Are we “Survivalists”?!

Did the title of this post catch your attention? Good. Many, many people sneer at the thought of being a “survivalist” – or “prepper” and not without cause. Many are turned off by paranoid proclamations of doom and gloom and the accompanying encouragement to run for the hills, store up food and water, heavily arm themselves, etc.

Then there is the sustainable homesteading crowd. For some, those words might conjure up images of venturing out west on a covered-wagon train, eating cornbread and beans over a campfire as you hand-clear a hundred acres of raw wilderness with an ax and saw.

“Sustainable Homesteading” – might conjure up other pictures of a bunch of dreadlock-sporting granola types howling at the moon and dancing around a drum circle.

We sometimes get curious looks or inquiries about ourselves. Are we “preppers” or “survivalists” or “homesteaders”, “farmers” perhaps? It’s a difficult question to answer without some explanation.

We would propose that if one were to pursue one of these things, in time they’ll become the others – at least in part.

Now we’re not saying that if you try growing your own vegetable garden, you’ll end up living in a bunker with 25 years of freeze-dried food.  It’s just that the path to being sustainable followed far and long enough, is likely to result in you being a pretty good survivalist whether you want to or not. Likewise, the journey of a well-thought-out survivalist is going to eventually lead toward a life of sustainability.

Why is this?

Because you cannot be/do one without the other. In order to be sustainable, one must be able to provide for a need indefinitely without exhausting all their resources in doing so. So for example, to be sustainable regarding food, one must be able to provide an ongoing, inexhaustible source of food without exhausting their means to keep doing so.

Hmmm… sounds exactly what a prepper or survivalist might ponder as they think about how to indefinitely provide food for themselves and their family in the event of an emergency or disaster. In order to truly “survive” some scenarios, one would need to do so sustainably, or their survival would have an expiration date. That wouldn’t make for a very good survivalist!

To be survivable long-term requires being sustainable. If one is sustainable, they’ve provided continuity for doing what needs to be done for as long as it needs to be done. Those people, whether they like the name or not – are in some senses “survivalists”.

At the deepest level, someone pursuing sustainability is doing so because they want themselves or their environment to flourish despite whatever else is going on in the world. Nevertheless, many (including ourselves) don’t consider ourselves “survivalists”. We would prefer the term “thrivalists”, because what we do, we do to thrive, not to survive. What is the point of the latter without the former?

Why bring all this up? Because the journey to simple, by nature, is a movement toward being sustainable. This entails reducing dependencies on systems and resources that are without and managing those within to the best of your ability. If we can’t keep doing what we do, we haven’t accomplished all that much.

A survivalist might do things because they expect systems to fail. A thrivalist does them because a life that is not contingent upon these things is not enslaved to such things.

The great news is, as one becomes more sustainable, they’re prepared for times if and when those systems and resources ever become unavailable. That’s exactly what the survivalist hopes to accomplish and that is what the sustainable homesteader aims for as well. For us, we’ll stick with “thrivalist” since no other term does justice to our intentions.

 

Where have you people been?

Okay, so it’s been a loooooong time since an update. To be honest, we didn’t think anyone read this blog, so why update, right?

We took a hiatus from this for a few reasons…

  1. We didn’t feel like our life was necessarily getting “simpler”. In fact, homesteading, unless one is ultra-frugal or willing to live a very primitive lifestyle, is anything but simple and for us, has not been inexpensive. More on that in a minute…
  2. We aren’t real keen on living our lives just for the sake of having good things to blog about online for an audience of people we don’t know or are known by. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to share with you, we just don’t want our desire to share with you to unnaturally influence how and what we do. Seems like many these days are living a life for the sake of good sound bites or video – maybe what they want people to see – rather than the real life right in front of them, with all the blood and guts and gore. That’s not how we are.

So… we may blog some more here in the days ahead. First order of business is discussing “The Plan” and how we have or haven’t made progress on such.

We don’t want to write what you don’t want to read (for the most part), so please use the comments to recommend what we might cover next, or ask your questions, etc.

Cheers!

 

Juice Fast – Day 8-10

Day 8!  Two more days and counting!  The biggest struggle for me (Laura) right now is that every juice tastes similar.  The vegetable (Mean Green) tastes like ginger and celery and the fruit juices taste sweet.  The fruit juice is made yummier by blending it with a banana.  So I find myself just sucking it down as fast as I can, to be rid of the taste.  We had a treat yesterday, Iced Coffee (decaf) made with Hemp Milk.  Utterly different than normal, but remarkably tasty.  We have both had some minor health changes, but nothing radical (like the folks in the movie “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead“.)

Right now I am wondering what it will be like to “eat” again.  Will my mouth feel weird?  Will my guts?  I am in utter awe that people really do this for 30-60 days!  “Good on them!” as our mate from down under would say.  We have decided that on Tuesday, we will follow a 15-day plan for eating all fruits & veggies.  These are actual meals, so we plan to feed our children in the same way.  To an extent of course.  The plan reccommends no dairy or bread, of course the baby still needs her bottles.  And since she kept handing me the veggies out of her tortellini stir-fry, today, she will probably still get her mini-sandwiches.

Andrew: We’ll see about making the baby sweet on veggies. That’s my goal at least. I started reading a book “Disease Proof your Child” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD. In it, he makes the case for early nutrition (or lack thereof) being the biggest contributor for predicting disease later in life. It’s really got me thinking about how we feed our children.For certain, we do feed them healthy foods, but perhaps still desperately short on fresh produce. This book explains what is needed, why supplements are not adequate and how to change. So far, good reading (though I don’t care for the occasional reference to Humans being another of the animal world).

As Laura said, we’ll be following another “Reboot” program (with some modifications) starting Tuesday. We’ll be doing this for fifteen days and hopefully will use this as a way to get our start in eating a diet of 60%+ fruits and vegetables (most Americans eat 5%). I’m excited about this. We’re not going to stop eating other things we love – just smaller quantities or less frequently. We believe the long-term health of our children and ourselves will be influenced by doing these things. More on that another time.

Juicing is getting old. Or rather, not eating is getting old. My mouth just needs to feel food in it again – plain and simple. I’m not craving much of anything, and not really anything unhealthy either. That’s one benefit of doing this – dealing with cravings and getting to their root. When I’m truly nourished, I don’t need/want the other stuff. Lots of stuff sounds good to me, but I have no plans to gorge myself on unhealthy stuff when this is done. What I do have a hankering for is beans and legumes, stuff like that. Something with some hearty flavor. It’s hard to stomach such flavors in juice – though I have tried!

In the beginning, I thought I might go 3o or more days on this. I’m not giving up, I’ve just learned more about what I need. According to the Reboot “Needs Assessment“, all I really needed was this fifteen day program – not really a juice fast. The juice fast would be better for folks with health problems or a lot of weight to lose. Since neither of this really need such, we don’t get much benefit from juice fasting. So, why continue fasting when we can get the same benefits from the fifteen day program? Nevertheless, I might do this 2-4 times a year just to center my mind and give the insides a break.

On another note… we made the best-tasting fruit juice to date. Papaya, Pineapple, Mango, Kiwi and Green Apple. Wow – it was like something I’d expect to be served in glass with an umbrella on a resort in the tropics. Totally delicious!

So today is it… the last day (shwew!). Tomorrow morning we’ll be eating solid foods once again. Should be an interesting time! We’ll do another post with some final summary thoughts once we’ve made the transition. Thanks for following along on our journey. Best wishes if you go on your own! Please drop us a note/comment if you’re on, or are planning something like this. We’d love to hear about it!

Get out of debt, or invest?

We’ve spoken to several financial planners and investment advisers over the years and unequivocally, they’ve recommended investing funds on hand rather than reducing essential debts like mortgages and student loans. Certainly, the math behind this makes sense because good return on investment is based on two things – time and compound interest. The logic goes like this. If you pay off your debt on hand, then begin to invest, you lose those years of compound interest on your investments. For many years we thought this was a wise way to go.

Over the last few years though, we’ve come to see things differently. As our lives become simpler, so our ideas about finances. Our entire western culture is built on a desire to better one’s life in ways that generally allow one to accumulate more stuff. Our education is geared around preparing our children for this pursuit. We make sure they get an adequate education that will prepare them for pursuing the amount of material comforts they’ll need or desire. Once they begin working a job, they begin to prepare to maintain this status until the end of their days.

To us, this seems rather silly. Is not life about more than working a job and having stuff? We’ve come to see that his is an empty pursuit that robs people and families of their essential well-being. It drives families into debt, which results in more work to service their debt. Truly, “the borrower is servant to the lender”.

Once we began to see that money is an illusory carrot dangled in front of the masses of society in exchange for servitude, we began to change our minds about debt. No longer are we concerned about how many thousands of dollars we’ll have when we reach 65. Rather, what kind of people will we be at 65? What kind of lives will we have lived? Will our resources have been used for good, or to line the pockets of the super-wealthy? What will our children be like and what will the experiences of their lives be? Without exception, for us being debt free as soon as possible provides more enjoyable answers to those questions. Are we saying investing is bad? No! But for us, we’ve come to see investing in debt reduction to have far more value to our lives than investing those same funds to get “more”.

Being debt free truly brings freedom. Does freedom have a price? Debt brings a lack of freedom as one is contractually bound to pay back their debt, therefore must gather the resources to pay their debt. This means choosing a job and schedule that gives one the resources to pay this debt. At the same time, we’re living in a culture that encourages more debt. Don’t believe us? Our entire economy is based on this premise. Debt IS currency in the USA. Not sure about that? Do some research on fractional reserve banking sometime.

Being debt free allows people and families to choose to spend their time doing what they enjoy, where they desire to do so, and with whom they desire to do it with. Does that mean NO work? Not usually – but it does give one the freedom to enjoy more trivial work that provides only what is needed. If we were debt free, we could invest a much smaller amount of time outside of our home and interests than we do now. To us, that has far more intrinsic value than any gains we could experience by investing our resources elsewhere.

So get out of debt or invest? Which is it? We would say getting out of debt is investing – and perhaps the best investment one could ever make.

Please share your comments!

The shelf-life of money

Money, as we know it, is quite an illusion. Think about it. We place extreme value on very complex pictures printed on special paper. We live, work, and die to accumulate this treasure that is really no treasure at all, but worthless resources. We cannot eat money, it cannot make us healthy. It cannot keep us warm (unless burned) and cannot keep us dry or secure. Does money let us purchase items that will give us those things? Sure. However, that’s based on an assumption that money will always have the value we place on it today. What happens if and when we no longer value dollars as having value?

As we’ve said before, the path to sustainability also prepares one for weathering difficult times. It’s with that understanding that we propose to you that you think long and hard about this thing called money. Many people will think nothing about storing three months of money in their bank accounts, yet won’t have three months of food on hands. They’ll be very proud of their investments, but have no way to secure clean water in an emergency. Money has no value when people collectively experience hardship. At that point, money is the enemy of sustainability. For many, money is the enemy of their sustainability even now. These are perilous ways to view money. Money is a tool that has an expiration date. It must be used in order to have value.

Are we saying doom and gloom is headed our way? No. We don’t know what the future holds. However, we do know, that our understanding of money depends on the combined support and interest of our culture. If that stops due to a change of mind, calamity, disaster, or any other reason, those with money will find themselves empty handed. We’re not saying don’t have money or don’t invest. But be wise! First invest in tangible resources first that will allow you to sustain your lives and others around you. Many do not to this to their potential peril and destruction.

Many who understand the above just go out and buy gold and silver. Are those things bad? No. However, just like money, they have limited value to the beholder. When the essentials to life are hard to come by, no amount of gold and silver is going to be worth trading food, water and shelter. Don’t misunderstand, we do think precious metals have their place in sustainable living  and are far, far better than dollars. However, they too stop short of preparing a family to live sustainably now and in the future.

I our opinion, money is best used to secure useful resources and eliminate debt than it is to secure and store. Kinda like the old fable “a bird in hand is better than two in the bush”. Money in the bank is only good as long as it can be used for what you need. If you’re lacking essential resources to live for several months or more without the need of purchasing supplies, then you might want to consider using your money more effectively. Get out of debt. Get the supplies to take care of you and your family.

Many will see this as unwise. Oh well! We’re hoping that many will consider these words and think about their future. If we can help, drop us a line.

Welcome to the journey to simple

Like many, we’re concerned about where our country is headed. At the same time, we’re excited about the resulting transformations in our own minds that have resulted in a desire for a simpler, sustainable life. We hope that this blog will be a place where we can share our considerations, decisions, successes and failures as we journey towards a simple life.