84: 10 Lessons You Can Learn in Times of Crisis
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Although it’s never enjoyable to go through hard times or times of crisis, they hold many lessons for us to learn. The trick is to find something useful about the tough times and not waste the potential lessons. Today we’re talking about 10 lessons that I think people can learn in times of crisis.
*Hear this blog post as a podcast episode by pressing the triangle play button near the top of this post!*
I want to believe our current society can have just as much oomph as generations who came before us and dealt with whatever the crisis was of their time. Sure, some folks will need a kick in the pants to get there—but as my great uncle who lived through the Great Depression often told me when he was still alive, there were those people who needed a kick in the pants back in the 30s and 40s, too.
A crisis has a way of shaping the people of its day, and I think our current health and economic situation has the potential to do the same. And if this ends up being one of those things that “makes it into the history books”, the other thing that will make it into the history book will be how we, as a people, responded to it.
Currently, I see a lot of bickering about what the American government is or isn’t doing, or how they’re handling things, if they are or aren’t shutting things down, or what the status of Covid testing is. I offer this: how about we let our government officials do whatever they are or aren’t doing and we, as a people, apart from our government, start getting to work to help each other.
It sounds like a great idea. And it also sounds like something that’s happened before.
I think the reason we refer to the Greatest Generation as such is because they pushed up their sleeves, got to work with what needed to be done, and made it through. And in the midst of that, there were so many lessons that were learned in their day to day life while going through the hard times they lived through.
So what lessons can you learn in the middle of hard times and crisis?
What You Know
What skills can you share? I spent this past weekend teaching a lot of people how to make bread, answering questions when their first attempt didn’t turn out, and tweaking recipes for people who didn’t have certain ingredients. Bread baking is a skill I have and information I can share with those who need it.
But let’s look past skills that are often classified as homesteading skills. This isn’t just about how to start seeds or how to bake bread. The skill you can share with people may be how to stay calm. It may be how to comfort others. It may be how to entertain kids when you’re about to pull your hair out. It may be medical skills. It may be budgeting skills. It may be “I play guitar really well and so I can hop on a live stream and make people smile”.
What You Don’t Know
Ever heard the saying you don’t know what you don’t know? In times of crisis, there will be things that happen that you have to respond with um, I’m gonna have to look that up online or I’m gonna have to phone a friend on this one. I’ve been on video chat a few times with my friend Tom over at Small Scale Gardening asking him about my seed starting set up to make sure I’m doing it right. I’ve been talking to my friend Nicole from Living Free in Tennessee about some financial strategies.
Hard times are the time to take note of what you don’t know, admit that you don’t know it, and then find someone to teach you those things.
Where the holes in your preps are
You can prep all you want but you really don’t know how well you’ve prepped until it’s tested. In this current situation, I’ve heard lots of homesteaders say we were fine for ourselves but realized we hadn’t prepped for our animals long term. Another Minnesota homesteader explained it like this: prepping to be snowed in for a week and having enough feed for that, is totally different than prepping for a shortage of feed. This feels like preparing for a snowstorm and then coming out of the snowstorm and realizing there isn’t any food for you to replace what you used during that snowstorm.
Pay attention to where the holes are in your preparations—everyone has them—and then make a plan to patch up those holes for the future.
What you use and what you need
When you make an egg salad sandwich, do you need to use two eggs? Does using only one egg make a big difference to the sandwich? No. But does it make a big difference in how long things in my fridge last? You bet.
Do you need to run to the store for every little thing? No. And it’s much easier to realize that when the store doesn’t have what you need anyway because supplies are low or rationed.
Start tracking what you eat, what you spend, what supplies you use. Not only will this help you make a budget and a menu plan, but you will become much more conscious of what and how much you use the next time you step into the kitchen.
How creative you really are
It offends some people, but in hard times, I like to turn things into a game. How long can this item last? How long can we go without heading to the store? What substitute can we use for the ingredient we’re out of? Do we really even need this certain thing, or can we scrap it all together?
When you only have so much money or don’t have supplies available, it’s amazing how creative you can get. You will probably surprise yourself!
How much you depend on other people for what you use
Without even realizing it, even as homesteaders, many of us depend on a store or Amazon for a lot of what we need. In fact, when things started getting short, I had friends who said, “it’s fine, there’s always Amazon”.
It’s as if people never even considered that Amazon doesn’t have an infinite supply of seed starting pods or yeast or bleach.
Some people have been surprised with decreased speed on the internet because now so many people are working/schooling from home.
We are so dependent on many outside things to do what we do. And this isn’t meant to be a guilt thing—it’s an awareness thing. Hard times will sometimes cause people to seek ways they can remove themselves from that dependent nature. Maybe not completely, but every little bit helps—if not to better things for yourself, then to relieve some of the stress on the system for people who actually need it.
What you didn’t realize was right around you.
When flour started being in short supply at the grocery store, I started thinking about grinding my own flour. However, my very logical husband pointed out that if I have to grind as much flour as I normally use, I would need a really good grinder—and those aren’t cheap. While I sat in frustration about how to deal with that, I discovered there is a flour mill less than an hour from my house that I didn’t even know existed where I can buy direct for cheaper than I’m getting my flour at the store currently.
I never would have went searching for this information had we not been dealing with shortages in the grocery store.
Related, how many things do you have in your house that you’re not using? Things that you’re looking at but not really seeing. Things you’re tripping over or moving in piles, but aren’t really using? You’ve got that whole cabinet of games. You’ve got that sewing table in the basement with all that fabric. You’ve got a bookshelf of books you meant to read but haven’t. All those old magazines you’re saving to re-read. It’s amazing what will reveal itself when times are a little tougher.
What your biggest comfort items are
It’s amazing to me that a good cup of coffee with a little splash of heavy whipping cream feels like a huge treat right now. It’s amazing to me how delicious a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies from a friend tastes right now. It’s amazing to me how helpful a calm, chill, drama free household can be right now.
What are some of the things that comfort you? And are you holding on to things that, in the middle of hard times, you realize aren’t really a comfort?
How other people live
We very very rarely eat out. When the restaurants and bars here closed for dine in, we knew that would be a bummer for the businesses but we didn’t realize what a bummer it would be for a lot of other people. There are people who eat out a lot. There are people who don’t have a lot of food in their house because they just eat out. And while the immediate thought process is wow, maybe people shouldn’t eat out so much, what about truckers? What about people whose jobs and lifestyles mean that eating out actually is the option that makes more sense?
If we keep our eyes open in hard times, we will see how other people live and how we are all affected differently in similar situations.
Community is important, y’all. Expand yours.
How other people react to stress and fear, and how that affects us
The biggest thing I’ve learned through this current bump in the road is this: the way other people react to a situation has a huge effect on how that situation plays out. What people believe is happening is important. If people believe there is going to be a shortage of TP, they will react and conduct their lives within that reality. If people believe a virus isn’t a big deal, they will react and conduct their lives within that reality.
Stress breeds stress. Fear breeds fear. And stress and fear both make people do pretty crazy things.
I can prepare for myself, my home, and my family, but there’s a whole world out there that I’ve also got to deal with at the same time. And they might be angry. They might be scared. They might be flippant and not care about anything. They might be panic-buying the chicken feed or the flour every time it comes back into stock.
The point is, other people’s actions might actually affect what I’m able to do. Our house is pretty chill. Other houses aren’t. And it’s very easy to say well, I don’t care what else is going on out there, I’m just gonna deal with what’s happening here. But the fact that other people’s houses aren’t chill is going to affect my house and what we can do and have access to far more than I realized.
Hard times teach many lessons
When lean times are over you might be thankful, and go right back to the way you lived before.
Or you might say hey, we don’t need to live like we did before and totally change the way you live.
Or you might find a happy medium that is, I am glad we don’t to have to ration our milk anymore, but we also don’t have to go through 7 gallons a week. We really only need 3.
Regardless of what happens, I hope you will pay attention to the lessons that life is teaching you right now in the situation you’re in.
So what’s the big lesson you’re taking away from this current situation? What are some lessons you have taken away from other situations you’ve been involved in? Comment below or drop me a line at [email protected]
Links Mentioned in Episode 84:
How to make bread video
Country Crusty Round Loaf recipe
My interview on the Living Free in Tennessee: Episode 284 — Be Brave but Be Smart