Preparing for TEOTWAWKI Part 1 – Self-reliance & resiliency


I’d always thought of myself as pretty tough but I started to really consider the meaning of that word when John was diagnosed with cancer. An older lady said I’d have to be very self-reliant and resilient to get through it all. I looked up the definition of resilient and realized I’d have to be very resilient; tough, strong, and flexible if we were going to make it.




adjective: resilient

(of a substance or object) able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.

synonyms:       flexible, pliable, supple;

(of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.

“the fish are resilient to most infections”

synonyms:       strong, tough, hardy

The current state of the world has most people wondering what will come next. Economic upheaval, terrorism, the threat of war, natural disasters, and disease seem to be coming at us from every side. We may all have to become very self-reliant and resilient to make it in this new world. It makes sense to prepare yourself and your family for whatever may lie in store but figuring out how to prepare can be a daunting prospect.

Most people begin “prepping” because they’re afraid. They’re afraid of the state of the world or the state of their government. They’re afraid of job loss or social unrest. My own desire to become as self-reliant as possible came from a life-altering injury and the subsequent loss of my job. We had three teenage boys at home and we’d lost more than half our income and had astronomical medical bills. That first summer I realized that, if not for the generosity of my husband’s co-workers and some help from a food pantry, we would have struggled to even feed our sons. I looked into my pantry and I was terrified. I vowed never to be that dependent on anyone or any agency ever again. When John got cancer last year my careful planning was invaluable. I was able to keep things going here with very little outside help. After years of research and trial-by-fire learning I know that I can keep my family going should anything happen to drastically change our circumstances again.

This past year, more than any other, has shown me how resilient and self-reliant I am and I know that I’m not alone in that. People surprise themselves with their level of resiliency when disasters strike. Sure, some folks curl up in the fetal position and wait to be rescued, but if you’re reading this it’s because you’re not that type. You’re ready to take on the challenges and not only bounce back but thrive. I also learned that I have many areas in which I need to improve. I take heart in the knowledge that I’m wise enough to recognize that I don’t think I know everything and I’m still able to learn. If you’re just getting started you may feel overwhelmed. Don’t. We start everything in our lives with no experience. This is just like learning to read or drive a car. You need instruction and practice but you can become great at it.

It may be hard at times but there are some key things to remember when you’re getting started. First we need to consider the things we must have in order to be resilient. I’m talking about the most basic needs for survival. The “rule of three” applies here. This rule states that we can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. The more sources for those things available to us, the more likely we are to survive.

Let’s start with water and food. If we have several sources of water available we’re more likely to survive if the municipal water stops flowing. If you have a pond, a river or creek, and ways to filter that water so it’s potable, your chances of surviving increase. If you don’t have to depend on daily, weekly, or even monthly trips to the grocery store for food you’re more likely to survive if the trucks suddenly stop delivering to the market. You’re more resilient if you can grow at least some of your own food. This includes both fruits & vegetables as well as (if this is possible for you) your own sources of protein. Even if you can’t have cows and chickens in your back yard there are ways to prepare should the system fail.

No one I know can be entirely self-sufficient. We’ve become too accustomed to “specialists.” If an engine fails we see a mechanic. If we get sick we go to the doctor. We’ve lost so much of the knowledge our grandparents and great-grandparents once took for granted it’s nearly unimaginable. But we can learn what they knew. We have greater resources for learning than they could have ever imagined. And we can develop relationships that will be of mutual benefit. We have gone from having real communities to living in proximity to others. Part of being resilient is having not just the things you need but the people.

Get to know the farmers and others at your local farmer’s market. Investigate groups in your area who are interested in growing their own food or in operating a ham radio. Join a group who can teach you to sew or do carpentry. It may sound funny but there are “zombie societies” that teach people about survival. And they often do great things in the community while teaching very important skills. Many have events to stock local food pantries or raise money for local charities. There’s no reason becoming self-reliant can’t be fun!

Unless you’re a billionaire you’re probably never going to be fully prepared for every possible contingency. This is the real world and we live with real limitations. We’re limited on how much we can afford, how much space we have to grow and store food and other necessities. We’re limited on how much time we have to spend getting ready for disasters and limited in the ability to foresee every possible emergency. But you can learn to prepare within your budget, space and time constraints and for every disaster for which you can reasonably expect to be ready.

Don’t feel you have to suddenly be fully prepared or it’s not worth starting. I’d rather be 5% ready than not ready at all. I’d rather budget to be prepared than to succumb to defeat and blow my money on wasteful things. Set realistic goals for yourself. Even if you only spend an additional $5 – $10 a week on “prep” items it’s better than nothing. And you’ll find your confidence and inner peace growing as you become more and more self-reliant. Sure, awful things may happen but at least you’ll be able to meet the requirements of your family to survive and eventually thrive.

Over the next week or so I’ll be sharing some of the things you need to prepare yourself and your family for a TEOTWAWKI situation. Feel free, at any time, to comment or to ask questions. We’re all in this together!