We all know I'm all about being prepared, but the term that Kate coined many months ago, thrivalist, more aptly describes my philosophy. I'm about being prepared, more in the way I learned as a Girl Scout, and that's with an accumulation of knowledge and experience rather than an accumulation of stuff.
Make no mistake, however, we have stuff ... and a lot of it, but most of our stuff is books. When it comes to books, we're kind of like the goat in the movie Hoodwinked: we have books to teach us canning, and books that show us weeds, we have books for when we raise our flock will show us what they need ..... Anyway, you get the point. We have books.
Years ago, when I first started contemplating the state of the world and grew concerned about what I saw ... when I swallowed the proverbial red pill ... I understood on a very fundamental level that hoarding *stuff* might not be the best option. It seemed very intuitive to me that I would never, ever be able to stock up ALL of EVERYTHING that I will need for the rest of my life. First of all, I don't have the space, because my house isn't so very large, and second, some things get old and then can't be used.
But also, even if I could stock up on ALL of EVERYTHING *I* would need, I couldn't possibly stock up enough for all of my children ... and their children ... and their children, and if we're preparing for a future when those things we deem necessary are no longer available, then we'll want to have them, right?
So, the question, for me, became, what do I REALLY need? Followed up by, of those things that I really need, how many of them can I produce myself or replace with something that's renewable?
First we looked at our diet, but I've covered that ad nauseum in the past. The highlights include: we don't stock-up on commercially canned food, most of our diet consists of foods that are locally grown, we buy in bulk in season or raise our own and then, preserve as much as we are able for use during the winter - oh, and we're learning to identify local, wild edibles and are incorporating those foods into our diet.
Next, I started looking at things like hygiene. I realized that I don't have the money or the space to store up another ten years' worth of disposable napkins and/or tampons, but more, I have three young daughters, none of whom are that age, yet, and I definitely can't store feminine hygiene products for the next FORTY years for three girls (and that's if I don't get any for my adult daughter or her two daughters (one who is still being "cooked" - as it were ;).
So, I looked for options, and I bought a Diva cup for myself and made cloth napkins. I will teach my still-yet-to-hit-puberty daughters to use these reusable options.
But it goes further. What about deodorant, soap and shampoo? What about toilet paper and laundry soap and other cleaning products?
I can't store all of the [insert name of commercially produced laundry detergent] I will need forever, but I can store many years' worth of ingredients to make my own. Homemade laundry soap uses Borax, Washing Powder and regular bar soap. But it is possible to make an all purpose soap from lye (which is water that has been filtered through hard wood ash) and animal fat (like lard) - neither of which I would have to store, but which I can procure on an as-needed basis, for the most part.
I also don't store gallons and gallons of potable water, but we do have rainbarrels. Instead, I know to boil 'wild' water, and instead of trying to store gallons of water (which can get stale), I would have a water filter. Between boiling and filtering, even river water would be safe to drink.
In the movie, The Matrix , Morpheus tells Neo, take the red pill, you'll stay in Wonderland, and I'll show you how deep this rabbit hole goes. I've been "prepping" with a thrivalist mindset for years, and I am pretty sure that I haven't reached the bottom of the rabbit hole, yet. I'm sure there are things I haven't considered I might want or need in the future, and I haven't learned nearly enough ... although I can make a birch bark basket, and like the Native Americans in my region, I'm learning to make Jerusalem Artichoke a staple in our diet.
Prepping with a thrivalist mindset - that is one that focuses on self-sufficiency and independence, rather than on preparedness with a focus on "stuff" - has actually calmed most of my fears of the future. If the absolute worst happens, even if we had to abruptly abandon our home in the middle of the night with only the clothes on our backs and a knife, we'd know what to do to survive, and no amount of thievery or destruction of our property can take away what's already in our heads. In a world gone mad, even if we lose our precious stores of food, water, clothing, and other goods, we could still thrive.
If you're reading this, you already know how bitter that red pill is, but it's actually like those Atomic fire ball candies - once you get past the bitter outside, it's actually kind of sweet ;), and, seriously, knowing how to do for yourself is incredibly empowering.