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By Monica Mansfield

August 9, 2016

 

 

 

I'm not here to talk politics or endorse any candidates, but I would like to discuss the state of our nation, and why I think living a more self-reliant lifestyle is what it will take to make us great again.  Whether you live in an apartment or on 20 acres, the change begins with each of us and how we live.

 

"The change begins with all of us and how we live."

 

A lot of good people are broke right now, living in poverty and relying on the government for help.  Pretty much everything is more expensive than it used to be and we aren't earning any more than we used to.  We are divided.  We are unhealthy, weak and overweight.  We are bombarded with distractions and, sorry to say, have successfully been dumbed down.  We know how to consume, but we aren't so good at creating and producing anymore.  Our world is toxic with pollution--the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.

 

No presidential candidate will truly fix all of these problems.  They might be able to improve the economy a bit and create new laws, but the real problem is deep within all of us, and so only we can fix it.  The change must begin with us.

 

"No presidential candidate will truly fix all of these problems."

 

So how do we do that?

 

I'm not sure if it is obvious to you, but it is pretty plain for me to see that the modern American lifestyle isn't working that well.  I believe we must change our mindsets and we must change the way we live.

 

We cannot live week to week, month to month, paycheck to paycheck, without any security, relying on the government if we fall.  We must take matters into our own hands to take care of ourselves and our families.  We must feed ourselves, create our own security, and produce with our own two hands again.  We must work hard to do this.  Nothing worth a damn comes easy.  It takes hard work, strength, and personal power.  Fortunately, hard work, and its results, are deeply satisfying.

 

"Nothing worth a damn comes easy.  It takes hard work, strength, and personal power."

 

Modern life creates all kinds of conveniences for us that actually hurt us in the long run, keeping us weak, tired and lazy.

 

The microwave is a great example.  Pop something in the microwave for a quick dinner and zap all the nutrients out of it so that it has absolutely no benefit for your body.  Warming something up on the stove or in the oven only takes a few more minutes.

 

Fast food is another great example.  Everyone knows it is bad for us.  But it is fast and easy and we are stressed and tired, so people still buy it.  It can actually be less expensive to take a little time to plan meals for the week, plus you will have a lot more energy and create a healthier body.

 

Even the grocery store is a modern convenience that can potentially hurt us in the long run: rows and rows of boxes filled with fake food and harmful chemicals that are so much more expensive than they used to be.  But so many people work more than 40 hours a week to barely provide for their families.  There is no way they have the time to care for a garden and preserve their own food.

 

When we buy from the grocery store, we are indirectly polluting the planet even more.  The trucks that deliver the food use a lot of oil and pollute the air.  If everyone walked into their backyard for their food, our carbon footprint would shrink drastically.

 

"If everyone walked into their backyard for their food, our carbon footprint would shrink drastically."

 

What I'm talking about, changing our lifestyles, is a huge change for most people.  But if it is done correctly, wisely, with proper planning, it can actually give you more time for the things that matter, better health, and more money in your wallet.  It may be hard work initially, but once you learn the skills you need and get into your groove, it really isn't as difficult as it looks.

 

In my opinion, a better life starts in the garden.  A garden gives us nutritious food, exercise, fresh air, and sunshine.  It also reduces stress, the silent killer of modern life.  You'll spend less money on food, which is incredibly expensive these days, so you'll have more money in your wallet too.  (Plus food from your garden tastes better.)  You'll be doing your part to heal the little plot of land you've been given and encourage the bee populations.  You can even grow your own medicines so you don't have to rely on pharmaceuticals.

 

"A better life starts in the garden."

 

Maybe you have zero space for a garden.  You can still take advantage of harvest season.  Go to your local farmer's market, or the fruit and veggie stands on the side of the road.  Bargain with the farmer directly, buy in bulk, go home and preserve it.  It may take a little extra time, but it will save you a LOT of money and benefit your health.

 

Maybe you live in an apartment and have a balcony.  You can utilize the trick above, plus grow all your salad fixins.  It doesn't take much space.  Many community gardens lease garden plots to people who don't have their own land.

 

Even with a small backyard, you can grow some of your own food and raise a few chickens for eggs.  You can learn to fish and hunt and fill your freezer with meat.  You can barter with others for what you can't produce yourself.

 

This is how people lived in America less than a hundred years ago.  Only now, we do have modern conveniences.  We can pick and choose our homesteading skills, and use modern technology to take care of the rest.

 

"We can pick and choose our homesteading skills, and use modern technology to take care of the rest."

 

And when you are ready to take the plunge, and I hope you are ready one day soon, you can buy a plot of land and be truly self-reliant.

 

To me, self-reliance means that I take care of all of my basic needs: food, shelter, energy, water, health and security.  For me, that means growing all of my own food, preserving my own food, paying off my mortgage as early as possible, creating my own electricity, having a well on my property, using holistic methods to be proactive about my health, and knowing how to defend myself and my property.  To go one step further, I also want to create my own income instead of working for someone else.  I've never liked having a boss or being told what to do.  I'm a self-starter and I can direct myself.

 

These days, most people don't know how to do these things for themselves.  From the time I started thinking this way, it has taken me years to learn the basic skills I need and I still have a lot to learn.  I believe it has been time well invested.

 

Will you imagine for a second a country where most of its citizens live this way?  I'm not sure it's realistic, although it is almost trendy now to get back to the land.  (A trend I love.)  If American citizens lived the self-reliant life once again, I believe so many of our issues would improve.

 

"If American citizens lived the self-reliant life once again, I believe so many of our issues would improve."

 

For starters, we would be a healthier nation.  We wouldn't be in debt for medical bills (the leading cause of bankruptcy, by the way).  With healthier bodies, we would also have healthier minds, which would improve the rates of mental illness in our country.  Maybe, just maybe, these mass shootings would slow down a little.

 

But if they didn't, each and everyone of us would know how to defend ourselves if we are ever in that terrible situation.  What would a shooter do if the majority of people around them had the skills to fight back and were strong enough to overcome them?  And if people successfully defended themselves enough times, maybe, just maybe, those stories would be a deterrent to other wannabe shooters.

 

We would have more money in our pockets.  How much money do we spend on food, rent, and electricity?  Did you know that if you make just one extra mortgage payment a year, that your 30 year mortgage can be paid off in almost half the time?  By spending less on food and electricity and junk we don't need, most people should be able to do that.  Resist the urge to refinance to take out equity, and in less than two decades you are living rent free.  This is long term planning.  Put in the work now so that life can be easier later.

 

"Resist the urge to refinance to take out equity, and in less than two decades you are living rent free."

 

If we resist the urge to spend money on stuff we don't really need, we can put that money into solar or wind power.  It might be spendy at first, but it pays for itself within a few years.  That is one less bill to pay.  Many areas in the country will even buy back power from you.  You could put money in your pocket this way.

 

Does this lifestyle take planning and hard work?  Yes.  But it is also deeply satisfying, rewarding and creates character.  In my humble opinion, it would make America great again.

 

I've put my money where my mouth is and taken the first steps toward this lifestyle.  Will you?

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