I’m convinced that the difference between peace and misery is practice—especially when it comes to preparedness. Practice is a very powerful educator and every time I practice, it is a time when I learn something new; see the scenario a little differently, recognize weaknesses which cause me to reevaluate and recognize strengths which gives me peace and confidence—something that is always in short supply amidst a crisis. I'm talking about practicing living like you envision having to live in a long-term power outage; practice cooking and eating what you have on your shelves; practice using the equipment that you intend to rely on; and practice filtering that water, etc.
When I was making dinner for over 40 friends and the crew for “Doomsday Preppers” show, a whole lot of things went wrong in the kitchen, in addition to the fact that I was exhausted from the previous day’s 16 hours. As you know, when you're tired, your coping skills go way down. (In fact, as I watched our segment, I could tell you which day a portion was filmed based on how much more I could hear my “Ohio hick accent” come out. The more tired I am, the more likely one is to hear a little twang.) But in spite of being tired, because I was very, very comfortable in the kitchen with these particular dishes and with the particular ingredients I had opted to use, I surprised myself with how smoothly things went even when the speed bumps manifested themselves. The cake didn’t set right? No problem, we’ll purposefully flatten it out, pour a lemon crème over the top and then a layer of blueberry puree over the top of that, and voila! We have something tasty and visually appealing enough to be a $10 dessert in NYC.
The merits of practicing rather than just stocking up on “things” and calling it good is traced back to the 2nd Principle of Preparedness which is Mental Preparedness. The more you can experience and be comfortable with now, the easier it will be for you to deal with a curveball later, and believe me, there’s a significant difference between doing something for the first time amidst stressful circumstances, and doing something that’s “old hat”. Even high stress scenarios won’t phase the unflappable. Any police officer, fireman, military member, chef, event coordinator, thespian or star athlete is intimately aware of the value of practice. Practice not only lowers your stress levels but it literally frees up important parts of your brain that you can use to handle the curveballs that may come with the scenario. For example, in 9th grade I attended seminary. We were to have a scripture chase competition in which we had to know what the scripture said and where in the scriptures it was found to the point that we could quickly open our scriptures to the proper page. Having never participated or attended a scripture chase event, I didn’t know if the emphasis was on the knowledge of what the scripture was, where it was, or who could get to the page the fastest, so I put myself through a boot camp of sorts at home for the entire week leading up to the contest. I made quiz cards for myself to help me memorize the scriptures and where they were and then I made my brother quiz me as craftily as he wanted while I flipped through the pages of my scriptures. By the end of the week, my scriptures were so well worn on the various 50 scripture locations, that I could get to the scripture page with one flip of the book because I was so familiar with every crease, bulge, coloration, and wrinkle of my scriptures. And ta da! Yep, I did win the regional scripture chase event. (How’s that for a resume entry, eh? *grin*)
When I purchased my first sun oven, my biggest mistake was just putting it away in the basement and checking it off on my list of things to acquire. But simply owning a sun oven in anticipation of some long-term power outage was no more helpful than my purchasing a guitar without any music lessons and expecting to perform well in Nashville someday.
One of the many ways that Preparedness Pro sticks out from the litany of “survivalist, emergency preparedness” stuff on the internet is because I believe in approaching readiness in a practical AND peaceful manner. On the Facebook page, I frequently post links to all of the various articles that I come across each day that I feel have a place “on my radar”, so to speak. In other words, they are something that encourages me to push harder towards self-reliance, provide me with evidence that I’m not crazy in that pursuit, give me information that may cause me to tweak a particular area of my preparedness, or sometimes just strengthen my resolve. On one particular day there were a LOT of articles that fell more in the category of “push me to work harder on my preparedness efforts.” In other words, the news wasn’t of the “Sunshine, Skittles and Puppy Dogs” category. It was bad news for anyone who has been stubborn, unaware, or oblivious for the past 20 years and who had no intention of doing anything to change their life to be better prepared. Apparently, one of my readers fit such a description because he elected to chastise me for posting some of the articles that I did that day with the comment “So much for your ‘PANIC FREE’ preparedness.” In other words, he chose to interpret the mere existence of “bad news” as a reason for any “normal” person to panic. Perhaps he expected me to only report the good news or pass along the jokes or feel good little pictures on the site. But peaceful preparedness doesn’t exist merely because there’s an absence of crises; peace exists because of our level of readiness for those crises. The same is said of courage—it’s not the absence of fear, it’s the ability to take action in spite of the fear. Mind you, that thought process merits an exploration all on its own, but for the purpose of this article I want to circle back around to the value that practice plays into the development of that peace in spite of the reality of circumstances. Let’s face it, scary stuff is out there and on its way to our doorsteps regardless of whether or not it’s discussed on the news. Our awareness of it doesn’t make it any less or more real. (In fact, I think that the more people are beginning to see that the more scary something is, the less likely they are to hear about it. So “ready or not, here it comes”, right?) But what transforms that threat from “the final nail in the coffin” to “one of life’s great teaching moments” will have a LOT to do with how well we practiced in preparing for it.
When I first shot a firearm about 14 years ago, it’s was just a little itty bitty thing; just a small handgun with a small caliber. But that one single shot was all it took to scare the blue blazes out of me and I’m embarrassed to say that I totally lost it. I don’t even remember putting the firearm down in a safe manner. All I know is that I squeezed the trigger and then this flood of emotion came over me and all I wanted to do was cry. By the time my poor husband was done loading everything back into the car, after all of the effort he went to just for me to fire that one single shot, I WAS crying—the ugly cry. But today, one of my favorite exercises at the range is to fire off my entire magazine towards a 1 inch target as fast as I can. I don’t flinch with the sound now BUT… the first time I shot my firearm without my hearing protection on, that was a whole different kind of rattling. And yet, so few firearm enthusiasts never practice a few shots without their hearing protection even though there’s not even a 99% chance that they’ll have it on if they ever have to defend themselves with a firearm. I can just see it now… *squeaky baby voice* “Uh, Mr. Bad Guy, would you please wait one moment while I go get my hearing protection on so that I can shoot you?” That’s why I periodically will shoot a few shots without hearing protection; I’ve practiced shooting while in a vehicle (thank you, Farmer Ray for letting us shoot out the window of your old clunker so that we’re not totally freaked out if we had to use a firearm amidst a carjacking); I practice shooting with my weak hand; and I practice shooting when I’m totally winded and exhausted from running in place. I encourage my students to shoot their firearm at the range with the room dark so that they aren’t freaked out with the fireburst that’s visible in a low light situation just in case they have to defend themselves in the middle of the night—gee, ya think that’s more likely than in the middle of the day?
Here’s the cool thing about preparedness—if you actually practice living like you might find yourself living in the midst of a disaster then you will be in a valuable asset position to help your loved ones and community. But if you have all the “stuff” in the world, it won’t help you one iota if you just fall apart and go into the ugly cry. (I’m happy to say that NONE of my students has ever gone into the ugly cry. *YAY*) Here’s the not-so-cool thing about preparedness—the moment that the crisis hits, the time for preparation is done. Finished. No do-overs. No delete and re-record, Friends. You can’t fake your way through a crisis either. (I’ve seen a whole lot of people on reality TV lately who are foolish enough to use the moment in front of national television to be the time that they try something NEW—and believe me, it’s just downright painful to watch…”doomsday”…cough…cough )
Speaking of TV, let me end on this note. I was flipping channels the other night and ran across this random “reality” television show. It was a bunch of self-proclaimed rednecks who were paid to go on a big family vacation in a beautiful castle in England. Surrounded by acres of perfectly manicured lawns, gorgeous décor, maids and a butler to wait on them hand and foot, yet they were miserable because they couldn’t find their preferred beer, they couldn’t get sports on a television and they were served a bunch of very unfamiliar meals at a table setting worthy of the Queen herself. It wasn’t until the men in the crowd were able to go and hunt squirrels and cook them up that you finally saw smiles on their faces (much to the horror of their host, of course).
I suspect we’ve all had our share of “curtain time” jitters, moments of anxiety, or being so stressed out that we just want to melt into nothing. But I know that if we’ll focus on practicing with what we plan, we’ll have a huge benefit of exposing our holes in our preparedness before they become a life or death scenario and we can improve accordingly. Ultimately it’s not the things that protect us or give us peace, it the practice.
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Some great insights about getting used to using what you have. In the past I've been the head of my church quorum and used to help people move...A LOT!!
I have seen thousands of dollars of never touched food storage go to the garbage because it was expired by years, or rancid, or leaking. I have seen people all excited because they have a generator packed in the corner of their garage or basement and who get that deer in the headlights look when I told them "Uhhh...you do realize that you need fuel for the generator to run and oil to keep the engine lubricated."
As a scout leader for many years in my area I've had youth who have never done much at home and had literally NEVER cracked an egg and another who had no idea how to boil wate make instant oatmeal using those little envelopes.
We need to gert our families involved in our practice
What a great article! I had never thought of it until now, but having an "old school" week would be a pretty good idea. I did the same thing, purchased the sun oven but "saving it" for.....? I need to get that baby out and use it-sun or no sun. The old adage of practice makes perfect should also say practice makes perfect peace!
Keleene, I can say I have started this year off with a sense of calm I attribute mostly to you. I did many of your tests in 2012 , and while a few went less then perfect it gave me a great opportunity to use the information to make my own systems for emergencies. I have started testing myself whenever I see a news story of a disaster and do a mini test of what I would do in that situation. From doing an evacuation like folks did in the Colo. wild fires to the power being out for 10 days during a heat wave after the east coast wind storm. To having back up fuel,oil, heat and tools like people needed for Hurricane Sandy. These disaster tests have really given me a lot more confidence in dealing with what ever might happen in the future!
Jamie, I know you better than that. You chase peace down, tackle it, subdue it, and then drag it back home to be locked in the basement forever. :-)
Seriously though, congrats on pushing yourself. I find it's harder to do that when you're by yourself because no one else is pushing you. Way to go!
Darn, now my secret is out! /sarc. Oh you forgot the minor pummeling of wresting a full value from all tests. I was a darn big basket case all full of panic back in 2011 and this year I want more time but I'm fairly confident in my basic preps and I'm starting new projects. An Ice house and going for a full 7 years of basics beans rice and grains.
The Mr. Heater midrange is going on sale big time for about $70.00. at True value hardware. This is a great heater I'm on day 6 via a 20 pound tank and very safe I turn it off every night. Very cheap if you can't afford to put in a wood stove. Much safer than most kerosene stoves. It'll heat 400 sq. ft. at o degrees and about 600sq.ft at 60 degreess. It's been a bit frosty in SW Idaho this year. The power bills will reflect that cold. Many folks have had freezing pipes and I have no worries as I have a 1940's home and the pipes are good and deep.
I love your articles & find them very helpful. You really do inspire us & I do agree with everything you are saying. Thanks for all you are doing!! My husband & I are doing what we can to prepare. I do worry about the meds we have to be on due to our health & not being able to get enough to stockpile, you have to be down to 1 week supply left before you can get anymore with our insurance. Also worry about being able to cook food if we loose all power & it wouldn't be safe to use an open fire. We are on an extremely limited income, so don't have the money to buy generators, sun ovens & things like that. We do can food & have knowledge of how to do a lot of things that we may need to do. Any suggestions??
I know a couple who made use of that 1 week buffer time for the anti-rejection drug that they have to have. They were able to stock up for an entire 9 months--so far. There are a bazillion ways to cook food without electricity. A generator is the LAST thing that I'd use for cooking food in a power down scenario. My suggestion is to make good friends with this blog. Click on the "Food Preparedness" icon that's rotating at the top of the page. It's the wheat shaft. That will bring up all of the articles which have to do with Food Preparedness. There's LOTS of quality information on here that's accessible for free.
Kellene, thank you so much for your help! I never thought about using the 1 week buffer time, but will start doing that right away. I guess I should have clarified what I would use a generator for - to keep the freezer & refrigerator going. I have read alot you have on your "Food Preparedness" section, but still have more to go on that section. I just found your site a few weeks ago, but am trying to read everything you have on here. We can vegetables, fruit, meat and soups. Thanks to the wonderful food saver, we dihydrate & vacume seal stuff in canning jars. Also freeze food. Alot of the food we put up is from our garden. I'm blessed to have a wonderful husband who helps with all of this! Thanks again for all you do!
You are oh, so right about the peace that come from practicing!!! I've made a game of creating at least one meal a week from my farming efforts. This week we had pulled pork from the piggies, asparagus, green beans, and Caesar salad---all grown by me! I do need to practice with my Sun Oven though....
Thanks for all you do. You are an inspiration!
You never cease to amaze me! I ALWAYS learn so much from your site. Yep, I'm one of those who has yet to try eating any our dehydrated foods. It has always made me feel good, knowing that we have a lot in our "pantry." I grew up camping and always love it, however, "prepping" for survival is much different than camping. One can tolerate a week or two of camping, but by the end of week one, I'm standing there saying to myself "wait a minute, this isn't really a vacation if I have to cook and clean for 7 days in a row." I'm learning that prepping for survival means I have to roll up my shirt sleeves and try out all of those things sitting on the shelf. Thank you, for thumping me on the head, because I will be using the food I have squirreled away and practice cooking with and using items that were, well, gathering dust on the shelves. The light bulb has now gone off. Thanks! :)
I have learned so much from you I can't even express the peace of mind I now have thanks to you! I have approached prepping like I do everything, make a plan, make a list, and complete. Sometimes a little at a time, sometimes a lot but steady wins the race. My question is about the Hummless generators. I have watched the video of you using your smaller one in the kitchen and I was wondering if the larger solar one is something you have and would encourage. Fuel would be hard to come by where I live and seriously thinking about this one. Please let me know.
Thank you for being the Gal in our courner!!!
I love, love, love my Humless Sentinel Generator. I'm surprised I do, but I do. It's not intended to do a whole house, but it will take care of what I want without posting a target on my back or in need of other things to make it run.
Shoot in low-light conditions? Well, duh! Why hadn't I thought of that? Shoot without ear protection? Again, duh! Practice stuff, silly! Thank you for the whack to the back of the head. I need to think more about how to use what I have not just have it on hand. I've been so concerned about the "getting", I've not been thinking about the "using".
“the difference between peace and misery is practice”
I am going to have that painted on a wall... That is so very true and yet so very simple. (But NOT easy!) Great post--thanks, Kellene.