Thursday, February 9, 2012

Will the Real Me Please Stand Up


My wife suggested that I explain a bit about my life and what we’re going through. With that in mind, I figure it’s about time you met ‘me’. I wrote something similar to the following as an introduction for a book I have not completed yet.

“I grew up in upstate New York. I was your average student, graduated high school, got a job installing fences, married my high school sweet heart and 10 months later got divorced.  So at the age of twenty I left New York and began a soul searching “walkabout”. I spent several years hitchhiking around a large chunk of the United States. My home was a backpack and my backyard was the whole world. I quickly learned what I needed and what I didn’t.  What I wanted and what I didn’t. I experienced a little bit of everything from having to find water in the barren stretches of Arizona to seeing strange lights in the skies of New Mexico; finding food in the hills of Tennessee to digging for crystal in Arkansas; staying dry on the Northwest coast of Oregon to seeing triple rainbows in Northern California; keeping warm in the mountains of Maine to kayaking the coastal waters of New England; feeling the crushing effects of a potential hurricane barreling towards New Orleans to the beautiful sights of the Mississippi.

I eventually settled in the Boulder area of Colorado under the watchful eye of the majestic purple mountains. They say that you haven’t experienced Colorado until you’ve woken up in the morning and dressed in shorts and a t-shirt and ended your day by being bundled in a heavy coat and shoveling snow off the walkway. Coloradoans are used to experiencing all four seasons in one day. They’ve had blizzards in August and gone swimming in January. Here, under these conditions, I continued my “houselessness” for several more years, learning more and more about being prepared for any and all possible situations.

As the year 2000 loomed I realized that it was time to resume life as our society today accepts it. I found employment and exchanged my backpack for a home with four walls and a roof. I continued his ‘search for meaning’ and one day, while watching a news story on the frenzied preparations in anticipation of the perceived Y2K ‘threat’, it came to me.

During my travels I had noticed that most people were living life almost completely oblivious to the fact that their world could change in the blink of an eye. They heaped large amounts of importance on their ‘stuff’ and almost none on their lives. I needed to somehow help them to realize that life is very fragile and that they needed to learn to be prepared for sudden and unpredictable change. To help them learn about what might come their way and what they could do about it.  I had to teach them two things so that they could live. One; preparedness can be very simple and inexpensive. Two; being prepared can have a truly profound effect on your sense of freedom.” However due to circumstances I had a lot of Ground to recover in order to be able to do that.

Since the year 2000, many things have changed drastically in my own life. I joined the corporate world for a while, got married, and became a father. I went from zero income to $50,000/yr + income and back to near zero income due to outsourcing and job loss.  In 2006 my wife became ill and lost her long time position and our insurance as well, eventually becoming disabled. In 2007, we were asked to leave my wife’s grandmother's home as she had provided for it financially since 1999 and could no longer do so. As a result I came to the realization that in order to be truly prepared for anything, one should live in such a way that when that ‘something’ happens, you will barely notice it. That means not only living within your means and carrying low amounts of debt but also living sustainably and self sufficiently – by gardening, recycling, repurposing and bartering.

At that point we moved our family of four into an apartment and I began investigating ways to become involved in the emergency preparedness industry. In 2008 I became associated with a venture called QuakeDog that offered distributorships and products. It never took off and I was having trouble finding sufficient work in the Denver area so we buckled everything down and got out of there. We moved into ‘rural America’. It was a tough decision as it required leaving a child who had just recently come of age behind to stand on her own but my wife and I both knew in our hearts it was really where we wanted to be anyway. Now don't get me wrong here folks, I still miss the coffee shop and getting pizza delivered but I can honestly say I appreciate that coffee and pizza much more now. Trust me when I say it tastes so much better when its home made.

I had already begun the attempt to start an online business prior to the move as a result of QuakeDog's sudden end but there was a delay in getting services connected once we moved so since I knew only a small amount about internet business I proceeded to learn more about website development. I taught myself how to create a nice website and learned about blogging and other types of writing. I purchased reference books, spent hours at our tiny rural library finding places that offered information, carried supplies, and had forums. This has been a long trek for me, it's been just about five years since I first began toying with thought of doing this online and I'm still learning.

In the last few years we've come a long way in other ways as well. We had many discussions, narrowed down our wants, made sacrifices and compromises that were followed by trips into the nightmare of home financing during a housing crisis and quite a few attempts at purchasing homes. Finally we were able to acquire our very own forever home last fall with the aid of a USDA guaranteed rural home loan. As the proud new owners of a 1916 livable fixer we will no doubt be making home repairs and updates to improve efficiency and self sufficiency. We've experimented with different gardening styles and are starting completely new again this year due to the move. Prior to moving we had discussed home schooling vs public schooling that included a bus ride to another town, fortunately we actually moved closer to the school. We still face a lack of employment living rurally as we are and have the commuting vs ? debate in progress. As newbies to a small town there is the socialization factor, meeting folks, fitting in, being accepted and so forth. After two years and a move into the slightly larger (700 vs 100 people) town, that has improved. We are now on town water and find we miss the well and will need to plan for that better. We try to shop local but not much is available locally so we are working on that. We have a lot to do and I acknowledge I have a long way to go and much to learn. I will share as I go because it's time for the real me to "please stand up".

I hope we can do it together and that you will continue to follow my journey to almost complete self sufficiency as my family and I work through the challenges of setting up our little ‘homestead on the plains’.

Here are the links to my pages. I hope you enjoy them!

Facebook group where we all share all sorts of ideas ~ http://www.facebook.com/groups/101321699945373/

Website where you can find many books, links, deals and in the future, videos and picture of my progress and of other's progress ~ http://kayaselfsufficiency.weebly.com/


2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for opening up and letting us know more about the real you. I feel it is easier to exchange ideas with other bloggers or people that give me a bit of an understanding of where they came from and where they are now. Thank you so much and I am always here to exchange ideas with you.

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