Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Excuse #1 - Preparing is Expensive

Last week I blogged about the reasons I hate being prepared, and today we are going to talk about reason/excuse #1...preparing is expensive. Each week I will add another excuse to our list, until we either run out of excuses or you beg me to stop.

Many people think that getting prepared is expensive, and I think it is all relative.  If you are struggling to put food on the table and make rent...well, now may not be the right time to invest in an estate plan, but you can become aware of your medical histories and gather personal documents.

I also think preparation is a matter of priority.  If you spend $6 a day getting coffee, you are putting about $1440 a year into tasty caffeine.  That money could easily pay for a will/trust, extra food supplies, camping gear, training classes, or organization supplies.

In many cases it is not that we don't have the money, it is that we would rather spend it on something else.

An important thing to remember is we don't need fabulous designer supplies to get prepared. There is no need for matching sleeping bags, coordinated emergency backpacks, or cutesy organizing bins.  Using what you have and building from there is just fine.

Here are a few ideas of how to get prepared in an economical fashion:

Food Preparation - Every time you go to the grocery store add a few extra cans of frequently used food to your cart.  Wait for sales and stock up.  Mark the tops of the cans with the date you purchased it, and set it aside.  Closets and under bed space make for wonderful storage areas. A few cans a week will add up, and you will increase your food supplies quickly.  Aim for a 3 month supply to begin with.  Look at what you already eat to decide what to buy.  Don't forget to store all the ingredients for the recipe, for example, store pasta if you get spaghetti sauce.

Paperwork Preparation - Paperwork can be overwhelming, but start slow.  Identify a place to put papers.  It could be a large envelope, a dedicated drawer, a file folder, whatever works for you.  Over the course of a month, pay your bills and put the receipts in your pile.  If you get online notifications, save them to a single folder. Collect statements from utilities, banks, service companies, mortgage companies, and wherever else you pay money to. This generates a quick and dirty list of contacts and account numbers.

Medical Preparation - Start keeping a copy of medical records.  Ask you doctor to have a copy made when you do lab work, or have other tests run.  Organize this information in a folder, labeled by person. Write down a list of current medications, the prescribing doctor and the pharmacy you use.

Survival Equipment - I think this scares people as the big expense.  You do not need to be outfitted for an expedition to Mt Everest to consider yourself prepared.  Also, it will do you no good to buy things you don't know how to use and don't need.  Start with the basics, like sleeping bags and back packs. Make sure you are comfortable using them. Then add shelter, usually a tent.  Learn how to set it up and practice sleeping in it. Add items as you learn how to use them.  Older household items are great for camping purposes and can be dual purposed if needs be.

I know there are many other ways to get prepared and tons of economical ways to do that.  Please add you comments and suggestions below.  Next week we will go onto the next be ready!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Motivational Monday #50 - Your Burr In The Saddle

Today I headed to the dentist. Yep, it was that bad...

Over the weekend I got something stuck under my gum line and it created a sore in my mouth.  I think I now officially understand the term "Burr in the Saddle" because Oh My! Something as small as a strawberry seed has caused me a ton of pain.  Not a fan!!

I think we often get burrs in our proverbial saddles, those little things that irritate us, but don't seem like they should have much power over us.  Be it strawberry seeds, annoying people, unfinished projects or a simple pebble in our shoe, small things can really change how we act and feel.

Why is it that small things change our lives so much?  I know that in the case of the seed, it was the pain that got my attention, and I think as humans we react to pain all the time.

So what to do?  If you have ever seen a horse with a burr in his saddle, you know that things can get bad fast. How do we keep the small irritants of our lives from being huge issues?
  1. Identify what is irritating you. You can't stop the pain if you don't know what is causing it.
  2. Eliminate the offending object/situation.  If at all possible, take the time to remove the irritant.  While it may be inconvenient to sit down, remove your shoe, and dig the pebble out, you will walk a lot farther if you aren't in pain.
  3. Take the time to heal. Some times little things cause huge wounds.  Once you have removed the things that were causing you grief, the pain may not stop immediately.  Our bodies and our minds  require time to recover.  Give yourself the permission to heal.
  4. Evaluate what happened...and prevent it if possible.  Sometimes the things that annoy us are easy to identify and avoid, sometimes not. If there is a simple fix, take the time to make it happen.
What are some things you consider "burrs in the saddle?"  Do you have situations that drive you nuts or people who get under your skin?  Do you have projects that are unpleasant or events that make you insane?  I want to hear all about it, so hit the comments.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why I Hate Being Prepared

I hate being the same way I hate having a will, carrying insurance on my car, and putting money in a rainy day account.  Being prepared means I think something bad may happen.  I much prefer to stick my head in the sand and forget all about it.  From now on, I declare that life will be rosy, happy and sparkle like glitter.

Okay, that little rant was brought to you by my sad, insecure and maybe, (just maybe,) my petulant child self who does not like to think about bad things.  I don't like to read the news very often for the same reason.

Now that I have the whining out of the way, I really do want to talk about why we don't like to prepare.  Here are a few things I thought of:

  1. Preparing is expensive.
  2. Preparation takes time.
  3. Being prepared takes emotional energy.
  4. Getting prepared means I have to focus on negative situations.
  5. There is the chance I will never need to prepare at all.

Off the top of my head, these are the top reasons I can thing of for talking yourself out of getting prepared.  Each and every one has been on my mind at least once.

So here is what we are going to do...we are going to look at each one of these issues over the next few blogs, and learn how to get over it.  I am sure I have left reasons off the list, so feel free to add them.  I may just put your reason in an upcoming blog.

So go ahead...let me know why you don't prepare, and let's shed a little light on the subject.  Ready. Set. Go!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Motivational Monday #49 - Time Honored Torture

When I was growing up my mom had a crazy way to celebrate summer vacation.  Every year she would drag out the workbooks, and proceed to teach me to spell correctly.  I guess I should be honest and tell you she attempted to teach me to never did work, and spell check is now my best friend!

I remember long hours (okay it was probably 20 minutes) sitting at the table trying to make it through the world's most boring spelling assignments.  I was sure she was trying to bore me to death. It was torture by spelling, and I hated it.

Fast forward 30 years, and what am I doing?  Yep, you guessed it!  I am torturing my own child.  As I type, he is sitting at his desk, staring at worksheets and wondering why I hate him so much.  In fact, he admitted today that he thinks I make him learn just to make him miserable.

So what is it that I learned from my mom?  I promise it was not how to spell...

I learned that if you do not use your knowledge, you lose it.  If you do not continue to add and subtract, you forget how.  If you do not spell challenging words, you forget how.  If you don't use a second language, you forget how.

This is true when we are in school, and it is true our whole lives.  We must continue to practice our skills so that we can keep the knowledge we have.  If we walk away, be it a week, a few months, or years, we lose the knowledge we had and erode the skills we fought so hard to achieve.

So I have taken up the torch, and decided to torture my children, just like my mom tortured me.  They will stretch their minds, sharpen their skills, and develop their talents.  Just because I never learned to spell doesn't mean my kids won't turn out to be rocket scientists...or at the very least, another generation of tortured (but educated) children.

P.S. Please don't think I have them chained to tables spending their days with an abacus.  The learning is nestled nicely in between swimming, crafts, library trips and game time.  I'm really not that mean!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Frantic Friday # 25 - Getting in the Car

Some days the hardest thing I do is get the family out the door and into the car. I am sure there are military campaigns that require less planning and tactical support than the simple act of leaving the house.

You may wonder why this is so hard for me...or you may have kids yourself. For some reason, the need to change location is a big deal for kids and the adults have to be prepared. If you are going to the park you need sand toys, snacks and drinks. If you are going to the pool you need towels, suits and snacks. If you are heading to camp, you need sun hats, tennis shoes...and you guessed it...snacks.

I have found that if I have the bags packed and in the car long before I load the kids I am much more likely to get out the door on time than if I don't. To make this work, I have the following suggestions:
  1. Create a GO bag. We have multiple backpacks ready to go in the hall closet. There is a bag for swim lessons, a bag for day camp, and a bag for movie days.  I keep the standard supplies inside, so I don't have to hunt for things as we run out the door.
  2. Keep ice packs frozen.  When needing a lunch in a hurry, having a cold ice pack can really open up your options.  If you aren't paying attention, ice packs can get left in the last lunch box they were used in.  Make sure to keep them frozen after use.
  3. Make the kiddos responsible for adding desired objects to the bag.  We have church activity bags, and while I verify the objects are appropriate, I do not choose the items.  I found that we had a ton of wailing and crying when they realized I had left behind a treasured toy or activity.  Now they know what they have and everyone is happy.
What suggestions do you have for getting out the door?  I am always eager to learn tricks of the trade.  Chime in and let me know!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Watching Your Own Lane

I am enrolled in an endurance swim class, which I love.  The class has really helped me stretch myself, emotionally and physically. I am exhausted by the end, but I love it.

This week, as I was swimming a drill, I looked over to the lane next to me and realized the woman swimming there was doing the wrong thing.  She was completely missing the point of the exercise, and was not exercising the correct muscles.  I was startled because I often look to her to make sure I am doing the right thing.  For a moment I almost stopped her to make sure she knew about the problem.

And then it occurred to me, I had no idea why she was swimming differently than I was, but I was willing to completely stop my progress to point out what I perceived as her fault. Oh my!  What a sad reason to sabotage  my own efforts.

I realized that if I had been keeping my eyes on my own lane and focusing on my own progress I never would have noticed her at all, let alone have spent enough time to evaluate her movements.  By taking the time to evaluate her, I was losing focus on my own movements and my own progress.

What a shame!

So, how often in life do we focus too much on what is going on around us, spend our energies on things of no importance, and divert our attention to trivial and useless issues?  It did not really matter why her stroke was different than mine, it changed nothing about my workout, or for that matter hers.  I was so worried about her choices that I stopped caring about mine.

The good news is that once again I have learned a lot from swimming.  I expanded more than my stroke during that class.  In the future, I hope I can keep my eyes on my own lane, on my own progress, and my own capabilities.  I bet I will excel a lot faster if I can!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Motivational Monday #48 - It Is Good To Be Recognized!

It is very motivational to be recognized for what you do, and even better when someone takes the time to let you know.  Today I was given the "Stylish Blogger Award."  Who knew I was stylish?  I sure didn't!  Many thanks to Karen!

Part of accepting the award is that I share 7 things about myself.  I will do my best to come up with 7 random and completely unexpected items. hmmm..... Okay, here we go:
  1. The first activity I remember from Girl Scouts was when we used shoe laces, brown vinyl and newspaper to create 'sit upons.' I think the theory was to sit on these creations instead of the ground when we were camping, however since they always made us sit in chairs or on rocks because they didn't want us muddy, I don't remember getting a lot of use out of my sit upon.  I do remember wondering what one did if the newspaper padding in the middle got wet (and what doesn't get wet when camping?) because sitting upon a wet soppy mess did not seem like fun.
  2. As a child I was crowned 'queen of the slide' not because I was amazing at sliding down the rickety metal death trap, but because I had formed an alliance with a boy (the king) and he brought all his friends into our tribe.  It was like survivor, but waaaaaay ahead of its time.  In fact, there was eventually backlash and the slide was forcibly taken by revolt.  I was an ousted leader by second grade.  And yes, if you were wondering, I lived in exile on the playground for a full school year.
  3. I have a weakness for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. I do not believe an explanation is required.
  4. As a teenager I only sneaked out of the house once...and it was lame!  One night my dad made corned beef for dinner.  This was a very rare treat, and the leftovers were carefully divided and labeled so that no one ate more than their fair share the next day.  Later that evening I found out a dear friend (yes, he was a boy) loved corned beef as well.  I waited until my dad was in bed, creeped into the kitchen, took my share, let myself out the front door, ran the mile to his house, knocked on the door, handed the shocked boy the baggie of meat and ran home. That was it.  I climbed into bed, read a book, and went to sleep.  I can't even sneak out right...oh well.
  5. I once threw an L.M. Montgomery book in the pool.  L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors.  (She wrote the Anne of Green Gables series, if you don't recognize her name.) When I was in college I had taken one of her books to the pool where I was spending time floating in a recliner.  I was blissfully floating around when I felt something tickle my arm.  I didn't think much about it when I brushed at my arm and continued reading.  The tickle remained, so I brushed again.  This time I felt something, so I glanced at my shoulder and a HUGE black hairy spider was sitting on the back side of my upper arm.  I screamed, threw my book, and jumped into the pool.  I realized what I had done, saved the book and then killed the spider with prejudice.  It took weeks of TLC to dry out the book and get it flat again, but the book still sits on my shelf to this day...just with no spider!
  6. My hair was accidentally died orange two days before I got married.  Thinking I was being so intelligent, I had my hair highlighted a month or so before I got married to make sure I liked it.  Well, I loved it, so I made an appointment with the same lady to touch it up the week I got married. Unfortunately, after she put me in the dryer she got sidetracked with another client and forgot about me.  What should have been light brown hair with blonde highlights turned into OSHA orange with neon orange highlights.  I thought it looked a little odd, but thought I was probably just tired, stressed and a little too picky.  So I paid her (yes, you read that right) and went home.  My fiance looked at it, and even being color blind, he knew something was wrong.  After lots of strange looks at work the next day I went back and talked to the owner of the shop.  She took one look at me and gasped.  The only way to fix it was to dye my hair dark brown with a temporary dye.  So the only week of my life I have been a brunette was the week I was married. (Now it is red, I know, that little thumbnail makes it hard to tell.)
  7. As a child I always won the game "two truths and a lie."  My real life was so very odd that no one ever guessed what I was lying about. My favorite set of statements was, 1) I have been to Paris, 2) My grandfather is 34 and 3) I have 3 aunts.  Which was false? (Remember I was about 9 or 10 at the time...)  You guessed it!  #3.  I only had 2 aunts.  Now, in all fairness, I was referring to Paris, Texas, and my grandfather was really my step grandfather...but true none the less.
So now it is time to pass this award along.  I think I am going to hand it off to Esther at Laugh With Us Blog.  Her posts are funny, she has a great way of looking at things.  So here you go Esther!

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Things I Learned at Scout Camp

    This week I have had the *cough* enjoyable opportunity to attend Cub Scout Camp.  Where I live, Cub Scout Camp is outside in the intense heat and dust, and does not wrap up until almost 10 pm each night.  Can we say good times? (Was that enough whining for you?)

    Okay, it really wasn't all that bad, and the boys all had a great time.  As soon as I recover from the pulled muscles, the sore feet and the dehydration, I am sure I will have fond memories.

    As much as I was not looking forward to this adventure, I have to admit, there are a few lessons I have learned.  Here they are, in no particular order:
    1. Have a buddy.  I don't think many people really want to go through life alone, but maintaining a relationship strong enough to keep a buddy can be hard.  Watching the boys these last few days, I can see how buddy responsibilities can become overwhelming.  It isn't enough to stay with your buddy, you also have to help your buddy, take care of your buddy, and support your buddy. This gets harder as the day wears on, you find out your buddy walks slower that you do, and that your buddy is not as 'cool' as some of the other buddies.  Still, you need a buddy.
    2. Know where the restrooms are. You would think this would be obvious, but it isn't really.  In life it is always a good idea to know where your resources are, but sometimes we get so caught up doing the fun things, like launching water balloons or water rockets, that we forget to look around and find the things we need.  When emergencies come, and they always do, knowing where to go is very important.
    3. Pack enough food and water.  Once again, you would think this would be really obvious, but when there is fun to be had, it is easy to forget the necessities.  When you are hungry and thirsty is not the time to realize you have nothing with you.  When you are taking about health and survival, you really can't depend on someone else having enough to share.  A little preparation can go a long way.
    4. Know your limits.  In the last few days I have watched the boys do crazy things.  Some of them have been a little less intelligent than others.  I have seen kids try and swim farther than they know how, run faster than they are able, and eat more than they can hold.  I promise it wasn't always pretty.  While stretching yourself is a great way to learn new things and grow, over stretching can leave you injured, scared and a little hesitant to try again.  Knowing when it is time to stop and get help is a talent learned over time.  If you don't know your current limits, it is hard to set goals for the future.
    5. Get enough sleep.  Coming home from this adventure each night I have realized my body needs more time to recover than it did when I was younger.  I am grouchier than I should be and I definitely know I am out of shape.  When you have to get back up and do it all over again, it is important to let your body recover each day.  Far too many of us push ourselves beyond our limits without letting ourselves recover.  The stress of everyday life can be just as physically taxing as practicing archery, hiking rocky hills, and participating in world class water balloon fights.  Bodies and minds needs rest, and if we don't give it to them we will not have as much fun the next time.
    Okay, I think those are the highlights from my week.  Anyone out there have any other pearls of wisdom they would like to add to the list?

      Monday, June 6, 2011

      Motivational Monday #47 - Expand Your Knowledge

      There is an old saying, "You don't know what you don't know."  How true. How very true.

      Sometimes the thought of putting time and energy into learning more can seem very overwhelming, but in reality, learning can be a simple task.

      Just because I am a bit crazy, I added the website StumbleUpon to my daily routine.  I added in my topics of interest, and then StumbleUpon finds sites I have never looked at before, and would never think to find.  Today I ran across something quirky and I thought I would share it with you... It was a website detailing how to turn a regular soda can into a stove.

      In under 5 minutes I learned something new.  It was painless and actually fun. Who knew I would learn that little tidbit today?

      My humble suggestion is that you continue to learn each day.  With the internet, there are so many topics at your fingertips.  You can read classic novels for free, you can research countries near and far, and you can learn details on subjects that interest you. By spending just 5 minutes you can be connected to a world you never imagined, and maybe, just maybe you will expand yourself...

      Friday, June 3, 2011

      Frantic Friday #24 - Enough Information To Be Dangerous

      Many times in my life I have joked that I know just enough information to be dangerous...yes, a scary thought indeed.  Preparation can be one such topic if you are not careful.

      The internet is full of 'facts' about all sorts of things.  I am sure if you look hard enough you can find a site telling you the Earth is flat, that High Fructose Corn Syrup is good for you, and that aliens are attending your local school.  Just because it has been written down doesn't mean you need to believe it.

      There are many reputable preparation websites.  There are government sites that give you resources, and company sites that offer you supplies.  There are also survivor websites, and well as enthusiast sites.  Unfortunately, not all information is created equal.

      When determining what you want to spend you time reading, think about a few common sense questions:
      1. Can the information be verified or duplicated? A fascinating story may be only that, a story. Make sure the information is coming from a reliable source.
      2. Does the author have expertise? Sometimes that expertise comes from personal experience, but as a reader, you need to decide if their information can be applied to your situation.
      3. Do they advocate extremes? Some sites have a very extreme opinion of what is needed and they may convey more fear than usable information. If, after you read the materials they provide, you are considering buying a generator, quitting your job and moving off the grid to save your family from a complex conspiracy plot...take a breath and evaluate if that is really needed.
      4. Does the information apply to you? This can be a tricky one to determine.  If you live in a desert, flood survival may sound out of your scope, but then again, you may have a dam upstream, so flooding may really be a possibility.  Think about where you live, what situations you may find yourself in, and what resources you have available.  If the information you are reading adds to what you know and makes sense, then add it to your knowledge bank.
      5. Do you feel pressured? Many preparation web sites sell products...just like Prepared Binder. If you feel an extreme amount of pressure to buy the product offered (I hope there is no extreme pressure at Prepared Binder) then step back and research the information from another source.  There is the possibility you feel pressure because you really are in need of their product, but there is also the possibility you are just overwhelmed and the website plays on your insecurities.
      The web has given us the opprotunity to have large amounts of information at our fingertips.  What once was a huge research project, is now just a few mouse clicks away.  Knowing what you are looking for and what type of information will assist you in your preparations will help you avoid unreputable web sites and faulty information.

      Just remember, information is a good thing, as long as it is quality go forth and seek it out!

      Wednesday, June 1, 2011

      Acute Motivation and Long Term Change

      Have you ever been in a situation that makes your adrenaline pump, your heart pound in your ears and your palms sweat? Have you ever had a moment of clarity following a tragedy? Have you ever looked around and realized you are not ready for an emergency?  This is what I call Acute Motivation. Just like acute pain, it is sudden, sharp, and terribly uncomfortable.

      The hard part about acute motivation is that when the adrenaline of the situation wears off, so does our desire to act. Bummer, huh?

      How do you maintain your motivation when the intense feelings of crisis wear off?  For some people, the fear of being in that situation again is enough to propel them into action, but who really wants their actions to be fear based?

      So, how do we turn acute motivation into long term change?
      1. Make the decision to prepare.  A firm decision is an important first step.  
      2. Write down a list of what you want to prepare or change, while things are still fresh in your mind. A description of how you feel is a great way to capture the insights you learned from the situation.  
      3. Create an actionable plan that will keep you on the right track.
      4. Determine a schedule to prepare.  This may mean scheduling purchases, trainings or even time to go through and organize supplies.
      5. Identify milestones in your preparation. Organization falls into many categories, pick one, and do what you can to prepare in that area.  When you have met those goals, take pride in the achievement, and move on to the next area.
      Once we see forward movement towards a goal, our motivation is easier to maintain. While no one wants to, (or should), leave in fear, remembering why you want to prepare can be a strong motivator. If you have had an experience of acute motivation, use it to push you forward.

      Anyone have an experience of acute motivation that helped them enact change in their lives?