Transforming Towards Resilience
This next contribution in our new Resilience Spotlight series, featuring stories from Peak Prosperity readers, comes from reader A.S. It’s a story of transforming your life to align better with your values.
Six years ago I was completely in the dark. I worked for the U.S. Government, was paid a ridiculously high salary, and had almost no resiliency. We depended on my job to pay our gigantic mortgage, on the loans on our expensive cars, on the city to supply our water, on the electric company to supply our power, and on ships and trucks to deliver all of our food. I would consider this an almost ‘negative resiliency’ environment.
I am not sure exactly when I woke up, but I did. I knew something was wrong and finally realized that our system is far more fragile than most believe. After months of pleading with my husband, we sold our expensive house, we resigned from our jobs, and we moved to a much more self-sufficient community. My parents and most siblings have also relocated to the area. Our new neighbors have gardens, hunt and fish, and have a variety of useful hands-on skills.
Financial resilience seemed to be the most pressing issue for us. The crash in 2008 was just the beginning. We purchased a much smaller and less expensive house where our mortgage is one-fifth of our previous home. Electricity is much cheaper here, plus we are surrounded my national and state forests, which provide fuel for our wood stove. We have a small water catchment system, with plans for larger capacity. We paid off our car. We sold off useless items that were collecting dust and used that money to improve our resiliency. Our family now has multiple sources income and although we make less money, we are happy.
I threw myself into the alternative media, read every alternative economic book I could find, listened to podcasts, grasping to find the truth about our financial system. It was worse than I initially thought. We needed to diversify our assets. We did not have enough money to pay off our mortgage, but we could diversify into precious metals. My first purchase was somewhat terrifying. But once you hold a gold coin in your hand, you finally realize why precious metals have been valued by so many cultures for thousands of years. I learned about dollar-cost-averaging, diversified into silver, and taught myself a little about precious metals miner stocks. I am currently looking to store some precious metals overseas in non-bank connected vaults with allocated storage.
Of course financial resiliency was a huge step, but I knew there was much more to do to help our family become more self-sufficient. I began to seek every possible learning opportunity about small-scale farming, realizing that growing our own food was a major tenant of our resiliency. The learning curve was steep, but after six years, I have learned to successfully grow beans, potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, peppers, lettuce, spinach, kale, onions, garlic, apples, peaches, pears, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. We also learned to can and dehydrate food, make jam, bake bread, save seeds, and compost. We also have some long-term food stored just in case a crisis strikes in the middle of winter.
As a family, we now live a healthier lifestyle. Fresh organic food from the garden or local farmer’s market just tastes better. We exercise more and share a lot more family activities because we are not working as much as we were to support our previously expensive lifestyle. We are now under the care of a Naturopath who leading us on the path to true health. I also study herbalism in my free time so I can take care of my family’s minor health needs.
Probably one of the most important things I learned through this process is to leverage the skills of others. I mistakenly tried to learn everything I thought we needed to become resilient, without appreciating the skills of those close to me. My husband now works as a carpenter and was a tremendous help building a variety of projects. He has also taught himself the art of barter, a very common form of exchange in our new community. He also made it his mission to learn about guns and hunting. My father is a great mechanic and fisherman. My sisters are learning archery and also fish. My mother is great with health issues. We have close friends that are jacks-of-all-trades, and others that garden and have orchards.
Are we completely resilient? No. But we are moving toward a more resilient lifestyle. I realized that resiliency is a process. There are areas where we are stronger, and others where we need more effort. The first steps were hard. Working together as a family has helped in our transition from negative resiliency to something much better.
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Great work! I'm jealous of your progress. You say you pleaded for months with your husband. How bad was the argument? How did he come around? Can you expand on that?
I also wanted to let you know that the story of your progress towards a more resilient lifestyle is very inspiring! That's a lot of progress in a relatively short time.
I'm curious about how you found the more self-sufficient community that you moved to, where gardening, hunting, fishing and knowing useful hands-on skills is prevalent. That seems to me to be of key importance in establishing a more resilient life. Did you already know the place where you moved to? Or did you have certain criteria you established in searching for a new place to live?
Thanks again for sharing your story.
I appreciate the story too, A.S.
Are you continuing your day job? Are you farming for income or just to feed your family?
Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for your comment!
The pleading was very extensive and it was not easy. I made my initial case based on the facts I uncovered in my research. Then I carefully added other facts here and there. We discussed what our life would be like if we made certain changes. I guess that was what changed his mind – the plan. Of course this plan deviated a lot, but we are getting to a much more resilient lifestyle.
It all came down to compromise. If I got everything I wanted, we would be living in an off-grid tiny house in a rural area and almost completely self-sufficient. My husband wanted a more "normal" lifestyle, in town with a home in a neighborhood, close to stores and restaurants. So we relocated in an area that has a little of both. We have a house that is much smaller and less expensive than our previous home, but not a tiny house. We are in town, but can get lost in the forest with a 20 minute drive, and fish 5 minutes away. We are not completely self-sufficient, but we built a covered hoop house, have a large garden area, and planted fruit bushes and trees on the land we do have. We make less money, but have less debt and a lot less stress.
Best of luck in your resiliency journey!
In all honesty, we moved here on a whim, or perhaps a semi-calculated whim. We did have parameters, but enough to leave us flexible. We knew we wanted to live in the vicinity of the Pacific Northwest, in a place where we could be closer to nature. We wanted to be outside the major cities, but my husband still wanted to be in a town. We looked for areas that matched our criteria and took a giant leap of faith. We figured we would keep moving if we didn't like our first choice.
It was really hard to adjust at first, but as we got to meet our neighbors and make new friends, things became easier. I really don't believe any additional amount of research would have helped us in our decision. It wasn't until we were living in our new community for a few years that we fully understood what makes it tick. It took us a bit longer to be sure that we fit, which after some adjustment, I think we do.
I don't have a job in the traditional sense, but instead have multiple sources of income. I tutor, sell a bit of produce (hoping to expand that income stream), sell my husband's photography, and write occasionally. It is not as lucrative as my previous career, but I am happy. Both my husband and I sleep better at night knowing that we aren't completely dependent upon my formerly high-paying job for everything.