Am I really living a simple life?

22 October 2015
This past weekend I decided to try my hand at making silverbeet and ricotta ravioli.

The idea came when I had a bunch of silvertbeet left over. Rather than cook it up the usual two ways that I do, I decided to try something new. It was my first attempt at making ravioli of any kind. I won’t go through the process of what I did. What I will share, was my frustration, at how time consuming and fiddly it was. I kept telling myself “this is your first time, so of course the process will be long and hard.” After an hour of scooping the filling and folding the dough over, my thoughts turned to, “this is not simple living.”

My kitchen was a mess and I was barely half way.

The thing is, this is not the first time I have questioned, whether my new found life falls into the simple living category.

I usually tell people of the benefits of my lifestyle, one being that it is has made my life more simple. Explaining my shopping routine to new friends will usually coax a response of “that sounds hard,” and then when I tell them I make pasta by hand or make my own...well anything...they find it difficult to grasp the simple part. Sometimes I look at the effort required by some of my choices and's not simple by societies standards.

It makes me wonder if the terms easy and simple have been tangled up together and hijacked to sell products of convenience, resulting in people to believe living simple to be easy, void of hard work. I think my old life was harder work. I had more choices to make, more places to waste my time, looking for some kind of happiness through things. There were many more questions. 

While cleaning up I remembered a wonderful post penned by Bec of Think Big, Live Simply. The post, which I implore you to read, kindly put forward her own version of simple living while offering a reminder that the definition of simple living depends on the person. There is no universal catchall for it.

To me a simple life is a life of intention, not necessarily of ease. A life where you are choosing the way you live each day. A life where you are involved in its creation, rather than just as a participant in it as it unfolds. A life where you know what means the most to you, and why, and where you make choices each day to stay aligned to that. Why Living the Simple Life isn't a simple life - Think Big, Live Simply

On the outside looking in, my life does not look simple. But to me it feels like a more simple way of living. It's not to do with making and doing things from scratch, it has more to do with something else I can't quite put my finger on. I am more at ease, even if there is more work required.

 Here are some of the ways my life has become simple to me:
  • Not wasting time at the supermarket, wandering around aisles. My shops are planned with precision and are cheaper too.
  • Making my own makeup means I don’t compare brands or look for the best newest shiniest product. Same with shampoo, body moisturiser, perfume etc
  • Reducing my wardrobe and only buying second hand clothes has allowed me to spend less time worrying about some new trend and I spend less time getting dressed.
  • No time wasted buying things I don’t need
  • Eating more fresh seasonal food from local farmers has boosted my immune system and reduced illness. 
  • I am no longer worried about what I am putting into my body or onto my body. Living plastic free and going zero waste automatically reduced the stress and time looking at labels.
  • Removing myself from the consumer bubble reduced my stress levels too
  • Buying and owning less stuff = less to clean
  • Life feels uncomplicated 

I didn’t have to make the ravioli. I did it to learn a new skill. There are oodles of easy ways to cook silverbeet and I can buy ready made ravioli from various delis in Melbourne. It’s not simple to try new things. It can be hard. Much like Bec’s definition of simple living, my choice was done with intention. My old life of packaged convenience left me a participant, not a creator. I didn’t have to think too much. Convenience somehow tricked me into believing that if the task is hard, it’s not worth my time. That if it took up too much time, I had somehow failed, because we need to do everything superfast and now and in an instant. 

Simple living can sometimes be hard work, but knowing it’s my own life that I am creating while trying to not leave a mess for the next generation, is worth all of it.  

I have not come up with my own definition of simple living yet, all I know is that it has to do with kindness and living with intention. What is your definition? 


  1. Great post! I sometimes get frustrated with the effort of simple living. Good to be reminded of the benefits 😊

    1. Thank you Liz :) Nice to know others get frustrated too.

  2. A very thought provoking and philosophic post! Spontaneously, I am wondering if I would refer to my low-waste, green lifestyle as simple living. Also I am wondering whether simple living is something unique to a zerowaste lifestyle. I mean, you could also very mindfully and intentionally choose to eat yoghurt with cereals (all packed in plastic) for breakfast because, after giving it some thought, you realize that this is what you enjoy most (maybe it tastes good), fits your budget, and what works best for you in the morning (if you are not an early morning bird). Just some thoughts :)

    1. Simple living is widely open to any interpretation really. I guess that is why it can be confusing.

  3. I love this so much!! Yes, the simple life is not always the easy life but it is a more fulfilled and in tune life. While the definition of simple has morphed into a synonym for easy, it is not the only definition. Humble, unpretentious, without much decoration or ornamentation, frank, honest, and sincere - I think all of these things would apply to a zero waste life style. I think that's why I was drawn to this lifestyle. Living with sincere and unabashed purpose.

    1. I am still trying to figure out what has drawn me into this life. I would love to know if there are similar personality traits that we all share. Even with all the hard work, it does make me happy and more fulfilled.

  4. Hi, I'm getting into simple living with a step by step aproach. I begin with home-making bread with the yeast developed from yogurth and honey from the land nearby my home (Lombardia, Italy). I'm so proud of the resoults but, yes... it's a hard work sometimes expecially after a long day work away from home and a family with two little kids.
    Erin you remind me Lisa Casali, an environmental scientist who is making a lot of information about zerowaste, cooking with the common vegetable "garbage" as leaves, roots... It will be nice for both of you to get in touch each other...
    Cristina from Robbiate (Italy)

    1. Thanks Christina - yours bread sounds so yummy. I have yet to give making bread a go and I don't even have kids of my own. Good on you. I will check out Lisa Casali. All the best to you.

  5. I think we confuse simple living with 'convenience' the quick fix solution.

    Just found you after your project appearance as we are in transition to a simpler life and loving it so far so it's great to find a bit of guidance X

    1. I agree with you 100% Gemma. All the best with the transition. It can be a long road to a simpler life but the rewards are worth it :)

  6. Anonymous9/17/2017

    A description I found helpful when I had several babies/toddlers in cloth nappies and was also trying to compost, buy fair trade and local and and and .... was "voluntary complexity". Not that nappies were complex but some of the other stuff was

    1. I've never heard of the phrase voluntary complexity. After some reading on the subject, I find it could be applied to certain aspects of my lifestyle choice too. But I guess the term is only relevant if we view our choices as complex.


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