When Reubs and I were living in Sydney and began daydreaming of a “simpler life” we had hazy ideas of a veggie patch and keeping chickens and escaping the daily grind. In my fantasies I saw myself self-employed with a little creative business, growing and preparing all our own food, sewing our clothes and op-shopping for everything else we needed. Our cute little house in the country would be decorated with crochet blankets and vintage trinkets. We’d have a wood stove that I’d bake all of our bread in, and a pantry full of home grown and preserved food and homemade soap… It was a lovely, albeit romanticised and idealised, dream.
A few years on we have achieved some of the things I dreamt of, but other things are a long way off and some will likely never come to fruition. Sometimes I feel disheartened by the fact we haven’t made all the changes we’d like, and often I feel like we aren’t doing enough. I’ve been reading blogs and books about simple living since the topic first piqued my interest in Sydney, and as much as they inspire me, sometimes they leave me feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. I think a lot of people entertaining the idea of simplifying probably feel that way at times. Like you have to embrace “the good life” completely and make all your own clothes, grow all of your own food, make all of your own cleaning products, knit all of your own dishcloths, make all of your own soap, raise chickens for eggs and a cow for milk and sheep for yarn for all the knitting you must do… Or else you aren’t doing it right. But I have come to realise simplifying is not all or nothing. You can embrace a simple life in a million different ways and it’s ok to take it slow. There is no magic formula for doing this right. There is just doing what is right for you right now, and making an effort to continue making things better for the future.
At this point in time we are working on growing our own veggies. We have two chooks and plans for more. We have the house in the country and it is full of crochet blankets (though at this point it’s not particularly cute!) We have completely changed our spending habits, paid off our debts (aside from our mortgage) and started saving. We do buy lots of stuff from op-shops. I have started that small home business. We do prepare most of our meals from scratch. We have dabbled with cheese making, home brewing beer and making cleaning products, and though we still buy cheese, beer and cleaning products at this time, we plan to continue practicing those things and over time using less and less of the store bought stuff.
I’m nowhere near mastering dressmaking, though I hope that one day that will change. I’m still a hopeless knitter and have come to accept that maybe knitting just isn’t for me, so I might have to relinquish that little part of the simple living dream. We haven’t yet had a go at preserving but I know eventually we will, maybe when our fruit trees are bigger and have started producing. Though I’d love to bake all our own bread, 99% of the time we still buy it from the bakery and I’d like that to change. I still buy all of my toiletries and cosmetics and probably always will. I doubt I will ever make soap because, truth be told, I’m just not all that keen on hard soap (it makes my skin dry and leaves soapy bits all over the shower!) I have been meaning to crochet dishcloths for about 2 years and still haven’t.
And all of that is ok! It doesn’t mean we aren’t doing simple living “right”, it means we are doing what we can and what works for us right now. I tend to be a very “all or nothing” kind of person and either give something 110% or give it up, but I have to remember choosing this lifestyle wasn’t about becoming a shining example of simple living. It was about escaping the cycle of accumulating material stuff for sake of keeping up with the Joneses. It was about living within our means and without debt. It was about having more time. It was about growing and cooking and creating things with our own hands. It was about living a more sustainable, slower, happier life and doing things that brought us joy. And we’re doing that! While our life is a million miles from my fantasy version, it’s also a million times closer to it than my more pessimistic side ever would have allowed me to imagine. Our life is so much simpler, more balanced and happier than it once was. It’s not perfect, but it’s a work in progress.
We’re just simple living our own way.