Through the Self Reliance Challenge 2019, you will have a wonderful opportunity to discover just how many options are available on ‘how’ to live a more self-reliant life. All of the participants are not only well versed in self-reliance, but you will also be able to tell just how deeply they love this lifestyle.
However, even though the how is important, the first question you need to ask yourself is why? Why do you want to travel this road? Why do you want to put effort into this lifestyle change? Each individual will have their own answer to this question – even within the same family. Having this information is what will help you stick with it, even when you are ready to give up. Why gives you a foundation for your purpose for the journey. This isn’t always an easy road to travel, but I firmly believe it is the smartest and best way to live.
“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.”
– Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Over the course of a day, how many thoughts do you have that fall into the ‘worry/concern’ category? How many different things do you have on your schedule? Of that number, how many of them are truly necessary, and how many of them simply produce a level of busyness?
Perhaps some of them lead you to food concerns. With all the recalls lately, are we putting our families at risk? Did the greens I feed my family last week contain e. coli? Is the chicken I am reaching for in the grocery store full of salmonella? Which product had that listeria scare? According to the FDA, 2018 had 1,928 recalls on food and body care products. 2017 had 3,609. These recalls weren’t just on meats and fresh produce – it also included flour, cake mixes and cat food.
Do you ask yourself if all the hype is true about chemicals in our foods? Are synthetic fertilizers and pesticides really as bad as they say, or is it all a bunch of hype? In all honesty, the only way you will really know the truth is if you are a scientist and researcher and are employed by the companies that manufacture those items. But it is a concern. So are Obesity, Diabetes, heart disease and other major health concerns. Many of these health issues may be contributed to preservatives, processed sugars and an unbalanced diet consisting of fast foods and prepackaged foods. Some health concerns are also attributed to artificial sweeteners.
Are some of the thoughts you are having stress related? Are your children safe? Do they know what they need in order to live a healthy, well-balanced life? Is all that technology really good for them? I feel so distant from my family, but how can I spend more time with them when all I do is work?
And speaking of work, how on earth am I going to pay all these bills? Is there enough to pay the mortgage, keep the lights on and still pay the minimum on all these credit cards? Where do I stand? Maybe if I can pick up a few more hours of overtime a week…..
Merriam Webster defines self reliance as ‘having confidence in and exercising one’s own power and judgment’.
A self-reliant lifestyle won’t resolve all of life’s worries and it probably won’t make you monetarily wealthy, but it will give you confidence in knowing you are choosing a better life for you and your family. From a food standpoint, it will be healthier. Knowing what goes into your soil when you grow your own food can stop the worries about chemical pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics and hormones by practicing organic or natural methods. If you don’t have the room to raise all the fruits, vegetables, herbs and meat your family consumes (and most of us don’t), you can visit your local farmers’ markets. Ask the farmers how they grow their foods. Most will be happy to discuss their practices with you.
A Shift from Consumer to Producer
By shifting from a consumer to a production based lifestyle you can encourage your family to get involved and spend more time with them in the process. Teach them (or learn together) how to grow your own food, take care of small livestock, create handmade items, and exercise their imaginations with challenges on how to reuse and re-purpose. Encourage each family member to keep a journal. As for the technology, if they are busy working towards self-reliance, they don’t have as much time to spend on games.
Here’s a thought on education: Self reliance is a great way to underscore what they are learning in school. It requires math, science, reading, writing, and problem solving, just to name a few. It also will help all of you become more active, which in turn can help you to be healthier.
As for your finances, a self-reliant lifestyle is based on frugal living. Learn the difference between need and want. Learn how to reduce your debt and purchase only what is needed. It may take a few years to reduce or remove your debt, but with each loan or credit card that gets paid in full, you will be able to feel that stress begin to roll off your shoulders. To help you keep track of where your money is coming from, and where it is going, take a look at my Income and Expense Spreadsheet for Homesteaders and Small Farms. It is a great way to keep track of your finances.
Limit the wants to one gift on birthdays or at Christmas, and put a price cap on those. As for other gifts, learn a craft and make as many as you can. Play games, take a walk or spend time with your children teaching them the different aspects of living a life that is more hands on and less technology related – like cooking, sewing, gardening, or making their own bubble bath.
Every step you take towards self-reliance will bring you closer to understanding the simplicity in Henry David Thoreau’s quote. You can eliminate much of the worries that weigh down your heart. You can choose where your focus is by eliminating the unnecessary busyness and concentrating on the important priorities – like family, contentment and joy. And you may end up being able to list all of your concerns on your thumbnail.
Make it your ambition to live a quiet life: to mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders, and you will not be dependent on anyone. – I Thessalonians 4:11
I answered the Why? question at the very beginning of my journey. Why do I want to become as self-reliant as possible? It’s simple. First and foremost, this Bible verse spoke to me deep in my heart. I loved the idea of it, and knew it was well worth the effort it would take to do it on our own farm. I was weary of the consumer mentality, where ‘more’ was defined as ‘better’ or ‘successful’. The food we ate tasted like cardboard.
I was disgusted with the effects of preservatives and additives robbing me of flavor and health. A large portion of my budget went in the ‘food’ column. I prefer spending my time outside rather than in the confines of a vehicle going from one store to another. My creative spirit needs to be fed – and what better food and nourishment can creativity get than challenging myself daily to be as self-reliant as possible? Once I had my answer, I realized that the sky was the limit. I jumped off the consumer cliff and began working my way toward doing it myself. It was scary to change my life so drastically, but funny thing…I have finally figured out what true contentment really is.
And that’s no maybe…..