A detour on the journey.

I have been doing a lot of pondering coming into this year.  Who am I kidding?  I'm always pondering something as plans grow, change and evolve. 

You know when you hear or read something that stirs inside of you and you just cant put it down?  Well a little while back I listened to a pod cast while I was pottering in the kitchen about a lady was on there talking about how she started her journey into simple living.  Like many of us, held the ideal of growing/cooking everything from scratch.  She went right down deep into the rabbit hole of simple living and made bread, cheese, you name it she threw herself into the whole making EVERYTHING from scratch thing.  Then her entire life was made up of these activities and in the end it didn't resonate with her, or her idea of what a simple life looked like.  She found that way of life was complex and time consuming and took her away from what she was truly looking for in her simple living journey.  That level of self sufficiency is a beautiful and inspirational thing, but it was simply not for her.  

They re-assessed their lives and she became pretty much zero waste.  Today she still lives minimally,  frugally, but in a way that resonates with her.  She chooses to buy good quality cheeses from small cheese makers and so forth, from people whose passion it is to make cheese.  But her realization resonated with me, she wanted to simplify life so her life could become rich in experiences rather then things. 

Here is a link to the episode HERE.

This was all stuff I kinda knew, but you know when you know you know something and its finally sits a little differently on your mind?

(^^^ That sentence totally makes sense in my head! Ha!)

There is a part of me that dreams of owning a little dairy cow, making cheese, having a pantry stocked with shelf after shelf of beautiful jars of my own produce.  
 Loving being able to ride my bike around town!

And its a beautiful dream, it really is.  But in this season of my life its not truly mine.  Its a little bit mine, but not in my heart of hearts.  I want to be building experiences and memories with our kids.  Bush walks, going to the beach, taking our little old van away for a night or two every month.  I want to study without a mountain of work hanging over my head. To have the occasional regular daytime nap.  The reality is this season we are in is really busy, and I want to be able to live simply and slowly enough to be able to enjoy it.   

I do want a good productive veggie patch, I truly love gardening.  But its OK if it doesn't resemble a market garden.  I'm quite happy to preserve some of the produce, but I don't want to spend every waking hour doing it so nothing goes to waste during each growing season.  Preserving is a wonderful and important tool.  But I don't want to loose any sleep over it.  In fact I don't want to loose sleep over anything in my life.  I have spent enough time losing sleep over the past 8 years of parenting small children and I'm all about fiercely protecting my sleep these days.  I'm happier, more patient and calmer because of it.  All essential in raising happy children.  I'm happy to give some produce away, pop some in our shop to sell and even give the chooks some imperfect fruit.  And a dairy cow?  Well the reality is not in this season.....

It kinda pains me to write this, like part of me feels like I'm handing back a part of a dream.  I feel like this is the epitome of simple living, but the logical side of my brain tells me not to be ridiculous!  That its about living MY authentic life and that trying to life simple, mindfully and consciously is whats key.  These are simply tools to help us live the life we value.

And I have done ALOT on my simple living journey, sewing, gardening, de-cluttering.  Oh my goodness the de-cluttering.  I'm proud of how much our shopping habits have changed, how much easier my house is to tidy and clean.  I'm proud my boys understand "junk" toys and why we avoid them, how they are happy and capable of assessing what they want to keep and why and what they want to donate.  The reality is we are living in a tiny space and doing just fine!  All 5 of us share the one bedroom, we all have one cupboard each which stores our clothes and its going great with room to spare.  5 years ago our priorities were very different. 

There are some amazing blogs out there, and I kind of feel like I want to be doing what they are, to be doing "real" simple living, the full on self sufficiency thing.  Who knows, maybe one day we will.  But the reality for us is not in this season.

There are perhaps some triggering factors to this thought process.  My heart of hearts is in helping build our community and helping it heal after the bush fires.  I have been in conversation with various Rev's, people in the community and  pitched a few ideas which have been given the green light.  With a lot of support and enthusiasm beyond what I expected or could have even dreamed about hoping for.  So this is going to take up a lot of my time and energy and I'm aware there is only so much fuel in my tank.

The thought process is kinda long term and multi-faceted.  Our little country church has essentially shut down.  There are services offered in the local nursing home once a month and there is a vibrant home group of about 15-20 people also held once a month.
The old church.

The thought is to use the church to create a kind of "community hub".  A place where groups in the community can gather, where we can hold a family orientated home group which is starting shortly, perhaps a mothers group, and to use the large plot to create a community garden.  The aim being to create a lovely space in which we can care for the community, and do church in a way that looks a little different but is in keeping with the community at hand.   

Garden therapy is a very useful tool in helping recover from trauma, its relaxing, its healthy, it provides gentle exercise which releases endorphin's which help to counteract the cortisol stress hormones.  The aim is to add a beautiful green zone to the scarred landscape.  To show the community there is still a church here, going quite nicely thought it doesn't look the way they are used to it being.  It would be lovely to do it in conjunction with kids and make it part of a regular mums and bubs/kids group, but also make it accessible to the older generation that are present and vital to this community.  I'm thinking that if we used some raised beds hopefully the oldies from the local nursing home would be able to make it down too with a bit of help.  It would be lovely to grow veggies, to share among the gardeners and so the garden is generous in nature, also it helps to spread the simple living message which I'm so passionate about.  I hope that we can create a "quiet" reflection area with a lovely kid safe water feature and seats, lawn and a natural play space for the kids.  There will be no fancy play ground, as their is no budget for that in a little country church, but imagination and creativity and hopefully we can create a special space.  We have put it through all the relevant people and its got the thumbs up, so now to plan.  I'm very excited, a little nervous and a little overwhelmed at the amount of work.  But as with anything its just one step at a time, working steadily.
There are some good trees in the church garden at the moment, its quite wild and over grown, but its peaceful there.  There are toxic oleanders to remove, trees to prune up and all sorts of jobs.  I think its important o create a garden that works with both the old and the new.  To create a garden that reflects both the history, the present and the future.   

So I guess this year my simple living journey is shaping up to look different then I expected.  But I have great peace in my heart that this is the right direction.  That after all that has happened with the fires and everything else that this is right.  Perhaps wider spread then I imagined it would ever be.  But change is good, a challenge is good and detours are all what make a journey interesting, yes?

Anyway I best get back to my study, enough procrastinating!

Much love,
Emma
xx






29 comments

  1. Wow Emma you are such a wise soul. I have just spent the morning talking someone OUT of buying our little dairy heifer that is for sale. She (my friend) is at the same place in her journey as you are, and the things that we are doing right now would not suit her family, even though she yearns for this kind of life. Our journey and lifestyle of self sufficiency is very different (being in our late 50's and 60) to the needs, demands of a younger family who still need to do all of those things you describe. None of us can have our cake and eat it too. If only more folks could be like you, and assess their real needs and desires, instead of following a dream that will only end up making them exhausted from trying to fit everything into the day. There is a time for all of the things you want, but they are just not all at the one time. I love the sound of your simple plans for your community and I really hope you will have the support to get your plans off the ground. Also it's so very refreshing to know someone who is satisfied with what they have. It's a most unusual quality these days. You are a real gem and I can see how you will make a big impact on so many in your community, near and far. Much love. X

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    1. Naw, thankyou so much for your kind words Sally.

      So far the response from the local congregation has been really positive and enthusiastic, which is amazing to me. Its just a matter of working a way forward with it that's gentle, uplifting and soul replenishing I think. There is so much heartache in this town.

      I guess being satisfied with what we have is a realization that came from losing everything a few years back in a flood. That home is not a place nor a collection of things, but the people in it. And we have beautiful little people and more then enough to do us just fine. :) Knowing what a need and a want is helps keep perspective too I think.

      xx

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  2. This is a great post, thanks for sharing your thoughts :) I think you need to give yourself credit for what you have achieved and how you have changed your perspective. I too have tried many different simple living activities and not all of them are sustainable or sensible long-term, or just at the moment! But its all part of growing and learning what will work. Sometimes I do wish I never became aware of the need for simple living, consumer life looks so much easier and carefee!

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    1. LOL! Ah, the grass is always greener isn't it?! I think each and everyone of us lives with a certain amount of worry, its nice if we can direct that worry into a meaningful aspect of our life rather then "false" worries we are often surrounded by. Like worrying about fashion or whatever it may be, or the colour of our walls. Commercial life is sold to us by beautifully made commercials and packaged well isnt it? Even to us that know simple living is where our heart lies, there is always the odd temptation that pops up. I think sometimes, it is good to dip your toe in the water and just have a little rest. There are no hard and fast rules. :)

      I still love a take away night with Grant at home when the kids are in bed. Sure I can make stirfry just fine, but the luxury of phoning up and getting a yummy hot meal and curling up in front of a good movie? Ill take that. Besides, its supporting a family owned local business. ;)

      xx
      xx

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  3. Ha...the dreams are endless aren't they - but at the end of the day just know that we can have anything we want, just not everything. Decide what that thing is and grow contentment around that. Your wisdom runs deep and you will figure out the balance as you go along.

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    1. I think in this period of our lives the waters are always shifting, as do the seasons of having young children. Developmental changes occur every six months or more so we are just going with the flow. :)

      One day to the next can look so very different!

      xx

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  4. Hi Emma. I just read your blog and wished I knew myself as well as you do at your age. It has taken me many more yesrs than it has you. Be proud of yourself and your achievements and all that you do. I think living simply is also a state of mindfullness which I think you already possess. Life is a journey which continuously changes and offers numerous paths to follow. Enjoy the path you are on at this moment in time. Be kind to yourself and those you love. You are doing great.

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    1. Thankyou carol, We are kind of like onions dont you think? We each have so many layers upon layers to peal back. Each time exposing a slightly different view of ourselves.

      You are right, mindfulness is a huge part of simple living. Something which is easy to miss when looking at the pretty pictures and reading all the info on the topic. :)

      xx

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  5. Emma your passion for your community is shining bright. Can I make a suggestion of adding a bit of a sensory planting for your garden. Old and young will have their memories triggered by the smell of the herb they have just brushed past or remember the softness of something when touching lambs ears plants. Just an idea you might like to consider in your planning. If Church was like this all the time I might become a regular attender. As it is I keep my own council with Himself. This most often occurs when walking along the beach or when digging in my garden. Trying to do it all in self sustainability, can be nearly as bad as trying to keep up with the Jones. Take a deep breath and smell the beauty around you, just as you are doing. Life is good.

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    1. A sensory garden is a beautiful idea. The kids love lambs ears, breaking off lavender and rosemary to make "wombat stew". :)

      You are very right about keeping up with the Jonses in simple living. which is ironic as it is what we are usually all trying to move away from.

      I'm not sure how this "community hub" will develop, it will be a matter of looking for the doors which open and going there with it all. I'm humbled doors are opening and hearts are opened and wanting to work together with the possibilities. It is a beautiful thing. I think spending time alone with God is so very important, not one to be under estimated at all. I too find that time spent alone in nature, in reflection and prayer a comforting time. It always helps me clear my head and reminds me of the bigger picture. :)

      By the way Im getting those dreads on Saturday. ;)

      xx

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  6. I recently listened to the same podcast you refer to and was struck by the same realisation. I have a desire to do everything myself, but after recently having gone back to work after a long break mothering, I realise I can't do it all...at the moment. I love the philosophy that outsourcing some things to other people who are passionate about what they do or make is great too. Good for local economy, good for community relations, good for our soul. When there is sharing and caring in a community and we're not all going it alone if gives us the opportunity to create a little space in our lives, without having to compromise on quality.

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    1. It was a really great podcast wasnt it?

      I loved that philosophy too. Supporting those whose passion it is to make what they make so they can continue to make it.

      And your right its building community which is so very important!

      xx

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  7. Emma, your post reminded me of a book we had in the school library where I used to work before I retired. It was called Grandad's Garden by Brian Andrew. You can see the photo he created for his grandchildren on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXia8WbBE74. A number of schools have now built a similar garden for their students. I think it might give you some good ideas.

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    1. Thankyou Chel for taking the time to find the link and send it too me, how kind of you! Ill be sure to check it out in the morning when my mind is fresh and bright. As well as Grandads Garden! Sounds spot on to what we need. :)

      xx

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  8. Loved your post today. Well thought out. I will have to listen to the pod cast while sorting my laundry in a bit. I have been wondering if doing all the canning to hold me over the winter was right for us as well. I may still do small batch canning and a few jellys or jams but in reality large batch canning is not what my simple life looks like. I will be planting my garden in order to eat throughout the summer season and possibly the fall. I tend to share alot of what I grow with the neighbors as well.

    Anyway I ramble. Thanks again for the post, it just verifies what I have been thinking to myself lately.

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    1. Not rambling at all. :)

      I have had exactly the same realization. Id like to hear what you think of the pod cast. She is very inspirational with her zero waste.

      xx

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    2. I thing I came away with was her comment that was basically...When you buy something packaged you are basically voting to continue to have more packaged products. Alot to think about. I have actually invested in some basic clothes to use as paper towel in the kitchen. DH is finally up for it. I know it will be a bit of a challenge but we will get used to the change.
      The podcast is a definite eye opener. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  9. Eating portions of the dream, is more realistic than eating the whole pie. ;)

    I would love a dairy animal too, and still have it on my wish list. But the children come first, then the chickens. Maybe at some point we'll get one, but its more important we have the time (and feed) to dedicate to them, than just fulfil our wish.

    If we all took more care of what we were already responsible for, there would be less regrets and waste in our world. My idea for your church garden, is make it a community source project. Ask people to propagate some of their own plants at home. Either through division, seeds or cutting. That way you don't have to use precious funds for plants. :)

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    1. Thats a great idea about making it a community source project, I bet there are some good seed varieties out there of veggies, we do have many older, very experienced gardeners in the town!

      your right about being responsible for what we already have. :)

      xx

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  10. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading this, I totally understand that feeling too. By the way, the Slow Home podcasts is one of my all time favourites. :)

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    1. You are most welcome! Thankyou for reading it! They are great arnt they? I also really love "The Simple Show", have you checked her out too? :)

      xx

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  11. Hi Emma
    What a beautiful post.
    When I look back and review our journey towards simple living it started with food - cooking from scratch and growing veggies. Then came 'stuff' - decluttering, changing what presents we bought for ourselves and our friends. And now I am changing our approach to money, savings, debt etc.
    You can only do a small chunk at a time and I found that trying to do too much too quickly resulted in resistance. So as my husband's mind set changed and my kids' (and mine too I guess) the next thing to try seemed more logical. And once more of us were on board the change seemed a bit easier.
    I love all the blogs I read about simple living and frugality and they are often inspirational. So keep up the good work!
    Your church based community project sounds wonderful. Have you considered a crafting group in the mix? Perhaps something where different generations can interact and share skills over a cuppa and a great chat?
    Have a great week :)
    Rachel

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    1. There are so many inspirational blogs our there arnt there? Some people are just so amazing with all that they achieve!

      There is a small crafting group that meets in our church weekly, It is something we have discussed very briefly, and a great idea to keep in mind!

      Each area of simple living is really a sub-groub of its own isnt it? So much to learn, its a good approach of yours to tackle one area at a time, I think I tent to go for more of a "grazing" approach to simple living which is less structured and I wonder if it feels like the changes are less significant as they are more spread out if you know what I mean? Food for thought.

      xx

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  12. What a lovely post,
    the town I grew up in had built the local Kindy right next door to the Senior citizens meeting hall , which was used most days , the interaction between the kids and the oldies was constant as the dividing fence was wire mesh, so your idea to have a community garden will be great for everyone.
    A quick and cheap piece of play equipment would be a balance beam, just a long bit of sturdy timber a few centimeters off the ground and some cut tyre swings in the trees, you can safely tie the tiny ones in with a cheescloth wrap. We had a few normal height for the older kids and some closer to the ground for toddlers to get in and out of by themselves.

    We have a simple living group here that meets in a church hall and we get members and friends and family to come and demo skills, soap making, fermenting, preserving, homemade cleaners,pasta making,rag rugs,bread ,composting,sewing, knitting and we also have a swap table, most people are happy to share their expertise.

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    1. Oh the kindy next door to the aged care home sounds just lovely for everyone involved!

      I love the idea of a balance beam!

      Your simple living group sounds wonderful, is it very big? We have some amazing ladies here who make Adealide show class Jam and preserves. They have so much knowledge to share, It is certainly something to keep in mind! :)

      xx

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  13. Dear Emma,

    I loved your post. I think that you've accomplished a whole lot and that you are truly an inspiring woman. My husband and I are hoping to one day live a more simpler life, yet we have no idea where to start with a mountain of debt o hour backs and business ideas that haven't gotten far off the ground. There is absolutely no reason as to why you should want to connect with me, but should you ever want to talk or have a random internet friend, please be my guest.

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    1. Oh it sounds like you are in a tough season, owning your own business can be a difficult thing. Especially trying to get one off the ground.

      There is a saying I heard once about owning a business that there are three of you in your marriage. You, your partner and your business. Meaning it is not like a job where you can easily leave behind. Its weight is always present, even when going well I have found this to be true. It does not mean it is not worth it, only you and your husband can decide that. :)

      I encourage you to keep moving on your simple living journey, we have all had set backs, we have all had difficult seasons, But I think the thing that is important is remember to slowly keep trying to build the life you have into the life you value. De-cluttering one bag, or one draw at a time, by learning how to cook a dish well, getting a hand on your budget, saying "no" to that treat and putting that money off your debit, perhaps simply changing the additives in your mop bucket to vinegar, dish liquid and eucalyptus oil which will prompt you into exploring cleaning green in your home. Tiny little steps regularly lead to amazing things over time. Simple living is not a destination, it is a journey, and different things will work for you and resonate with you during different stages of your life. :)

      I doubt there are any of us here that have never stumbled, I have and do regularly! But don't give up if its the life you want to lead in your heart. Wanting it and making the time to implement baby steps is the first stage! :)

      Go gently on yourself, celebrate the small achievements. :)

      xx

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  14. Hi Emma, our simple living group usually has between 10 and 15, depending on what sort of workshop is being held, we meet once a month and connect by phone calls or text if anyone needs help or guidance on projects between meetings.

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  15. Hi, Emma. I have just been reading through some of your older posts and loved this one:) I think it's okay to take detours and to understand that a simple life looks different for each of us. My journey has only really just begun (relatively speaking) so I am learning and figuring out what works for my family, in our home, in the place that we live. (We have no room for a house cow!) I think what matters is your intention (motivation) and remaining true to that.

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Thankyou so much for visiting me here in my little corner of the big wide web. I really appreciate your comments, and love to read each and every one of them. I will always endevour to reply, but occasionally I run out of time. But please know they mean alot to me! If something resonates with you feel free to "Like" and "share", its nice to know I'm not talking to myself. Ha!

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