Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Are you mental (ly prepared)?

You may recall that back in July I went shoe shopping, and one of my goals was to get shoes in the next size up for my children so that I could put them away for the future. I reasoned that because my children are still growing, and I am not a cobbler by trade, that this would be a reasonable item to include in my emergency preparation plans. I was disappointed (freaked out would probably be a more accurate description) to find out that although everything looked normal, they had nothing that I asked for in my child's shoe size, and if memory serves, I sent the salesgirl back for three different styles (and there were only four styles available.) I was worried because I thought everything was disappearing in terms of availability, and I was worried that I would be the last one to find out.

Not worried enough that I didn't try to warn other people through this blog, and not worried enough that I didn't try to warn my dad about possible shortages when we went to visit my parents for a family reunion later that month. My dad let me tell the whole shoe story, and express my concerns that there would be fewer and fewer things available, and that there hadn't been a rush on the shoes that I knew of, and yet there were none, and that there was almost no one in the store at the time, and what the lack of shoes might indicate about the economy--and when I said, "What if there are no shoes available when my kids outgrow the ones that they have?," my dad said "So what?"

Well, this took the wind out of my sails a little bit, (and you might have noticed I can be a little long-winded :) but my dad went on from there, and what he said made sense. He said, "You would make do. What do you think, there wasn't someone sometime that came up with the idea of shoes? You would find something to use, and you would make do. Don't worry about it so much. You would use your brain just like people throughout history have used their brains, and you would come up with something. You would be all right."

And he's right. People are smart. We tend to come up with what we need to come up with (reminds me of the necessity-invention connection) when we need it. A lot of preparation is mental. And I'm not talking about the mental implied in the post title if you left off the "ly prepared." I'm talking about the attitude, like my dad has, that we can and will be able to do what we have to do when we have to do it. That's probably a huge percentage of mental preparation.

I think another percentage of mental preparation is thinking ahead for what will be needed in a time of emergency. This ranges from basic necessities that everyone needs, like how much food and water will be needed for the people you would be responsible for, to more personal preparation that is specific to those people--like medications, allergies, etc., that you have to work into the equation. It is hard to think of everything, but if we plan it out, we can get closer to being totally prepared than if we just sit and worry, or just sit and hope that everything will work out. There are so many ways that we can use our minds, but we get more done when we combine our mental activity with physical action.

Another way to mentally prepare is to learn the things that would help us out in an emergency situation. There is also a wide range of possibilities when it comes to this category of mental preparation--practical skills like sewing, cooking, gardening--that could be used for ourselves, or even as bartering tools. You could argue that these are physical skills, and they are, but we have to gain the mental knowledge necessary to do them efficiently. We also have to take into consideration the fact that we might have to defend ourselves during emergency situations, and that basic emergency medical skills might be needed. If we prepare ourselves in the best ways that we can, we and others will be the better for it.

In the animated show, "Max and Ruby," (you can tell that I have small children), there is one episode where Ruby is working on her hospitality badge, and she and her Bunny Scout friends say that the most important rule is "A good hostess always stays calm when things go wrong." I've thought about that rule around the house, (for example, when I'm trying to clean up after a mess that I wish would never have happened) but I think that it particularly applies when I think about food storage and emergency preparedness. It is hard to think of everything that you may need in an emergency situation. It is hard to afford everything that you may need in an emergency situation. But this is what I think: if you have done your best with what you have available, then you are probably better prepared than you feel that you are. And whatever comes up in the future, you will be able to handle as it comes. You will be able to "stay calm when things go wrong" because you have done your best to prepare yourself for the worst.

I haven't yet "stocked up" on those shoes. Not because my dad convinced me that I am a cobbler, but because other expenses, etc. have come up, and they have fallen lower on the list of priorities. I hope to one day get some shoes in storage, but if it doesn't happen, and there are no shoes in the stores, he's right, I would find a way to make do. That might mean that I have to barter goods or skills with someone who is a cobbler. Or it might mean that I will have to construct makeshift shoes made out of whatever I have available. You might not be able to think of everything that will be needed in whatever emergency situation arises, but trying to, and then preparing in the ways that you can, will help. This, combined with the attitude that you will be able to handle whatever else arises, is a big step in the right direction....shoes or not.


Kathie said...

What a great post! It's true, we would make do because we had too and necessity is the mother of invention after all (excuse the cliche, but its true). I think so many of us are accustomed to modern life that we think everything we currently have is necessary when nothing is further from the truth. My grandma always used to say "its amazing that I or any of my children lived past the age of 5 by today's standards" its true - we just have to remember to use our brains and creativity a litte more.

Marie said...

Kathie--I appreciate your insight. I agree with you--we're just so used to things as they are, that it seems like there aren't alternatives--but there have been before, and if needs be, there will be again. I think we'd be surprised what we could do if we had to--I just hope I prepare well enough that I would have good resources ready, making solutions easier when it becomes necessary to "think outside the box." Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Marie. I agree, when mankind puts his head to work, we can overcome many things. I have not bothered about shoes etc in my storage, just more seeds, grains, heavy jacket each, more blankets, flints, wind up lighting etc and of course I am always drying or canning something.

I've seen thongs (I think you guys in america call them flip flops or something) made from old tires, empty 2 litre milk bottles etc. I think your Dad is right, we can make do without many things.


Anonymous said...

Half the people are below average. Think on that for a minute for I believe that there is a lot of truth in that statement.

It is common to think of yourself as being "a bit" above average in most things. Driving for example.

Another point is that even if you are above average you won't know everything or be able to think of a good work-around for every problem.

Marie said...

Molly--Thanks for your comment. I like your list as well--it gives you a lot to work with in an emergency and a way to perpetuate your supplies. You gotta love seeds. :)
You're right, I call them flip-flops or thongs, and when you mention it, I have seen creative shoe inventions somewhere. Good point, and something to keep in mind--I appreciate your input.

Marie said...

Anonymous--One of my first thoughts when I read your comment was, that's why we have to be willing to help each other! Not everyone is good at everything--we all have our different skills--and usually we will know where our weaknesses are, whether we like to admit it or not. I think that is part of mental preparation--working out your plans and trying your best to work around your weaknesses so that it will work out in the best and easiest way possible for you. This may include reaching out for help in some areas, which is not always the easiest thing to do--it seems like most people would rather offer help than receive it. Hopefully , if we are "above average" in something, we will help other people without making them feel like they are "below average."
Interesting comment about human nature--that is probably true that we think that we do things well, with or without a comparison to other people. Of course, I wouldn't feel particularly comfortable riding with or driving around someone who didn't think they were that good at driving... :)
Very thought-provoking comment--and it points out some of the things that we will likely have to do in terms of preparation. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I am with you on that one Marie. Part of becoming more self sufficient is building our neighbourhoods and communities, sharing the knowledge and skills. This way what we don't know will be filled in by another.

Socialising is what we are best at as a species. Indeed it is vital to good mental health, as shown by many decades of research.

Personally I don't think it's about whether we are above average or not, it's about re-building our community resilience, bridging gaps and working together. Nearly everyone is capable of that.


Marie said...

Molly--Well said. Thanks for commenting!

Carolyn said...

Just jumped over from 2 Frog Home. I wanted to say Hi and nice blog!

Great Post!


Marie said...

Carolyn--Thanks! I have seen your blog, and especially liked your picture on September 11th, which I linked to on my September 12th post. Thanks for your comment!

Willow said...

I too popped over from Two Frog Home and wanted to thank you for reminding everyone not to panic.

People all over the world live on and with so much less than we North Americans do and we can learn so much from them about recognizing the difference between a want and a need.

I particularly appreciated the comment about the best hostess which can be applied to moms, teachers, dads, and people who must make decisions during emergencies.

Marie said...

Willow--I appreciate your input. Sometimes I think that it's hard to see beyond what we're used to, and I agree that we are really fortunate here. As for the not panicking, sometimes it's easier said than done, but it's always important... Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

I make felted clogs (worn indoors) that are amazingly warm and comfortable. I bet if I sewed a leather sole on them they would make serviceable outdoor footwear. No reason for a child to go barefoot if you had access to wool and leather or animals to make the materials from.

Marie said...

Anonymous--That's a great idea--I don't have animals that could provide that kind of thing, but there's nothing at this point to stop me from getting some of those materials into storage except cost. Thanks for your input!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post that addresses issues we don't like to think about.

But it begs the question- what will you do when your children outgrow the one pair in storage? And: are shoes enough perhaps you need boots, too?

The best way to prepare really is to either be prepared to trade, get to know someone who has the skills, learn yourself, do without or as you mention make do.

Because we really can't store a lifetime of every object we might need.....

Marie said...

Anonymous--I totally agree that we will eventually have to learn how to make the things we need, or find someone who has the skills already if an emergency situation turns into the permanent state of things. I just think that if we are a little ahead of the game, and have some things stored,that that will give us some time to either learn those skills or find those people, and alleviate some of the stress that will inevitably be there when the emergency strikes. You're right, we can't store everything, but the things that we can will hopefully give us an advantage...thanks for your comment!