365 Ways to Simplify Your Life

Published with Permission

An Interview with Patrice Lewis

Written by Amy Nicholson


“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing” (1 Thessalonians 4:11–12).

These verses guided Patrice Lewis’s family as they moved from a hectic life in the city to a simpler life on a farm. In her book, The Simplicity Primer, Patrice suggests 365 ways to simplify our lives. I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrice.

AMY: When did you leave your hectic city life?

PATRICE: My husband and I were working as professionals in the city. One day there was an accident on the highway. It took me two hours to get to the office. That night my husband and I looked at each other and asked, “Is this really the way we want to live?” After a great deal of thought and research, we left it all behind and moved to Oregon. The house was in rough shape, but we fell in love with it.

AMY: What did you learn?

PATRICE: We instantly went from having a steady income to no income. We had no money coming in for five months. There is no faster way to learn frugality. We learned not to take income for granted. We traded security for freedom.

AMY: Then you moved from a 4-acre plot in Oregon to a 20-acre farm in Idaho?

PATRICE: After ten years in Oregon, we needed more land. We wanted to expand our cattle herd. Since we work at home, having the freedom to live anywhere, we expanded our search and settled in Idaho because of its nonrestrictive homeschooling laws and lower property prices.

AMY: What would you say to someone wanting to leave the rat race and live a peaceful life in the country?

PATRICE: First, get it out of your head that country life is peaceful, easy, or cheap. Sometimes it can be, but sometimes not. It is hard work: fixing fences, dealing with recalcitrant livestock, injuries or deaths of farm animals, or adverse weather conditions while being out of reach of services. . . . Yes, it can be hard. But it’s also beautiful, quiet (mostly), and fosters self-sufficiency.

For those who want to leave the rat race, start by getting out of debt. Jobs are scarce in the country; don’t count on finding high-paying employment, and you sabotage your efforts if you drag debt along with you. If you can cultivate ways to work from home (freelancing, tele-commuting, or starting a home business), your chances of succeeding in the country are higher.

Become frugal. Learn the creative art of doing without or at least doing without shiny new purchases. Let thrift stores and yard sales become your friends.

AMY: You home school two daughters, aged 13 and 15. How has your lifestyle benefited them?

PATRICE: They are free from destructive peer pressure. They have grown up without the progressive slant and liberal bias that have permeated nearly all schools. They understand the cycle of life and have a clear understanding of where their food comes from. They’ve harvested wheat and turned it into bread; seen fresh raw milk turned into cheese, butter, yogurt, and ice cream; taken garden vegetables and canned them; and cut and stacked firewood for the winter. It has made them appreciate the basics in life, including the morals and values.

AMY: In your book you say: “I don’t believe that the ultimate goal in a ‘simple life’ is to strive toward the chance to do nothing. I believe it means . . . things you do are so enjoyable that doing ‘nothing’ is boring in comparison, and that the number of things you must do is reduced to the number of things you can do well, and with all your heart.”1 How would you encourage others to discover their God-given gifts?

PATRICE: It has to do with listening to that still, small voice. I urge people to look at their interests, even if those interests don’t earn them money. They are clues to one’s gifts, because we do them passionately and without compensation. Perhaps those things can be turned into a job.

AMY: Do you have “downtime”?

PATRICE: Everyone needs downtime. What if “work” became a pleasure? I am sometimes overwhelmed with writing commitments, but I still regard writing as a pleasure even though it’s my job, because writing is my gift from God. Finding one’s “right livelihood” means work can be pleasurable.

AMY: You also say it takes guts to be the first in a group to do something. Do you consider yourself a pioneer of the simple life?

Page 1 of 3 | Next page