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Self-Reliance: Preparing for the Next Time

I was raised in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Every day, as we looked west toward the towering Rocky Mountains, we were reminded of who the Boss is. Nature is the Boss! From the vibrant colors of the fall foliage to the uncertainty of the yearly snow depth on our ski slopes, to the baseball-sized hailstones of the spring, to the drought of summer, we knew Nature was in charge. And she was not terribly inclined to give us much notice of her intentions. We learned to be prepared for anything!

This nation and the world are currently in the middle of the worst pandemic of our lifetimes. For now, it is too late to plan ahead to shelter in place. But we will get through this, and life will soon begin to swing back toward the normal. As we begin to venture out to see what is re-opening and available, we wonder, “OK, we survived this. What can we do to do better the next time around?”

Here are three things to consider when planning for the “next time.” 

The Mindset of Self-Reliance

vegetable garden self reliance

Self-reliance is an important state of mind. It determines how you think, what you think about, and what you do in response to your thoughts. You are in charge of yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you what to do. 

If you have to stay home again next year, what would you do differently from this year? Would you stock up on paper goods and food and medicine? Probably. Would you want to have a vegetable garden or a few fruit trees? That would be nice. Would you even want to be living in the same location? Something to think about. Do you lack the space for an outdoor garden? Look at the space you have indoors. Many vegetables do very well in big pots in a sunny room. Ever yearned to create a hydroponic (without soil) garden? Now would be a good time for that! Keep in mind that water is heavy!

Once you have thought about what you want to do, don’t procrastinate! 

  • Do what you can afford to do with the space you have as soon as possible. You never know what is coming around the corner. 
  • Investigate things about which you know very little. I surfed a lot of Prep/Survivalist websites to find out what kinds of foods kept the longest in storage. After I purchased these items (canned goods, bags of rice) in a regular grocery store, I went to my local outdoor store to see what they had in the way of dried foods and found a good selection for diehard outdoorsmen and women! 
  • Another thing to have in reserve is cash. This helps you cover minor expenses without having to go to the bank. Our country, of course, runs on credit, so this may not be a problem. But it may come in handy if you are buying something from your neighbors. 

Don’t wait for a knight on a white horse to rescue you. Self-reliance means you are in charge of your own rescue. 

Preparation of your Residence

supplies self reliance

Different types of emergencies take different preparation. A firestorm and a flood will destroy all in their paths. Mementos are what people miss the most. Scan all your pictures so that you can retrieve them any time from the cloud. Put valuable items in a “to go” bag to grab as you evacuate your neighborhood, and set up lines of communication with friends or family who live out of state. (A cell phone is a must.) This may sound cruel, but be prepared to start over again and be thankful you are alive. Mother Nature is capricious – destroying some areas while leaving other areas untouched. Witness the path of a tornado that has torn through a small town in the Great Plains. 

“Stay at Home” decrees: the opposite of fleeing your home. Self-reliance is making sure you have everything you need in your home. Take the time now to write down what you should have done to plan for the pandemic of 2020. You won’t be able to afford to do all of it at once. Divide your budget and duties into several steps.

  • First, plan the area in your home where you want to store supplies. You may want to purchase an outdoor shed for storage of emergency items. 
  • Secondly, buy bins to fit those areas, such as closets. Divide your bins into food, dry goods, and toiletries and medications. If I were to plan better for the shortages of 2020, I would stock up more on toilet paper. 
  • Do you have a generator or alternate source of electricity (solar) in case the power goes out? Our house has lots of candles, but they won’t power a freezer. 
  • Water is not usually a problem during viral outbreaks, but something like a ground-moving earthquake could break your water and sewer lines. Water purifiers can be bought at outdoor stores.
  • There are gas shut-off valves for incoming gas lines so that ground movement will not result in spilled and still-flowing gas. For those of us in earthquake country, we can ensure that the beams of the house are firmly secured to the piers of the foundation with special clamps.
  • Speaking of gas, most suburbanites have a BBQ. It comes in handy when the power goes off at dinnertime. We forget rolling blackouts during the summer months all too soon. For apartment dwellers, maybe you can hide a hibachi in your closet! Remnants of our family camping days — a Coleman stove and lantern, as well as a portable potty — still inhabit my backyard shed.
  • Do you have the luxury of owning two cars? Make one of them electric.
  • Keep the ICE (internal combustion engine) car fully gassed and the EV (electric vehicle) car fully charged!

Preparation of You

take care of yourself

Can your body survive staying at home for a long time, away from your usual activities? The most important thing to do is to keep your immune system as strong as possible. This means putting the least amount of physical and mental stress on it.

Physically: Evaluate your Body

  • Lose weight. 
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Exercise according to your local restrictions. Make yourself a home gym.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. 
  • If you take a lot of medications, see if you can’t eliminate some of them. Make your body depend on itself and not on outside assistance. When my stepdaughter moved in with me, she was taking 15 medications. She is now down to 5, a great improvement.
  • Eat “close to the ground” – ie., fresh vegetables. Reduce your consumption of prepared foods, and select fewer meat dishes. Reject the temptation to eat “fast food” with all its additives. Dietary supplements may be used if you are a fan.
  • A hair-trimming kit – with scissors, comb, and shaver – may come in handy when your “non-essential” beauty salon is closed. Develop a hairstyle that you can manage yourself or with help from your family. It helps you feel “normal.”
  • After a trip to the outside world, take a shower and put your clothes into the hamper. You don’t want to bring anything home with you. Viruses don’t like soap and hot water.

Mentally: Take Stock of your Emotional State 

  • If you find you are depressed due to financial reasons, talk to someone about it. Don’t hide your fears inside. Although a listener may not be able to change your financial situation, just being heard will be helpful to your own mental stability. 
  • Don’t drown your sorrows with alcohol. You’ll feel worse the next morning.
  • Self-reliance doesn’t mean you don’t need someone to talk to. If you are not online with friends and relatives, get set up. Find a local mentor if you are uncomfortable with computers, laptops, or tablets. Get connected digitally and stay there! 
  • Be aware of any financial changes that may affect you for the better, such as delaying loan/utility/rent/mortgage/tax payments.
  • If you can afford it, start now to put money into a savings account regularly.
  • Know that things are changing rapidly and vow to be comfortable with the change.  As they say in Colorado, if you don’t like the weather, just wait ’til tomorrow.

Learning a little self-reliance is a benefit for us all. Good luck to all of us in our recovery and planning ahead!

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