I promised a few months ago that I was going to start a new series called Practical Independence. What with the hurricanes in the east and fires in the west, I felt this was the perfect time to start this series. Besides, September is National Preparedness Month. I tried to go to their site at www.ready.gov, but ironically, it was down.
This did not fill me with a lot of confidence. 😀
On the other hand, it illustrates perfectly why I feel so strongly about being independent of government agencies–or any agency for that matter. It’s not that they’re not useful. It’s that their structure is usually bloated with bureaucrats and red tape.
For this reason I prefer to take care of myself with as little intervention as possible. Better to be prepared for an emergency than to have to rely on help that might not come for days, or even weeks. It happens more often than you think.
Think of doing for yourself like a stopgap until the big guns arrive.
Of course, no one can be prepared for everything. Who expects to be in a car accident or an earthquake? You can’t predict these things. But we can create a web of resources to help us weather emergencies and unexpected setbacks.
I didn’t start out with sustainability genes. My family has no handyman blood in them. None. Zippo. When I married Greg I started from an absolute zero knowledge base. I couldn’t even tell you the difference between a flathead and a Phillips head screwdriver, but I was willing to learn. That was all I needed to get my feet wet.
Being poor was also a fabulous incentive. We couldn’t afford to replace things, so Greg fixed it himself while I fetched and handed him tools like a surgical nurse in an ER.
That was my introduction to self sufficiency and I’ve never looked back.
I’m telling you this because the first thing people say is that they don’t have the skills. Heck, I didn’t have skills! I’m not kidding when I say I was clueless. I truly was.
• I’ve killed so many plants Mother Nature probably has me on her Most Wanted list.
• Tums antacid should thank me for raising their stock price given my dismal cooking efforts during my early years.
• Being a klutz, I’ve shed enough blood to fund a blood bank.
• And don’t get me started about how hard it was to save money when we had none.
What I’m saying is this. You gain skills by practice and by necessity.
It’s daunting, but there’s a real adrenaline rush to it too. More than that, the sense of accomplishment and confidence makes you feel like you can do anything. So how do you start?
Rule #1 for Independence: Learn to do things yourself
I was lucky. I had a mentor in Greg. He’s a natural handyman and tinkerer. Even when he doesn’t know how to fix something, he reasons it out. That’s a phenomenal gift.
If you don’t have your own Greg handy, you still have YouTube. It has a humongous library of videos that show you how to do almost anything.
Start small, and it doesn’t even have to be terribly important. All that matters is that you learn how to do one thing by yourself that you would otherwise have hired out or bought.
• Learn to make a PERFECT cup of coffee.
• Make a first-aid kit.
• Grow potatoes in a pot. (My little 9-year old niece did this. I was so proud!)
• Refinish a worn out table.
The first step of sustainability is to manage on your own. Think back to your very first day away from home and away from your parents.
This is your first step, your first bike without its training wheels. I guarantee you can do it too.
What’s one thing you’ve done alone that you didn’t think you could pull off at first?