The Stuff of Life

The Stuff of Life
For those of us who find nature to be both aesthetically beautiful and life-sustaining.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Waking Up America: A Fight For Your Second Amendment Rights

"America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw; confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law."
Excerpt from "America The Beautiful"
(Sherr, 77)

Our modern American society is, in essence, in it's adolescence and has wandered far from its revolutionary roots. America the "great," in infancy, was the spawn of exploration, revolution, desire for change, preparedness, tenacity, will, determination and an overall survivor-mindset. Founded on concepts such as liberty and law, America was the ultimate survivor. America knew how to overcome tumultuous odds and grew to be something that instilled pride in everyone that called themselves "American." America had an immeasurable spirit of positive, forward direction.

There is a sense of urgency in the necessity for our modern nation to re-read these words, written by Katherine Lee Bates in 1893, later used in the anthem "America the Beautiful." Words speak volumes. Words and phrases such as "self-control," "liberty," and "law" have a definite meaning and understanding that should not be easily debatable or misunderstood. And, yet, bring forth 2014, and one would rarely include the phrase "self-control" in lyrics intended to describe America, the supersized-McCapital of the world, the instant-gratification nation.

This once great nation of integrity, ability, perseverance and strength both mentally and physically, has germinated into a society comprised of sleeping citizens. While the media and other activist groups are attempting to teach us to be materialistic, egocentric, and narcissistic, we are becoming intentionally distracted and disconnected from our roots. This systemic-disconnect equates to a modern culture of lost identity, disappointment, disillusion and ultimately citizen disarmament as we continue to follow the masses and sleep at the wheel. 

Our founders had to work together with a sense of community that is non-existent today. Our modern, technological gadgetry and shattered focus has successfully distracted us to the point of indifference to who we are, where we are, where we are going and even what could happen to us if we don't wake up.

Where are we now?

America we must stand together and let no one attempt to break our true American spirit. For many, the skills and the passion are no longer in-tune with our former greatness and grassroots. We, sadly, are becoming a nation of self-entitled, disconnected individuals in a mass-pursuit of pleasure over planning. Some are content to live blindly in the present with relatively little regard for the possibilities of tomorrow. They do not plan ahead. They do not believe they have to work hard for anything as they assume that things will always come easily or someone will spare them or save them from their own foolish choices. They have completely lost connection with what it means to truly work for something. They have lost their will and devalued tenacity.

Americans are now being taught as children that we are all winners with little to no effort. We all get a trophy if we were present and participated and everything is fair. There are no losers. Everyone wins equally. How did our pioneer roots and previous hard-working, predecessors that built this country with blood, sweat and tears culminate in "participation ribbons?" Americans are busily raising young Americans with the modern philosophy of "life is always fair" and "always equitable" and "everyone plays nice."

We are now forced to debate, protect and defend our own second amendment right to bear arms. We are being taught early that people all play fair, life is filled with love, squish and bubble-gum drops. This is unequivocally not true and by giving up your arms you risk giving up your own freedoms and safety. And, when bad people do bad things with a weapon, we are being taught that the weapon is the bad guy and that guns themselves bring evil. Where is the accountability on the bad guy? While the media focuses your attention on their anti-gun agenda, your second amendment rights are being challenged. Your own right to defend yourself is in jeopardy.

 One evening of watching the world news and we can quickly surmise that the world IS a dangerous place. We do not have to be afraid, or always expecting trouble, but it would be a disservice to not inform ourselves that there are dangers in this world. Our founders allowed us the right to take care of ourselves should we need to. The modern world is different, but it is not safer. We would be even more foolish now than in our country's formative years to trust that the government or other agencies will always take care of us if we are in trouble. In chaos, whether that chaos is driven by a natural disaster or a man-made disaster, when it gets bad the are on your own after a point.

Historically, life is rarely fair and rarely does everyone "play nice." So, where does this new philosophy get us?  No one knows the long-term ramifications yet, but we do have a lot of those "participation ribbons" hanging on the walls to prove to ourselves and others that we are "special" even though we didn't do much of anything to earn them. We just showed up and we were given a ribbon for our sheer presence. 

The world doesn't function that way. The business world doesn't even function that way. What are we really teaching? We are teaching our American youth that they do not have to try, they do not have to have the guts to gain the glory. They do not have to fight for anything not even their own constitutional rights. This is nonsensical. Hard work, grit and tenacity are what America was founded upon and if we want to remain a great country, it is imperative that we get back to valuing the qualities, characteristics and respect for "sweat equity" that we once all shared.

The pioneers and the modern-day survivalists:

Survivalists, preppers and others that plan and prepare and recognize that the world is a wonderful, beautiful place that has inherent dangers and risks are more in sync with our founders than most other distracted, Americans. Perhaps if catastrophe occurs, these characteristics and this gumption will come out in all Americans again. Survivalists recognize the risks in neutering ourselves via over-confidence and lack of preparation, skill and training and buying into a philosophy of "someone else will protect me," "someone else will save me" or worse yet, "nothing bad will ever happen to me." America would not be here as it is today had our founders sat back and expected everything would just work and the only thing required of them is to just show up.

Americans have had a nice ride, but like all good things, if you take that easy-ride for granted, you can lose it. We need a country to be proud of again. We need to be the epitome of the "American spirit" again. We need to "confirm thy soul in self-control" again by recognizing and responding to the need to get in touch with our American foundation: respect for our constitution, respect for hard work, respect for planning ahead, respect for preparation and then, and only then, (and only occasionally) should we sit back in our lazy chair, setting up our fifth smart phone and stuffing our face with a Big-Mac.

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Lyrics at top of essay: Written by Katherine Lee Bates
Excerpted from: Sherr, Lynn. "America the Beautiful; The Stirring True Story behind Our Nation's Favorite Song." New York Public Affairs, 2001. Print.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

PART III: The Continuing Saga of: You Can't Survive The End Of The World As We Know It Without First Surviving The World AS We Know It

As promised this (PART III) is a continuation of previous posts (Part I and PART II).
Here is an excerpt from those posts: (If you've read this part in the other two posts already feel free to scroll down to the numbered points).

Why would I care about social skills in TEOTWAWKI?

Whether or not the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) is in our near future, down the road or never comes to pass, the fact remains that if you are reading this, you currently live in the world AS we know it. The world as we know it is a social landscape. Everything we have built and everything we do is contingent on other people. We have all become the people we have become because our ancestors were survivors. 

How does learning from my ancestors help me in TEOTWAWKI?

Our ancestors were adept at creating and maintaining groups, tribes and societies. Because of their ability to function in a society or group, the people before us mastered the art of making clothing, tool making, fire, water collection and purification, container making, shelter building, hunting, foraging, fishing, trapping and agriculture. Ironically, all of these things are things that most of us today no longer know how to do on our own. If we face a catastrophic change in our current state of the world, these skills would once again mandate who lives and who doesn't.

But first....

Those ancestral survivors mastered and honed their social skills. They worked together toward a common mission of survival. In order for you to confidently move toward honing the abilities that they once had, you must first master the art of social survival. Even if your preference or your plan is to be a lone wolf, because you live in a social world, your odds are greatly increased if you have social skills to add to your basic-needs "survivor pack."

The following (PART III) is a short list and a continuation of PART I which included skills #1-3 and PART II which included skills #4-6 (both can be found in previous blog posts). This list is not all encompassing and will be added to in future follow-up posts, but here is a mini foundation of basic "social survival skills" for interacting, attracting, inspiring, motivating, and leading people:

So, here are three more "survival skills" to throw into your kit....

7. Judging others:

I find it rather amusing how some people have an unyielding moral compass comprised of heavy, tungsten alloy when expressing their opinions, criticisms and judgments of others. However, when turning that same moral compass to the self, suddenly, morality is flexible, adaptable, fluid and even adjustable to individual circumstances.

Be careful being so critical of the conduct of others if your own self-regulation is void of even an ounce of integrity. Just one more reason why we should all carry two compasses when case one isn't accurate. 

8. The best part of an argument is absolutely nothing:

This skill is a reminder that no none actually wins in an argument. No one hears each other. No one will suddenly, amid a storm of yelling, come to your way of thinking during an argument. Generally, someone only appears to win the argument because the other party acquiesces, submits or becomes indifferent. There are no “real” winners in an argument.

In order to “win” someone over to your way of thinking, you need to give them something to believe in. Open up and share your thoughts, feelings, and opinions in a healthy way. Inspire and motivate others and they will follow your lead to include listening to your point. The “loudest” one is rarely the “rightest’ one. If the argument is unavoidable or unsolvable, wait for a better, calmer opportunity to discuss things. Find a creative way to attempt to get someone to hear your point of view. Creativity and compassion, together, can solve problems without argument. Keep this in mind whether you are leading your family, subordinates at work, a committee, or elsewhere.

9. What can you agree on?

This social skill is about finding a happy meeting ground in all discussions and interactions. In a disagreement, you first meet and discuss the points that you both agree on. This tactic is useful when dealing with very confrontational or difficult and defensive people. Find at least one common point or common ground that you each are in agreement about BEFORE addressing anything where your opinions or thoughts differ.

This is a very wise tactic in both leadership and in everyday interactions with others. Finding common ground first and agreeing on points equates to cushioning and calming any discussions or debates that follow and aids in making the conversation more productive and positive.

So, what does this all mean for me?

These three skills in addition to the social survival skills presented in Part I and Part II are should be added to your "social survival kit." Read and re-read these three life skills and begin to practice them everywhere you go and in everything you do. Social skills, like tool making and fire starting, must be learned and practiced.

 Master these and master your social landscape. You live in a social world now and no one can predict what the world will look like one day. Mastering your social landscape can only improve your odds of survival in the world as we know it as well as into the world that we don’t know...yet.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014


Dedicated to those that dare to prepare....

From Ferro rods, to flint and steel, there’s a reason that the woods…
Provides us with such mass appeal.

From altoid boxes, to the rule of three, there’s no soda, juice or coffee…
That even comes close... to pine needle tea.

From iodine drops, to steel Kelly kettles, you have set out to learn…
The medicinal use for stinging nettles.

From bamboo containers, to navigation needles, you are willing…
To dine... on those wood-eating beetles.

From magnesium strips, to Punky wood, you’d live in a yurt…
If only you thought that you could.

From sharp Mora knives, worn on a belt, one day you plan to learn…
How to make clothes from a pelt.

From stocked fishing kits, to M.R.E’s, ...who needs a pot roast?
When you have the outdoors to seize.

Your self-reliance has led... to stocking both food and supplies…
As you now refuse to listen anymore lies.

You bought as much gear... as you could afford, from military boots to bags….
To wearable bracelets ...with 30 feet of para-cord.

And, you knew you weren't a master... as you explored the  terrain…
As there is always more to learn starting fire in rain.

         But, all that you that you have never felt more alive...
As you increased your skill, and learned to survive.

So, you spent all this money and, you have invested all your time….
As you gained strange looks... like you had committed a crime.

But, you continued on... to practice bushcraft outside….
And, if the SHTF, they will all want a free ride.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Leader In A Survival Situation Or Emergency? How Adversity Creates Survival Leaders

You may have told yourself and others that you are a "natural leader." You may have gone into interviews professing that you have a leadership background. Maybe you've had people following your lead for as long as you can remember. But, unless you've led under extreme circumstances, you don't know if you really have what it takes to be a leader in a real survival situation.

Without having been through life or death experiences, military training, or really lived an event of catastrophic chaos, you can only surmise as to whether your workplace leadership experience will be of any real value when terrified, panic-stricken people are struggling for something or someone to lead them through and out of the circumstances for which they were ill-prepared or have no control over.

There are ways to know, however, whether you may have the qualities, characteristics, and skills of a true survival or emergency leader. Search your background and your life experiences for the worst times you have endured, the most traumatic events you have navigated, and the most devastating moments you have overcome. Jot these times, events and moments onto a list. The people with the longest lists may very well be the "natural leaders" of the pack. Not because they were born that way from a variety of innate qualities and talents that were bestowed upon them via a predetermined swim in a genetic pool. But, because every ounce of adversity that we humans are exposed to causes us to either weaken, strengthen or become immune and indifferent.

We have all met people that have endured very little negative life experiences. They have, for the most part, been blessed from the moment of birth. They had things handed to them easily from toys to cars, college was paid for, the degree came easy, the jobs poured in, they never wanted for anyone or anything. We hate these people when we should feel rather badly for them. A protected and sheltered environment will stunt deeper development. 

Every animal develops survival abilities from having been exposed to external stress and dangers. For our ancestors, this external stress and danger may have had claws, teeth and an empty stomach. In our modern world, that external stress and danger can be financial, relationships, marriages, inter-personal violence, job loss, emergencies, disasters or even from kennel madness culminating out of confinement eight hours a day inside an office cubicle. The psychological and physiological responses to stress and danger in our modern brains is still happening in the same way as it did in our ancient brains but, with the additional neurotic energy we have accumulated from not getting enough exercise and sunshine's vitamin D. We are no longer chasing and tracking our food as we can pull up and have it brought right to us at a window. The energy released is minuscule today when compared with our energy release of distant times. Whether ancient stress or modern stress, external exposure to environmental stress affects our mind and our bodies. How we handle that stress, how we navigate and circumvent that stress, how we acclimate and adapt to that stress, how we problem solve around that stress and how we overcome and work our way THROUGH that stress are the ingredients of our core adult development and personality and the predictors of our strength, tenacity and survivability.

If you have successfully navigated painful and traumatic life events then all of that adversity that you see on your list was worthwhile in terms of personal development. You may wish you had never been through any of it, but IF you went through it, experienced it, felt it, navigated it, problem-solved it and ultimately overcame it to land on your feet, you are a survivor. Every one of those moments is one more point on your survivor list. Add them up, do you have a lot of points? If you have at least 5 points then you may very well have accumulated enough life experience and personality development to acclimate successfully in an intensely stressful, dangerous and frightening environment. 

The more you have adapted and overcome in your life, the more your ability to be strong in the face of adversity and the greater your ability to lead others through it. The focus is on the "overcoming" of the adversity. Some people become stuck or crippled by their adverse circumstances and never fully overcome or become stronger for them. While others, may have had so much exposure to adversity that they are immune, numb and perhaps detached from stress. Neither of these personality types would be adequately prepared to lead others in a survival situation and even if they could it might not necessarily be good for them until they have worked through their own trauma and emotions related to the trauma. 

Some of the qualities that are developed under adverse circumstance include:

The will to live
Strength of mind
Strength of character
Adaptive ability
Ability to think coherently and efficiently under duress
Ability to formulate a plan and problem solve while under stress
Ability to have hope in situations that appear hopeless 
Bravery (not the same thing as fearlessness which is rarely, if ever a good thing)
A sense of humor to balance stress 

This list is not all-inclusive, but it shows the multiple ways that we grow and personally develop to become stronger willed, stronger minded and better apt at keeping a cool head in and around chaos. The number one greatest strength that adversity provides is the same as it provided to our ancestors....the ability to adapt and overcome to changing circumstances and environments.

None of this will make it any easier to go through painful or difficult experiences, but it will shine a light on how we grow as people. The majority of our character growth comes from life experiences and human interaction. Leaders are developed, they are not born, and they are not prenatally created or raised. Development takes time and a degree of acclimating and navigating difficult circumstance and life terrain. A true survival leader will have many of the qualities of the above list and will have endured AND overcome very difficult, if not traumatic, life events. These are the developed survival leaders in our world. Do you have what it takes to be a leader in a survival situation or emergency? If your life has been a little too easy, you may think you are ready, but I wouldn't want you leading me.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bushcraft Girls and Why Fathers Should Empower Daughters With Self-Reliance Skills and Knowledge of the Great Outdoors

My Father didn't buy my first car. My father didn't throw me an over-the-top birthday party every year. My father didn't buy me every cool, new toy, gadget or outfit that I wanted. My father didn't teach me that the world centered around me. Why? Because my father loved me non-monetarily and in a way that I can never repay. He didn't love me with "stuff," but he did love me enough to want to empower me to always be able to take care of myself no matter what may come my way.

My earliest memories of time with my Dad are of things like teaching me how to catch crawdads and how to use them as bait. I learned to ride a bike with him running behind me (or so I thought). I quickly surmised, as I was gaining speed down a large hill, that he had entrusted my safety a long time ago....with me. My own safety was now in my own hands. I panicked, but somehow I knew that he wanted for me to succeed and that he wanted for me to do it on my own. I mastered that bike that day.

He taught me everything from identifying dangerous snakes to siphoning water in a situation where you can't reach the water. I learned to be strong, brave, but not fearless. I learned respect for mother nature. I learned that the world, my surroundings and circumstances will not adapt to me, but that I must be capable of adapting. I learned the most profound lesson from my Dad that I have ever learned. I learned that I am capable of improvising, adapting and overcoming stressful or even frightening situations and that I am strong enough to not only rely on my own will and tenacity, but strong enough for others to lean on as well. And, all of the most important "stuff" that my Dad taught me, he taught me in the great outdoors.

I can't thank my father enough for being such a profound influence in my life and for being strong mentally in a way that I deeply admire and have forever sought to be like. For all of those long hours I spent climbing and hanging out in trees, thinking about exploring the world, and considering all of the possibilities in every landscape I encountered, thank you Dad.

Fathers who do outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, shooting, archery, exploring and especially  bush-crafting and survival skills, have a remarkable ability to pass on a legacy that is simple, yet enduring to their precious daughters.....empowerment. You have, within your grasp, the ability to teach your girls to master their surroundings via shelter building, fire-crafting, hunting, fishing, trapping, foraging, knot-tying, cordage making, water purifying, and knife skills. The moment you strap that kit or backpack onto your girl and begin to show her all that you are forever changing her in a way that will empower her to go out and take on the world.

As you raise your "bushcraft girl," you are increasing her odds of success in life. You are showing her that she is strong, capable, confidant and worthy of conquering her surroundings even when those surroundings don't always play by the rules. If you invest the time, the dedication, and the love into your daughters, your daughters will flourish. Your "bushcraft girl" will be less likely to be taken advantage of by others, less likely to compromise her dreams, and less likely to devalue herself. But, most importantly, you leave a legacy with your girl that will last a lifetime and beyond. Raise your daughters to be strong and  independent. Give them a solid foundation in the great outdoors instead of gadgets. Love them enough to empower them with real life skills. I will be forever grateful that my father raised a bushcraft girl.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

So, You Want to Be a Prepper? How To Decide What You Should Be Preparing For

Preparing for disasters, emergencies and catastrophic events that "end the world as we know it" is a philosophy and lifestyle that is slowly becoming more mainstream and gaining in popularity. So, you've been reading the world news in the newspaper, watching the survivor shows, looking over prepper blogs and have decided that maybe it's a good idea to delve into this prepping world a little more seriously. You may have thought when you first heard the term "the end of the world as we know it" that this was extreme thinking and categorized all preppers as just a little odd. But, what you didn't know is that "the end of the world as we know it" is not only possible, but highly likely.

The term doesn't always mean the Apocalypse or complete devastation of mankind. Although none of us can know for certain that things will ever be that dark in our lifetime, what we can know is that our odds of our current state of circumstances (the world as you know it) are at risk of change on any given day. Any traumatic change in your circumstance can equate to "the end of the world AS you know it." 

While prepping is gaining mainstream steam and popularity, it is producing a wide array of philosophies, beliefs and opinions and a phenomenal amount of information available in all types of media. This can be overwhelming to someone new to the idea as well as to a seasoned prepper. Here is a list of just "some" of the things that people prepare for:

Political Collapse
Electromagnet Pulse (EMP)
Economic Collapse
Job Loss
Severe Weather
Death, Divorce, Illness, disability and Health Issues
Natural Disasters
Man-Made Disasters
Civil Unrest
Nuclear Attacks
Power Outages
Water Shortages

Again, that is not an all-inclusive list. But, it gives you an idea of how many things could go wrong. And, don't forget the possibility of a combination of the above list which is which is also a possibility.  For example, Hurricane Katrina is frequently cited as an example of how a natural disaster came together to meet up with a man-made structural disaster to culminate in riots, civil unrest, water shortages, power outages and many more devastating problems.

Another example of a possible scenario that affects multiple categories from the above list is also from our history. In 1918, an H1N1 flu spread like wildfire throughout the world. The epicenter was eventually pegged as a town in Kansas where soldiers were stationed. The soldiers likely spread the virus back to the states from travel abroad and from living in very close confinement together. That pandemic killed as many as 100 million people around the globe. Now, almost 100 years later, we are even more globally connected than ever before. The current increased travel and modern, global interconnection makes the entire world extremely vulnerable to pandemics and we would lose a lot more lives today than what we did then.There are more of us today as populations have exploded in the last 100 years and we are more connected and living in closer quarters globally to each other. One epicenter can globally infect the entire world. There is a huge risk from bio-terrorism as well. But, a pandemic would cripple our economy as no one could or would go to work. Trucks would not be able to transport food and supplies. The shelves would all be empty in stores in 2-3 days at best. And, eventually, if long-term enough, this scenario could domino into an economic collapse and then obviously you would no longer have electricity or a McDonald's to go to.

So, the question that arises time and time again is "how do I decide what I should be preparing for?"

First, get together with your family or your like-minded friends or your group and create a "priority list." Prioritize all of the emergencies, disasters and catastrophic events that you, as a group, believe are the most likely scenarios. The idea is to eventually be prepared for whatever tomorrow may bring. But, when you are starting out it is best to confine your philosophy to one or two areas so that you can keep your focus and begin prepping. Once you are feeling amply prepared in one category, you can begin to move through the other ones as well. 

Meet regularly with your group and evaluate the current state of circumstances again. Remember to keep your list fluid, because things change and as things change, you need to be able to improvise and adapt. It's a good idea to re-order your list as circumstances dictate. Next, you might consider placing different people in charge of different duties. Part of meeting to re-evaluate your list, is to discuss the changing state of things. So, your team needs to follow the world news, national news, local news, weather alerts, world economy, national economy and local economy, online CDC (Center's For Disease Control) and WHO (World Health Organization) research and anything else that you can think of as a group. 

Once you've determined your priorities, begin preparing three lists. One list of the "absolutely necessary" items, one list of the "it would be a good idea to have" items and one list of the "you'd really like to have" items and begin prepping. You might label the lists "Alive," "Survive" and "Thrive," or you can label them however your group decides. 

Having an idea of your group's philosophies on the most likely scenario, gives your group a direction of travel, a vision and a mission. Prepping is wise even if all that you are preparing for is for the possibility of losing your job or having a health issue. As always, continue to read, research, plan and prepare.
Prepping is going mainstream for a reason. Because being prepared utilizes our higher end thinking capacity, we know that it is something we should be doing. The ability that we, as humans, have to plan ahead and imagine "what ifs" has protected us and kept us out of harm's way for eons. If you've ever played Chess, Stratego or even Battleship, you've used these thinking skills. The ability to imagine that bad "stuff"  happens and that it's possible that "this stuff" could happen to you and then having a plan in place is part of being human. Survival skills and a survival mindset will naturally lead you to preparing in terms of both skills and supplies. We can hope for the best as we prepare for the worst and we can live happily in the now knowing that we're prepared....just in case. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Empowering Your Children to Value Being Prepared: If You Are Not Actively Prepping Your Children You Are Not As Prepared As You Might Think

Although you may be preparing your family for emergency, disaster or catastrophe, if you are not actively preparing your children and including them in your plans, you are not as prepared as you might think. Including the kiddos in all of your prepping and planning can create a knowledge base that empowers them to aid in overcoming stress in the event of an actual emergency.

Children need structure and predictability to thrive and feel safe. If an emergency strikes and you are the only one in the family that has been preparing, the child's traumatic experience of the events and stress hormone levels will be exponential in comparison to yours. Emergencies are not predictable or structured. But, you can help your family to "feel" as though the emergency had structure by planning, discussing, preparing and practicing.

As you approach prepping, keep in mind the important steps that are involved in preparing and prepping your children. Children love to have input. Allow the kids a voice, some choices and explore their thoughts on possible scenarios and what they think they would do in those events. Very young children should not partake in discussions that might frighten them as they do not have a developed sense of "possibility" and may take every conversation far too literally and feel afraid. Always adapt to the child and find new and interesting ways to involve them without scaring them.

The first step is to prepare yourself, your spouse (if you have one) and your children to begin to actively prepare for whatever emergency may come your way. A great way to do this is to begin to host weekly or bi-weekly or even monthly family meetings and set up an emergency committee. Kids love serving on committees and feeling as though their input is valuable. Keep the topics and discussion age and maturity level appropriate. Remember not to frighten the children as the goal is to empower via education and preparation.  Keep discussions to just the monthly meetings and the rest of the time just do regular, fun, family things and include prepping as a part of your family day-to-day lifestyle.

The meetings can unfold dynamically. Allow them to grow and change with your family. Assign important tasks and duties to the children and teens according to their individual ages and maturity levels. Assigning a tween or teen the task of monitoring weather is something they will likely enjoy and take on with great pride. There is a lot of information on the internet about meteorology, weather related books and even videos the family can explore to begin to understand weather and weather patterns. Invest in a weather radio (everyone should have one) and teach the kids how to use it. Let the kids help gather and pack emergency weather and power outage supplies to keep in a portable kit somewhere in the house. Kids can help with kit building, strategic planning, problem solving and all sorts of other activities.

If handled correctly, the kids will find all of the activities as empowering and comforting and possibly even fun. They will see their family as a supportive "unit" that is prepared should they need to be. If handled incorrectly, the kids will be stressing about "what ifs." What you want to accomplish is a lot of dialogue regarding the need to be prepared so that the family is empowered to handle any events more efficiently. Discuss how savings accounts are just insurance for the future in the same way that an emergency storm kit or basic survival kit is an insurance plan for "possible" life events. While you are trying to keep it real, keep it light and keep it interesting and fun.

Spend time focusing on skill-building activities with the kids and the teens from pitching tents, to eating a meal that you prepared over an outdoor cook pit. Keep on practicing and find ways to make it a fun part of your family's activities. Education and knowledge and practice empowers children to better handle stress in the event of real emergencies. All of these steps can help remove fears, increase confidence and engage learning and curiosity. Family preparedness and self-reliance should be a team mission. Continue discussing, exploring and answering questions and keep them involved.

Once your entire family is on board you can know that you are all much more likely to keep level heads under intense stress and be more equipped to survive situations that may arise. Knowledge is power so, share your knowledge with your children and empower them as well.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Why All Preppers Should Also Practice Bushcraft For Their Long-Term Survival

Filling your shelves, storages and caches with food, water and basic supplies is a vital part of being prepared. In essence, you are assuring that in the event of natural or man-made disasters, you and your loved ones will have what you need to survive 72 hours and beyond. But, if you were faced with long-term catastrophic events or had to evacuate (bug-out), you should have plenty of skills to face the unknown conditions you may be heading into.

Bushcraft skills are gaining in popularity, but many people have been practicing this craft for years. Bushcraft is about leaving your manmade environment and heading out into nature and having the skills, ability, know-how and confidence to survive and thrive. Some of the skills practiced include hunting and fishing, tracking, foraging, water collecting, container making, shelter building, tool crafting, cordage making and a gambit of other primitive living skills. Bushcraft can be done with supplies and kits or with nothing but what nature provides or something in between.

In addition to your core preps, prepared-minded people should begin to acquire bushcraft skills. Read books, watch videos and take classes whenever and wherever you are able to. Bushcraft should be learned and practiced and then continuously and consistently practiced. You are never an expert as you are always an apprentice in nature. Mother nature predicts your conditions and you must have the skills, the knowledge and the survivor mindset to improvise, adapt and overcome the ever-changing environmental conditions.

Bushcraft can be something you set out to do as a hobby and you may find a passion that you didn't know you even had. There is something very primal about being away from and disconnected from our social world and going back to our ancestral roots out in nature. People frequently describe the experience as feeling small with respect to the vastness that is wilderness. I would describe the experience differently. I would describe the experience as feeling profoundly larger than life. What is more alive than quieting the mind, putting down all of our technological gadgetry and being both still and quiet while the sounds of "real life" surround you? Nature is "real life." The life we are all living right now is nothing in comparison to what the great outdoors can provide.

Never go out on a deep exploration, hiking trip, camping trip or survival expedition without having had a great deal of training and following all safety precautions. And remember: even if you have been practicing bushcraft for a very long time, there is always, always more to learn and continue to practice. In the end, none of us have guarantees on life, but having these skills will most definitely give you a leg up on survival odds.

So, if this is a path you think you would like to take, I encourage you to begin exploring bushcraft for many reasons, but most importantly because it will provide you a degree of knowledge to add to your preps that food storage and ham radios can't provide.

Friday, June 20, 2014

PART II: You Can't Survive the End of the World As We Know It Without First Surviving the World As We Know it

Ants working in socially developed colonies are the ultimate survivors 

As promised this is a continuation of a previous post (Part II).
Here is an excerpt from that post:

Whether or not the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) is in our near future, down the road or never comes to pass, the fact remains that if you are reading this, you currently live in the world AS we know it. The world as we know it is a social landscape. Everything we have built and everything we do is contingent on other people. We have all become the people we have become because our ancestors were survivors. Our ancestors were adept at creating and maintaining groups, tribes and societies. Because of their ability to function in a society or group, the people before us mastered the art of making clothing, tool making, fire, water collection and purification, container making, shelter building, hunting, foraging, fishing, trapping and agriculture. Ironically, all of these things are things that most of us today no longer know how to do on our own. If we face a catastrophic change in our current state of the world, these skills would once again mandate who lives and who doesn't.

But first, those ancestral survivors mastered and honed their social skills. They worked together toward a common mission of survival. In order for you to confidently move toward honing the abilities that they once had, you must first master the art of social survival. Even if your preference or your plan is to be a lone wolf, because you live in a social world, your odds are greatly increased if you have social skills to add to your basic-needs "survivor pack".

The following is a short list (PART II). This list is not all encompassing and will be added to in future follow-up posts, but here is a mini foundation of basic "social survival skills" for interacting, attracting, inspiring, motivating, and leading people:

4. Appreciate people: show it, share it, give it. This is important in all relationships and interactions. Everyone needs and wants to feel appreciated and it is important to take that extra time to say it and to show it. In my experience, many people will jump through hoops for you as long as they feel that their efforts are appreciated. This is a very easy thing to do and in exchange, most people will be happy to help you out as well. This type of social interaction is a win-win. Remember to be genuine in your efforts as no one appreciates lip-service. Attempt to show your appreciation in your actions and in your behaviors, in small things and for simply being who they are. How you treat others and how you show your appreciation for others will shine through in your ability to be an effective leader.

5. Figure out what other people desire or want and find a way to inspire this within them: This is about honing the ability to inspire and motivate other people. This is a key quality in having and displaying charisma, motivational speaking ability and leadership skills. Whether you are leading yourself, your family or your subordinates, it is imperative that you capture the essence of what motivates other people in your circles and beyond. Once you know how they are motivated and by what, motivating and inspiring them in a forward direction is much easier.

Inspiring others can accomplish great things. Plus, it feels good to positively impact other people who may later thank you for inspiring them toward something they might not have otherwise accomplished. The number one skill that you can use to inspire, motivate and transform people is to arouse that "desire" or that "want" from deep within them.

6. Smile! Be aware of your face!! This seems like such a simple concept, yet if you watch people and their facial expressions, you will see concern, anxiety, stress, fatigue, fear, depression, exhaustion, irritation and many other emotions and feelings, but rarely will you see genuine happiness. watch yourself for a few days or even for one day and attempt to smile whenever and wherever you encounter another person young or old. Allow your face to really light up. People will respond warmly to you. People are drawn to magnetic, charismatic and happy people. People want what you have to offer. Smiles are good for you and they are good for them. Babies love smiles for a reason. Think about your smile every time a child enters the room. Children are very intuitive at an early age and will read your face. This carries into adulthood and we all slowly become experts at reading faces, body language and other hidden communication. Smiling at other people is the number one easiest thing that you can do to connect with other people, improve your social skills and get other people to respond positively to you.

These three skills are the continuation from Part I (1-3) of your "social survival kit. "There are many others that I will share with you to add to your kit in time. First, read and re-read these three life skills and begin to practice them everywhere you go and in everything you do. Social skills, like tool making and fire starting, must be learned and practiced. Master these and master your social landscape.

To Be Continued.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How a Healthy Dose of Ranting Can Improve Social Skills and Self-Reliance

Topics are important to provide an overall map to navigate a general direction. However, topics shouldn't be restraints. Today, I am going to wander briefly off of the usual topic and I hope that you will go along for the ride as I usually find a way to tie it all together anyway.

Occasionally, everyone finds themselves in a quandary of "should I please the masses or be myself?" Today, I feel the need to rant. Now, before I rant, allow me to point out that ranting can be productive if it is done appropriately. Appropriate ranting should be directed at no singled out group or individual and should be stated in a general fashion. I have found that a healthy dose of ranting usually frees my energy up for more productive endeavors and often speaks volumes to others who enjoyed knowing that they are not alone in things that irritate the soul.

So, today's topic is appropriate ranting. Ranting, by definition, is usually expected to be loud, excited, and at times belligerent. I have no desire to be any of those things. My rant, you will be glad to know, is more of a humorous dose of honesty.

Today's list of things that irritate me down to my cellular level:

1. People who help people who do not help themselves. I adhere to the "help those who help themselves" philosophy. I do not believe in extending an olive branch to anyone who actively put themselves into the situation they are in and did absolutely nothing to get themselves out of the situation they are in. If they are unable to help themselves, then by all means, I would love to help them. The helpless people that I am referring to are "those people" that we all encounter now and then who are known to be "life suckers." They suck the life out of themselves and everyone around them. While they profess that their own life sucks, they have an assumption of entitlement, they expect you to bail them out when they are in trouble, they assume someone will help them, or someone will save them, or even worse yet, they allow other people to fight their battles for them. I am referring to personal battles here. They stir the pot, step back, and watch the fire-works as other people come to their aid. But, my rant is not as much about "these" people as it is about "the people" who help them. If you are one of "the people" who help "those" people, stop aiding and abetting helpless people to continue their destructive paths. The primary reason you are helping them is selfish. You are helping them to feel good about yourself. Because the truth is you are not helping them at all. You are only helping them to be more helpless.

and another thing.....

2. People who paint their home a strange color that for all intents and purposes should never be in the exterior paint color catalogue. This doesn't affect me personally, but it does affect me physically. Wild pink and obnoxious green homes punch me in the face every time I drive by them. These homes physically hurt my eyes. I cringe. I wonder about the individual's sanity for a brief moment as I shake the after-effects of the bright, band of color-mirage that has now permanently imprinted itself in my long-term memory bank. I attempt to give them the benefit of the doubt. I tell myself that surely they must be color blind. But, then I am left to ponder what color assistant in their right mind would allow them to walk out of the store with those colors for a home? Then it begins to settle through me like the painful aftermath of an over-indulgent, greasy-spoon buffet; they must have done it on purpose. They actually enjoy and purposefully chose screaming, offensive colors that provoke hysteria. They like them so much so that they naturally just assumed that I would as well. Well, I don't. Please, if you are reading this, and you know that you are a color assaulter, or have a history of color assaulting, or know someone who has before painting anything else or allowing them to paint anything else, follow these simple instructions:
 First, paint a random bird house those same color schemes, then slather some of those offensive colors on your dog's home and maybe a little on Rover too (on second thought, don't paint Rover... he's likely to wander the neighborhood and make me look at him). Next, I need you to stare at both the bird house and the dog house relentlessly for 30 days. Drive by them daily. Drive by them numerous times per day, from multiple directions, under varying lighting circumstances, in multiple weather conditions, with and without glasses, and at differing times of day. Drive by them with a full stomach. Drive by them with an empty stomach. Drive by them with a caffeine headache. Drive by them with a child squealing from the back seat as they are kicking their last sock off that you just placed on them for the tenth time. Drop a can of Spam on your left, little toe and then drive by them. Give yourself paper-cuts on both index fingers and then drive by them. Rub salty French fries into the paper-cuts and then drive by them. Wait until you have a disagreement with your co-worker, storm out the door self-righteously, trip on a protrusion on the sidewalk and stub your right, big toe, in front of your boss, pretend you did it on purpose to spare what little bit of dignity you have left, and then drive by. Hop in your vehicle on a windy day, spill a bright-red drink on your brand- new white jacket, question why you bought a white jacket in the first place, remind yourself that it was on sale, and then drive by them. If you still feel the need to paint your home "those" colors: accept that you may have a problem, seek help, read a pamphlet, phone a friend, deep breathe, call a sponsor, do some yoga, but seriously, seriously, think before you act and consider the long-term ramifications and consequences upon the innocent who are merely vicarious victims of your color assaults.

and another thing.....

3. People who think and believe that they have it worse than anyone else. This is truly something that gets my blood stir-fried. Everyone has problems. Some people have HUGE problems. Some people have problems that involve food and water, life and limb, life or death. So, your favorite television program didn't record, you broke your fifth smart phone, and your check was a little short. This may be life or death to you, but I assure you it won't be to other people. Keep your whining in check. No one wants to hear it. They have their own problems and the world has even bigger issues. My solution is usually to remind these people that the "stuff" that they are allowing to consume them is miniscule in the whole scheme of things. This doesn't win me popularity contests, but neither does "oh, you think you have problems?" Today, a co-worker told me she thinks that the universe is out to get her. I asked her why she thought that. She indicated that her new smart phone's speaker wasn't working and now she has to go to the phone store again. I thought this was slightly, if not obnoxiously, humorous as I had just been scanning the world news headlines and had viewed literally dozens of images of pain, war, terror, death and dismemberment. So, I told her "yes, I suppose that's pretty serious, but check out the world news headlines real quick and you will likely see that the universe is too busy to be after you through your smart phone." She paused and laughed at herself and thanked me for helping her keep things in perspective (a little sarcastically, but she thanked me nonetheless). Now, keep in mind, She's got a sense of humor so, don't try that on just anyone.

Although I could go on, I won't. I hope you enjoyed today's appropriate rant-fest and hopefully could relate a little. Now, as I promised...I am going to tie this all together to be in line with topic.

here goes.....

In order to be fully self-reliant and prepared for anything that life may throw at you, you must first practice your social skills. I have a previous post on this topic which I will be adding to at a later date. In order to practice social skills, you need to know how to find a healthy way to vent, right? Well, there you go. A healthy way to vent is in a generic manner on a post or blog and said with an entertaining spin with the intent of humoring others without harming others. You can think it, write it, read it, chuckle at it and move on to invest your energies into honing those social interaction skills that we discussed earlier. There you have it. I have tied it all together after all. Not bad eh?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Shelves and Your Stomach Will Be Empty if You Fail to Prepare

How much food do you have stocked away right now? How much water or other fluids do you have on hand? How long do you think you and your family could eat and drink on what you have around right now if there was no other option available to you? We live in a society of immediate gratification. If we want something to eat, we drive to the grocery store or the convenience store or a restaurant and purchase something to eat. We have unlimited fast food at our disposal at any given time.

Due to the nature of our fast-food culture, we are no longer accustomed to planning ahead for even tomorrow night's meal let alone next week or next month. We figure it out on the fly. And, if we don't have a plan and we got out of work a little late, well, no big deal, as we swing by and grab some take-out for the family. We go to the grocery store and "if" we are disciplined, we might purchase a week's worth of meals. The problem lies in the fact that we are always banking on absolutely everything being the same tomorrow and the next day just as it is today. And, this simply isn't always going to be true. We live in a volatile world. A lot is going on all around us most of which we have zero control over. What if tomorrow you lost your job? How long would it take you to get another one? Do you have enough savings and food storage to get along until you were re-employed and earning a paycheck? What if you or a loved one is involved in an accident or develops a serious health condition? What if a storm damages your town? These are just a few of the many, many things that can and will erupt your tomorrow and make it nothing that compares to your today. Well, shouldn't you sort of be planning then? I'm glad you asked that.....the answer is YES, but you probably already guessed that.

In addition to the above reasons to plan ahead with your food and water storage, are the plethora of conditions that can impact whether or not there is food available at the grocery stores, super centers, restaurants and fast-food establishments. You may not have considered this or maybe you have but chose to not think about it, but someone has to get the food to these places. And, there are multiple parties and systems reliant upon each other in order for you to be able to fuel your tank or purchase that burger with fries or cart full of groceries.

Here are just a few things that can cause trucking issues and food or fuel supply shortages:
Natural events and mother nature such as mudslides, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, drought, snow and ice and pests can all cause short-term or long-term delays or shortages in food or deliveries and transportation. Also, Strikes and employee issues within the trucking industry can result in trucking issues that can create delays in shipments. National or international economic issues and relations can cause inflation, fuel price increases, rations of fuel or food. Increases in fuel costs can cause a hyperinflation that creates a situation where it is just too expensive to transport food. Catastrophic events such as pandemics or an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) can halt all incoming food shipments. In a pandemic, it would likely be too dangerous for truckers and store owners as well as employees to even show up for work. In the event of an EMP, vehicles will no longer run.

What we know from history is that most of the shelves will be empty in three days or less in the event of something catastrophic. People generally live in the here and now. So, when something bad happens, they tend toward panic. From there, they rush out and become one of the masses who are actively emptying the shelves at the stores as fast as possible. Because so many are doing this at once, the outcome is as simple as good old-fashioned supply and demand. No one prepared and something bad happened. Because something bad happened and we are not prepared, we must panic. Because we are in a state of panic, we must go buy up as much food as we can afford. Because everyone else is doing the same thing, the demand went up while the supply was only what was on the shelves and the results are that there is not enough for everyone. The moment of truth is when the shelves are empty and so is your stomach because you thought nothing bad could happen or worse yet, you thought the government would be able to save you. Admit it? You've banked on "others" a time or two in your life when maybe you shouldn't have haven't you? Do not bank on others when it comes to the core necessities of human and water.

Take a look at your current food storage and analyze how long you could make it. Begin to put together a list of items that store well and that you and your family enjoy eating. Every time you purchase groceries, begin to buy one or two extra for your storage and some type of beverage. As you put the items away put the new toward the back and pull the older toward the front just like they do at the grocery store. This enables you to begin stocking up slowly always buying just a little more than what you typically use. You will meet your goal slowly, but surely and you can know that you are doing something toward the safety of your future. You will also know that you are being wise enough to know that it is unwise to assume that nothing bad will ever happen to you. Hopefully it won't, but your worst case scenario in the event that nothing bad ever happens to you is that you have a nice stocked up kitchen of food your family enjoys.

Try to meet a minimum quantity of at least enough food and water for 72 hours/3 days. Once you've met that goal, go for one week's worth. From there, aim for 2 weeks, then one month. Then, stock a month more and a month more, until you have a year's supply of food and beverage for all of your family including items from all of the food groups and multi-vitamins stocked for added nutrition.

Catastrophic events that impact larger regions and populations are not likely to have much government or agency type of assistance, so you will need to have been prepared and practicing being self-reliant. It all begins with having food and water available no matter what happens to you or your family. There are a lot of web sites on long-term food storage, but if you rotate your items and only buy what you enjoy and what you use, you won't have to worry about freeze dried or dehydrated foods if you want to keep it simple. But, if you want to look into long-term storage food items there are many tasty choices out there from all of the food groups to choose from. Good luck and don't let one day pass that you are not doing something toward your tomorrow regardless of what that tomorrow may bring.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

PART I: You Can't Survive the End of the World As We Know It Without First Surviving the World As We Know it

Whether or not the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) is in our near future, down the road or never comes to pass, the fact remains that if you are reading this, you currently live in the world AS we know it. The world as we know it is a social landscape. Everything we have built and everything we do is contingent on other people. We have all become the people we have become because our ancestors were survivors. Our ancestors were adept at creating and maintaining groups, tribes and societies. Because of their ability to function in a society or group, the people before us mastered the art of making clothing, tool making, fire, water collection and purification, container making, shelter building, hunting, foraging, fishing, trapping and agriculture. Ironically, all of these things are things that most of us today no longer know how to do on our own. If we face a catastrophic change in our current state of the world, these skills would once again mandate who lives and who doesn't.

But first, those ancestral survivors mastered and honed their social skills. They worked together toward a common mission of survival. In order for you to confidently move toward honing the abilities that they once had, you must first master the art of social survival. Even if your preference or your plan is to be a lone wolf, because you live in a social world, your odds are greatly increased if you have social skills to add to your basic-needs "survivor pack".

The following is a short list (PART I). This list is not all encompassing and will be added to in future follow-up posts, but here is a mini foundation of basic "social survival skills" for interacting, attracting, inspiring, motivating, and leading people:

1. Criticism is critical and because it is critical it cannot be constructive only destructive. People do what they do for a reason. We are all motivated for different purposes and reasons. Generally, we are seeking some type of emotional payoff or other outcome for our behaviors and our actions. This payoff can be positive or negative. People are more often motivated emotionally rather than logically. B.F. Skinner was able to show many years ago that even animals learn and retain information more productively when given positive reinforcements rather than negative reinforcements. Yet, we humans still seek to change people via complaints, forced conformity, criticisms and condemnations. It simply doesn't work. Keep your eye on your goal in interacting with people and know that being critical will never get your needs met.

2. Find people interesting and show and express a genuine interest in them. We are all drawn toward those that have the ability to make us feel good about ourselves. It's a simple thing about human nature. But, the important word in this one is "genuine." This sincerity of purpose may be difficult for many people. None of us want to be flattered by someone who isn't genuine or for someone to show an interest in our lives or what we have been doing that really doesn't care. Our hope is that other people are genuinely interested in us when they inquire as to how we are doing. If you ask that question, mean it. No one really wants the flat answer that we socially have grown trained to say: "fine, how are you?" Appreciate it if someone actually answers that question whether it was what you were hoping to hear or not. This is the cornerstone of a good leader, a good person, a good team player, a good friend or a good mate.

3. Let the other person's self-interest be the conversational guide. This one is vital because it plays off of the fact that people like it when you show an interest in them. If you visit with someone, even briefly, at the grocery store or wherever you go take a moment to visit with them about real things, their life, their family and things that they actually care about. You may find that people tell you their life story. This should tell you how desperate the person was for someone to show an interest in them or to care or to listen. You need to always remember that it is an honor when people show that kind of trust or comfort level with you to choose to share personal information with you. This is absolutely a necessary skill to being a good leader. People want to hear about what matters to them, people want to talk about what matters to them and how something will ultimately affect them. Show a genuine interest in other people and ask about them and the things that matter to them.

These three skills are the beginning of your "social survival kit. "There are many others that I will share with you to add to your kit. First, read and re-read these three life skills and begin to practice them everywhere you go and in everything you do. Social skills, like tool making and fire starting, must be learned and practiced. Master these and master your social landscape.

To Be Continued.

For Further Reading on B.F. Skinner, human behavior, operant conditioning, reinforcements and behavior modification, you can visit the following links:

B.F. Skinner Foundation 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

No Matter Where in the World You Are or What You Are Facing: 10 Key Steps That You Can Take to Increase Your Odds of Survival

Emergencies, catastrophes, financial hardships and instability are abound. No matter where in the world you are and no matter what your current situation, there are things that you can do to increase your odds of survival. Although it's always better to prepare for any emergency before it occurs, there are a few mental things that you can do to overcome any odds and spin them into your favor.

Some of you reading this may have been through traumatic events. Some of you may live in an area that is dangerous either geographically or politically. Some of you may live in fear of economic instability, illnesses, terrorists, or mother nature.

No matter what you are currently facing or afraid could occur, there are things that you can do to better equip yourself. Mental strength and a survivor mindset are two of the most important factors in whether or not you will endure. There are other things that you can do as well. I have included the ten most important steps in the following list.

Here is my list of 10 vital steps that you can take to give yourself and your loved ones a fighting chance no matter the situation:

1. Make the decision to plan and to prepare yourself mentally, emotionally, physically and tangibly to survive.
2. Do what you need to do in order to work toward being self-reliant. Part of this equation is the mental energy that you will begin to dedicate toward relying on yourself to get yourself through. The other part of this equation is included in other steps.
3.Educate yourself, read, study, practice and equip yourself to be able to face any and all types of survival situations in a prepared manner.
3. Be purposeful in your decisions. Plan and implement your plans.
4. Always actively do something! Doing something will not only help increase your odds, but it gives your mind something to focus on so that you do not begin to feel overwhelmed or stressed in a manner that cripples your capacity to survive.
5. In the event of catastrophe, make the decision of whether it is better to hunker down or bug out and then plan and implement your plans. Do not bug out without ample supplies.
6. Improvise and practice being able to think quickly and decisively to alter your course or mission as needed.
7. Be adaptable and be able to adapt to changing circumstances. Change is frightening, but you will have better survivability odds if you are adaptable to that change.
8. Plan and envision yourself overcoming the situation. Do not think otherwise. Do not allow yourself to ponder not making it through.
9. Do not give up. Keep moving forward and keep doing something toward your goal.
10. Are the odds stacked against you? Many have survived horrific situations before you and many will survive after you. You can too. Never doubt your abilities to overcome anything. Stay focused on your mission whatever your mission is. Remember that the body won't quit until the brain tells it to. Be mentally and physically tough.

Most of these steps can be worked and practiced before a catastrophe or emergency. But, even if the situation is bad now and you hadn't prepared, you can adopt the survivor mindset now. You can practice these steps of mental and emotional readiness now. The mind wills the body. It is vital to strengthen both your body and your mind to carry you through the storms.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Garage Sale Survivalist and Prepper Hot Tips on How to Survive and Thrive on a Budget

In my previous posts, I shared the importance of being prepared. I've also written about the many reasons why you should have emergency kits in your home or car. Whether you are an outdoors man or woman, a wilderness survivalist, a prepper or just someone who values the importance of planning ahead, you can benefit from hunting the multiple bargains at garage sales, flea markets, thrift store,s auctions, and clearance aisles. 

Planning ahead and being prepared doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. The idea is to be prepared enough to save your arm or leg and hopefully the rest of you as well should an emergency arise. The first step in your bargain hunting process should be for you to come up with a basic list of wish list items that you think you absolutely need. The next list should include things that you really should have. The last list should be those things that you would really like to add. While you are doing this be sure and research and read what others are putting into their bug-out-bags, EDC (Every Day Carry), possibles-bags, all- purpose outdoors kits, emergency kits, backpacks, 72 hour kits and throughout their homes in efforts to be amply prepared for whatever life tosses at them. Use this information to compile your list as well. Weed out the items that you don't think you will need or that do not apply to your situation or where you live. Be creative and come up with your own ideas as well. 

Sometimes a helpful exercise is to walk through all of the potential emergencies and disasters that you believe you or your family could face. From there, begin to picture yourself in that situation and imagine what you might need as you go through your day-to-day activities in these emergency circumstances. Later, once you have some supplies and gear, you can begin to actually practice these situations.

Today I hit a few garage sales. I thought I'd share with you the goodies and gear that I found for cheap. I purchased a little over-the-shoulder bag which will work for a mini fire kit, fishing kit or to carry tinder. In addition, I found a great all purpose field knife by Mossyoak with a sheath. Then, I found a pack-away jacket for all purpose outdoors use which I plan to throw into my 72 hour bag. But, my favorite purchase today was a NWTF generator. The generator was brand new. All of these items I nabbed for a fraction of their cost new. The pack-away jacket has never been used and I paid only fifty cents! Keep in mind too that no matter how thorough your list is, you will find things that you hadn't considered before. The jacket is perfect for my intended use, but it wasn't on my list. 

So, the first step to anything is planning. Make your wish list, gather information and then start bargain hunting! Be sure and come back and let me know what bargains you found! 

Save Yourself! Why You Can't Count Count on the Government and FEMA in Disasters and Emergencies

As a child you probably remember falling down, scraping your knee, going to your parent or caretaker and expecting them to kiss it, clean it and make it all better. We all grew up haphazardly jumping around from couch to coffee table, moronically leaping over stairs, and running so fast that our top-heavy head was generally ahead of our body and begging to crash into protruding objects and table corners. We hopefully stop doing these things by the time we are adults because as we grow up we begin to calculate risks and realize that a kiss and squirt of the painful, antiseptic red stuff won't fix everything ( and I still have nightmares about the painful, antiseptic red stuff).

We, as adults, begin to recognize our own responsibility and accountability for our actions. We know that if we go to work and leap from desk to desk yelling you can't catch me, we might hurt ourselves or lose our jobs, our dignity and our friends. Part of being a responsible adult is recognizing to what degree you are responsible for yourself, your actions and your own personal safety.

Some adults, after years of someone else catching them and making things all better for them when they fell or hurt themselves, are still just as haphazard as they were as a child. These people are responsibility stunted. In disasters and emergencies, they are incapable of taking care of themselves. They have a false belief system that someone, somewhere out there will take care of them no matter what happens. They do not plan. They do not prepare. They do not take their own safety seriously. They expect that someone will assist them no matter what situation they find themselves in.

The problem is that no one will and especially in emergencies, catastrophes and natural disasters. The government is overloaded, organizations such as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is overtaxed and unable to respond fast enough to help everyone. In true emergencies there is so much happening and so much chaos that nothing is organized, nothing is effective, everyone is in a state of panic and unless you planned ahead and prepared, you will likely be too.

Everyone should have a disaster supply kit in their home at all times. Even the disaster response organizations recommend that you do this step. Why do you think disaster response organizations recommend that you take steps to take care of yourself in the event of an emergency or disaster? Because even they know that they cannot save everyone, or respond fast enough or be in all places at all times, or be prepared to meet the unfolding demands of disasters in an effective enough manner to be able to organize health, food, safety, water, fire and rescue efforts fast enough to save everyone. Even under the best circumstances, they cannot always save everyone or supply food and water to everyone fast enough.

So, put yourself a disaster kit together that is assembled before an emergency occurs and that is small enough and portable enough that you can grab it and go if the situation called for you to quickly evacuate. You will not know how long you will be required to survive without assistance on your own with no supplies. It could be one day, it could be three days, it could be weeks. Electricity, gas, water, phones and even sewage could be not working for hours, days or more.

You cannot know the length of time that you will be on your own ahead of time. But, you can know that if a disaster or emergency occurs you need to be able to take care of yourself and the basic needs of your family for a while. So, have enough food, water, medical supplies, flashlights, candles and other necessary supplies all packed in a portable "just in case" bag that will sustain you and your family for at LEAST 3 days (72 hours).

Take this advice and take your safety and your family's safety into your own hands. Do not leave something that precious and important in the hands of the government and organizations. If they are able to reach you or your family with supplies or rescue efforts fast enough, great. But, if not, and you didn't plan ahead. What would happen then?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Importance of Sourdough Cultures and Sourdough Bread in Self-Reliance

Sourdough, ah sourdough. There is rarely a bread connoisseur that doesn't love good sourdough. What is sourdough you ask? Allow me to start by telling you what sourdough is not. Sourdough is not store bought yeast. Store bought yeast was a commercialized, mass produced, product intended to give the home baker a fast rise on the end product. This speed of rise time enabled the mass production of that tasteless, long, square loaf we purchase at the grocery store that barely resembles its ancestral roots. Store bought yeast gives that quick rise, but due to the quickness of the rising time, the flavor development suffers, the interior crumb suffers, the crust suffers. It's common sense really. Anytime we try to hurry something too much we are compromising our mission somewhere along the path.  
What sourdough is, however, is a natural occurring combination of live, wild yeast and bacteria coming together in a symbiotic dance of carbohydrate love. O.K., that's probably a little too far, but you get the's good stuff. Store purchased yeast is also alive. But, it's not a natural wild yeast and it is a single type of living organism that has been carefully selected and mass produced. Sourdough flavor comes from the naturally occurring acids that develop from the interaction of the yeast and the bacteria. You can develop flavor with commercialized yeast, but you must use a very small amount such as 1/4 teaspoon and wait for hours and hours to allow the flavors and textures to develop. Another benefit of sourdough is longer shelf life. A homemade loaf of sourdough at my house can keep up to a week not that it generally lasts that long. Whereas, my other breads have a lifespan of 1-2 days and then they are destined for the bread salvage yard of breadcrumbs and croutons. 
Sourdough cultures are kept and maintained by daily feedings of 2-3 times a day of flour and water and vigorous stirring each time. I stir mine throughout the day whenever I am thinking about it or walking by. The cultures really flourish with a lot of air whipped into them. A nice warm spot on your kitchen counter and daily feedings and stirrings is all that is required to maintain a culture. If you are not going to bake for a while you can place them in the refrigerator after they are well developed. I put a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the jar, a paper towel over that and a rubber band around the paper towel to hold it all in place and then into the refrigerator the culture goes. 
They can keep for a long time in the refrigerator as they go into a dormancy state. A lot of yeast dies off during dormancy, but the goal is that not all of them die because you will pull it out and feed it every so often. Remember... this is a living organism and it needs to be fed. It eats the flour for fuel and once it eats up all of its food supply and has no more it slows down and over time it begins to die off. The idea is to keep it alive so don't forget them for too long.
How long can you refrigerate the cultures? A long time. The answer varies depending on which blog you read or site you visit or video you watch. I will tell you that mine keep for 3-6 months totally neglected in the refrigerator. I pull them out and pour off the "hooch." The hooch is the dark liquid alcohol that develops on the top during dormancy. Some people stir it in. I pour mine off. And give them a few days of feedings and stirrings and they take right off again. 
Sourdoughs flavors are all a little different depending on the local wild yeast. I have a large collection of sourdough cultures from around the world. Some are derivatives of the same yeast that leavened the first loaf of bread in ancient Egypt over 5,000 years ago. One is a local one I captured myself. Capturing wild yeast is quite easy and I will describe how to do that in a future post as well as share some sourdough recipes with you. There are also places online to purchase wild yeast sourdough cultures in their dry form and you feed and care for them after they arrive in the mail.  
I hope you will begin to read up on sourdough breads and gain an appreciation for the skill of capturing your own wild yeast and housing your own wild yeast culture. Not only does it make better bread with better flavor than anything you can buy at the store, but it is one more step toward being self-reliant. Flour, water, yeast and salt is all that you need for a beautiful loaf of bread from home. By using wild yeast, you are just a little less reliant on mass production and a little more reliant on yourself.