How to thrive during uncertain times.

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I was reading Connie Hultquist’s Dear Kitchen Saints the other night. I thumb through this book often to be humbled and nourished. These times call for soul food and inspiration for what might…or might not be ahead of us.

I found out about a group that is on FaceBook called Buy Nothing. The “Buy Nothing Project”. It is all about community trade and support. I haven’t read into it deeply because I deleted my FaceBook ages ago and it would take something huge to get me to set up another account. But this project is worldwide and a call to a new age and way of living that we are seeing the beginnings of. Barter and trade.

I had a friend, that lives in my new town, come over the other day to welcome me to the community with eggs, walnuts, a huge can of diced tomatoes, and a couple great baskets for my kitchen she found at a thrift store. I gave her 10 lbs of red onions. A new age.

But it’s not a new thing. It’s how things used to be done. Trading, bartering, bringing gifts of food and usable items. I don’t want someone to bring me flowers and a plastic gift. I want a person to gift me with garden seeds, a fruit tree, baked goods, or a kitchen gadget that will help with all the scratch cooking.

We are all in a shutdown, can’t walk close to each other, and my co-op recently emailed a letter listing how we will all shop from now on. Only 50 shoppers at a time, X’s marked on the floor to show proper distancing, we bag our own groceries, no more bins to scoop from, rations on some items.

Elders that lived through the Depression will recognize some of this. Anyone over a hundred that lived through the Spanish Flu will recognize the other parts.

I don’t like it. I don’t mind rationing but the weirdness around not being able to stand near someone, the monitored crowds…it is unnerving and creepy at this point. But I suppose necessary. I just don’t leave the house.

But this time is going to bring other times that will look worse than the 2008 recession. No one learned from that time and it was only 12 years ago. Houses and rents have skyrocketed to a high beyond the market crash of 2008. Suburbias outside of town are still being built on mass levels even though they prove unsustainable since they have no train system or even a bus system to get in and out or for city commuters. Those who live in suburbia have no markets or local shops and have to drive everywhere to get anywhere. We build bigger highways and add more lanes to solve the problem. But what happens when gas is limited or becomes too expensive? It happened in 2008. People couldn’t afford to drive to work from their cookie-cutter homes. What about our air and land? Are cars going to always be the dominating force?

We learned nothing and repeated all of it and at an even deeper and worse level. Now a virus has taken down the economy in a short period. We have 30 million some layoffs to date. It is a domino effect and all we can do right now is watch the train wreck in slow motion. Everything is interconnected and our economy is built on consumerism. It is destructive. All the driving and buying is destructive on many levels.

Since this shut-in, pollution is down, skies are clearing, birds are singing…or maybe we can just hear them now that we aren’t rushing about and the roar of cars has lulled. The LA skies are clear for the first time in decades. Punjab has birds flocking in hundreds because the air is so pleasant and all the commotion has ceased.

It is time for change. We must learn to live peacefully on this earth and find our nourishment and joy in family, community…a slower life. We must learn to cherish nature and take care of Her. We need to find a different way and a new industry.

We could start a whole new economy that would thrive and take care of the Earth and fulfill us in a real way, not the quick and artificial ways we are used to. We could start a whole new Green Economy. People could do work that was positive and that fed our souls. It’s out there…waiting.

In the meantime, we need to start with ourselves and our homes, families, and our little corner of the world.

Take this time to turn inward and find what feeds you. What is it you really want to do with the rest of your life? Do you want to keep rushing about and spend your life in offices and commute traffic? Do you still want to spend 90% of your life at work and in the car? Or do you want to do something meaningful and have more time with family and friends? Do you want to be home more to paint, write, bike or hike the trails, garden, read?

You can have a new life, a different life that actually is a life. But we have to make drastic changes. We have to sacrifice a lot of what we are familiar with and open the space up for the new. You must give up many things that make up your present life to create and build a new life.

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You can’t begin a new journey on the same old path, with the same old thoughts, with the same old behaviors and actions. To start a new life you have to change from the inside out. New thoughts, new behaviors, new actions.

Sometimes, when times are serious, you have to make huge and fast changes.

I talk about homesteading, planting big gardens in those dead yards, learning to can, bake and sew. These seem like silly, simple things. But I assure you they are not. They are the beginnings of being self-sufficient, reconnecting to the Earth, your food, and even your family. They are even ways to find our lost selves.

When I’m in the garden planting seeds in the ground with my hands, feeling the soil, smelling its richness, hearing the birds chirp busily above in the trees, feeling the sun’s warmth…I feel peace and that all is well and balanced in nature.

When I work in my kitchen stirring pots of simmering stews, kneading my dough, listening to songs on the radio, having my boys playing and laughing in the room next to the kitchen, having my little dog curled up in her bed near the stove…I feel truly happy and content.

When I’m sitting on the couch in the evenings watching a movie with my family and doing one of my hideous sew/patch jobs on a torn comforter I feel accomplished. I’m learning a skill that repairs our things and saves us money.

When I stock the pantry, order seeds, plant fruit trees, and choose a rototiller over a new stove…I feel like I’m managing my household with all the wisdom God has granted me. I’m preparing to feed and care for my family and possibly neighbors and friends on into the future.

We live in a very old house. This house was around before WW1 and WW2, the Spanish Flu, the dust bowl, the Great Depression and the 2008 recession. It guides me and whispers direction as to how to get my family through the future hard times.

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Can we get through hard times and thrive? Yes, but it will take soul searching, inventiveness, being prepared and starting right now. It will require a new work ethic, and changing our ways down to the bone.

Many people are waking up. Flour and yeast are hard to find right now which tells me that bread baking is filling many kitchens. Seeds and fruit trees are disappearing like mad, which tells of many a new garden and homestead that are being started. Get out there and get some seeds, dig up that useless lawn, plant fruit and nut trees (be careful about black walnuts though, they don’t mix well with others), learn to cook simple meals at home, learn to preserve your summer crop, learn to patch your clothes. Learn from our great grandparents and the Depression Era. How did they survive such hard times?

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The library will have piles of garden and homesteading books. Now is the time to study a new craft. YouTube offers hundreds of tutorials on farming, baking, cooking, sewing, crocheting, canning, dehydrating. It is a new and exciting adventure.

Grab it with both hands.

Slow down, find ways to simplify your life. Your life is the most important thing and the life of your children and partner.

Take time to read novels, sing with the radio, sit in the sun and hear the sounds around you. Take time to read to your children or just sit and listen to them. Take time to redesign a life that is simple, slow, precious, delicious. Make your life rich with time and work at home.

Amongst the layoffs and sickness, there are positives. In just a short time of us stopping the industrial wheel of production and traffic, the skies are clearing, birds and animals are coming out to enjoy the clean air and water, people are having time to rest and be with family. People have the time to reflect and roll out dough or put in a garden. This is a wonderful shift on many levels.

What are you learning about yourself and those around you in this time? What plans are you making for a new life?

We can panic and run about waving our arms…or, as one of my subscribers said about homemaking one time, we can put on a pot of coffee and surrender to the process.

20 thoughts on “How to thrive during uncertain times.

  1. Here in New York state, both libraries and gyms are shut down! I am also a homemaker, and I am seeing, as you mentioned, people starting to take up the kinds of tasks that we already do in our day-to-day lives. I think (hope) that people are starting to see the benefits of this slower way of living, embracing it, and even admiring/ respecting it. They—and their families—are being nourished by these nurturing activities and using them as a form of self-care, in addition to taking advantage of their practicality. Thanks, as always, for your insightful post and thoughtful suggestions.

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  2. I love that pollution is down! I have also heard that many animal shelters are empty because people are adopting dogs and cats like crazy. Yippee!!! Hopefully, they won’t abandon them when this is all over. I understand and feel the severity of these times, trust me! But, I’m a firm believer that we need to find the silver lining.

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  3. I have been dwelling on similar thoughts for some time, and of course, especially since all the drama started. I’ve been dreaming of victory gardens and canning jars, of knitting needles and radio dramas. I don’t want to go back to the “good ol’ days” — before Google and penicillin — but there’s no reason our wonderful lost arts must stay lost.

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  4. I feel I have been training for this since I became sick at 29 and left my teaching job to homeschool my children. God showed me how to heal my body through food and intentional living. Gardening has been so cathartic. The past ten years have been a gift. The gift of living with less, eating food as God intended us to eat, and living the good, slow life. We can do this!! Beauty WILL come from these ashes. Take care Kate! Thanks for the positivity and encouragement!

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  5. When I was a kid in 1970s Ireland we lived on a street where all the houses had long gardens in strips down from a back lane. Everyone worked their gardens. There were 8 kids in my family and my dad grew all our vegetables and fruit, with my brothers and me helping. My mother made jams, cooked from scratch, and knitted sweaters and cardigans for us for winter. I had hand me down clothes from female cousins and even wore my brothers cast offs. We kept hens in the yard for eggs. My dad rented some grazing and a stable on the outskirts of town so we had a milking cow, Daisy, for milk, that my mother churned into butter too. My dad worked a full time job in our town, and my mother stayed home and looked after us. All the neighbors had similar lives, and the back gardens were a hive of activity each evening in summer, with neighbors chatting to each other over the fences, and kids playing together. I had a great childhood. When we needed things we shopped in town in local family run businesses. This was before globalization and mass consumerism, when everyone took to shopping the world rather than producing. I’m 49. so that wasn’t even that long ago. I live simply now, grow some food, and waste nothing, and I highly recommend it. It makes a lot of sense in these very difficult times.

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    1. What a glorious childhood, thank you for sharing this! I beleive that this is a shift that had to happen before we ruined ourselves. Seed and fruit tree sales are up, yeast and flour is hard to find. That tells me people are waking up and gardening and baking. Yay!

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  6. The UK is on lockdown and it has been one of the best weeks of my life. I see families out cycling and running together, I hear children playing in the gardens. Everyone has put up signs thanking the garbage men and postmen for continuing to do their services. For the first time in my life there is solidarity. I thought I had to take my kids out every day but this has taught me that we’re happy in the garden making fairy houses.
    I’m told that the beautiful blue sky we currently have has nothing to do with the lack of pollution but I don’t believe it, I’ve never seen it look like this before. And not to mention I haven’t spent any money at all!

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    1. Pollution is down everywhere so it definitely has to do with all this. I’m surprised and delighted at how people are taking to it all. Everyone finally has time to rest! Sleep! Live a natural life! What will happen when we all go back to normal? Or can we now?

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  7. Kate such a powerful post.
    Every you said is what we all need to do.
    Evaluate our lives. This virus has shut down almost Everything. Most people don’t know how to sit still.
    The younger generation always has to be entertained.
    We all need to come together as a nation.
    Help each other.
    Grow fruits and vegetables in our yards or plant community gardens.
    We will all remember this time and hopefully learn a valuable lesson of what is really important in life.
    Cook and have a sit down meal with your family.
    Write a letter to a friend or a loved one just to say hello.
    Most of all be thankful for what we do have and trust in our Heavenly Father.
    🙏💕

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  8. Thank you Kate for being you! I lived this way for most of my life but got caught up in technology and following useless time wasting pursuits! I am not feeling well this morning, the news is starting to get to me! and decided to take the battery out of my smartphone and put it away. I ordered Connie Hultquist’s and Sharon White’s books last week and they’ll be here Wednesday. I’ve always loved to read but have gotten away from it, and want a book in my hands again and not a kindle. We’ve started some tomato seeds and they’re coming up. We are not young anymore but still in pretty good health so we’re going to continue the homesteading ways. Home is a wonderful place to be. Thanks for continuing with this much needed message!

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    1. Good for you, it’ll take a couple days but you will feel happy again soon. I was just reading my Connie Hultquist on the porch this afternoon. I have no news or anything disturbing me, I’m content.

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  9. Hi Kate, I’m a big fan of your YouTube videos & everything you write. As a Thank You for all that you share with us I’d like to share a poem that my first husband’s grandmother had pinned with a safety pin to the curtain above her kitchen sink. She cut it out of the local newspaper back in the early 1920’s when she was a newly wed. I’ve never forgotten it in all these years since I first read it in the early 1970’s. We all need to remember to be grateful for what we have, the glass half full thing….

    “Thank God for dirty dishes, They have a tale to tell, While other folks go hungry We’re eating very well. With home and health and happiness We shouldn’t want to fuss For by this stack of evidence God’s very good to us.”

    (I don’t like washing dishes but I do appreciate what got them dirty…lol) Have a blessed day….. Diane

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