This week I went on a retreat that taught some skills of self-reliance. It included basket weaving, making toiletries from nature, archery and making fire by friction. These skills might seem a strange thing for a woman in her sixties to be learning in this day and age, but with everything that is happening in the world, I want to be sure that if we lose our infrastructure and all the things that we take for granted, that I will survive and thrive. I have liked to be one step ahead all of my life. I plan for the worst and hope for the best.
As a single parent I never wanted to be reliant on anyone, and that included the state, the father of the children, my family, a new man in my life, a church, or even friends. I had got myself into that position and so I took responsibility to get myself out of it. This meant I had to go back to education and learn new skills in order to provide a decent life for my children.
What I am doing now is basically a continuation of that. Being self-reliant provides me with freedom as I am not beholden to anyone, and do not have to compromise my wishes for anyone, unless I choose to do so. I could have claimed benefits over the last 8 years but then I would have had to jump through the hoops of applying for jobs that I did not want, interviews, going to the job centre, going on courses, or trying to convince someone that working in the rat race makes me ill. Instead, I depended on myself and my improving knowledge and skills. I made the decision to retire and so I am responsible for providing for myself.
Being self-reliant has helped me in so many ways. I have learned to make decisions, problem solve, and survive and thrive without help. I feel happy in my own skin and in my own company. I am not waiting for someone to save me or help me when it is convenient for them, or in return for something that I do not want to give. I am not dependant on any one, though I have learned as I have got older that it is good to share knowledge and skills with people for mutual benefit, and that there is nothing wrong with asking for some help. I was stubborn when I was younger and was too proud to ask, which was often to my own detriment.
Self-reliance has increased my confidence. I take responsibility for my own physical and mental health, my own knowledge, my own problems, my own financial situation. Material things are not important to me in the way that they once were. When I was away on the retreat, I had one small bag of belongings and I missed nothing, and was happy. Getting back to basic living is so liberating.
Self-reliance has become my mindset and also my life style, and goes hand in hand with my simple, frugal life. My skills are improving. I grow a lot of my own food, I have my own income which does not depend on work, I make my own cleaning products, and eat medicinal plants rather than visit a doctor or pharmacy. I am also learning to forage, learning to make fire using friction, I know how to build shelter, I know how to set traps, navigate using the sun or the stars, I know which plants I can use instead of soap, I know how to purify water, preserve food, and cook from scratch. I know how to save seeds, weave baskets, how to track, and how to build simple structures from wood or stone. There are still many more skills that I want to learn, and I will keep on studying and trying to incorporate them into my life. I do this for fun, to be closer to nature, to challenge myself, but also so that I have skills for just in case we have a power cut, we are lost in the wilds of Scotland, or in case our cosy lives change.
It has become more important to me to learn how to become more self-reliant due to events over the last 3 years, and what I fear may be coming in the future. Many ordinary families in war torn countries are having to use these skills at this very moment. One day I might have to be able to depend totally on my knowledge and skills for my basic needs, and I want to be ready to help my family if that happens. Thinking independently and not following the narrative of the main stream media is important at this time. There is more going on than many are aware of. I want to listen to my instincts and believe in myself rather than listening to that inner critic, or other people’s opinions. I want to grow and stretch and challenge my abilities in order to become my best self. If anything is coming down the road, I am ready. If it is not, I will breathe a sigh of relief and have skills that I am proud of, and that I can teach my grandson. Would you be able to be self-reliant if SHTF?