Tag Archives: resilience

Inauguration Day

Today we are witness to a sea change–not just for the American people but for everyone and everything else that shares a planet with us. It’s just hard to say whether this New Republic will end it all or be the saving of us.

This much I know is true: We have been in need of change. Vast, sweeping change. But I do not believe that the kind and level of change we need can be solved by the passing of a baton between political regimes. Nor do I believe our government or their corporate keepers will save us. Why would they even want to when so often their interests don’t align with ours? Especially when every year we seem to move further apart. We need instead to start thinking about what we can do to move closer as a people, even as our leaders forget or ignore what it’s like to be sick, to be hurt, to be afraid, to be poor.

The rallying cry for those whose candidate did not stand on today’s podium to be sworn in, is RESIST. But resistance can only take us so far. I believe we need more than resistance. We need a REVOLUTION. Not the kind fought with guns or bombs. That kind of force may be effective, but at what cost?

The revolution I propose starts with us–not the part of us that blames or fears or hates, but the part of us that the best dreams of our then young country were founded on:

  • Resourcefulness
  • Freedom
  • Hard work
  • Community
  • Collaboration
  • Ingenuity

And of course we can’t forget Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.*

We need a groundswell from the grass roots. From the deepest part of our humanity. Resilience is about creating what we need for ourselves, in spite of what anyone tries to take away from us. And I do mean us– not every girl for herself like so many survivalists preach. We can’t do any of this alone and why should we want to? Life is better when shared. Obstacles are easier to overcome. Grief easier to bear. Work goes by faster and is more fun (at least according to Mark Twain). And perhaps most importantly, we are infinitely stronger together.

Already, lists of threats to our ways of living are turning up everywhere. Which are true and which may be rumors or pipe dreams remains to be seen, but we can use them as a starting point. ACA threatened? How can we care for and protect each other? NEA abandoned? How do we find ways to keep making, sharing, and supporting all forms of art anyway? The security of our food and water threatened? How to we grow and source what we need locally?

Seeds of Victory

There are already precedents for such things, for example, the 20,000,000 Victory Gardens created in backyards and windowsills and school grounds. By 1944, they provided 40% of all produce grown in this country (source) all without the 16.1 million Americans who were away serving during WWII (source).

There is, within each of us, a Victory Garden. There is, within each of us, a piece of the puzzle. And once we put all those pieces together there’s no telling what we can do.

Paradigm Shift

Lately I have been thinking a lot about one question:

What if instead of prepping for the worst, we prepared for the best?

This idea of working toward best case scenarios can flip even the most optimistic standard prepping idea on its head. Suddenly, we are creating, not reacting; embracing, not avoiding; dreaming, not fearing. Suddenly we move from the powerlessness of living at the mercy of a dangerous world to the empowerment of creating a more hospitable one. Suddenly we evolve from talks of prevention, defense, survival, to building, healing, living–from fear, to hope, maybe even to joy.

I will admit, it’s not an easy shift to make. The world can be a dangerous place. And we do need to prepare for times when the gap between our dreams and reality is wider and deeper than we can imagine a bridge to cross. For some of us, that may be most of the time. Which is why it so important to think about ways to make our lives easier, simpler, better, more manageable, safer during quieter days.

For example, instead of acting from a place of fear that says, “I could get cancer and die,” we could, knowing full well that cancer exists and is a risk, consider a variety of other responses, like:

  • What could I do to become healthier and minimize that risk?
  • What might improve my chances of recovery if I did get sick?
  • What might help make the experience of being sick less complicated and more comfortable?

Or better yet:

How can I create my healthiest, happiest, most fulfilled life?

What if, instead of focusing on disaster, we focused, in a very practical way, on that? And then consider what it will take to get us there, what hurdles we may need to overcome, what things we can do to stay on track when obstacles cross our paths.

Because there will be hurdles, obstacles, unplanned derailments, that’s what prepping is all about, but they will only one small piece of a larger puzzle not the focus of our lives or plans.

What might your best case scenario look like? How might it feel?

Blooming Cholla
Blooming Cholla



Recently The Survival Mom wrote a post about why normal people shy away from prepping. For example, the acronym that titles this post was part of reason number 1: Our terminology has negative connotations.

TEOTWAWKI: The End of the World as We Know it

And yes, it does sound scary. But the end of the world as we know it doesn’t necessarily mean the destruction of our planet and the end of all life. It could mean just about anything that causes a significant shift in your everyday life: a job change, moving to a new city or a new school, a breakup…

Last August a neighbor, friend, and prominent member of the community where I live was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer with metastatic bone cancer. When she died nine months later it felt like everything changed. It was the little things like walking by the mailboxes and thinking, “I haven’t seen Ann for a while.” And then remembering why. But it was also the bigger things, like the loss of her strong voice of reason in meetings. And even though new people moved in to the empty house, this place has never be the same.

Prepping is about noticing what things we might need, what things we might miss, what things we are accustomed to, what things are important, and making reasonable provisions to compensate. By imagining before someone is gone who will take up their tasks, who will do their jobs, who will fill their rooms, what will fill the void. Know where the money is before your accountant retires. Know who you can go to the movies with before you movie buddy moves to another state. Know who you can call at midnight when the pipes freeze and burst, when the dog breaks out of the yard, or when that breakup you didn’t realize you’d been fearing blindsides you.

Preppers get a lot of negative hype, but we’re not all doomsayers. Some of us are just trying to make life a little easier in a crisis by considering what we might need before we need it. And it never hurts to have an extra pint of Boulder Organic Famous Sweet Cream Ice Cream, just in case.

Feature Friday: Enoughness

With so many stories of having to flee our planet, so much in the news that reads like those books, it’s can be hard to imagine avoiding that end. It may not be easy, but I believe it is possible.

It is time for a shift from self-sufficiency to sufficiency–#enoughness, collaboration, a new way to calculate our balance sheets.

Learn more at FirstPeoples.org. You can also check out Yes! magazine’s recent article “Bigger Than Science, Bigger Than Religion” which tells a related story from a different angle.

Know Your Neighbors

A quick perusal of crime prevention safety tips reveals something interesting. One item almost all of them have in common (aside from “don’t broadcast your vacation on Facebook) is to get to know your neighbors. While it might feel counter-intuitive in a worst-case prepping scenario–the more people you know the less far your stash will go–it really does makes good sense. It is, after all, the premise Neighborhood Watch was founded on.

For preppers, though, it can be even better to take it beyond the standard “you look out for me, I look out for you.” The best case scenario, is to turn your neighborhood into a community.

Being part of a community goes way beyond knowing someone’s name, phone number, and general work schedule. Community is about building connections, relationships, bonds. It’s about becoming invested in each other’s well-being, about knowing that we are stronger together than we are apart, about having someone to bring you soup when you’re sick, or pick up your kids if you have to work late, or even just go to a movie with. It can also mean an increased ability to lay-in supplies, grow a food garden, share expenses of big ticket items like generators.

In the town of Totnes, England, it goes even further than that. It means creating a community independent of reliance on fossil fuels through a movement called Transition. Originally a response to Peak Oil, Transition is a viable response to many catastrophic possibilities. Power failures of any kind. Loss of transportation or communication between towns. Breakdown of mechanized farming. Skynet.

How? “By engaging…communities in home-grown, citizen-led education, action, and multi-stakeholder planning to increase local self reliance and resilience.” Those actions can include community gardens, re-skilling, creating a local clean power co-op, training and education, and more.

Rob Hoskins, the father of Transition, explains more about Peak Oil and the Transition movement in this 2009 TED Talk.

Bob Hoskins has also authored two books on the movement: The Transition Handbook, and The Transition Companion

The Transition Handbook

The Transition Companion

It’s true that the lone wolf surviving on his strength and wits can be an appealing path. But what happens when you get your leg caught in a trap? With community, there’s someone to get you out.

Stitching Resilience

These days, the big buzz word when talking about disaster preparedness seems to be resilience. It used to be more about strength regardless of whether we were talking about a building, an organization, an ecosystem, or a person’s physical or mental health. But as anyone who has ever been through an earthquake knows, when it comes to structural soundness of a building it’s the combination of fortitude and flexibility that gives you your best chance.

The same is true for people. Being able to lift a lot of weight doesn’t mean you can run fast, or dodge obstacles, or swim. The same goes for our brains. Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to develop your psychological resilience:

  • Cultivate strong relationships: Have someone to talk to that you feel comfortable with and can trust. It can be even better to have an assortment of people with different interests and expertise so you can get different perspectives.
  • Learn to roll with change: Change is constant. Learning to recognize what you can control and what you can’t in any given situation can help minimize stress and wasted energy.
  • Develop flexible thinking: This is one of my favorites to practice. Planning a road trip? Map several alternate routes to see which might be more fun. Working on a story, craft, or art project? Try making lists of all possible options to see how many you can come up with.
  • Practice optimism: When something goes wrong, especially really wrong, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even just remembering it’s there, can help make reaching it that much easier.
  • Take care of yourself: If you’re tired, hungry, hung-over, in pain, or physically compromised in some other way, you’re not going to be able to think as clearly or quickly as if you’ve had a full night’s sleep and a healthy meal. Likewise, if you’re over-stressed.

And this advice isn’t just good in disasters. For example, over the weekend I was working on a quilt. I had a design but hadn’t started making it until Saturday morning and it was due on Sunday. Because it was small, it didn’t take that long to make, but once I had, I realized  that the design didn’t work. The thread was too close to the color of the fabric so the accents didn’t show up and without that, the whole thing just looked like big blobs of unrelated color. At first I panicked, knowing that there was not enough time to start over, but when I turned the quilt over I realized that the thread that was invisible on the front, stood out like mad on the black back. By making the back the front, the project and my sanity were saved.

Dig Deep, Burn Bright (back)
Dig Deep, Burn Bright