"What can you learn from me? That you can do more than you ever thought possible. I never thought I would be milking a goat, or canning tomatoes, or starting 600 vegetable plants from seed, but I did all of those things this year. Open your mind to the possibilities and see what happens."- Renee Mellor
With us today is Renee, who has the loveliest smile - wouldn't you agree? She smiles with her eyes. She has been part of the Simple Living Challenge community now for quite some time and her contributions and encouragements have obviously not escaped my notice. Thank you Renee. So let the conversation begin...
How would you describe yourself in 5 words? Hmm, this is hard because I try not to label myself too much, but I'll try. I'm passionate, stubborn, messy, complicated, and determined.
5 words that others might use? This one's easy. Loving, stubborn, bossy, opinionated, and fun.
We'd love to meet your family. Please introduce them to us. I've been married to my amazing husband for 15 years now, he's a great husband and an even better father. I have an 11-year-old son, Gabriel, who is moderately autistic. He has challenged me to be more patient and worry less about what people think. I have twins that will be 10 next week. Ian is mildly autistic and he's an amazingly smart and literal kid. He's taught me that it's important to do what you say you're going to do, when you say you're going to do it. Aislyn is a beautiful, smart, happy girl, who has a huge joy for life and finds such joy in the simple things in life. Lily, my baby, just turned 4 and is in that stage where she wants to do exactly what Mommy does. Nothing makes her happier than picking tomatoes in the garden or collecting eggs from the hens.
What would you say are your priorities in life? To raise, healthy, happy, well-adjusted kids who know that people are more important than things, and that easy isn't always best. Some of the most important things in life take hard work. They have to do chores, they have to help with the animals and the garden, they have to be respectful and polite whenever possible. I'm teaching them right from wrong, in a society that doesn't seem to care anymore about right and wrong. I hope I'm teaching them to question things and not believe everything that society tells them is important. I want them to thrive, no matter what they choose to do.
What does Daily Bread mean to you, if anything? Even as a Pagan I understand that this means so much more than food to eat. I'd say, for me, it's having the things we need. That's NEED, not want. I'm getting better every day at figuring out the difference. We need good food, clean air, clean water, and the company of the people we love. I'm lucky to have everything I need right now.
How does your life reflect your simple living philosophy? I think a big part of simple living is to separate ourselves from the "consumer" mindset. Having more things doesn't make you happier, it just makes you in debt and surrounded by a bunch of stuff that you could easily do without. It doesn't matter if your neighbour has a bigger house, a newer car, nicer clothes.
Also, I think that it's important to be as self-reliant as possible. We raise rabbits and ducks for meat, we have a flock of laying hens and a couple of dairy goats. We've got a big garden and we're putting in fruit trees as the budget allows. All of these things allow us (or will in the future) to stop spending so much money, which will allow my husband to work less.
Who inspires you? My grandpa, who plants his garden every year. My grandma, who recycles and composts and makes the most amazing soups out of leftovers. My mom, who lost everything she owned in a fire last year and rebuilt, and got on with the business of living. My husband, who supports me, no matter what crazy idea I come up with. My children, who need me to be a good example.
What are your favourite books?I'm just assuming you are a reader... Oh, this is really hard, as reading has always been one of my favourite ways to escape stress. For informational purposes, I love Back to Basics, The Foxfire Book, and Mini-Farming: Self Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre. For pure entertainment almost any book will do but my favourites are the Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldon, the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, by J.R. Ward, and the In Death series by J.D. Robb. I like a series because they let get deeper into the characters than a stand-alone book would.
So what is on your bedside table at the moment? An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, A Lick of Frost by Laurell K. Hamilton, and Building Green by Clarke Snell and Tim Callahan. Yes, I'm one of those crazy people who have multiple books going at once.
That is me too Renee. I have trouble getting in and out of bed because I have to navigate my way around my big pile!
What are your biggest passions? My husband, my children, my family. I'm also passionate about real food, growing it, cooking it, eating it, and making people understand that it's vitally important to know what you're eating and how it's going to affect you in the future.
Your hopes and dreams? I hope my children grow up to be exceptional people. I see their potential and I'm so excited to see who and what they will become.
I dream of, one day, being able to produce all of our own food here on our dream property.
I hope I see the day that society realizes that it's not important what you have, it's important WHO you are.
What can we learn from you? What can you learn from me? That you can do more than you ever thought possible. I never thought I would be milking a goat, or canning tomatoes, or starting 600 vegetable plants from seed, but I did all of those things this year. Open your mind to the possibilities and see what happens.
That is a big encouragement to me Renee - I am a simple liver without a productive garden and I would love to do more in that area. Sometimes it just seems beyond me.
What would you say your biggest challenge is? My biggest challenge right now is letting go of my negativity. I so often feel like I'm the only one who sees how out of whack the world is. I need to remember that there are others who understand and are doing something to change things.
You are not alone! I suspect this might be why you like The Simply Living Challenge, Renee - and the simple living community in general. Am I right? Yes! It connects me with like-minded people. We may not agree on everything, but we agree that change needs to happen and we're all working on it in our own way. It's so refreshing to talk to people who care about more than the latest TV show, or the hottest new trend, or the latest celebrity scandal. I get so many great ideas from so many people in so many places.
How can we support you? Listen, share ideas, plant a garden, be the change you want to see in the world and it will be a better place for everyone.
What a beautiful way to end the interview. Thank you Renee. You have been such a source of ideas and encouragement. So true of you!
Renee has a blog - http://mamachickensays.blogspot.com.au/
Renee has a blog - http://mamachickensays.blogspot.com.au/
As always I encourage you to leave comments and to keep the conversation going. And if you haven't subscribed to the blog you might like to. One of my hopes and desires is to see a vibrant simple living community grow here in blogger land.
Peace and all good my friends,