Handfuls- The Story of a Sugar Cookie

Attics are incredible places!  As long as you’ve taken measures to keep the mice away, you have got yourself a proper time machine right above your head.  There’s just something haywire in a human’s brain that says, “Don’t throw that away; you might need it someday.”  And into the attic it disappears.  Sometimes, that’s not so great.  Piles and piles of STUFF can be hard to navigate, but when it’s been there for a generation or two all of that STUFF goes through a magical transformation and becomes this thing called a memory- a wonderful little portal into a time gone by.

One day, my aunt went into my grandmother’s attic to do some much needed memory mitigation (a.k.a. plain old cleaning!).  While she was up there, she found my Great Grandma Grace’s hand-written cookbook.  In it was my Great Grandmother’s grandmother’s sugar cookie recipe!  (Yeah, that’s a BUNCH of grandmother’s!)  The fun part was that the measurements weren’t exactly measurements.  It didn’t say “6 cups of flour”; it just said “flour” & I guess you were supposed to make the dang old batch of cookies often enough that you knew how much to put in just by looking at it.  My favorite item on the list was “A walnut shell of baking soda…”  What a hoot!  So THAT’S how they measured things before there were measuring spoons!  Huh.  Mystery solved!

It took my mom & aunt quite a bit of experimentation to translate that hum-dinger of a sugar cookie recipe.  Later, when Mom and I were making it, she told me about the “test cookie” that Grandma Grace had always baked first when she was a little girl helping with the cookies.  With an old wood-fired stove (and walnut shells to measure with!) my great-grandmother would determine when the temperature was right to bake with by STICKING HER HAND IN THE OVEN & COUNTING TO 7!  If she couldn’t get to 7 it was too hot.  If she could get well past 7, it was too cool.  If it was right around 7 she stuck the test cookie in and timed it to see how long it took for it to come out just right.  Then she knew how long to time the rest of the batch for.  Mom said that she & Grandma Grace always ate the “test cookie” together while the others baked.

The older I get, the more I want to slow down and wait for the test cookie.  Modern life is full of instant conveniences that we spend every waking minute working to have enough money for.  We work like crazy so that we can have all of the conveniences that make it possible for us to work like crazy.  I can’t say that I really want to go back to all of the hardships of yesteryear, but I think it’s important sometimes to slow down & share a test cookie.  We don’t have to have the best of everything to be happy.  We really don’t.  We just need each other…

What Does Stress Cost?

Hi.  Bargain shopper here.  Just your average, run-of-the-mill person looking for the best bang for my everyday buck.  So, Mr. Modern Life, I see you’re selling STRESS.  How much does it cost?  

“It depends.”

It depends?  It depends on what?  

“It depends on how much you buy.  The more you buy, the more it costs.”

WHAT!?!  I’ve never heard of such a thing in all my life- well, except for my cable bill, but still!  Isn’t it supposed to be ‘the more you buy, the LESS it costs?’

“Ah, well- that’s true of most things, but with stress the faster you go, the less you accomplish.  The harder you push yourself, the more problems you have because you’re more inclined to make mistakes.  So, you see, the more you buy, the more it costs- exponentially, of course.”

Why exponentially?  

“Well, problems caused by the modern lifestyle aren’t isolated in themselves.  They tend to multiply; so the more stress one takes on the more it costs them exponentially- in relationships, in lost dreams, in bad decisions, in preventable mistakes.”

I’m beginning to think that I don’t want to go shopping for stress, but everyone else has it.  It seems to be required.  In fact, my list (job description, current situation, etc.) says right here that I’m supposed to get it.  

“That’s what the stress wants you to think so that you will put it on your list, but I’ll tell you a secret that I learned from this guy named Walt Disney.  Strange name, but one heck of a fellow!  He said: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.””

What does THAT have to do with how much stress I’m supposed to get today?

“Do you exercise regularly?”

What?  Why?  Well, sometimes.  I mean, I try to.  When I can, I guess.

“Have you ever noticed that if you haven’t been exercising for awhile & you start it’s really hard at first & then, if you continue, it gets easier?”

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Everybody knows that.  But come on, Old Man!  We were talking about how much stress I’m supposed to buy today & I’m getting impatient.  I don’t have time for your silly stories.

“Well, let me speed the story up for you.  You see, anytime you start something worthwhile your body & your mind lies to you.  It tells you that it’s too hard, you don’t have time, there’s no way to change, and why bother?

Okay- so?

“So, how do you feel about not buying some stress today?”

But I HAVE to…  Oh- I guess I see what you mean.  It does seem impossible to make the change, but it would be kinda nice if I didn’t have to deal with all of those problems that you were talking about.  I don’t even know where to start, though.  It really does seem impossible to get all of the other things on my list without getting stress to go with it.

“You want to know the secret?”

Yes!  Absolutely!

“You don’t have to get everything on your list.”

Oh, but I do!  You don’t understand.  I HAVE TO….

“I actually do.  Saying no to stress means saying no to some other things on your list.  It seems more than impossible when you first start, but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty great.  You start to see solutions that you never had time for before.  Opportunities open up that were always there- you just didn’t notice them before.  The only thing that’s stopping you is your fear.”

My fear?  What am I afraid of?

“Making a change.  Doing something different.  Everything that might happen if you do.  But I’m telling you, it’s great!  Like Walt says: “It’s kinda fun to do the impossible!””

“Cross stress off your list and see what happens.”

Okay- uh… I’ll think about it.  

“Here’s another secret.”

What?

Make the change one thing at a time.  Just pick one thing that comes with major stress & determine what it’s going to take to dial it down.  Pretty soon, you’ll be the one that’s in charge of your list.”

Really?

“Really.”

“There were a couple of seagulls that I knew once that were pretty wise old birds.  One of them said to the other one day when he was having a hard time achieving his dreams, “Poor Fletch, don’t believe what your eyes are telling you.  Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you’ll see the way to fly.” (Book: Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by: Richard Bach)”

You sure know some interesting people- & gulls…

“Thanks, kid.  Now, get outta here.  Live a good life.  Be happy.  Look beyond the fear! There’s life out there just waiting for you.”

You got it!

———————————————————————————————–

-Happy Stress-Reducing & Prioritizing.  It’s all about what’s important & what’s going to set you up for success in the future!

 

 

Why Food Storage Reduces Financial Stress

I think the idea of food storage or prepping/ preparedness can be off-putting to some because it seems so extreme.  We have everything at our fingertips & we don’t want to admit by the act of preparing that something could go wrong.  This philosophy is flawed in so many ways, but it is reinforced by our culture.  In eras past, farm-centric communities planned their lives by the seasons.  Not so long ago putting up a store of food to get you through the winter was perfectly normal & completely expected.  In years of good harvest they stored extra against leaner years of drought & meager harvests.

Today we live in a society that has a hyper-focus on the moment.  We don’t save up for something; we buy it on credit.  We don’t wait until a video comes out for rent in a store; we download it in our home.  Everyday becomes more of an instant access experience driving us to do more and more and more!  The demand to fill every single second can be exhausting in and of itself- but that’s not what beats us down. Because most of us are living paycheck to paycheck- spending everything we earn instead of laying something aside to get us through leaner times, small problems become bigger problems really fast.

Let me demonstrate.  Your schedule is ultra packed everyday; so you rely on the everyday conveniences to get you through the day.  Snacks at the gas station on the way to the game cost a little bit more than they do at the grocery store, but time is money & convenience is sanity; so grab & go!  Right? All of those extra pennies and dollars eat away at your hard earned dollars that are driving your super hectic life that demands the expensive conveniences and keeps you living paycheck to paycheck because somehow it just all gets eaten up, doesn’t it?  Then the transmission goes in the car when you weren’t expecting it or the hard drive crashes and you have to either get it fixed or buy a new one.  If there’s no money in the budget, you buy it on credit & pay it off when you can.  As long as it’s a low interest credit card and you can make the payment, it’s fine, right?  Maybe.  Does anyone remember 2008/2009?  I sure do!  The cost of gas went through the roof, followed by the cost of milk, eggs, and everything else.  My paycheck, unfortunately, did not follow.  (Shame on it!) That recession hit a lot of people realllllly hard.  Many of them are still recovering.

So- how does food storage help?  It’s actually the practice of food storage that helps as much or more than what you actually store because it puts you into the mentality of thinking ahead and being prepared for leaner times- something we might think of more in our day as bumps in the road.  Before we get too far into how food storage helps, though, let’s define what food storage can be, because there are a lot of different types.

NOT it!: The Doomsday Preppers that probably come to your mind first when you think of prepping (or something related) are usually the ones that live in some remote spot, grow all of their own food, have a bunker and are outfitted to survive the end of the world.  Right?  Good for them.  We hope they do.  I have a few other options for you to consider in case you aren’t wanting to bug out and battle zombies!

Working Pantry: This is what my mom always had.  We lived 30 minutes from town and a trip into the store to get something that we were out of was expensive- especially if it was just 1 or 2 things.  So, she shopped ahead and stocked up whenever was on sale.  My dad built storage shelves in the basement & she just rotated what she bought so that we used the oldest items first.  Whenever we ran out of sugar in the middle of baking cookies, we ran downstairs instead of to the store.  I honestly never knew that anyone lived any other way until I ventured out to college because it just seemed so logical.  The added bonus in this is that she was always paying the sale price for what she bought!

The Stash: You see the same mentality in a lot of extreme couponers, where they have a stash & just add to the stash as sales coincide with coupons.  If you’re organized enough to keep up with all of the coupons and different sales, it works wonderfully!  (It is mostly, if not exclusively, manufactured foods, however.)  My sister-in-law has mastered extreme couponing to the point where she really does get the store to pay her on some of her hauls!  As a result of her hard work every week in the sale and coupon department, she has been able to be to be very generous to so many people in her life.  She regularly takes items to the homeless shelter, the local missionaries and anyone in need.  We’re especially thrilled when she brings us boxes and boxes of household supplies as holiday gifts.  Win for us!  Win for her!

The Basics: This is the stage we’re at and what we have found to be most helpful in maintaining and using food storage.  When I go to the store I just buy 1-2 extra things that are basic, easy to store items.  Things like oatmeal, beans, rice, craisens, applesauce, gluten free rice flour, etc. are just a $2-$3 addition to my bill; so it’s not something that’s going to break my budget anymore than a soda or snack out would, but you’d be surprised at how fast 1-2 extra items every trip adds up and begins to give you peace of mind.  You’ll also be really amazed when you see how useful that new pantry full of food really is!

When my husband had to retire early with health problems and I ended up in surgery shortly after that we were incredibly grateful to have a pantry full of basics.  Life gets tough really fast when you are living paycheck to paycheck with a fair amount of debt and one or both breadwinners loses even part of their income!  I had insurance that covered 60% of my income while I was on leave for the surgery, but that still left us scrambling for the other 40%.  A pantry with several months of basics allowed us to stretch our food budget a lot further and kept us from worrying about whether we should buy groceries or pay rent.

You might think that in such a situation you could just get food stamps or assistance, but if you are making a decent living and have insurance that covers part of your income while you’re on medical leave or are receiving something like unemployment, you will be making too much to get assistance with food.  If you end up disabled, it takes several YEARS before you can get Social Security Disability- & that’s usually with the help of a lawyer and a very long and drawn out appeal process.  Some of the requirements include having no cash or savings left of any kind.  You don’t want to get to that point.  You don’t need that kind of stress if something like that happens to you or someone you love.

When things were tight for us we ate oatmeal or eggs a lot of days.  Eggs were cheap at the store and oatmeal was in the pantry!  It wasn’t fun, but we cut out a lot of things and used our food storage AND IT SAVED US!!!  It  taught us an important lesson, too.  No matter how hard you work, no matter how successful you are, life can still hit you hard and it’s better to be prepared for it.

Here are some ways that having a pantry full of basics lowers your everyday stress:

Insurance against hard times: If the car needs a major repair, if your kid gets injured and the ER bill is astronomical, or any number of things that can stress your budget, it’s a great time to fall back on your food storage & stretch your food budget a little thinner till you get the unusual expense paid off!

No last minute runs to the grocery store: In college, a roommate made fun of me for keeping my assigned kitchen space super FULL!  She pointed out that the grocery store was walking distance away & wanted to know why I needed to keep so much food on hand?  Why not run to the store whenever I needed something?  As mentioned above, I had grown up only buying what was on sale & then just rotating stock at home; so it was just habit by the time I got to college.  I could go to the cabinet or fridge & make anything that I wanted without planning too much ahead or making a special trip to the store.  Since I was working full time and going to school full time at the SAME time, that was a bonus, although I will admit to being too busy to be super organized and avoid waste.  That was the downside.  I’ve gotten better over time buy just stocking up on basics.

Mom!!!  I need XYZ!!!: You know you’ve heard that before- usually at the very last minute possible.  “It’s my turn to bring snacks for school/ the team.”  “They’re having something that I hate at lunch today & I want to pack…”  You name it- kids (husbands, too!) are the absolute best at waiting until an impossible moment in your overcrowded schedule to announce something that you can’t get out of.  Life is a lot less stressful if you have a bunch of options already in the pantry or freezer.

This is great for times when you need to help out a friend, too.  I went to a Women’s Conference once where one of the speakers gave a workshop on making your own healthier freezer meals.  The benefits for you and your family are obvious, but she pointed out something that I hadn’t thought of before.  She said that she always freezes some of her freezer meals in disposable pans so that she can pull something out of the freezer at the last minute if she needs to take a dish to an event or to a friend who needed a pick-me-up.  Sometimes it was to someone at Church who just had a baby or gotten home from a surgery, other times she just didn’t have time to make something for an event that she needed to bring food to & having something prepared in the freezer was a heck of a lot CHEAPER than buying something pre-made and less healthy at a store or restaurant.  I was incredibly impressed with the idea & thought it could be a great activity for a family night!  Make ahead meals!  Let everyone help!

SNACK BAG Savings!: If you’ve ever priced out individual portion serving sizes vs. their big brother/sisters in the snack aisle you know that it’s much more expensive to buy the snack size.  In fact, depending on how often you buy those snack sizes & how many people you’re buying them for (not to mention if you’re buying them in bulk or grabbing them at a premium at the gas station) your cost difference is hundreds and hundreds of dollars per year!

What would happen to your life if you took that extra $500 each year and put it towards your mortgage?  What if you found other savings by taking similar actions and applied that to your debt?  How soon could you get to the point where you had no debt? What would your life look like without debt?  Would you have to work as many hours?  Would both adults in your home have to work- or could one stay at home or work part-time?  If your cost of living were 1/2 or 1/3 of what it is right now, I bet it would change your life dramatically.

That’s kind of the point to everything in the “Everyday Preparedness” category.  It just makes life easier.  Everyone I’ve ever known who was successful was really well organized and well balanced, which doesn’t happen by mistake.  They spent a lot of time saying ‘no’ as well as investing in planning measures that helped them to get ahead.  It bears notice that taking the time to get ahead of problems saves you time & pays you back money when you’re dealing with all of the inevitable bumps in the road.  It might seem like you just don’t have the money or the time, but in truth- the more stressed and constantly behind you feel, the more you need to take steps to get ahead.  It is possible.  You just have to do it bit by bit.  It’s a journey & a process- not an overnight transformation.  The peace of mind and feeling of control that you will gain in your life is so worth it.

Happy Food Storage Fever!  (You know you’ve caught it!)    😉

The Most Amazing Side of Minimalism!

Scrolling through my Facebook feed I just saw this: “MY HUSBAND & I ARE OFFICALLY DEBT FREE! Whooo-hooo!!!”

I subscribe to a whole bunch of different groups that, for me, all come under the same general category of less debt and more freedom!

In no particular order they are:

Minimalism

Tiny Living/ Tiny Houses

Prepping or preparedness

Sustainable Living

Debt Reduction/ Money Making/ Money Saving!

So today- I’ll focus on Minimalism and how it leads to debt reduction and freedom!  The thing I love the most about the Minimalist movement is getting rid of all of the STUFF (& the drive to constantly BUY all of the STUFF!) that just takes up space, costs you SO MUCH time and money to take care of, and drives you nuts with all of the clutter- because doing so moves you towards financial freedom and independence, not to mention peace of mind and a little time to yourself!

We have become a society that consumes so much– & we DEPEND on our consumption!  Most of the time we’re running on a schedule that’s so jam packed and fast paced that we don’t even know how we would get by without buying lunch at work everyday because who has time to pack or cook?  Right?  We use up every waking moment trying to make more money so that we can purchase the conveniences that give us more time to run in the crazy, break-neck speed race that we’re in to make more money so that we can continue the cycle!  Sometimes, it’s just time to stop the craziness & slow down…start saying ‘no’ to things.

QUALITY VS. MODERN LIFE (& how to win the battle!): That’s hard.  I’ve worked in business for most of my career.  The clients that I see are typically elevated in society.  I’m expected to dress a certain way- to have a certain quality of my own possessions to match company with them.  At least, that’s the way it feels.  One thing that minimalism teaches is to have fewer things but to choose quality in what you do have.  I learned that lesson from my mom when I was 12.  I had saved and saved and saved to go on an annual shopping trip with her and my aunts.  It was the first time that I was included as a ‘sort of adult’ in the group trip.  My objective for the trip was a pretty pair of dress shoes.  My mom insisted that I get Bass or another quality brand, even though it took most of my budget to buy them.  Boy!  Was she ever right!  They lasted 4 years & I wore them constantly (I was a ‘dresses only’ kinda girl.  Lol.)!  I’ve never forgotten that lesson & I’ve bought quality shoes ever since, much to my feet’s delight!

You might say: ‘I love shoes & I can’t afford to spend a lot on each pair because I buy so many, & besides- who doesn’t love a great shopping trip & fabulous sale?’  It is hard to turn a cheap price tag down but I had a client who had a sign hanging above her register that said it all: “When you buy quality, you only cry once!”  It’s true- I don’t own a wide variety.  I have basic colors and just a few different kinds in 1-2 colors each.

 

Sandals (1 casual, 1 dressy)

Flip-Flops (1 pair semi-dressy)

Flats (1 pair black)

Heels (1 pair black, 1 pair light tan, 1 pair brown)

Hiking boots (1 pair- 10 years old!)

Tennis shoes (1 pair infrequently worn)

Winter dress boots (1 pair tan)

 (This might not seem like a lot to most Americans, but it is still 10 pairs more than a most others in the world have…and while I sometimes do want to go out & buy something new or different, I remember to be grateful for the incredible amount that I already have!)

 

The ones I do have last a lot longer than cheap shoes though, which makes them much cheaper in the end!  And, if I wanted more variety and it was really important to me,  I would probably be saving the money that I spend on art supplies for my hobbies for additional pairs of cute shoes.  This is what my mom does.  She has 20 or so pairs of good quality shoes- most of which she’s had for 10+ years because she wears all of them and they are all good quality; so they both last and are worn infrequently.  If that’s your thing, be assured it is possible to buy quality & still take the time to build up a nice collection that will serve you well and be a good investment; it’s just not a priority for me.

SPENDING TOO MUCH ON WHAT OTHERS THINK… A worry I’ve had in business that has driven me to trade in my car more frequently than I should is the newness of the car that I drive.  I’ve always kept a very low payment & a very basic model car because I put a LOT of miles on them and tend to wear them completely out by the time they’re paid for.  But, I also trade them in just about the time that I get them paid for, too because I have worried that I don’t look as successful with an older, paid-for car and I didn’t feel like I had the time to deal with repairs.  The truth however is most people spend at least 99 & 3/4% of their time thinking about themselves- not about you.  If you have a flashy car they might notice it and compliment you on it, but I’ve never lost a sale because I had a standard shift, base model Toyota Corolla.  It gets great gas mileage, it’s really comfortable, and right now it’s ALMOST PAID OFF!!!  In previous times, this would be the time when I would start to shop around for a newer model because I just “couldn’t afford” any downtime.  Time spent taking the car to the shop for repairs was time spent not making sales.  What I didn’t realize was that the extra years spent making car payments required me to make a lot more sales to pay for them than the repairs would have cost me in work time…

I learned this from an experience with my husband’s car.  It’s been paid for for years.  When he was in an accident last year, we took the insurance money & I was surprised to realize that we were able to get him the exact same model with 100,000 fewer miles, without spending a dime more than the insurance had provided to replace the car!  My husband had been devastated to loose “his baby” and I was overwhelmed at the thought of going into more debt, but when we realized that it was perfectly feasible to get a decent car for so little, we both rejoiced!  With relatively minor repairs infrequently on both of his ‘paid for’ cars over so many years, I have changed my thinking about how often I need to trade my vehicle in.  Now, we’re within striking distance of having 2 paid for cars & it feels sooooo GOOD!!!!!  I plan to drive and repair them as long as we can with the goal of only paying cash for our vehicles in the future!

I have heard it said many times recently: “Stop trying to keep up with the Jones’; the Jones’ are broke!”  And it’s true.  Everyone appears to have money and nice things- all while they’re living paycheck to paycheck, one layoff away from bankruptcy.

Notice that I’m NOT saying, ‘Don’t buy stuff!’  I’m say buy quality & stretch it out.  Make it last.  In the case of my car, I switched brands and went with Toyota this time because they are notoriously LONG LASTING.  Their repairs tend to cost a little more, but they don’t need repairs as often and they go miles, and miles, and miles, and miles.  Even when I was still doing the panic & trade it in as soon as it hits 100,000 miles thing, I was starting to realize that there was a better way.

I love my mom’s system as well.  She LOVES to shop- which is definitely against the minimalism grain here, but run with me for a minute.  Because she loves both quality and new things, she only buys a quality item when it’s on super sale, which is usually at the end of the season.  She buys timeless pieces & she takes really good care of them.  Because she is smart in what she buys and smart in what she budgets, she is also able to be generous to those around her.

Little by little, we are making changes & getting out of unnecessary debt, planning further and further ahead, and feeling more and more confident in our ability to handle bumps in the road.  There’s less stress, fewer worries, and as a result- fewer health problems that are connected to stress.  That makes for a much happier life!

So- plan well, buy quality, reduce debt a little here and a little there until you’re ahead and you, too will start to have a Happy life!

 

 

 

 

Things You’ve Never Thought Of That Could Get Your Child Hurt

I’m 37.  Not that old, really.  My parents were born in the 1950’s and my grandparent’s were born in the early 1920’s, living through the Great Depression.  It astounds me to realize that was a century ago!  During that time in history it was completely normal for my grandfather (and all of the other boys his age) to carry the family hunting rifle to school for the purpose of hunting squirrels and small game on the way so their families would have meat to eat.  Grandma told me that all the boys would leave their guns in the coat rack and their game in the school cellar.

Living in today’s world, that’s hard to imagine!  I taught our teen group at Church last week and was talking to them about when the school shootings first began.  To them, it’s just a normal threat that they live with, but for me it was never something that I thought about on the way to school.  “Am I going to get shot today?  Does Teegan have a sawed off shotgun under his trench coat or is he just super Goth?”  That never ran through my head…  The teens were pretty astounded to listen to what it was like to grow up in a world with no internet & no school shootings.

So- it’s a different game to raise a child in today’s society.  It’s always a different game.  Each generation is different from the last.  Life is ever changing.  So, how do we prepare our kids for things that we never faced?  How do we live with that kind of threat ourselves?  One of the best things we can do is educate ourselves and take proactive measures to avoid, or at the very least mitigate, life’s threats.  

Everyone will face disaster at some point in their life.  It might be an emotional breakdown from stress as a result of the demands of modern life.  It might be a trauma- be that divorce, accident, injury, major illness or any other form of life changing event.  It could simply be an ongoing stress or challenge, but be assured everybody faces something; it’s not just you.  So, prepare for as much as you can, and problem solve for what you can’t circumvent.

In terms of a school emergency- it doesn’t have to be a shooting or similar traumatic event that can cause major harm to your child.  My story is a case in point.  When I was 8-9 years old my Dad couldn’t pick us up from school one day & my grandparents weren’t available either.  My dad called the school and gave permission for us to ride home with a friend where he would pick us up later- which was something that just never happened.  Someone in the family always picked us up.  So, it was an odd situation to begin with and all we knew was that we were supposed to go to our friend’s grandparents’ house.  We hadn’t been told anything about staying with the grandparent’s neighbor until their grandparents could arrive, who were also running late that day.  To me the neighbors were STRANGERS & I wasn’t allowed to stay with strangers.  So, I convinced my friend and each of our siblings that we needed to walk the 1-2 miles up the mountain road to her grandparents’ house and wait there.  They were very reluctant because their instructions were to stay with the neighbor, but I was scared of getting in trouble for staying with a stranger, and I didn’t trust anyone that I didn’t know.  Eventually I won the day & off we went.

My dad and my friend’s grandfather encountered us walking when we were most of the way up the road and to say they were angry would be the grossed of understatements!   I’ve never been more surprised in all my life.  I wasn’t supposed to stay with a stranger!!!  My dad had assumed that by sending me home with my friend that I would stay with her wherever she went, but all I knew was who I was supposed to be with and who I wasn’t.

Let me tell you a little bit about walking up that road.  My friend’s grandparents lived at the top of a beautiful Pennsylvania mountain.  On our little excursion up their road we passed through a logging camp- which was the thing that my dad was the MOST angry about in terms of danger.  2 pre-teen little girls and 2 young boys in the middle of a logging camp.  Lots of strangers and definitely lots of danger!  While I was worried about neighbor strangers, however, I didn’t know to worry about walking through a forest that had packs of wild dogs that both my dad and friend’s grandfather had seen, a mountain lion that also been sighted & had actually killed another neighbor when she had gone hiking by herself, along with tons and tons of friendly rattlesnakes!  Great place for kids to play, right?  My dad had every right to be scared for our safety and ANGRY that we hadn’t obeyed- and yet- we had obeyed!  We had avoided the neighbor strangers.

I’m fairly certain that was the only time in my entire school career that we weren’t picked up by family; so it was an extremely of the ordinary event & the Stranger Danger rule was one that we remembered and followed at all costs because my dad had drilled it into us so many times.  So, first thing’s first.  Your kids ARE listening– even when you can swear that they aren’t.  They know that you care about them and they try to listen when the stuff gets REAL, if somewhat imperfectly.  However, when you’re talking to your kids about code words and who can pick them up, it might be smart to check with all of your alternates to see who their alternates are.  You can’t cover every contingency, but this is an important one.  In a big emergency you might not be able to get to the school quickly & if you can’t get there, your alternates might have the same problem, too.  Emergency responders usually have a couple of back-up plans to cover a variety of scenarios and they train and retrain in what to do so that the decision is already made and rehearsed when the emergency occurs.  It’s a good model to follow.

Now, on the topic of a shooter, whether it’s in school, in a public place, etc.- here’s something that most people don’t realize.  Even at 3-5 feet away, a shooter is more likely to miss you than to hit you because of adrenaline and nerves.  If you ever take a shooting class and just try to stand there, hold the gun steady and pull the trigger on a target that is stationary- one that is not going to fight back, not going to run, not going to do any number of things, you’ll see how hard it is just to hit that piece of paper.

One of the best articles I’ve ever read on a shooting situation (& I wish I could cite it here; I’m sorry that I didn’t save it!) talked a little bit about this and why it’s important not to huddle in a group.  The article said that if the shooter has everyone in one spot it’s much easier to have a high fatality rate because he can just shoot into the group & it’s a much larger target to hit.  If that group disperses & everyone is moving- there’s a lot more chaos and confusion and it is REALLY hard to hit a moving target.  Even if you are hit, it’s not as likely to be fatal.  

Everything I’ve read & been taught says that the first thing you want to try to do is to hide.  Pick something that is going to stop a bullet- thick wood, thick metal, etc.  Next is to run if you have to, because a moving target it hard to hit.  Last is to fight.  A single person holds a larger group under their control with a threat, not with a weapon.  You’re afraid of what might happen if they pull the trigger, not what is happening while you’re just stuck in one spot.  Our fight or flight instinct is designed to keep us safe.  We either run away from the danger or we try to stop it.  Someone who is holding you hostage with a threat- with fear- doesn’t expect you to threaten him back.  With one person having a weapon and the other unarmed it is still a huge risk, but if you have no other option, pick up something that would make a good shield and try to fight.  He won’t expect it and that’s an advantage that might give you the chance to win.  If you don’t fight, you definitely don’t win.  This is true in attempted rapes, kidnappings, etc.

Now, in terms of a school shooting- the teachers will have been trained on this and the kids should follow whatever the local police have taught them & their instructors to do in drills, which is to probably to stay in a locked room behind some sort of barrier until the crisis is over.  After the crisis is when you can use the above ‘back up plan of a back up plan’ for pick up arrangements if necessary.

I have found that the best cure for anxiety is having an action plan.  If this happens, then we will do this…”  It gives you power.  Kids are the same way.  They will be less scared of a potential crisis if they have a plan to follow; so don’t worry about scaring them by talking to them about it, even though it is a very scary topic- especially for you as a parent.  Tell them that we make plans so that we can be safe if something bad happens.  However, if you have any indications that your child is overly worried about a potential crisis as a result of a school drill or family discussion have a talk with your school’s guidance counselor and get them involved.  They have the training and resources to help kids deal with stuff like this.

I hope this brings some peace of mind in a pretty much crazy world…  Remember that knowledge and preparation can often circumvent, or at the very least mitigate, a problem.  There have been so many times when I have talked with someone who has been abused, and in listening to their story, could see ways that they could have either prevented it or stopped it sooner had they known what to watch out for or do in that kind of a situation.  That doesn’t make it their fault in any way, but if you arm yourself with knowledge, you can often prevent crime and harm from happening to you & to your family.  Bullies don’t look for someone strong to fight; they look for an easy target- for the highest likelihood of success.  Arming yourself with knowledge lessens their chance of success.

Be safe.  Have the important talks with your kids and your family- over and over and over again.  If you’ve done what you need to do in order to be prepared, trust in the preparation & don’t be afraid.  You got this!

Everyday Preparedness = Peace of Mind

How to Handle Your “Everyday, Run-of-the-Mill, Armageddons”© (Zombies not included!)

 

I’m not a scare tactic Prepper.  I don’t foresee the inevitable world’s end of one type or another and pat myself on the back because I’m ready for it.  My Armageddon came 10 years ago & I wasn’t ready for it.

My family is full of both military & police officers; so I grew up with a certain level of preparedness mentality in the home.  My dad in particular had seen so much of what could & did happen to hurt people in the world and tried to train us for the day when he wouldn’t be there to protect us.  In today’s world there is plenty to be afraid of- and that’s what the majority of “Doomsday” type Preppers prey on; our fears.  However, I am not here to say that this disaster or that is going to wipe out the world and that we had better be prepared.  I am here to share my journey- because my Armageddon- what felt like the end of my world, started about 10 years ago when I was severely injured, activated my auto-immune disorder, and hit the recession of ’08/’09 simultaneously- all while graduating college with a 50K debt to follow me around in my misery.  It was a disaster & it did wreck my life just as surely as a flood, or war, or other disaster would.

My husband and I had both been extremely successful in our working careers, we had some food storage put away, we had 72-hour kits, but we were NOT prepared for what hit us- & for how long it would take us to recover emotionally & physically so that we could get back to a point where we could fight the battle that we had been thrown into.  No matter how much your prepare, no matter how many life skills you have, life CAN knock you down.  What matters is how long you stay down before you decide to get back up and start fighting again.

I don’t discredit being prepared for natural disasters or foreseeable problems.  Ready.gov exists because our government acknowledges that such things can & do happen to us as easily as they happen to people in other countries.  If each family was prepared with the minimum recommended there would be far less for the government to have to come in and fix- far less for our tax dollars to cover & we would have peace of mind & one less thing to do in knowing that we don’t have to rush to the store in front of a storm or panic in the middle of a disaster.  That’s what planning and preparation is for.  What I speak of however, is the “everyday Armageddon” © that so many of us are already entrenched in and how a preparedness mentality can help us to combat it.

Much like the challenges that my husband and I have faced, I think the bigger disaster that more American’s run the gauntlet with on a daily basis are the things that are crashing down on us all the time that we just aren’t prepared for.  Sometimes, it’s illness or injury.  Others are struck with debt and job loss, family separations, or various other scenerios.  In recent reports, I’ve heard that more families will declare bankruptcy this year than get a divorce- & the divorce rate in in the 50% range!  That’s a TON of families in over their heads financially and an economic disaster of massive proportions on the rise if we don’t stop the spending mentality!!!

An attitude of preparedness looks at more than just the moment.  It says, If this happens, then I will (fill in the blank).” And, that’s what has saved us.  We’ve learned to problem solve and, little by little, get ahead again.  In the process of thinking ahead, it helps you to begin to organize your life so that you are more prepared when you do face problems.  Instead of living in fear that you work in an unsecured industry, you can learn to look ahead and say,

 

If I loose my job, then we have 3-6 months of basic food supplies in the pantry and liquid assets to fall back on.”  (Preferably 6-12 months, but start wherever you can!)  If I get sick or injured, and can’t continue in my current line of work, then I can apply my skills in XXX way.”  

 

The same mentality filters down to smaller things in your life.  When you have a pantry full of basics, including things like powdered milk & powdered eggs, you can say things like,

 

If I’m in the middle of cooking dinner and realize that I’m out of eggs/milk, then I’ll use my powdered eggs/milk for back-up so I don’t have to drop everything & run back to the store.”

 

MUCH LESS STRESS- & a true story!  I’ve literally been there, done that & it’s been a total life saver on many occasions- especially when I’m expecting company!!!   Also, using and rotating your food storage lets you know if you’re storing the right things.  If it’s not something that you’ll use in a momentary “I forgot XYZ at the store.” mini-crisis, would you really be happy about having to use it in a major emergency if you ever had to face one?

My focus on preparedness is that it should relieve us of stress everyday- not just during massive, world changing disasters.  I am in favor of 72-hour kits that we keep in the car and use on a regular basis.  I love the ‘Back to the Basics’ movement that we see among Homesteaders, Tiny Living groups, Mormon/LDS Preparedness Folks, Sustainable Living Enthusiasts, Minimalists, Preppers, and so many others, who- at their core embrace the family, live simply and focus on the future.

I think that the big problems aren’t coming- they’re already here.  We live with them & struggle with them everyday.  It’s time to look towards the future and work a little bit each day towards solving them.  There’s no better way to be prepared if something bigger than we already face does come.

Happy Peaceful Prepping, Homesteading, Minimizing, and Sustainably Living!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are plenty of reasons why people enter into a mentality of preparedness for the unseen, but fear seems to top the list.    It’s easy for any of us to look at the 3rd generation welfare nation that we are raising along with the nearly 50% of families that will file for bankruptcy this year and see that our economy cannot sustain that kind of collapse within the system and corresponding rise in inflation.  America suffers natural disasters, shootings, some terrorist attacks and bombings, run away drug problems in the opiate sector, not enough jobs in some industries and not enough trained applicants in others.  We’ve seen economic crisis’ in recent years that have strained us tremendously, and we have the potential for much more.  But I think that the real Armageddon- the one that touches more people are the smaller things- job loss, economic crisis, increasing mental illness, increasing autoimmune disorders & skyrocketing allergies- many think are linked to the amount of preservatives in our foods.  In that same line we have runaway diabetes and an increasing number of children with autism.

The technology that enables us to do so much also contributes to depression & pain from fibromyalgia, sleep disorders, health problems from inactivity, and a number of other conditions.

Preps for Your Purse!

Okay- seriously, what woman isn’t a Prepper at heart?  Guys carry the bare minimum; a wallet with a few cards, a few bucks, and we hope they make it out the door brushed, bathed & deodorized! (Matching is optional…). But women- WOW!  We wake up early, get EVERYONE ready for everything that could possibly happen that day & then power our way through our day.  We are BUILT for this stuff!

So- if you want to be prepared for just about anything, what do you put in your purse?

My #1 recommendation is a miniature Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman tool.  And that’s not an affiliate plug- so Swiss Army & Leather People- You’re WELCOME!  If you don’t hang out in sporting goods stores or in the sporting goods section of your local department store or online shop, you’ve probably never seen them, but THEY ARE LIFE CHANGING- at least they are for me.  It depends on which one you get as to what all you have on it.  I prefer the little Swiss Army knife which usually costs around $10.  I keep one in my change purse & one on my key chain.  They’re that useful!

The tool that I use the most on it is the miniature pair of scissors.  You don’t realize how many times you need a pair of scissors until you have one with you all the time, but here are a few scenarios:

-Cutting the tags off of something.  Go somewhere in a new outfit & the tags are driving you- or more likely your KIDS CRAZZZZY???  Uh-huh!  Cut ’em off!  Ever spill something on you at work & needed to grab a new blouse at the store quickly?  Yup.  There you go.

-Thread unraveling on a seam?  If you rip it off it’s just going to unravel further, but if you let it dangle it’s going to tickle or itch & drive you nuts.  So, just snip-snip!

-Did they gorilla glue your (or your kid’s/spouse’s) favorite snack bag again?  If you muscle it open you KNOW what’s going to happen.  The heavens will temporarily rain fish crackers, the birds will have a feast, & whoever is hungry will stay hungry!  That’s no good!  So- scissors to the rescue!

You get the idea.  There are some other great items on there, too.  The mini-knife is sharp and easy to use, but it doesn’t lock open; so be careful with it so it doesn’t accidentally close on your fingers!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cut the core out of an apple on the fly, thought.  Just rinse & dry & life is good!

The tweezers are exactly what the Dr. ordered when you run into a splinter at the park!

And the file- who doesn’t need a miniature nail file with them all the time?  (Note: It’s not the best one I’ve ever used, but it does help out in a pinch.)

There’s a toothpick on it; not sure I’ve ever used that, but who knows?  You might get creative with uses for a little plastic pointy stick.  Either way, it’s there.

At the end of the file there’s also a flathead screwdriver that’s great in a pinch.  Fix a toy that’s coming apart, tighten up a pair of glasses-  I haven’t used it all that often, but it’s been really great to have on hand when I’ve needed it.

Like I said- the SCISSORS are my #1 reason for carrying it!  It’s about the size of your thumb and 1/2 the width; so it’s super light and easy to add to your keychain or wallet.  I wouldn’t go anywhere without it.

BANDAIDS– again, not an affiliate link, but you’re quite welcome Band People!

I keep a couple of bandaids in my change purse with the cards that I don’t use as often.  They’re just a useful thing to have around.  For me personally- paper cuts aren’t a national emergency, but it is really great to be able to pull something out to cover it.

The best reason that I’ve ever had to carry a bandaid happened at Church one day.  We were on our way out afterwards and a friend’s toddler suddenly started to throw a tantrum.  His bandaid had come off & his boo boo hurt!  (He was definitely also tired & overly ready for a nap!). But gosh- for him it was the end of the world!  His mom reasoning with him that she didn’t have another bandaid & that if they went home he could get one there was NOT budging that little guy.  Luckily, I had just put a few in my wallet.  Problem solved!  Bandaids are just a nice comfort item to have around.

The next best reason for carrying a few bandaids in your wallet= NEW SHOES!!!  Wear your new shoes to work without breaking them in at home and you’re likely to come home with bloody & blistered feet- & if it’s a deadline day at work there may not be time at lunch to run to the local CVS and grab some supplies.  Bandaids are a temporary fix- & make the day a little bit better!

SAFETY PINS & hair pins!  I typically keep 2 of each size Safety pin in my change purse & a couple of extra hair pins and elastic hair bands.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used them!

-Hot day = hair going up = me MUCH happier!

-New blouse showing a little more than I thought it did or something just not sitting right and bugging me?  Safety pins to the rescue!

These are all tiny little things that make a BIG difference!  They’re easy to gather up & easy to replace.  The next time you run into “Wow, I wish I had (fill in the blank) right now…” make a note of it & find a way to prepare yourself so that you have it next time.

-A great example for me is Scotch Tape.  I’ve stopped at a mailbox several times to mail something only to realize that I needed to tape something shut.  Now I keep a small tape dispenser in the glove compartment of my car.  It’s that easy.

Our everyday stress goes way down when we take the time to organize & prepare, recognize & fix problems, as well as know that you can’t combat everything!  Be okay with that, too.

Happy Purse Prepping!

*What do you carry in your purse that you wouldn’t live without?  I’d love to hear your comments & ideas!