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!

 

 

 

 

Are You a Doomsday Prepper or a Practical Prepper?

I’m a big believer in practical prepping: reducing debt & building a slush fund for emergencies, maintaining a rotating and useable food and water storage, continually developing life skills such as gardening and sewing so that everything you do and need doesn’t have to be hired out, etc.

BUT- you have to admit- preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse is kind of appealing!  For some reason outfitting a bunker and picturing yourself overcoming the most incredible and impossible odds, whilst everyone else around you succumbs to a lessor fate, is a pretty awesome hero fantasy.

So- here’s an awesome list to help you figure out if you’re a “Doomsday Prepper” or a lessor being with just run of the mill survival goals.

 

YOU MIGHT BE A “DOOMSDAY PREPPER” IF:

-You have -or dream- of an arsenal worthy of the 90’s epic saga, “Tremmors!”  (Yeah, well, who doesn’t?)

-The word “bunker” appears regularly in your vocabulary… and your backyard!

-You have whole recipe books dedicated to Potato pearls/flakes & other dehydrated delights.   😉

-If “Best Survival Food” is a Chapter in your favorite recipe book.

-If you regularly scout out new bug out locations!

-If your 5 year old knows more about prepping than most Marines…

-If you regularly worry about your neighbors invading your bunker during a national crisis- and what you will do under “extreme circumstances.”

-Television crews are scouting you out for reality TV.

 

YOU MIGHT BE A PRACTICAL PREPPER IF:

-You have an outdated (Fill in the Blank) because it’s PAID Freaking OFF!

-The Jones’ are tired of being broke & are trying to keep up with you!

-Smuckers is trying to steal your strawberry jam recipe.  (Good job!)

-You’re the head of the local Dave Ramsey club!

-Your lawn was a garden before ‘Growing gardens, not lawns’ was cool!

-You don’t have to fight the crowds purging the shelves at all of the local convenience stores before a storm.

-Getting through a black out, frozen pipe, local water contamination (usually from construction), or other similar event is not as big of a deal for you as it is for your neighbors.

-Your family is healthier & happier because you make most things from scratch, you work together, & you play together.  You’re a great team & you’re both healthy & prepared for whatever life throws at you – mentally & physically!

-You know how to get in touch with family during an emergency.  Your kids know who to trust in terms of pick-ups at school & if you can’t phone, text or email, you know where to meet.  There’s less stress because there’s a plan.

 

I don’t know a person on this planet who won’t face some sort of disaster in their lifetime.  It may be a large local, regional, or national one that is shared with many other survivors, but more often than not it is private and personal: a family emergency, financial trouble, or perhaps an ongoing health crisis.

We can’t prepare for everything and every scenario, but we can take steps to assess what is likely to happen in our region in terms of natural disaster, potential political and social changes that can affect our economy and way of living, and personal resources that are both mental and physical & then take steps to prepare the best ways possible for what might come our way.  If we maintain an attitude of faith- in God or even just in yourself- that whatever comes you can get through it, I believe that you will.  I have found in my own life that faith always trumps fear and that if I am prepared, then I’m not as afraid.  So- take logical, simple steps and be as prepared as you can.  Then simply deal with the rest.

Happy Practical Prepping!

 

 

 

Why You Need a 72 Hour Kit for More than Just Emergencies!

I will never forget the day that my dad ran into my room and yelled that a tanker had turned over on the highway in front of our house & that we had to quickly evacuate!  I remember every second that ticked off as I processed the information.  It was a weekday.  I was home from school with the flu.  I was wearing a long white flannel nightgown with little pink somethings all over it…

I remember how much time was lost in the immediate confusion.  I ached and hurt so badly from being sick that I didn’t even want to be bothered.  So, I had to first process the information through my illness-addled brain & then decide whether to follow directions and start grabbing stuff- or go to the front door and see what it looked like.  Curiosity won out- for me & for my mom.  There was nothing to see.  Mom didn’t seem too concerned & thought dad was over reacting.  She wanted to know how he knew- where he had heard it, why we had to grab stuff & run, etc.  So, I paused between both parents.  Dad was the protector; I trusted him.  If he said there was danger we should grab stuff & get out then we should grab stuff & get out.  Mom was pretty logical & cool headed though & she didn’t seem that concerned.  So, I wasn’t sure what to do or who to listen to.  In the end Dad yelling about it won out & I was sent to my room to grab a bunch of stuff & report back to the car in 2 minutes!

I remember frantically deciding what to take & Dad yelling for me to hurry up!!!  Where were we going?  How long would we be gone?  What mattered most to me?  If it was a chemical spill like my dad had said & they were clearing people away because of the chance of an explosion then the house could catch on fire & I could loose everything…  I took my housecoat off & pilled up everything I could grab inside- stuffed animals, clothes, etc.  The trouble was, it wasn’t THAT big of a housecoat; so I got stuck several times trying to decide what to take & what to leave while Dad kept yelling for me to ‘come on!’

In terms of an evacuation it was pretty pathetic.  We lost so much time just deciding what to do, what to take, trying to get a look at the disaster, etc.

-We were lucky that it wasn’t an actual disaster.  It was one of my dad’s emergency drills.  He did that sort of thing for a living; so we did it at home, too.

I was pretty ANGRY that he had pulled an evacuation drill when I was THAT STINKIN’ SICK!!!!!  But- looking back it was one heck of a lesson & preparation for all that I would see in my lifetime.  Disasters don’t say, “Oh, I’m sorry you’ve got the flu today; I’ll come back another time.”  And they aren’t kind if you aren’t prepared.  Today I am very grateful for my dad’s drills and all that he taught us growing up.

I’m not a perfect prepper by a long shot, but I’m more prepared than most people around me & that has come in handy more times than I can count.  I think the general public looks at prepping & thinks it’s just for the folks who are crazy and trying to get ready for Armageddon, & while I don’t entirely rule out the possibility of a 3rd World War or something just as serious with all that is going on in the world, I can tell you that my prepping has had a lifetime of day-to-day applications, along with some emergency ones.

Since the day of the Tanker Turn-Over Drill we have kept 72 hour kits in the cars.  They take up a TON of space in the trunk; that’s very true.  But, the number of times I have used it is phenomenal.  Feminine hygiene for all those times you just weren’t planning ahead?  Yup- it’s in the car.  Car problems while you’re a few hours away visiting a friend & have to stay the night?  No problem.  Underwear, toothbrush, change of clothes, etc., already in the car.  Flat tire in rush hour traffic & AAA can’t get to you for 3 hours?  Water & basic food storage will keep you comfortable + a book or pack of playing cards is awesome if you don’t want to kill your car AND phone battery!  Accidentally forgot to pack your meds for a trip?  No worries.  3 Day supply in the car or purse!  Have to take a friend to the hospital & end up sleeping in the car overnight while they run tests?  Sleeping bag or blanket = actually getting some sleep.  (Heck- we keep the blanket in the backseat permanently just because my husband usually likes it a lot colder than I do!)  ;-).

All of these things have happened to me and I have been so grateful for the basic premise of preparedness that I have been taught all of my life- the idea that simply looking ahead mitigates problems and reduces stress.  So, my point is- it’s really, really, REALLY not just for emergencies!  BUT- you do have to remember to re-pack and re-organize your 3 day kit every 6 months or you’ll go to the car for something & it won’t be there.  I change ours out in the spring & fall.  (Connect it to a holiday like Labor & Memorial Day & you won’t forget!)  Summer clothes/winter clothes.  I add in things like bug repellent and sunscreen in the summer so I don’t even have to remember to pack it when we go to an outdoor activity; it’s just always there.  My dad always taught me to keep an extra $20 in the car as well.  You never know when you’re going to need it!

If you do ever hit a real emergency (a fire, flood, tornado, etc.) you’re not paralyzed wondering what to pack as far as essentials go.  You can grab the computer, the family records, photo album, favorite homemade quilt, etc., and get out much more quickly if you do need to do so.  Reaction time is EVERYTHING!!!  Think about how much more I could have packed in the time that it took for me to go outside and look to see what was going on, listen to my parents debate, rummage around in my room for something to carry everything that I wanted to take in…

If the emergency happens away from home, you’re also better prepared to help someone else- & that did happen to me a few years ago.  There was a bad car crash in front of me & I had some of what I needed in the trunk.  I also realized all of the things that I didn’t have that I could have used & how much more organized I needed to be in what I did have so that it was easy to get to.  I realized later that some of the things that I had frantically searched for were, in fact, in my trunk.  They were just not easy to find because it was a mess.  (I had pulled things out of my 72 hour kit & not replaced them as well as not reorganizing…). Wondering “What if?” is not something that you ever want to do.  Trust me when I say, if your supplies aren’t easily accessible they may very well be useless to you.  One of the changes I made after that accident was putting a box of medical gloves in the drivers side door of my car as well as the pairs that I normally keep in my first aid kit.  You want the most important things to protect you- a flashlight, gloves, etc., to be the things you can get to first.

Other than that, I think a good 72 hour kit is like a good pantry; you learn about it as you use & update it.  I believe it also works best when you rotate the supplies in it.  This ensures that you know what you have & that it’s always up to date.  A kit that you fill and forget is one that might have what you need & might not.  It’s also a kit that you will spend a lot of time searching through when you do use it and if that’s in an emergency & speed is an issue, not being familiar with what you have is a major problem!  So fill it up, use it up, rotate & repeat!

Happy Prepping!

The Trend Towards Simplicity…

Haley Joel Osment saw dead people (The 6th Sense); I see patterns- underlying patterns.  I don’t know if anyone else has drawn a connecting line through all of the lifestyles that trend towards a simpler life, a closer family, and less materialism, but every time you turn around, there’s a new one popping up.

Homesteading.

Sustainable Living.

Tiny Houses/ Tiny Living.

Minimalism.

Homeschooling, etc.

In the history of the earth there has never been so much information and product so easily available to anyone or to any group of people.  So, I guess it’s not surprising that we have gorged ourselves in so many ways.

Bigger houses.

Bigger waist lines.

Bigger debts.

It’s kinda like a real-life Hunger Games on a history of the World scale.  We’ve starved (comparatively) and yet survived for thousands of years.  Now, in a whoosh of knowledge and invention as we are suddenly imported into to “The Capital” we binge, purge, and binge some more- then come up surprised that our health and mental states are affected…

In recent readings and conferences I have noted that the US now has nearly 50% of its’ population on some form of assistance.  Coincidentally, I also recently learned that ‘more families will file for bankruptcy this year than for divorce’- & the last time I checked, the divorce rate was in the 50% range.  So, that’s:

50% on Assistance

50% in Bankruptcy

50% Divorced

There’s a pattern there that’s not very hard to pick out…

On the up side, as I see the trend towards simplicity (in so many different ways!) I find it interesting that so many people are naturally concluding that they need to slow down &  focus on priorities.  I think it’s important to work to have one parent at home, raise a garden, live a more sustainable life and be prepared for natural, personal and economic disasters.  Families that work together grow stronger together, forge lasting bonds, and have a much higher likelihood of staying together.  (See my post on Homeschooling) Families that learn to plan ahead, be more financially responsible and live their lives in a manner so that they will have a little to put aside usually make it through hard times better, too.

“Hope Ya Know We Had A Hard Time”

It hasn’t been an easy lesson for us to learn.  My husband and I both earned good money early on in our careers.  Then we both had health problems and have been knocked down- & way out!  I thought we were the only ones living paycheck to paycheck, much too far in debt from using credit to manage emergencies in recent economic downturns, but it seems we are unfortunately the norm.  We’re getting better, though.  It’s been a long, hard journey!  Our therapist was so shocked when he saw how strong our marriage was despite all of the health and financial hurdles we have been through, but the struggles and need to turn to God and change some habits have been really, really good for us- not fun by a long shot, but really, really good!

We went for a walk tonight and as we were talking I said, “You know, it feels like we’ve been treading water for so many years & like that’s all we’re ever going to do, but I looked at our food storage shelves today & they’re basically full!  I looked at our bank account and it’s not where we want it to be by a long shot, but we’ve got a little more wiggle room & that’s feels sooooooo good!!!  If we just keep making progress, eventually I think we will make it.”  My husband agreed.

We haven’t been able to make huge changes or make a ton of money and pay off a lot of things all at once like I’ve dreamed, but we just keep finding things that we can do to save money, become healthier, live more simply, and spend more time serving in our community- and when all of those things add up the collective difference has been tremendous!

Some of the things we’ve done that have helped:

*Parked one car & took the insurance off of it.  This wouldn’t be possible if I was still working outside of the home, but for now it’s a way to save some money.  We’ve actually talked about selling the 2nd car altogether as it is the one that’s not paid for.  I think we really can make it with just one car- especially since my husband is retired and I am trying to work from home…  Occasionally, that takes some planning, but for the most part we just go everywhere together & we really enjoy it!

*CUT!  CUT!  CUT!  Until you really feel pinched and you HAVE TO re-evaluate your budget, you often don’t realize how much money is sliding through your fingers on this and that and everything!  When I sat down & started charting out every penny we were spending I was sick to my stomach at what we were wasting!  So- we started to make some changes.  We stopped eating out nearly everyday, even if it was just a soda or a snack.  Paper towels went out & cloth came in.  We got a space heater to use in the living room where we spend most of our time & turned the heat down a few degrees in the rest of the house.

We also switched our phones to pre-pay & saved $50/month by foregoing an upgrade to the newest phone.  I had been hesitant to do this previously because I didn’t think the phones would last much past their designated 2 year trade in period- they seem to slow down at that point, not hold as good of a charge, etc.  And- buying a new phone outright is in the $700-$800 per phone range.  Yikes!  How does anyone do that?!?  But- I did some homework & found out that several friends had smartphones that had lasted 4-5 years and were working fine with upgrades.  I also looked at the price of the next to the newest upgrade instead of the newest & best.  Those were $200/each or LESS!  I also read the fine print on a post paid plan & did some calculations.  By going with that plan I was paying $800 per phone- just in installments!!! So Pre-paid it was!!!

*Make just about everything from scratch.  This is something that we’re transitioning into- and still in the process of, but it’s also easier to do than you think.  You just buy mostly fruits, vegetables, and meats at the store.  Stick with the edges of the store & stay out of the middle.  The middle isles are where all of the processed foods are and the manufacturers who make them pay millions of dollars for advertising and research to tweak the recipes to be maximally addicting; so if you walk past it you’re likely to get pulled in.  The easiest thing to do is to just avoid temptation.

I have fibromyalgia and have discovered that my health and pain is DRASTICALLY BETTER if I eat a high vegetable diet with little to no preservatives.   So, I’m going to start canning this summer and gradually build up my pantry with more and more homemade sauces and homemade products in addition to just cooking with fresh ingredients.  Until then, I’m not stressing.  Same rule as my knitting- I try one new thing each week!  And as I find new recipes that I like I absorb them into my planning and schedule.  It’s more a matter of building the new habit and instant recipe ideas in your head than anything else…

*Find out what we can apply for & “JUST DO IT!!!” I got into credit card debt 10 years ago because I had some health and financial emergencies in my 20’s and had no idea back then how many programs there are to help with just about every situation there is.  Now I look for help & I accept it because it is out there.  You just have to be tenacious enough to both pray for it and to do the leg work to find it.  It really is there.  So- now when we hit bumps in the road, I don’t give up and I don’t let myself get discouraged- & stay there.

*We continually work on it.  Right now, we’ve got a couple of main goals.  We’re working on turning the TV off during specific times of the day & we’re getting into the habit of holding a family meeting every week.  That might seem a little weird since it’s just the 2 of us and we go everywhere and do everything together, but some specific time each week to have a short spiritual lesson and an activity really makes a difference in our lives.  Sometimes the activity is something fun like playing cards or reading together; sometimes it’s something that we need to work on like our goals or cleaning out the garage, but either way it’s planned time together & that is really good for 2 people that are pretty free spirited!  😉

A garden is next on our list, right after buying our home.  We’ve started growing a few things in pots this year, though.  I doubt that I will ever make it to raising backyard chickens like a lot of Homesteaders are doing these days, but you never know…  Life is good & getting better.  I hope it is/will for you, too.

Building Talents and Achieving Dreams: Tips and Tricks to Learning as an Adult!

 

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The number one thing that I hear people say when I am knitting, drawing, painting, sewing, etc., in any public place or gathering is “Wow.  I wish I could do that!” usually followed by something along the lines of  “You’re so lucky to have a talent like that…”  We talk a little and they usually express that they’ve “tried” to do that and FAILED MISERABLY!  My response is that they’ve tried wrong!  Nobody really knows what to say to that because they always think that they just “can’t” do something that they’ve always wanted to do.  First of all, if you have an interest in it you have a talent in it.  Period!  You just have to uncover that talent like Michaelangelo finding David in the marble.  It can take time and a lot of backbreaking work, but it IS POSSIBLE!!!

And- since we’re on the topic of possibilities and developing talents, let me share a poem I wrote about learning to carve- wood, not marble.

 

Possibilities- A Poem

Twas many & many a year ago,

When I woke up with a dream.

Wood & knives & vision

Came together without a seam.

 

And I danced with the thought,

As I fingered the wood.

My mind grew hungry to see-

What could I do with this lifeless chunk?

Endless- the POSSIBILITIES.

 

I traced the grain,

Breathed in the scent.

My beating heart to it was lent.

 

New life emerged

Like the child-

Who wakes to wonders,

Beauties, calm & mild.

 

I teach the child,

Yet, she leads me.

The carving process proves

What we will be.

 

Like wood chips falling

New life from old,

I trace the grain

But cannot mold.

 

I carve it-

It calls to me.

Come!  Come see

What I will be.

Chip by chip,

And stroke by careful stroke-

I find my dream!

 

I had no teacher.

But came to know,

How desire lends the key-

That unlocks the door where secrets are kept-

The secrets-

Of my POSSIBILITIES!

 

Written by: Christy Grace Wells (now Collins)

December 2, 2005

You should have seen my first attempts!  They look NOTHING like my last attempts (before a nerve injury ended my carving days…).  And that’s NORMAL!  Have you ever seen anybody’s first attempt look like their professional attempts once they’ve spent years in a field or hobby?  Of course not!  And yet, we get discouraged sooooooo easily!

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As human beings we are frail emotionally.  We look to each other a LOT for reassurance of our value.  We spend an insane amount of our lives worrying about what others will think of us- what we wear, what we do, our behavior, etc.  That’s an innate regulating mechanism that allows the herd to modify the behavior of the whole, but it also holds us back from doing almost everything that we really want to do as an adult because we are so afraid of what someone else is going to think of us when we are in the early stages of learning something and our outcome isn’t certain or “perfect!”  Somewhere in our head we know that it’s not supposed to be perfect right away, but that doesn’t stop us from thinking that it should be; so we hold ourselves back from trying everything except those things which we are naturally “good” at.  We stick with the things that come the easiest.  And when you’ve done that long enough it becomes more and more frustrating to try something new that requires more work and determination.  You get yourself into what’s called a negative feedback loop.  

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What does all of that mean in real life?  It means that when you sit down and watch a couple of YouTube videos in the pursuit of learning to knit, you have very little confidence to begin with that you will be able to learn.

Strike 1.

It means that as you fumble with the thread and the needles you get frustrated easily with how awkward they are in your hands and how they won’t immediately do what you want them to do.  You forget that it takes TIME to train the muscles in your fingers (and your brain!) a new skill/ movement pattern, and you are tempted to give up at the first sign of failure.

Strike 2.

It also means that you compare your beginning attempts to the instructors professional work and you come up lacking you conclude that you simply have “no talent” in this!

Strike 3

You’re out!  And you never even got started…

Would you let your kid quit Algebra that easily?  So why do you demand so much of yourself?  Learning a new skill TAKES TIME & PRACTICE!!!  It always takes multiple failed attempts!  And it always gets better if you persist in trying.

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My cousin’s wife had a number of strokes before she was even born.  She was never supposed to walk.  But- she saw other kids walking and she didn’t know that she couldn’t; so she did.  When she was my roommate in college, I had to take her to the hospital one day because she was having an average of 1 Petit Mal seizure per minute.  They found what they thought was a brain tumor.  It turned out to be a cyst, but she still lost most of the rest of her sight to it  in her remaining eye (she already had one glass eye).  So what did she do to recover?  She took up quilting!  A visual hobby!!!  I have NEVER seen any woman with as much determination as her in my life.  I won’t say that she was absolutely horrible at it, but her first attempts would have stopped almost anyone else.  She had holes- multiple holes in her quilts from not being able to see when she was sewing too close to the edge and the seams weren’t holding together.  And yet- she kept going, and going, and going- and learning and learning and learning.  Today she SELLS her quilts in local shops!!!  If she can do that you can’t tell me that there’s anything that you “can’t” do!

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So, here’s the secrets to being SUCCESSFUL with a new skill:

*Do your research!  When you want to learn something new like quilting or knitting read a little bit about it.  Find a good class to take or go over several online tutorials that break down the steps first.  If you start with a project that’s too hard you’re never going to do it!  And if you don’t know what you’re supposed to learn first, next, etc., you’re just jumping into the ocean and hoping that you can both learn how to swim and catch up to the cruise ship that’s powering away at quite a few knots…  If the fall doesn’t break you the sharks will eat you.  Good luck!

*Start with the easiest project recommended and add in ONE new stitch or variation with each project.  THIS HAS BEEN THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I’VE DECIDED TO DO! Overwhelm that comes from trying to learn too many new things at once is the number one reason why most people will quit before they really get started.  You’ve got to take it one step at a time.  I knitted just plain old flat scarves for over a year before branching out into triangular shawls.  I started with the simplest stitches and patterns & I BUILT on them until I was ready to make a leap into a more challenging type of project.  Each time I started a new knitting project I found a pattern that had ONE new thing in it that I didn’t recognize, but ONLY ONE!  One new step to master is doable!  One new step at a time builds your confidence.  It allows you to learn your new craft inside and out.  You gradually begin to recognize little things and how to fix them or change them into a variation & your skill grows.  But if you dive into too much too fast you’ll be diving out again really fast!  Pick 1 & done!!!  And you’ll be well on your way to success.

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*Lastly, celebrate your mistakes.  If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t learning.  I have promised myself that I won’t repeat the same pattern 2x, & with rare exception, I have kept that promise!  This drives me to continue learning and growing.  And when I look at where I am compared to where I was in so short a time, I am amazed.  Slow and steady really does work!  Don’t let the naysayers in your mind tell you to quit.

In our digital age we are increasingly conditioned to expect instant gratification.  We get frustrated if a page on the internet takes more than a second or 2 to load!  When you are tempted to get frustrated with yourself and say “I can’t do this!”  or  “I just don’t have a talent in this!” (which is the scapegoat way of saying “I just don’t want it enough to work for it…”) take a lesson from a simpler age.  The best things in life take time:  good marriages, beautiful paintings, orchards full of harvest fruit, and all the talents that you’ve dreamed of!  

I’ll tell you a little secret, too.  Buying something is not nearly as much fun as making it!  I have a beautiful lace shawl that took me a couple of months to knit.  I am very careful when I wear it.  I take much better care of it than even the most expensive clothes I have.  I am proud of it!  And there’s nothing that I wear that I enjoy getting compliments on more.  So, yes- it’s worth the work.  It’s worth the frustration and the feeling of “I can’t do this.” when you first start to get to the point where you’re just really proud of what you can do.  I don’t know who said it, but I love this quote: “Fears tell lies; look beyond them!”

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Whether you’re homesteading, homeschooling, working towards sustainable living, downsizing into tiny living so that you can have more life experiences or just want to develop some new talents that you’ve always dreamed of- know that you can do it if you will have the patience that is required to try…

The Parable of the Silverware: When You Want Something to Last You Treat It Differently!  (Related & a great read/listen/watch for families and marriage!)

Eternal Marriage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-Sufficiency in the Digital Age…

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There’s a growing trend for self-sufficiency in our digital age.  It’s taking a number of different faces: homesteading, prepping, sustainable living, tiny living/tiny house living, minimalism, homeschooling, eco-awareness & recycling/0 waste, downsizing, etc.  Call it what you will- families are feeling the growing need to get back to basics.  Some are tired of the rat race and just want to run a little slower, have less stuff that demands less money and time to care for it.  Others look at how the rates of bankruptcy & number of families on some form of public assistance in the US are both in the 50% range & see a time of coming economic crisis and feel the need to prepare.  It’s an interesting trend.

I read an article/blog the other day on homesteading where the woman was talking about how much she just ENJOYED hanging out her laundry to dry.  She loved the zen of taking time to slow down, step outside, snap the sheets and shirts as she shook them out before hanging them on the line, and feel the sunshine on her face.  You can’t blame her; that sounds really fantastic.  I bet my grandmother had a different idea about it though!  I can remember my grandma talking about how absolutely JOYOUS it was to buy her first bar of commercial soap at the store, her first microwave, her first ‘a lot of things.’  Did she feel that way about hanging out laundry- especially in the winter time as this blogger romanticized?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

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I wonder if we ever feel happy in our own skin?  Our ancestors got up early and worked till the sun went down.  They made their own candles, wove their own fabric, plowed their own fields and grew their own food.  And they all RUSHED towards the innovations and inventions that would make their lives easier and their tasks quicker.  Now, in our digital age of faster EVERYTHING all we seem to want is to slow down and go back to some old fashioned things.

I think it’s part of the cycle of life.  I used to teach my 4th graders about the food chain in science class.  I would take them outside and divide them up into teams.  One group was the snakes.  The other group was the frogs.  I threw out balls to represent a 3rd group- the frogs food in the pond ecosystem.  The students VERY quickly observed that there wasn’t enough food for ALL of the frogs and that it was a competition to get the food in order to stay alive in the game!   The catch was that they had to get their food without getting caught by the snakes who wanted & needed to eat THEM in the process.  The frogs could jump; so they moved a little faster.  The snakes had to slither, which slowed them down some, giving the frogs time to evade some of the snakes and still have a chance to gather up their “food.”

Everyone had a BLAST with the game.  At the end of round 1 any of the frogs that died from either being “eaten” by a snake or not getting a ball for their own food got resurrected as a snake and joined the snake team.  Likewise, if a snake didn’t catch food it got to change sides to being a frog.  In one round there would be a lot of frogs and not a lot of frog food & some would naturally “die off.”  In the next round there would be a lot of snakes and not a lot of frogs to catch and some of the snakes would naturally “die off.” It was a fun game that taught them how the food chain was interconnected and naturally balanced itself.  When I knew they understood the interactions back and forth with natural supply & demand I would announce a change in the game.  For that round I told them that a developer had moved in nearby and drained the frog’s swamp to prepare for some buildings that were going up.  There would be no frog food that round because of the loss of the habitat.  They never even bothered to start the game.  They all just looked at me in shock and confusion, with someone finally voicing the observation: “But that means that all of the frogs will die and then the snakes will too, because they eat the frogs!”  Lesson learned.  A drastic change in the ecosystem affects all of the inhabitants.

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Currently, I think we are seeing a natural check in our own ecosystem.  Intensive physical labor took its toll on people 100+ years ago and they sought to make their lives easier.  Now that we have succeeded with a myriad of inventions, synthetic substitutes that are causing a whole new host of problems, and illnesses from stress that we didn’t have when we worked with our hands, we are naturally self-checking and returning to a simpler time.  The earth will check and balance itself from the global impact of our inventions as we see with global warming.  As human beings we will hopefully learn to find balance as well.  I doubt that it will be easy.  The swings back and forth that balance nature are not provincial and kind to all, but they do work.

Do I want to go back to carrying water in a bucket from the well & only bathing once a week or maybe even once a month?  Definitely not!  But, I do love becoming more and more self-sufficient.  I love making my own clothes, learning to knit, beginning to grow a garden & resurrecting the canning and preserving days of my youth.  I’ve been toying with the idea of learning to make soap; it’s now officially on my bucket list!  And putting solar panels on our roof is a top priority when it comes to home improvements but I wouldn’t call myself liberal in most of my viewpoints; I’ve actually been a “conservative” voter for most of my life, heavily involved in business as well as education which to some would seem contradictory.  The older I get, the more I settle somewhere in the middle.

I think real balance is possible.  We don’t have to have it all.  We don’t have to do it all, but I do think that we are in a self-correcting trajectory and that the swings back and forth will hurt from time to time until we learn to create balance in the system.  I also think that the more we can learn to do ourselves the better off we will be during those swings.  Having a garden eases the family budget tension when the economy shifts in the wrong direction.  It also ensures ultra local produce & some great family time.  Learning to sew, do home repairs, or just make and fix stuff in general is satisfying.  It’s highly recommended these days as therapy- especially if you’re getting too much desk and screen time.  And, it’s not that hard to do.  You just pick something that you want to learn or wish you knew how to do and study it.  Give yourself permission to fail and try again several times if you need to.  That’s part of learning.

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Think of times in your life when you did hit some tough times- economic or otherwise.  What did you wish that you knew how to do or had more of?  For me, when I’ve had some job loss & downtime in my career I’ve been really grateful that we had a little bit of food storage to help stretch our grocery budget.  Staples like oatmeal made a huge difference & showed us that we could eat a lot healthier than we were during more prosperous times.  I’ve also appreciated having plenty of fabric, thread & patterns on hand.  I’m not a perfect seamstress by a long shot, but as with my knitting, with each new  sewing project I try to learn one new thing and I gradually get better and better.  Being able to sew some new clothes when I couldn’t afford to buy them has also been a real morale booster!

I also like the interdependence of community and production- particularly when it is wisely done.  I think we need each other & we need to contribute to the good of the whole.  It’s much harder for everyone to produce everything that they need.  Communities and nations thrive when they specialize and trade with each other.  The problems come when we get greedy…  And there certainly are problems around the world right now.  If the proverbial brown butt nuggets do hit the fan I’d like to think that my knitting skills and I would escape Armageddon, but I kinda hope I don’t have to do battle with knitting needles, ya know?

Learn.  Grow.  Help others.  Be as self-sufficient as possible.  Correct the problems in the system and be happy in the now.  I pray for peace.  I pray that one day we can take care of ourselves, our community, and our natural resources.  I pray that the dark side is won over by the light side…  I guess I’m an optimist- with a side of prepper!  😉

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