I am 52 years old – a working woman, a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, and daughter. My parents had six children, I have six grown children, and you can start counting out from there. We are a big family. We are the typical outgrowth of middle class American suburbia.
Some of us are financially better off, but all of us are accustomed to our luxuries, even if that means rich, freshly ground coffee in the morning or a delicious sip of good red wine in the evening. Many of us lost substantial resources during the past few years of economic turmoil and others fared okay. Still, we have our little luxuries.
We are geographically dispersed and independent, but emotionally close and communicative. Not a day goes by that a handful of us are not communicating by text, cell phone, Facebook, or email. A theme has emerged among most of us. A few of us are more serious than the others are, and have engaged in lengthy phone conversations with one another. We are all afraid. It is as if we have all been on the same wavelength, but hesitant to discuss our fears lest we sound crazyas.
Now, we are talking. Tentatively, but talking. Each of us has begun to prepare in his or her own way.
One brother has stockpiled ammunition and weapons in his garage, bought an old used RV, has enough plywood in the garage to board up all the house windows, and reads every survival blog he can get his hands on. One son-in-law has quietly, and carefully, acquired an array of weaponry and sufficient ammunition to get out of dodge with. One sister and her husband purchased property somewhere in the suggested American Redoubt  complete with habitation and a fresh water source. One carefully watches every political move made by the current Administration and keeps an eye on world affairs. He also has brushed up on his shooting skills. One buries his head in the sand and pretends that nothing bad could ever happen in America.
I research and gather books on every topic. I have an intellectual knowledgebase that is astounding. I realized however that I had to stop reading and start doing. I stopped the expensive salon visits. What in the world am I doing spending money on fancy hair color, fabulously long nails, and perfect little toes, when the world is falling apart? I save change and sort the older coins into old food cans. I am stocking my pantry. I stopped buying expensive cleaning products and learned to wash dishes, laundry, and just about everything else with simple ingredients: ivory soap, vinegar, and bleach. I keep a sufficient amount of cash hidden in the house. I try to keep the gas tanks full and got everything that needed fixin’ on both our SUVs fixed. We paid off the debt. It is like undergoing a lifestyle change in advance of actually needing to. Every time I go to do something or buy something, I ask myself if it is necessary. I might as well start practicing now to live without. A startling fact is that many of us who were born in and around the 1950s, have lived incredibly well for most of our lives. That, we fear, is about to change.
This is hard. My husband has ignored my efforts for a year or two, but he has not resisted them. My grown children started noticing my efforts and asked what I was doing. I think they feared that I had suffered an early entrance into Alzheimer’s. I decided that I would walk the talk before talking about it. Now that I have everyone’s attention, I am pulling the disparate efforts together like a project manager of a reluctant development team.
First_things_first. I prayed. However, it was more like crying. I know that our Father is not the father of fear. I want to prepare in peace, and confidence, trusting that God will bless our efforts.
My mother’s response to “prepping” was that the rapture would occur, the Lord will return, and all of His people will be caught up in the air to be with Him. I reminded my dear mother of History and that no man knows the time of His coming. I lovingly encouraged her to stock up her pantry, keep some cash on hand, the gas tank full, and have had her practice to driving to our home in the adjoining state a few times. Should she be unable to drive, I have a son-in-law who has agreed to gather her and my father on his way out of town with his little family. She has agreed to the arrangement, even though she thinks I’ve lost it.
My grown daughters, as precious and wonderful as they are, also think I’ve lost it. Nevertheless, they are playing along and that is all I care about. Two of my sons are completely onboard. One is serving in our military, the other is taking steps to get things fixed with his car, stock up on a week’s worth of rations, and he too is practicing at the gun range. He has also built up strength by mountain biking and believes he can get out of the metro area he lives in on his bike with a backpack full of supplies. That is probably very smart planning. The other son is completely out of touch with anything that smacks of reality, bless his heart. He thinks the world owes him a living and he is chasing it down for all he is worth. We may get him going in the right direction eventually.
In three days, we will be convening in one location, my home, to discuss our emergency evacuation plans. We will be building our bug out bags together. I purchased the supplies and stocked them in a spare bedroom. I begged, pleaded, played Pitiful Pearl, and demanded that the family meet together for a planning meeting. I convinced a good dozen of the family members to meet and that is a good start.
You see, when your life has never truly been hard, it is difficult to imagine what hard is, and planning for hard is so unfamiliar, it is too hard to do.
I am truly minimizing the fact that my life has not been easy because compared to the rest of the world, it has been easy. I lived too close for comfort to the poverty line for many years raising my first set of children as a single mother. I have an undeniable work ethic and taught it to my children. I remarried years later to a man who had also been a single parent for a long time and he too will never stop working at something. While he thinks I’m a bit off my rocker, I saw a glimmer of understanding the other day and he said to me, “what is the best route out of here if we need to go”, and “remember we have the business warehouse if we need to stockpile”. Gasp! He has been observing!
While this all may sound simplistic to those of you who are “professional preppers”, there may be many out there, who like me, just don’t know where to begin. You grab your Starbucks in the drive-through on your way to work. You take business calls via the Bluetooth on your commute. You fly into work and dig through mountains of demands, and deal with exasperating people all day long. You fight the traffic on the way home. You throw off your jacket, tie on an apron, and do amazing things with pre-packaged foods as you pour a glass of wine as you flip through the mail. You pay the bills online; call your mother; throw food to the dog; throw a load of clothes in the washer, kiss your husband and pass out. But you cannot sleep. Because you are afraid.
I do not want to live in fear. I want to prepare and this is my plan.
Firstly, I have begun to simplify my life in an organized way and to stock up on basic food supplies. I will dispense with as much luxury as I can make myself let go of. Oh yes, store brand coffee in the big cans tastes horrible, but I call it my emergency coffee and it is inexpensive. Store brand dried milk, rice, pasta, sugar, flour, and olive oil are beginning to line the pantry walls, along with canned goods. Bottles of spring water are beginning to crowd the pantry floor. This is child’s play in the prepper world, but you must start somewhere. My motto: Just do it.
One of the interesting things about our modern society that I learned in my studying is that we have what is called Just-In-TimeJIT supply chain. Just-In-Time means that there are no longer local warehouses full of food and other supplies. There are centralized warehouses across the country and the closest one to you could be many states away. Your local grocery store would run out of food in days should SHTF. Moreover, they would not be able to restock. Once the shelves empty, they would stay empty. That is why something as simple as buying extra at the grocery store is so important.
Secondly, I have taken the initiative to purchase bug out bags for almost a dozen family members. In order to receive the bug out bag, one must attend a family planning meeting. These preparations are what I call Stage 1 and this stage assumes that you will prepare where you are.
Stage 1 consists of:
- Realization that the threat of TEOTWAWKI  is real
- Respond with preparation efforts as a family or community
- Stock the pantry
- Keep cash on hand
- Prepare your bug out bag(s)
- Take a skills inventory
- Pray together, take deep breaths, and encourage one another
- Plan together for Stage 2
Stage 2 assumes that you must leave your home. It may mean that many will have to leave their homes and congregate at a family member’s home that has been deemed the “safest” after thoughtful consideration by the group. The “safe house” will need to be stocked for the group and all members should contribute. Our family is in Stage 1, which is better than Stage 0. We have quarterly meetings planned to determine how the “safe house” should be provisioned and to monitor its provisioning. We are also in the process of identifying a “way station”. We live on the edge of a vast desert, not a green and lush national forest. We have identified where small towns and water sources exist by taking short trips. Effectively, what a way station will do is allow you to transport your provisions to an out of the way location most likely not affected by the same problems, as a larger town or city would be. It is only a stopgap measure.
Stage 3 is truly TEOTWAWKI  and in our formative planning stage from the viewpoint of Stage 1, we are each in the process of obtaining passports should there come a time when we need to leave the country. That topic could fill a book and there are a few I know of who are writing or have written books advising Americans on alternative places to live. SurvivalBlog has copious information on retreats and a most recent column entitled “I Can See You” — A Digital View of Your Survival Preparations, by Dave X, has led me to believe that it might be better to “disappear in place” or leave the country rather than build a retreat. The takeaways for newbies like me:
- People will think you are crazy, an extremist, and overreacting – Ignore them.
- Your family may be secretly wishing someone would take charge and project manage the family into preparedness – Start talking about it.
- Educate yourself – Every spare moment.
- Getting to Stage 1 is “do able” – Just do it.
- Planning for Stage 2 requires a group, be it a family or community.
- Planning for Stage 3 is the final goal, but remember that Heaven is the truly final destination.
Perhaps the most difficult part of emergency preparedness is facing the reality of TEOTWAWKI. It is like discovering you have cancer, only it’s your country that has cancer. Drastic surgery and chemotherapy may only delay the inevitable – death of one of the greatest countries this world has ever seen. Just remember, and know in your heart of hearts, that we are only sojourners on this earth.