The Joy of Living ‘Old-Fashioned on Purpose’

It's a lifestyle our modern world needs more than ever, says author and homesteader Jill Winger
The Joy of Living ‘Old-Fashioned on Purpose’
Jill Winger is the founder of "The Prairie Homestead" blog. (Jenna Larson)
Barbara Danza
There’s something about the breakneck speed of modern-day technological advancements coupled with the generally chaotic state of the world that makes one yearn for a simpler, more old-fashioned way of life. Jill Winger, a Wyoming homesteader, has found that life is better when you turn to the lost arts of the past and live life at a slower pace.
Her new book, “Old-Fashioned on Purpose: Cultivating a Slower, More Joyful Life,” teaches readers about skills and arts that used to be passed down from generation to generation and the benefits of rediscovering the wisdom of the past.
The Epoch Times: Have you always been drawn to an “old-fashioned” way of life?
Jill Winger: Yes, my craving for old-fashioned things has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I wasn’t raised on a farm or ranch, but as a small child, it was all I wanted in life.
The Epoch Times: What inspired you to write “Old-Fashioned on Purpose?”
Ms. Winger: My husband and I started homesteading in 2008 and it’s changed our life for the better in every way possible. I believe an old-fashioned lifestyle holds the answers to many of the struggles our modern culture is facing. However, I also know not everyone can (or wants to) buy 100 acres and a milk cow. I wanted to capture the essence of what makes homesteading so transformative and bring it to a broader audience—especially for folks who can’t move to the country. That’s how the book was born.
The Epoch Times: You describe yourself as someone who’s “never been good at following prescribed paths,” pointing to your entrepreneurial and homesteading lifestyle as well as homeschooling your children. How has going your own way benefited you and your family?
Ms. Winger: The choice to blaze our own trail has been the impetus for every good thing that’s come into our life. Not only has it provided us with spectacular adventure, it’s allowed us to live to our full potential. I firmly believe that if I had stayed within the typical societal path, I’d be a shell of the person I am today. 
The Epoch Times: How do your children like living an “old-fashioned” life?
Ms. Winger: They’ve been a part of our homestead since the day they were born, and it’s so gratifying to watch them grow in competence and confidence. Of course, they’re still kids, so it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes, they complain about chores or forget to water the chickens. But overall, they love it and understand its importance. I love watching our lifestyle spark their curiosity and creativity. I can’t imagine raising kids any other way.
The Epoch Times: Our society seems obsessed with technology and hustle, yet there’s a plague of anxiety, disconnection, and emptiness inherent in much of modern life. The inspiration you offer seems the direct opposite. What sorts of responses have you had to your work?
Ms. Winger: I’m continually humbled by the emails and messages I receive. People have shared that embarking on these old-fashioned paths has helped them to quit jobs they hate, manage their depression, move to their dream property, rekindle long-lost passions, and reverse health issues. I didn’t create any of these concepts—they’ve been around for millennia. But I’m so honored to be one of the voices bringing these timeless ideas back to public awareness.  
The Epoch Times: What has been the biggest challenge of not following the prescribed path?
Ms. Winger: Whenever you venture outside of the box, it makes people uncomfortable. Our unconventional life choices have raised many eyebrows over the years. I’ve learned to mostly ignore the naysayers, but it can still be frustrating at times. 
The Epoch Times: For the reader who would like to begin shifting their lifestyle toward the more “old-fashioned,” where would you recommend they start?
Ms. Winger: I love this question. The common thread woven through homesteads of yesteryear and homesteads of today is food. Your kitchen is a delicious and simple place to start your old-fashioned journey. I suggest people start by making one meal each week without prepared or processed ingredients. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or gourmet and can be as simple as a protein with a salad or veggie. Once folks realize that home cooking isn’t as difficult as they’ve been led to believe, the possibilities are endless (and very rewarding!)
The Epoch Times: What motivates you to continue sharing your journey with the world?
Ms. Winger: This lifestyle brings me so much joy. From the wonder of watching tiny seedlings emerge from the earth to the deep satisfaction of eating heirloom tomatoes from my garden to the heady feeling of accomplishment that comes from crafting sourdough bread, I’m more convinced than ever that our fast-paced world needs these timeless principles. That’s what gets me up in the morning and pushes me to share these ideas with as many people as possible.
 Jill Winger's new book, “Old-Fashioned on Purpose: Cultivating a Slower, More Joyful Life." (Courtesy of Jill Winger)
Jill Winger's new book, “Old-Fashioned on Purpose: Cultivating a Slower, More Joyful Life." (Courtesy of Jill Winger)
Barbara Danza is a mom of two, an MBA, a beach lover, and a kid at heart. Here, diving into the challenges and opportunities of parenting in the modern age. Particularly interested in the many educational options available to families today, the renewed appreciation of simplicity in kids’ lives, the benefits of family travel, and the importance of family life in today’s society.