Rhonda Hetzel.
Rhonda Hetzel.

In a hurry to slow people down

LANDSBOROUGH grandmother Rhonda Hetzel will be on one of Sydney's most popular radio stations today and early next week will be a guest on TV's top-rating daytime show, The Circle.

But the 65-year-old, who eight years ago decided to swap maxed-out credit cards and retail therapy for a simpler, more sedate life, is not the slightest bit fazed by a change-up of pace.

"It's just a chance to talk about what I believe in," Rhonda said quietly yesterday. For the next couple of weeks, Rhonda  and her husband of 30 years Hanno, 71, will tour the country promoting her first book, Down to Earth.

The book offers warm, homespun, practical advice on everything from how to bake bread to why paying off your home loan can lead to a better life.

It is based on philosophies of more frugal living learned since the couple really "settled" down, deciding to live on her savings and Hanno's pension.

"I've always through that when I became older, I'd be an elder, offering those younger than me advice here and there," she said.

The Heztels rear chooks, grow their own vegies, preserve fruit and even make their own soap.

In 2007, Rhonda, who runs a lifestyle workshop at the Maleny Co-Op twice a week, launched her Down to Earth blog. Earlier this year, it passed five million hits.

A journalist, researcher and writer, Rhonda had worked in Sydney, Germany and on the coalfields near Mackay before she and Hanno settled on their half-hectare block on the Coast 13 years ago.

After the success of the blog, last year Women's Weekly asked her to become a columnist.

"I told them that I'd have to think about it," she said quite seriously.

She relented, but said it required "a commitment that I wanted to be sure I could happily make".

And that is the key.

"No matter what you do, you have to enjoy it and the life around it," she said. "If you haven't got that, well, you have to ask yourself if it is worth it or not."


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