowns. Our vehicles are old with peeling paint and over 250,000 miles. The boys are home schooled with the help of a magical co-op and forest school and “choose” their subjects. We have friends of all walks of life and in financial situations but they are our tribe for sure. Entertainment comes in the form of huge bags of books from the library and Roku TV free movies, walks in the forest, playing in the creek, art, writing.
Hobbies are pretty much running this house and bringing in money to support the small luxuries such as running water, lights…
Sometimes I do want to throw my kids in a school and have some damn peace and quiet. Sometimes I am over all the cooking and baking. Sometimes I want to hire a housecleaner and someone to finish painting the inside of the house.
On those days I buy some convenience foods or supplies for sandwiches. I make rice and salad to last a few days and daily add a fruit and vegan faux meat or such. I have hired a house cleaner in the past. Now I just take a few days off and focus on the writing or vlogging until that morning comes when I wake up inspired to rearrange the living room and deep clean (or the collecting dog hair sends me over the edge). On the days I need peace I throw the boys in the yard or put on a good movie and make popcorn to occupy them for at least an hour or two.
I don’t drive myself to work every day. When the motivation is strong I bulk cook; rice cooker going, huge pot of beans, wash a ton of vegetables for a big container of salad. I’ll even boil up soy milk and wash some wheat gluten. I’ll have a big baking day with hand made wheat bread and two bread makers going to make 4 to 5 loaves.
Rearranging the house and decluttering helps inspire a deep clean and organizing.
At first this “simple life” is hard. One has so much to learn and so many mistakes to make to educate. I promise, it gets easier. Gardens begin to grow themselves, houses get more organized and a cleaning system develops, cooking requires less looking in cookbooks and baking becomes more natural.
Then the lifestyle. At first we have to adjust from all the running about and full calendars. We have a nervous feeling with all that time available but then we realize we have more time to wash our face and read a book. We have time to make a nice latte instead of slop coffee in a to go container. We have time for an even walk. Before you know it you are taking the cart to the store on foot and mending holes in the pillow cases.
There is a lot of work sometimes…not all the time. It’s peaceful, methodical work. There are rituals and rhythms to the day. It can be very Zen like. You don’t have quotas to meet quarterly, bosses to please, or deadlines. You can follow the seasons, follow your energy levels.
Today I took my eldest to his doctor appointment. After dropping him off I drove to Raley’s blaring the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman. My singing sounds much better when the music is at ear drum wrecking decibels. I love shopping at Raley’s. The places is clean, good music, murals on the walls, warm colors for the paint and tiles, cozy lighting, and the organic and vegan sections keep growing. They have a lot of variety for all of us. I find new foods, choose a cake, load up on produce because we are produce aholics!
We had delicious vegan sandwiches loaded with veggies; avocado, tomato, lettuce, onions, pickles. I could eat three of those. Ice coffee and fig newtons followed with a time on the porch to write up some of this blog. I then took some time to lay in the bedroom on our large and luxurious bed to read, have a little shut eye. I’m now in the kitchen with Bali finishing this blog while he scraps white paint off my cupboard. I will start a few other articles before a forget the inspiration I have from reading The Simple Life.
So, what the hell is my point? Yes, there is a lot of work sometimes. Especially if you are trying to grow and/or raise food to be more self sustaining. But if you love to cook and garden, you love animals, you love being home, you enjoy crafts and sewing, reading and learning…you will thrive in this life.
If you want this kind of life you can start slowly. You don’t have to move outback, build a shack, and start growing your own wheat and hunt deer for food. You can start right there in suburbia growing a bed of lettuce, a pot of tomatoes, and canning jam from some berries you bought at the local Farmers Market. You can simple learn to mend holes in shirts and iron on patches to cover holes in your jeans. Start seeing what you can reduce, cut out completely, see if you can walk to the grocery store and buy a wagon to haul the groceries. See if you can ride a bike to work during the nice weather. Try your hand at some Amish white bread.
Have fun with it all. It will grow in your life and you will be changed in the best way.