Saturday, March 30, 2013

Knowledge



“I wonder if I've been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Self Knowledge is the root of all self sufficiency!  Not what you expected when you saw the title? Indulge me a bit and walk with me down the path of the fantastical term 'Self Knowledge'. It is filled with all kinds of possibility for interpretation. I pulled the following lists of meaning from the synonyms in the thesaurus. I'd like you to Play with these words a bit, combine them in different ways, think about what they mean in general and what they mean to you.

SELF

self, centered in self, individual, singular person, human being, man, material, matter, mortal, person, personage, singleton, somebody, something, soul, stuff, substance, earthly, earthly-minded, being, essential nature, character, entity, essence, individuality, marrow, personality, quintessence, soul, spirit, ego, personality, psyche, identity, person's individuality, distinctiveness, existence, identification, integrity, name, oneness, particularity, personality, status, uniqueness.

KNOWLEDGE

knowledge, awareness, alertness, aliveness, appreciation, attention, attentiveness, bodhi, cognizance, comprehension, consciousness, discernment, enlightenment, experience, familiarity, information, keenness, mindfulness, perception, recognition, sensibility, understanding, ability, accomplishments, education, expertise, facts, familiarity, grasp, insight, instruction, intelligence, judgment, know-how, learning, observation, philosophy, picture, power*, principles, proficiency, scholarship, schooling, science, substance, wisdom, acumen, acuity, astuteness, brains, brilliance, cleverness, cunning, farsightedness, ingenuity, sensitivity, sharpness, shrewdness, smarts, vision, wisdom, wit, ability to understand and reason, anticipation, readiness, forethought, foresight, prior knowledge, realization

That, my friends, is a lot of words and word combinations. So you are probably asking yourself, why did I just read those lists of words? I had you read them for two reasons. One, I wanted you to think, to play with the combinations and reflect on what they mean to you while you were still thinking "What the heck does this have to do with self sufficiency?". Two, it is my opinion that if you want to have a self sufficient lifestyle you better know yourself at least a smidge more than a tiny bit. In short Merriam-Webster dictionary says self knowledge is a term that is commonly used to mean an awareness of one's own capabilities, character, feelings or motivations.

There are hundreds of blog pages out there promoting survivalism, preparedness, and self sufficiency. Each and every one of them contain information, many have videos and step by step instructions. Those are great but that is information not knowledge. It can be book marked, referenced, looked up and pulled out to suit its particular application. Self Knowledge is a deep down awareness that this way of living makes you come alive in your very soul. It’s being ok with yourself and knowing which skills and information are right for you. Knowing yourself will allow you to make the decisions and take the steps and even push the boundaries in this world of DIY self determination and self motivation because believe me it’s like living in whole different world sometimes. Like I tell my kids; If you don't know what you want or like, Who does? I certainly don't. It is all up to you. As I've heard it, it all depends on how deep you want the rabbit hole to go...“It was much pleasanter at home," thought poor Alice, "when one wasn't always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn't gone down the rabbit-hole--and yet--and yet--...”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Wifeofaprepper

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Motivation




This self sufficiency blogger is up the proverbial creek without her paddle. I had a whole set of blogs worked up for the month of March. Magically they went poof...they are not even in the ultra-modern and magical cloud. It’s astonishing what losing a whole month of blogs can do to your day. In the way of one who is desperately seeking inspiration I looked back over some of the other posted blogs. Wow, Apparently I really suck at putting together blogs while coping with post-concussion symptoms or perhaps just as a blogger over all. I cannot explain to you how scattered brained I have been since I hit my head. I have felt like I'm not even fully present and aware most of the time. Unfortunately I have no idea where my awareness is either. I have found it difficult to put a thought together and simply hold it, yet alone make it a coherent one, so I beg your indulgence as I try again...

I, finding myself without a topic and unable to focus for long periods of time, shall take that as my inspiration. I suppose in its own random way it reflects on the topic of self-motivation I had already pursued, written up and lost as nothing is ever done without motivation. In The Psychology Dictionary motivation is defined as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. It is what causes us to act, whether it is getting a glass of water to reduce thirst or reading a book to gain knowledge. Furthermore the definition states that motivation involves biological, emotional, social and cognitive forces that activate behavior. In short this tells us there is either a reward or an avoidance of negative consequences caused by physical, emotional, or social situations creating a reason or need for us to do things. The trick is finding and correctly utilizing them to produce the results we desire.

In this case I desire to create a blog that will help you help yourself when your motivation is lacking without it getting eaten by magical gremlins in my computer. I'm going to you my top five reasons for lack of motivation and five ways I overcome them.

Reason One -- too many projects on the to-do list! How daunting is it to look at a list of stuff that needs done that is seemingly longer than your right arm?

Solution--Prioritize! Rewrite that list! Sort out what has to be done, what can be done quickly or easily, and what can wait. What is important to you? What lights your fire? Do those while the flames are leaping skyward! If you have labor intensive things that you find it hard to finish break them into smaller tasks that are easier to manage. Use quick and easy tasks (quickies) from your list as gap fillers. Save items you know you always enjoy for times when you know you'll be less likely to want to do things.

Reason Two -- weather. If its nasty weather I will put off everything I can. I know this about myself and expect it.

Solution -- I have icky weather projects just for days like this. Crocheting, mending, cleaning out the closets, etc., when those don't work I create rewards for myself. Fold the Laundry and watch a movie. Clean out the closet, do a craft project with all the junk you found.

Reason Three -- complete utter I don't want to! Like a spoiled child wanting to get their way...I just plain don't want to! Sometimes it's because it's a task I loathe like doing dishes.

Solution -- for any general house cleaning I turn on the music. Do whatever you need to do to put a smile on your face and get it done when it’s your job. Play the radio, listen to an audio book, sing, hum. If you can enlist help and share their work too. For instance long ago in a yester year far far away I used to have to take my laundry to the laundromat. It was always better if I could buddy up and take a friend. Some things just go without saying...when you live with others there are things that must get done that affect everyone... Dishes, cooking, trash, keeping your stuff out of other peoples spaces..etc..so this is one of those 'social' motivators where it just helps to keep things going on an even keel if you just put on your grown up underwear and do the job. No one particularly likes living in a stressed out environment.

Reason Four -- I just don't understand the how or why of something. I admit there are times my husband is all into doing something and I just really don't get it. We are after all two different people with different life experiences and different ways of looking at and understanding things. So sometimes I just don't see the point. This is the all-important reward or consequence I spoke of previously.

Solution -- this one is tricky because sometimes it is motivation enough that my husband is motivated and sometimes it's not. I have found myself on occasion doing things for reasons unknown to me other than my husband says it needs done. Occasionally though it prompts either vast amounts of research and interest or vast quantities of no sirree bob, that's your job! I.E. I'm not doing it! There is a third instance here and that's when something is just beyond my scope of ability. I am not picking up and lugging bags of quikcrete without a cart or something for instance. Nor do I know enough about electricity and city codes to do my own wiring. That is why contractors exist. So what do I do? I usually see how important my participation actually is and why it was asked for. Sometimes he just wants to share the experience or work. Sometimes he needs my input. Sometimes after discussing it we are still no closer to me understanding and agreeing to participate. You can't get there as individuals on every single thing.

Reason Five -- I have other commitments. Do you ever over schedule because you forget to include adequate time to complete things? I know I do!

Solution -- this goes back to Organization but I keep a calendar and to do lists for this reason. When possible I include things like my drive time, prep time, and estimated work times. To take a generic example ... I will use doing the dishes. For me this includes hand washing the dishes, pots, pans, etc., cleaning the counters and cupboards, and wiping off the stove. I include 5 minutes of prep time to turn on the radio, rinse and stack the dishes, clean and fill the sink, and put away items left in the dish drainer. It also inevitably includes the phone ringing while I have soapy hands, checking caller ID to make sure the call I just missed wasn't important, needing to pee, and trying to fix the radio reception because it cut out in the middle of my favorite song. I will usually block out an hour for this altogether; if its been overly busy around the house or I've been sick I will block an additional half hour to account for the ugh factor that accompanies a backlog of dishes. If stuff needs to soak that is used either for another chore or for my own time since its essentially shuffled from some other part of my day. Remember what I said about those quick and easy tasks and fitting them in the gaps? The big point is I account for all those little things when I figure out how long to block out on my calendar. I have an hour blocked out, I load up the sink and if the dishes soak for 10 minutes until the water is cool enough to put my hands in it...in those ten minutes I can sweep the kitchen, rotate my canned goods, water my house plants, put vinegar in the microwave and wipe it down, etc. and I haven't lost anything but an item from the "quickie" section of my to do list.

There is one note I'd like to include here. It is majorly important to have a backup plan for those items that absolutely need to be done on a daily basis. I don't care how self sufficient you are accidents and illnesses do occur and your animals and/or garden cannot simply wait for you to recover. I have a disability that leaves me incapacitated without warning. I learned that there are definitely activities that need done such as feeding the kids and animals. Activities that can wait like dusting and sweeping and intermediates like weeding that can I go without doing for short periods of time. I am lucky and grateful; I have my husband to help with all of this and more.

Wifeofaprepper

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Patience




Ahhh...It is a gorgeous day heralding spring in all its wonder. The birds are singing, the snow is melting, and the weather is partly cloudy but warm. Makes me want to rush right out and plant the garden. I know in my heart it would be to no avail though. The still frozen ground and chances for more snow fully highlight that fact. Surprisingly it is in spring I am reminded most that patience is simply a part of life for homesteaders and those who choose a self sufficient life.

Over the last few years we have watched as people have come to our area seeking self sufficiency only to move back to the city a year later. At first I wondered why? Then spring came around and it occurred to me that almost nothing happens in a self sufficient life instantly. While the decision to live a self sufficient life style can happen instantly it seems to me the folks who stay and eek it out are the folks who gave it years of contemplation before acting. Why? Patience, plain and simple patience.

Patience to adjust to the changes in surroundings and life style. Patience enough to allow one’s self a broad learning curve. The patience to move at the pace of nature. Most important of all I think is the patience to allow ones dreams and expectations to mature, bear fruit and ripen. In a world no longer dependent on manual labor and processes requiring long periods of time to complete we have forgotten how to be patient. It seems that with electronics we want more, we want it faster, and we expect constant access and instant replies. I do not know about anyone else's situation but we don't have that here. A lot of cell phones are touch and go on whether or not you will have a signal. We have landline phones and DSL Internet. According to the folks in town the phones were still on a party line not that long ago so it is an improvement. Our Internet service is affected by storms and the speeds are slower than what is available in the city. TV access requires either an outdoor antenna, a satellite service, or Netflix type Internet service. Radio signal varies by the day, weather, etc...I think people come here thinking the services will not be that much different from the city and really they aren't. They are slower, less consistent and more expensive though. You just need patience to deal with it. Unfortunately they are not the only services suffering these issues. Electric, propane, and water are also less consistent and more expensive.

It took us more than two years and a couple of failed attempts to find our place. However I can say with certainty that it is only because we tried it before we bought it that we found the right place. Renting in the area we purchased our home in helped us to get a better feel for the local environment before deciding to stay. That goes for everything from the people, the commerce and the services available to the local weather. As the new comer you can feel very isolated and out of your element. Having a child this isolation was an issue and If we had bought with our original goals and intentions we would not have realized this problem until it was too late! There are no big shopping centers and the only large gatherings of folks that we've found tend to be at church on Sunday. Television and Internet often only come via satellite and at a substantial cost. If you are not used to creating your own 'entertainment' you will indeed have a substantial adjustment at first. After three years we are finally making some friends--for us that wait time was expected! Many don't realize that in small towns you are the outsider for a long time and a lot of times people will hesitate to welcome you until they are fairly sure you are staying. Many times people come here all fired up thinking they are going to have these great gardens, home can all their own food, raise chickens and rabbits, spin their own yarn and so on but when you ask if they have ever done any of that the answer is no. In fact most of them have never cooked a meal from scratch or grown a house plant. It never occurs to them that these are acquired skills. Yet so many folks have looked at their first time attempts and simply given up not realizing that the learning curve is enormous. They take hard work and continued practice.

Our first year we helped with our landlords sweet potatoes for a part of the crop. The second year we had various veggies in a good sized garden...plowed by the landlord...half to two thirds of it failed. The third year we did so-so but moved before the harvest. Finally Last year...the fourth year..we produced enough for ourselves and others. No instant success in it. A lot of hard work and trial and error. That will continue. We added a rabbit last year, Mr. Buns. He is a pet since he was a pet to the folks we got him from but he contributes compost. Having started making jellies and sauces last year we are just starting down the road of home canning. We are looking forward to adding more of it to our skill set. These things take time.

Time to learn, time to do and even more time to get good at. I think a lot them fail to realize that we must move with the flow of nature. Nature does things in its own time, not in ours. Seeds sprout and grow, each flowering and producing fruit at it own rate. Some you can harvest quickly and some require the whole growing season to mature. Chickens lay according to nature. This can be simulated as I understand it by producing the correct light cycles in the coop but unless you know this you may find your hens not laying as you expected. Animals used in fibre production have different times and methods for collecting all those hairs. I can actually remember standing in our tiny post office when we were renting and over hearing a conversation from some of our neighbors complaining that they weren't getting any eggs from their chickens. The post master asked a few questions and it turned out they had purchased 6 roosters because and I quote "They were prettier". Mind you I cannot say I'd know the difference depending on breed but I'd certainly have at least asked if they would lay eggs and how many I could expect each day. The Post master said they moved a few months later because there was "not enough to do".

There is often a lack of choice. Lack of choice in service providers, in shopping, in churches, in dining, and basic entertainment. This lack leaves many traveling into the city for goods and services. So after a year of living here, not getting the results expected and driving back into the city many decide to throw in the towel. It takes a special person to stay. A patient person.

It’s a good thing I spent time doing things manually before we decided to move. Washing dishes by hand. Cooking from scratch. Growing plants from seed. Not going to movies, eating out, or shopping for entertainment. Down grading our Internet service and canceling our cable. Learning to crochet. Learning to have the patience my mother insists I was born lacking. Otherwise I might not have managed so far. 8-}

Sincerely,
Wifeofaprepper 

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Place for Everything



To live a self sufficient life you have to be at least minimally organized. Where do you start though? This would seem to be pretty simple and common sense at first glance. I mean organizing is easy, right? Of course it is!  That's why there are dozens of self-help books and Internet sites devoted to the subject. Haha. I myself generally fall into the organizational category of organized chaos.  It is my nature and no matter how hard I have tried to retrain myself, I seem to fail. Alas, it does not help a homestead when most of the planning and organizing falls into this category of organized chaos. I've found I can help myself by choosing just a couple areas to focus on at a time rather than trying to have every single thing organized every minute of every day.

Our garden has turned out to be our first and foremost self sufficiency concern. It is our top priority spring to fall. It is important that we are able to follow along with proper planting, care and harvesting for our food production. This brings up my first point of focus and that is consistency. It helps our organizing immensely to have a regular routine. Things that we each do on a regular basis. Whether it is daily or the same day each week or in the same pattern (every other day, every third Tuesday of the month) that you do at a specific time for a similar generalized duration of time each time you do it. This helps to form a habit which helps to ensure things are getting done. Knowing that I am sometimes physically limited by my disability I realize it is sometimes easier said than done and truly that's part of figuring out what works best for you personally.

In all seriousness it is hard to set goals and be motivated at times. Frankly when the temperature is in the single digits I like nothing more than to stay snuggled in bed all toasty warm. It’s difficult for me to be motivated on those days but it is even harder if I don't have an idea of what I want to do that day. It’s just as hard if I don't know what I have or what I need to accomplish that day’s goals. It’s equally hard if I do not have a secondary plan to fall back on. I found out that when you are first starting out on the road to self sufficiency the items you "need" can be seemingly endless but so can the number of the things you need to learn and do. Starting with the big things like finding a property, taking a class or fixing a leaky faucet all the way down to the tiny things like buying a pocket knife. It can be overwhelming. Sometimes you fail. It is very necessary to have a plan B and even a plan C for everything from what you are going to do/accomplish that day to what is for dinner.

My number one solution...LISTS. Lists have become my best friends. Starting with buying our house. I had lists of locations, houses, features, negotiable items, non-negotiable items and so on. Now I have Lists of supplies, projects, food rotation, and even things we'd like to try. Are you buying something? Will it be new or used? Are you working on a project or making something? What from? What do you need? How will you get it? When do you need it by? Is it essential? As a rule of thumb we have a tiny budget to work with and like to recycle so we look for most things used before buying them new. I'm sure we passed by several things we needed at yard sales over the past few years but now we keep a list of things we are looking for in the glove box. This way if we stop at a yard sale, thrift store or see a great sale we know exactly what we are looking for. It's important to us to be able to plan ahead, shop ahead and purchase with a purpose.

The second obvious solution is to have a specified place for everything. My disability has taught me it's good to be consistent with where things are. Especially since I may need to tell someone else where to locate something when I can't get it myself.  This includes knowing where everyday tasks that need to be done are to be done, like animal care, weeding, and simple maintenance. After all you need the weeding done where the weeds are but should not be and the animals fed where they will come to eat. We practice putting things in the same place every time and keeping things in groups. I keep yarn, embroidery, and sewing in a group. All the rabbit supplies are in the rabbit shed. All the gardening tools are together in the garage. When I get new yarn, rabbit supplies, or garden supplies they go to those locations automatically. Even our dog knows where her food goes and will only eat without us if her bowl is in a certain place. This may seem like it would be common sense but when there are multiple folks, multiple areas and multiple tasks involved it can quickly become a disorganized mess. Especially if you have help that is unfamiliar with things. Then add in additional projects and improvements and their tools/work areas well let’s just say chaos happens and sometimes causes trouble. Particularly when I'm trying to locate things I need in a hurry or so it would seem. In addition we try to reuse things as often as we can. It’s very necessary to know ahead of time where and how we will store what we are saving. We don't want to end up on a TV episode about hoarders. 

Other methods and tools I personally utilize are timers, programmable reminders on my tablet/computers, asking others for reminders...i.e. making sure my medical providers know to call with appointment reminders and results and calendars with spaces large enough to write in help me to organize my time. Nesting items we are recycling whenever possible saves on space but good labeling is essential so I have labels, sticky notes and spiral notebooks for those lists. Last but not least we try to keep things we use regularly as visible as possible by labeling on all sides, use of clear containers, and proper location. In addition to this we are each responsible for our own stuff and no one else should be messing with it.....my hubby doesn't get in the yarn, I don't get into his desk, m'inion is responsible for the toys...etc...It saves us all a headache and grief when we respect the household expectations and boundaries.

Wifeofaprepper

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Searching



You would think that for someone who lives a rural life, shops once a month, and is the wifeofaprepper I would be better at this. February was a very disjointed kind of month for me. A month spent searching. Searching for just what I am not entirely sure. As you can probably tell though after three years of this life style I am having some ambivalence and am currently at a loss for the cause of the feelings of unsettled doubt and discontent I find myself in. I do know that a large part of it is about reconciling what my life is about at the moment. I liked parts of my life before we moved into this life style and I like parts of my life now. I do not really want to mesh the two. I am however having trouble defining what a self sufficient life is and what self sufficiency is to me. I am uncertain how I can integrate it with my own personality and disabilities, my family and my life in a better manner. At least in a manner that is more consistent than it presently is.

Perhaps it is merely my own naturally given short comings. I have narrowed it down to what I believe to be the most basic root causes. Organization, knowledge and patience.

At first I thought maybe all this is simply the result of a lack of clearly defined goals. It certainly is not a lack of goals in general. We have goals, a lot of goals, in fact perhaps too many. They fall mostly into the category I describe as the "I wants". It’s called that because the discussion usually starts out with...you guessed it...I want. I want to do this or I'd like to have that or we should try this or that. These 'things' hang around and haunt us with pesky details never getting past the "I want" stage. I had to ask myself why that is. It is partly because we never clearly define them as a goal. We never give it a priority. We never give it a deadline or decide when we should do it by. We never list out what we need, when or how to get it or how we are going to go about completing it. That is poor organization. Unfortunately I seem to have it in droves lately.

Then I thought perhaps it is the huge lack of consumerism that we've embraced stringently for the last three years begging for the instant gratification of vacations and shopping trips. Being short on funds we have cut out every extra just to stay on top of our bills. This shows. The lack of a feeling of reward has started to wear on morale. It’s true that all work and worry and no fun creates its own problems as we are in some ways showing signs of depression. I know this will be greatly eased with the coming of spring and the planting season so perhaps it is merely a side effect of winter. A seasonal disorder caused by a lack of playing in the dirt? However it also shows when we discuss projects...somehow it always seems to come up as a limiting factor. It doesn't have to be and we need to work on that area. We need to be more creative and do more problem solving instead of looking for the easiest or even most practical solution.  It can be hard not to have that quick and easy way of doing things when you are accustomed to it. That's where patience comes in and I have always lacked sufficient amounts of patience.

All of this of course affects our ability to be self motivated. Self motivation is essential to self sufficiency. The desire or will to have an effect on your own well being day in and day out used to be a normal part of life. As we've become disconnected from the natural world it has become foreign to us. It is now something we entrust to others. We trust food companies to feed us good foods. Clothing manufacturers to provide for our protection from the elements. On and on we've given up control of our basic needs. This is not all bad mind you...a plumber, an engineer, or a mechanic are all needed and provide necessary services....it is not a bad thing to hire someone with greater skills and knowledge than yourself! It is a bad thing to become so apathetic that you make no effort in providing for yourself. Of course some folks consider that drive through the fast food window to be enough effort after a day spent in their box being told what to do. The problem with a wholly self sufficient life is that there is no one else to tell you what to do or when you should do it.

That leaves me with the question of what do I do with all this now? What do I do with this SELF knowledge? That's when it hit me...knowledge is a part of the problem as well as the solution. As a unit our family is very knowledgeable but also very divided in that knowledge. We tend to have our own separate projects and while they contribute to our self sufficiency on a whole they aren't contributing to our well being or sense of fulfillment on the whole. This happens in part because we have very different individual interests and follow them. I am pretty sure that is actually what is bugging me lately. Our interests, chores, and projects keep us busy so while we spend a lot of time together we are not really interacting with one another. This is normal for most families but self sufficiency is certainly contributing to a different pattern of activity. We all have different types of knowledge that we can share and that will help us to adapt to this pattern. Perhaps it will even help us with our organization, patience, and motivation in the future.

Over the course of the next few blogs I will address each one of these topics separately. I plan to begin with Organization, move on to Patience, self motivation, and finally knowledge. Please feel free to comment on anything you would like to see included.

Sincerely,
Wifeofaprepper

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.