Priorities: What are yours, realistically?

If someone asked you what your top 5 life priorities are in general, what do you think you’d say?  If you’re married with children you might say “my family’s care” as one example, or if you’re single and trying to work your way up the corporate ladder you might say “My career” as another example.  However, not many people have actually taken the time to sit down and realize what their priorities actually are and those who think they have probably haven’t taken the next step to ensure their daily actions/way of life support what they think are their priorities. My goal with this article is just to walk you through the thought process to make sure there’s nothing you missed or any habits you need to change. 

For the sake of this article I’ll pick some generic priorities that most of us can agree on, but also may differ in your own list of top 5 priorities.  This will give you an idea on how to structure them and how to break them down so you can actually make a change in the desired areas. 

Personal priorities examples:

  1. Health and welfare of myself and immediate family
    • Are you eating healthy/working out regularly? 
    • Do you encourage a healthier lifestyle for those around you? 
    • Do you go for regular checkups with the doctor? 
    • Do you smoke or drink too much? 
  2. Financial stability/freedom
    • Are you increasing credit debt or paying it off? 
    • Do you buy frivolous things at the gas station or store? 
    • Are you working extra hours or side jobs to earn more? 
    • Are you paying too much for “entertainment” like Hulu or Netflix? 
  3. Improving interpersonal relationships
    • Do you stay in contact with family regularly? 
    • Do you celebrate your friends’ success and encourage them? 
    • Do you reach out and help when you don’t have to? 
    • Do you talk behind your “friends” backs often? 
  4. Education
    • Have you mapped out a plan to get the degree/education you desire? 
    • Do you say you don’t have enough time, but waste hours on T.V.?
    • Are you racking up debt for a degree that is basically useless? 
    • Are you continuing to further yourself educationally or do you stop with a degree? 
  5. Actually enjoying life
    • Do you take time away from the madness to have fun? 
    • When was the last time you planned a real vacation? 
    • Do you let others tell you that your hobby is stupid or a waste of time? 
    • Do you find yourself more stressed than relaxed on a daily basis? 

These may all seem like pretty simple ideas, but even myself, while writing this, was forced to see the flaws that I make that do NOT align with my own priorities.  It’s almost a “gut check” if you will, that I believe that people today could do well by experiencing. What are your priorities in life?

A 2020 Christmas Poem

Merry Christmas everyone, It’s that time of year again,
Where we gather round with family 
And maybe some good friends.

2020 sure has been something,
That's pretty plain to see,
Sit right back and relax
As I list some out for thee.

COVID19 kicked it off, 
Toilet paper you must conserve,
Don’t worry it’ll be over soon
In 300 days we’ll flatten the curve.

We streamed a lot of content,
But which show reigned supreme?
There’s only one, you probably guessed it
The majestic Tiger King.

To add to the mess,
It was also election year,
Two old white guys fighting
Made us drink a lot of beer.

We had fires in Australia 
And a looming WW3,
Kanye ran for President
And we lost the legend Kobe.

Just when we thought that 2020
Didn’t have much left to bring,
Out come the murder hornets
And their “deadly” sting.

Cancel culture ruled the roost,
Be careful what you say, 
Or BLM and or Antifa
Will try and ruin your day.

This year is nearly over you see,
And once over, it’s done forever
But with the way things are going now
2021 doesn’t look much better.

Death: Expect it more, fear it less

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a-flying, and this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying

Robert Herrick,1648, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

We all experience death eventually, but nobody likes to talk about it.  “That’s morbid” or “Let’s not talk about that right now” are common things you hear when/if you bring up the topic of death.  I think that should change.  Not only to have a healthier outlook about it, but to help you live life to the fullest without necessarily “fearing” death.  

To quote the great stoic philosopher Epictetus “I cannot escape death, but at least I can escape the fear of it”.   I think this quote encapsulates exactly what I’ve been thinking about and what I’d like to bring to the attention of you, the reader. 

No matter what religion you believe in or even if you don’t believe in anything at all, you will experience death eventually.  That day could be today, tomorrow, months from now or hopefully, many years down the road.  Given the uncertainty of death, do you believe it’s smart to ignore the fact of death or do you think that it’s healthy to avoid the topic until you’re faced with it and forced to deal with it, whether it be with a family member or  yourself?  I believe preparing your mind around the topic of death can/will help you process it better when either yourself or a loved one’s time comes near. 

No I’m not talking about walking around all day just thinking about death or having a morbid fascination with it.  I’m talking about having a more “poetic” view of death, kind of a “smell the flowers along the way” sort of view about it.  I think most of us would agree that we all should spend less time worrying about things we cannot control and enjoy life’s moments more. 

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I’m 34 as of November 2020.  I’ve experienced a number of deaths and funerals in my life to include my mothers back in 2017.  Luckily for me, I prepared myself as much as possible by recognizing the warning signs of her health, lifestyle and other things.  I knew it wasn’t going to be long before she passed and I prepared myself for it.  Yes I was still sad, yes I cried, yes I still deal with it from time to time, but expecting it and coming to terms with the real possibility that it could happen soon helped my process.

No you can’t plan for unexpected deaths.  When someone young that you love is killed in a car wreck, or a disease pops up out of nowhere it’s going to be a huge blow to you emotionally, as it should, but you can still prepare your mind.   One way I recommend doing this is by knowing and expecting, in the back of your mind, that a tragedy is just around the corner.  This thought process isn’t morbid either, it’s a fact of life and accepting these facts of life, that is the human condition, will help you be caught just a little less off guard. 

I remember a conversation I had with my Aunt Kathy a few years ago.  We were standing on our family farm out in the country clearing out my grandfather’s things as he was moved into a nursing home.  She was obviously mentally and physically tired and being around her 70’s, rightly so.  I said something to the effect of “Life is crazy” and she told me “Gary, it doesn’t stop, it’s always something, that’s just life” and that made me think.  

Most people seem to have the mentality of looking forward to their golden years and retirement.  They imagine sitting on a beach with their spouse enjoying the ‘good life” that you worked so hard towards, I mean you deserve it after all, right?  The reality of this mentality is that 90% of the time this doesn’t come to fruition for most people.  If you’re lucky enough to make it to the age of 65+ you’ve been through lots of loss and hardships.  Loss of loved ones, setbacks, and at that age your time is most likely drawing to an end. 

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“Gary, you’re really starting to bring me down here” you might say.  That’s not my point though.  My point is that once you reach a certain age, it’s healthy to come to terms mentally that you will have to deal with death more and more the older you get.  You can either get depressed about this fact when it occurs and fear it until it does, or you can appreciate the time you have left on this earth and the time you have left with those you love.  

Grieving is healthy, and basically inevitable as part of our human existence, but recognizing the difference between grieving and sulking is equally important.  Let’s say a loved one dies that you cared about who also cared about you.  Do you think they would appreciate you wrecking yourself emotionally or drowning yourself in a bottle for weeks on end because of their passing?  Or do you think they would appreciate you processing it healthily and appreciating the time you did have together?  I know I wouldn’t want those that I love to be tortured by my passing to their detriment.  

I’ll leave you with a poem that I have quoted most of my life that I think about often by Robert Herrick written in 1648 titled To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather ye Rose-buds while ye may,

    Old Time is still a-flying:

And this same flower that smiles today,

    Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious Lamp of Heaven, the Sun,

    The higher he’s a getting;

The sooner will his Race be run,

    And nearer he’s to Setting.

That Age is best, which is the first,

    When Youth and Blood are warmer;

But being spent, the worse, and worst

    Times, still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time;

    And while ye may, go marry:

For having lost but once your prime,

    You may forever tarry.

Planning for 2021: A practical New Year’s Resolution

2020 has been a wild year.  From COVID, to the election and everything in between 2020 will be one for the books and most of us are looking forward to the next year, like we do every year.  “[insert year] will be MY YEAR” or “[insert year] is the year things start to change for the better” are some of the posts and comments you’ll hear as we get closer to New Years Eve, but putting hope aside, we all know the year changing doesn’t mean squat.  

Keeping reality in mind, what are some things we can do to ACTUALLY make a REAL change in 2021 that will have tangible results.  Below are some small, realistic and impactful changes/habits that I believe will leave you in a better situation than you started at the end of 2021. 

Health – Yes, most of us would like to lose a few pounds in 2021, but setting lofty goals will likely result in failure and disappointment, we are only human after all.  I’m sure most of you have heard of these before, but I feel reiterating them might jog some motivation in a few people.  

  • Park further away from the entrance – Easy concept, but by actually putting it in practice can seriously add some “steps” to your life resulting in more calories burnt and a healthier heart/cardiovascular system. . 
  • Take the stairs when you don’t have to take an elevator – This is hard for most people, including myself, but just like parking further away from an entrance, over time taking the stairs can help you out, especially if you work in or visit a building with stairs/elevator daily.
  • Cut out just ONE major junk food for the year – What’s something that you intake often that you know for sure needs to go?  For me it’s soda, for others it might be candy or ice cream.  Now I’m not saying to cut it out of ALL occasions, but making a focus to cut the “habit” of it out of your life can have a drastic impact on your health. 

Finances – Most of us don’t need a new years resolution to wish we had a better grasp of our finances or to wish we had more money, but hoping without a plan is only a wish.  Budgets are tight, especially with COVID closing down jobs and people barely making ends meet.  Since I’m not a millionaire, I’m obviously not a subject matter expert on finances, but below are some practices that I believe any billionaire would agree with me on. 

  • Start actually saving more – Don’t we all wish we had the extra money to set aside for a rainy day?  Saving doesn’t mean you have to throw a large chunk into your savings account, but it does mean you have to put SOMETHING in there and NOT TOUCH IT, that’s the hard part.  
  • Invest – just like a savings account it’s easy to say “I just don’t have enough to invest”, but you do.  There’s plenty of easy apps out there like acorn.com or stash.com that you can invest a couple dollars a week into industries or companies that YOU believe are on the rise.  Also cryptocurrencies are hot right now and easy to purchase with any budget. 
  • Stop buying “small stuff” – Stopping at the gas station to get gas or grab an item is commonplace for most of us, but unfortunately it’s also common place for us to convince ourselves that we “deserve” that bag of chips or that pack of candy that only cost $2.  That $2 will add up and more often than you think.  Make it a point to NOT buy anything you DON’T NEED. 

Interpersonal Relationships – Whether it be with dating, family, work or friends, we’d all benefit more from improving these relationships and how we interact with and prioritize them.  We tend to neglect some or all of these areas at some point, that’s just life, but practicing the methods below will improve things and just might help open networking doors that would otherwise remain closed. 

  • Romantic Relationships – Assuming you’re not single, there are some forms of “thoughtfulness” that most of us don’t show the person we deem “most special” in our life as we’d like, and showing a little extra can drastically improve things and prevent negative outcomes from neglect.  One way to ensure you don’t neglect them is setting a recurring alert on your phone to just tell them you love them or to do a simple act of love such as unloading the dishwasher or just giving them a hug can make a huge difference.  
  • Distant Family/Acquaintances – You don’t want to be that son or daughter who never calls or that grandkid that only reaches out to Nanna and Poppy during the holidays, or even that friend that never tries to connect.  You can set a reminder like the example for romantic relationships above or you can try and make it a habit while you’re watching your favorite show to text one family member or old friend during the commercial just saying you miss them.  Not only is it nice and makes them feel loved and missed, but you’re also keeping doors open that normally wouldn’t be.  
  • Professional Relationships – Business is business, but more often than not business gets done easier and more efficiently when you have some kind of personal report with those professional connections.  This is a huge reason why “happy hours” and “client outings” are such an important part in sales and business, it builds confidence that you can trust the other person and their word just a little more because you’ve connected with them on a level OTHER than just business.  “But my job isn’t like that” you say, maybe yours isn’t a savvy businessy type job like sales or something, but the benefits remain the same.  Just taking a minute out of your day to ask how your coworker is doing and be genuinely engaged can help improve your work relationships and them possibly helping you out when you need them most. 

Aspirations & Goals – Most of us have things we’d like to do outside of our relationships and work, but always seem to take a backseat or the motivation just dies out.  I always tell people “Motivation will get you going, but habit is what gets you there”.  This can be applied to money, fitness or learning a new skill.  Below are some ways that I believe can keep the fire burning that pushes you to make your goals into reality. 

  • Making time and the time known to others – Not only do you need to set aside time to work toward your goals, but you also need to let those closest to you know that it is important to you.  You may have to deal with friends or family telling you that “it’s stupid”, “a waste of time” or they might just get mad that you’re willing to do something without them during the time you would normally do something with them, but if they value you, they will respect the time you take to work toward your goals.
  • Actually make a plan – I’ve talked to a lot of people who have plans, but have never actually sat down to map that plan out to see what the next step is or if that step is realistically attainable.  By sitting down and learning what point A and B look like you’ll have a clearer understanding of what it takes to get to C and everything in between. 
  • Networking & Learning – Get into the industry, market, scene or whatever you want to call the “space” that your aspirations or goals exist in the real world.  Take 10 minutes out of each day to follow a blog regarding what you’re into, add someone on LinkedIn that is a leader in that industry.  Instead of listening to music the whole ride home, listen to a podcast with experts in the area you’re interested in.  Just by slowly dipping your toes into the water you’ll find that before long you’re nearly fully submerged in what you WANT to be doing instead of only wishing you were. 

As I always say, I’m not an expert on these things and I’m not pretending like I follow all of these suggestions to a T, but it’s also hard to argue that by keeping these methods in mind and applying them more often that you wouldn’t have a better outcome and a better year come December 2021.  Wish you all a very Happy Holidays!

Rebellious Individual Freedom: In thought & practice

If you know me, you know I’m a HUGE supporter of liberty and Individual rights, but one thing I’ve noticed over the past year or so is that a lot of people, not just Americans, have never really truly thought about what the concept of Individual freedom really means to them.  My hope is that by the end of this read, you might have a different view of what individual freedom means and why it’s as important as I believe it is.

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Before we get into this I’m going to do you a favor, I’m going to spare you the mind numbing laws, and regulations that govern our “free” society in America. Why, you ask? For one, their interpretation by people can vary wildly, but more importantly, I believe that your version of Individual liberty is more important than what anybody tells you it is.  I mean that is the definition; “Freedom – the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” 

“It sounds like you’re talking about Anarchy Gary”, we need rules or else there would be chaos in the streets” – This is what I hear from people who have a poor understanding of what freedom and liberty is for the individual.  I’m sure I’ll be called a “statist” for saying this, but yes, there needs to be some rules and guidelines on how we act in a “civilized” society, but to what end?  This part of MY thought process is what turned me onto the Libertarian way of thinking.  If you’re not familiar with what that is it’s basically this “Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff”, I believe this concept should also be especially enforced with our own government.  

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I could go on and on regarding the variations of libertarianism and how it can better, and conflict, with our current laws and ways of life, but I’ll boil it down even more for you.  In my opinion, individual liberty and freedom should be more of a mindset and practice as opposed to a right or law.  YOU as the individual make a conscious decision to be free or not be free, this doesn’t mean it’s without consequence though.  

You have to decide how free YOU will live your life, what’s acceptable to YOU.  I may not agree with what you choose and choose not to practice, but that’s the magic of individual liberty, It’s NONE OF MY BUSINESS what you do, where you eat, what you buy, where you go and if you value freedom and liberty FOR ALL, you shouldn’t care what others do either as long as they aren’t hurting people, or taking their stuff. 

“The world is more nuanced than that Gary, we have more laws to cover particular instances and situations”.  YES, you’re right about that, I fully agree that the world is more grey than it is black and white, but I also believe that there shouldn’t be one size fits all when it comes to laws and regulations and they should all be judged individually based on their own nuances.  Again, I’m getting away from the main point of this article, and that is making freedom and liberty more of a mindset and practice.  

Making individual freedom a mindset and practice is hard for a lot of people tho.  Most people, I believe, want to be good citizens, who don’t “break the law” and contribute positively to society.  I am also like this, however I also believe that some, unjust laws, do not deserve to be followed when attempting to live a reasonably free existence.  This is where the mindset and practice of your individual liberty come into play.  Remember earlier when I said it wouldn’t be without consequence?  

One way you can look at this is like the old school American thought process.  We literally became a nation through rebellion.  Our country exists solely because tougher people than us said NO, I will not do what I’m told just because it’s considered “law”, I want to be free and will fight for that way of life.  Why should this idea of Individual freedom and liberty change in OUR minds just because it’s 2020? Tyranny and government overreach still exists today.  

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No I’m not saying we all have to become Paul Revere or Patrick Henry or openly defy all laws made by our government, but we should have the attitude to not just accept what we’re told.  We should also be brave enough to stand up to politics and actions that violate others individual liberties as yours could be next. 

Everything that I have just talked about does NOT align with many political views out there, socialism and communism to name the biggest.  My argument to them is that their freedoms and liberties or “rights” as they like to call them do NOT constitute participation from others.  When you say that I must pay even more taxes to cover welfare programs that I do not agree with, you are then forcing me to do something I do not want to do and taking my own money unwillingly.  No I’m not heartless and yes there are people who are in need, but that still does not give you or anyone else the right to take money that I have earned.  Hence why taxation is deemed as theft by many libertarians and similar ideologies. 

What’s the solution?  I have no idea, but I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.  I will continue to promote/exercise individual liberty and freedom to pursue the life that I want until my dying breath, and maybe if we all adopted this attitude, the powers that be would be less inclined to force their will and the will of others upon our lives, and stop them from forcing you to comply or to becoming a criminal.  The decision and consequences are yours to make, but you will have to live with your action or inaction for the rest of your days.

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My 6 elements of how to live a life fulfilled

This is something I’ve been wanting to put on paper for a little while now.  Over the past few years I’ve developed a pretty solid group of friends and we’ve had many MANY conversations about nearly everything you can talk about.  During these conversations, I’ve noticed little “nuggets” of what I believe is truth pop up, and after doing some digging conversationally with my friends, we’re all pretty much in agreement that these “elements”, if paid attention to and applied correctly, can and will drastically improve one’s life.  The trick however is to actually practice utilizing these key elements and I for one have not come close to perfecting this just yet, but I will keep trying because even if you only have success practicing one or two, you’ll still see improvement in your life. 

This list might seem somewhat generic or obvious, but there’s more to each of these than what you think at first glance:

  • Perspective
  • Passion
  • Balance
  • Patterns
  • Timing
  • Love

Perspective – Is the grass greener on the other side?  It’s usually not, but looks can be deceiving and what you experience personally and internally can play a huge part in how resilient you can be.  This is why it’s great to try and have “perspective” on tap in the back of your mind to help you overcome adversity and to realize that you might not have it as bad as you think.  This way of thinking helps me personally maintain a certain level of positivity or optimism when others may go down the path of negativity which can, and usually does, lead to you making poor decisions, turning an already bad situation even worse.  

Passion – Let’s not confuse this one.  I’m not talking about your “passion for your children or family”, I’m talking about your personal individual passions, the thing or things that make life interesting and exciting for YOU.  Are you an artist?  Do you wake up everyday with almost a NEED to get in front of a blank canvas? That’s passion.  Are you an entrepreneur?  Do you wake up everyday with almost a NEED to create, innovate and succeed in your projects? That’s passion.   Without passion in our lives we’re only either surviving or just going through the motions and neither are preferred if you’re pursuing a fulfilled life. 

Balance –  This can also be considered “moderation”, but not exclusively.  Being cognisant of what sort of things you’re balancing in your life can help you identify areas you should give more attention or maybe spend less time doing.  Spending too much time in the office at work might be good for your career and your bank account, but are you neglecting your family and social life?  It can even be small things that end up having a larger impact on your life such as food intake.  Maybe drink less soda during the day and increase water intake.  Making even minor changes to your balancing act can have a huge impact on your life. 

Patterns –  This one is kind of fooey and hooha, but you can’t deny its existence.  You see patterns everyday, the habits you have, the route you take to work, the foods we eat and also the way we treat each other.  It might take your recognition of certain behavioral patterns to realize a negative person should no longer be a part of your life.  Patterns might also include cycles of life, like realizing that things come and go, and get worse before they get better, but remembering patterns of life can give reassurance that things can and will change and you can play a part in that process. 

Timing – Timing might seem like it’s related to patterns, and it can be at times, but I wanted to focus more so on WHEN you chose TO do or NOT to do things or actions.  In joke telling, timing is everything, if you fail to deliver the punchline in time or if you deliver it too soon, you’ll not get the response from the crowd that you’re looking to get, same is true with life.  Choosing to talk to your significant other about a touchy topic right before bed when you both are tired already might not be the right timing for that conversation.  Also, deciding to make that new car purchase before you finish paying off that outstanding credit card might be bad financial timing.  Practicing good timing benefits you by avoiding the headaches and hardships from acting rashly or without thinking things through. 

Love – How many things have been written, talked about, sung about, or thought on when it comes to the topic of love.  I’ll spare you my version of that, but one other aspect of love that I feel doesn’t get enough attention is just simply.. keeping in mind, even in times of anger, despair, hurt and troubles.  Keeping love in mind, and the knowledge that love is the most important aspect of life and that’s what makes life worth living, makes it a lot easier to practice the rest of these elements and how to implement them more effectively in your life.  

I hope you enjoyed this read and more importantly I hope you at least try to keep these elements in mind when going about your day to day life, I will also try and do the same and maybe together we can live a more fulfilled life making all of our lives collectively more enjoyable.

Warning Signs

“Why couldn’t I save them?” I said in a tired voice.  “What could I have done differently?”  Beating myself up for things I couldn’t control, out loud again.  No one was around to hear me, so what did it matter.  Should I have trusted my gut earlier or was there nothing I could have done at all..NO, there is always something different you can do, I know this now.     

Sitting in the cool damp garage on my family’s abandoned farm I pondered, again, as to how all of this happened, how did I go from a middle aged, family man with a good job and great friends to nearly nothing in such a short period of time?  I guess it wasn’t that short, but it seemed like it was, considering all that has happened since “the day”.   

Looking back to the warning signs that I used to call them, and attempting to pinpoint an exact time that it all started is nearly impossible, but a few indicators stood out in my mind.  I think I first started getting “paranoid” as my friends would have said, when we all started turning on eachother.  There were other earlier “signs” that I noticed, but that was me looking at the world from nihilistic colored glasses, I never hoped any of it would come true.

I adjusted my old folding camping chair, staring out of the garage towards the field on the side of the dilapidated farmhouse listening like I did during this time of day.   I would usually hear the birds in the spring, cicadas during the summer, geese in the autumn with silence and wind during the winter, that was the loneliest season.  Occasionally I would hear other noises besides birds, insects and loneliness, such as vehicles, shouting and gunfire, those noises are what has me listening so intently. 

Getting back into thought and replaying the events that caused this, what I consider, the beginning, hanging out with my wife and friends.  That was the last normal day I think I’ll ever have again..

My wife and I had a great group of friends at that time, something we always wanted for ourselves but was never able to while moving around when I was in the Army.  Making long term, local friends, was very hard for both of us.   After serving 10 years, multiple combat deployments and an honorable discharge we decided to settle down in our hometown and focus on our kids, friends and family.   

We hung out with our friends almost weekly with drinks, laughs and stories.  We were a mix of ideologies, religions, politics, and sexualities.   We all had very different backgrounds and experiences of where we came from and how we were raised, but that’s why we all liked each other, we could “argue” about nearly anything and never let it get personal…nearly.  

Our core friends group fluctuated in size with newcomers and a few that didn’t make the cut, but there were usually about 5-6 of us at each gathering, usually at our house as it was pretty central to everyone, also we had the kids..

Just like usual, we all sat in our normal seats around our patio table with the glass top.   Smoking, listening to music and talking about current events was the norm.   We learned a while back not to get too deep into conversions about politics or religion and we tried our best to respect each other’s point of views or we’d deflect the conversation to something more pleasant, but that wasn’t possible that day.

We didn’t usually watch T.V. when we hung out unless it was a funny video we wanted to share with the group, but that day there was a “Breaking News” report and we were all curious about it so I turned it up.  With tensions already high in the country with mounting political discourse, we assumed it would be more of the same as the term “Breaking News” lost its credibility a few years prior as the media seemed to use it for just about everything. 

“Limiting Freedoms For The Greater Good” was the headline on the screen below the young reporter staring back at us.   He was speaking of the ridiculous legislation that’s been in the process of being passed going on 2 years up to that point.  “The SAFETY ACT is now in effect after the unprecedented and unchecked law was passed, outraging many and splitting the country in two”  said the solemn faced reporter.  A few of us were elated by the news and the rest of us looked on in disbelief.  

To me and many others, the SAFETY ACT was meant only to limit what we as citizens can do, track us more effectively and in a very real sense, take away our individual freedoms.  Not all of us thought this way though, many were more willing to part with their freedoms if that meant saving more people economically, physically and medically.  There’s pros and cons to each way of thinking, but only one leaves you helpless in the end. 

As the reporter spoke, those of us who opposed this law (or should I say package of laws) started arguing with the others.  I pleaded with them to understand what this would mean for their everyday life and how detrimental it would be to their freedoms, but they said I was being dramatic and that this is the best outcome for everybody in the country. 

After debating the particulars as long as we could, our friends started leaving to head home.  We hardly ever ended the night on a sour note and it was awkward while my wife and I silently cleaned up what was left, so we could relax and process what was happening. 

Once in bed, I decided to look up what the new “law” actually states online and to my horror, discovered that it’s broad strokes of interpretation could mean just about anything to anyone.  This wasn’t a law as much as it was a declaration of control over everyone with phrases like “For the common good” and “general welfare” being used to justify each and every measure they wanted to take.

Still not believing what I’m reading I looked up news coverage on the topic, but they didn’t seem to have any better information than I did.   It almost seemed like every station had the same message, some even using the exact same verbiage like a script was given to them.       

With my military background, and being a casual “prepper”, my wife knew all too well how worried I was.  We talked about realistically what might happen vs the worse case scenarios and decided we’d play it by ear.  Hope for the best & plan for the worst.  I laid in bed, mind spinning and decided to process the rest in the morning. 

The days and weeks following are when things started to unravel..for everyone.  Protests regarding the new “law of the land” erupted across the country and under the new law, if whatever you did was deemed “against the general welfare and safety of the public” you were handled accordingly, what that actually meant was unknown.  The news reports seemed to omit answering the questions we all had.  Fear was now ruling over the population.  

As weeks went on they enforced new guidelines’ and rules by law enforcement officers who now resembled my old Army unit more than the traffic cops.  If you go to the DMV or any necessary official building, guards would be there, checking your ID and “Social History”, just a brief once-over to ensure you were not speaking out against the powers that be.  They didn’t have the manpower to check everyone’s accounts in depth, but the algorithms and AI served that purpose, constantly scouring the internet in search of “prohibited terms” that “goes against community standards” that might “Jeopardize the well-being of the greater good”.  If found in violation, you would be visited and interrogated, followed by god knows what.  

We now had to get our information from word of mouth since most people knew that mainstream and social media was mainly propaganda and also monitored heavily by the state.   The people who didn’t see that, or pretended not to see it, are the ones I blame for our current state of affairs.  We could have stopped it if we’d had just worked together, but I guess that’s the problem with ideologies. 

Once the bombings of federal buildings, political assassination and other chaos started becoming a regular occurrence, my wife and I decided it was time, time to take the kids and disappear for a while.  There hadn’t been much time to see our friends since this all started and we wanted to tell them goodbye before we left for what might be indefinitely.  Two of our best friends, whom we’ve known for years, left two weeks prior to visit family down south, but we lost contact with them after their cell phones went dead.  They should have been home a week ago.  I still haven’t seen or heard from them to this day. 

We decided to gather our remaining friends to plan one last get together.  Since we lost contact with our other friends, we are left with four others who haven’t left the area just yet, they however, are more sympathetic to the new system and seem to have bought into their rhetoric completely.  This still wasn’t enough to make us see them any less than friends, but we sure wished they could understand what was happening. 

After a day of packing up to leave, we sat down at the table with the glass top and waited for our friends.  When they arrived the mood was not the same, we were all apprehensive, and after a few minutes of talking about current events the apprehension turned to malice, at least it seemed to on their part.  After we told them our plan to leave and circumvent the powers that be, they became withdrawn and made an excuse as to why they needed to leave.   My wife and I looked at each other knowing they were cutting ties with us and we probably won’t see them again.  Our hearts hurt because of it. 

We decided after our friends left to finish getting our things together and leave in the morning for my Aunt and Uncle’s house in the Tennessee mountains where things didn’t seem as bad.  The kids were packed and we did our best to answer the questions they had without instilling too much fear in them as we were already scared enough as it is.  

“We should have left right then and there!” I said to myself angrily as I stood up to stretch..  “We should have drove through the night…”.  Would that have even helped though?   Would that have just delayed the inevitable? 

Replaying this next part of the timeline haunts my dreams at night and my lonely mind in the day, especially during winter.  There’s no getting around it, I lost everything that day and there’s no way to forget it.  A mixture of hate and despair come over me as I replay it in my mind for the thousandth time. 

(Thud Thud Thud!)  I wake up to hear someone banging on the front door loudly.  My wife wakes with me, she had the same bewildered look I had on my face. 5:45am reads the digital clock on my nightstand.  “Who’s here so early?” I said.   While dressing, I grab my pistol as I’ve made it a habit lately to have it on me given the lawlessness and corruption going on locally and nationally. 

As I walked through the hallway littered with packed bags, I think of all the memories we’ve made here, everything from celebrations to just hanging out on the couch and watching T.V. together.  It was the definition of a “home”, warm, cozy, full of love, which is why I was so angry we had to uproot and make another home someplace else.  

When I get to the front door, I peek through the small glass window in the center of the door to see who was there.   Dread overcomes my soul when I see who’s standing there.   Not one, not two, but nearly fifteen armed, and what look like soldiers/police standing on my front lawn.   Before I opened the door I turned to yell for my wife, but she was already standing beside me and could see for herself the severity of the situation.  Knowing I was outnumbered I placed my pistol in my boot underneath my pant leg. 

“What are you going to do?” my wife said.  Looking back at her, I took a second before answering to study her beautiful blue eyes.  The sun was peeking through the small window in the door and the orange morning light traveled across her worried face.  I snapped a mental picture to memorize her face as the future was uncertain.  That was the best decision I ever made besides making her my wife. 

(Thud Thud Thud!)  “OPEN THE DOOR!  By order of the SAFETY ACT you MUST open the door NOW or we WILL come in by force” said the voice standing outside of my door.   “I’m coming out!” I yelled, so as to not trigger them firing on me when I opened it, as they all looked on edge themselves. 

Walking out onto my porch, looking at all of them staring at me I said calmly “What is this all about?  The one in charge that knocked replied “An anonymous report on the SAFETY ACT Tip Hotline reported that you and your family are  planning on traveling outside of your restricted area to defy SAFETY ACT guidelines.  Do you mind if we come inside and have a look?”  I stared at him in anger, angry at who I assumed tipped them off, and angry that I can’t even ask to see a warrant, as the SAFETY ACT supersedes any warrants that would have normally been required. 

“Do I have a choice?” I said back to him.  Looking offended he replied “No, you don’t.” and nodded to his officers to enter my home.   I didn’t bother resisting as this would only give them an excuse to use violent force.  I was a young soldier once, and I remember the feeling of having the power, the training and wanting to use my new dangerous skills in the real world, so I know the danger of giving them an excuse. 

As they pushed past me my wife was already making her way up the stairs to get the kids.  Before I was able to follow her inside two officers took me by each arm so I wasn’t able to move.  My mind was spinning with ways I could get out of this, but I wasn’t able to think of anything.  I was truly hopeless in that moment and I still am today because of it.  I kept pleading with the officers holding me, asking what was happening and begging them to listen to me, but they only looked forward and didn’t say a word.

After two minutes they start coming outside, first the officers who searched my house, followed by my crying wife in handcuffs and my frightened children escorted by a woman officer that wasn’t dressed in body armor toward a white van.   “What you are doing with my family!”  I screamed directly at the officer in charge. “You and your wife are being charged in violation of the SAFETY ACT.  Your packed bags and digital messages confirmed the tip from the hotline.” he said without remorse.  

Watching my wife being escorted to a truck, she sees our kids being put into another vehicle.   Shaking off the officer escorting her she sprints towards our kids while yelling for them.  Another officer sees her doing this, grabs her and throws her to the ground so hard it nearly knocks her out.  After seeing this my blood boils and I start to fight the two officers escorting me, with tears running down my enraged face I use every muscle in my body to try and make it to her, to do anything I could to save my family.  The officer in charge wastes no time in using his taser on the small of my back.  

The last moment I ever had with my family was watching them be shoved into separate vehicles while they screamed.  “Help us Dad!” my kids said followed by sobbing from my terrified wife.  I fell unconscious after that.   Nothing will break a good man faster than seeing his family helpless and scared.   

I started regaining consciousness, but I was now in the back of a moving van, my hands were zip tied together.   I had one guard with me in the back and one driver in the front.  I could hear the chatter on their radio saying “SAFE 2, this is SAFE 1, Proceed to reassignment center with the minors OVER”,  “SAFE4, take the woman to extermination center BRAVO319”, SAFE 3, get rid of the man, OVER”.   

Thinking of any imaginable way to get out of this situation,  I realized they did not find my pistol in my boot after they knocked me out, I guess with all the commotion and me being unconscious they didn’t think to check.  I only had one 17 round magazine, so they needed to count.   A murderous feeling and disregard for these men’s lives took me over for their participation in detaining my family unjustly. 

Knowing my van would depart from the convoy route soon to “get rid of me”.  I waited until we pulled off the main road.  Knowing my home town I knew we were on a back road about 1 mile away from the main strip.  There wasn’t much traffic back here and it might be my only chance.  I crossed my leg over my other leg to get better access to the pistol. The guard in the back didn’t seem to care, he was only about 24 and was looking out of the window.  I knew I only had about 10 seconds to kill him and the driver before one of them could radio for help. 

I waited for the driver to slow down at the stop sign so we wouldn’t crash.  Fueled by anger and fear and without hesitation, I drew my gun, shot the driver through the window in the base of his skull and turned immediately to the scared guard who connected eyes with me before I pulled the trigger.  I fired 3 more times to make sure he was dead.  After taking a breath and realizing what had just happened I knew I had to keep moving.  Grabbing a knife off of his vest I cut off the zip ties and grabbed his radio as well as the drivers radio and extra batteries.  I take one of their vests, rifle and spare magazines as well.   

For the next few hours I made my way through the backroads on foot, hiding from any vehicle I heard coming until I found a blue car idling, no one was in it, so I took it.  As I drove, I tried thinking of what to do, what can I do?  I could hear more talk over the guards radio, they found the van with the guards bodies and they knew I was on the run.  They also knew I had taken the radios and weapons.  

I don’t know if they said it specifically for me to hear, but they announced “All Stations, Detainee 01984 is at large, armed and dangerous, shoot on sight, notify all Law Enforcement and public site guards that he will be looking for his family.” BREAK   “He will not be able to locate them without access to the database, commence drone search of the area and report back. OVER.”  That was two years ago..

Now here, on this abandoned farm, I’m helpless, thinking of ways to get my family back.   By this time the kids would have been introduced to mandatory “re-education” classes for “displaced children” of the state.  My wife, I can only assume, was killed shortly following our capture.  There’s no way to know, no place I can inquire about it without being killed.  I miss them more than I can’t bear it.  If it wasn’t for the possibility of maybe one day seeing my kids again I would have already taken my life.  

From what I hear from rogue radio stations, the country as a whole has been turned into a complete police state, if you don’t do exactly as they say, when they say it,  they make you disappear.  There is no justice, only chaos and control.

Listening like usual, I feel the temperature drop, it’s now late fall, a colder breeze brings in a draft and I shudder when I hear the wind picking up, followed by silence.  

Departure

I hope she’s proud of me, I thought to myself, sitting in the cockpit of my brand new PSS2105 (Personal Starship 2150) ready to depart Earth, for what will likely be my first and last time.  I’ve done so much work to reach this moment.  Instead of feeling fear, sadness or anxiety, I finally feel at peace.  It’s like a weight’s been lifted off my shoulders, a relief from all the sorrow that’s been my constant companion since she passed.

My wife and I had been married 15 years when she died.  When someone you love that much leaves you for good, things, painfully, remind you of them. Places like eating at a restaurant that you both enjoyed, or a song that reminds you of them.  My reason for leaving earth is mainly because she was my world.  

I always used to joke around that I would never marry again if anything bad were to happen and she would call me silly, saying she’d want me to be happy, but I always knew I wouldn’t.  We married young and loved with such an intensity that I’d feel selfish somehow, if I wished for that same experience a second time in one life.  I feel lucky we had the time we did, she was my one and only love. 

Just like a sailor’s love of the sea, my new love will be the glittering vastness of space, alone, for the most part.  Since the advancements in AI systems, renewable nuclear energy/oxygen cells and Hyper (FTL) Drives over three decades ago, space travel is finally “affordable” to a regular Joe like me.  After she died, I got life insurance, sold my home, as well as most of my possessions and depleted my life savings to purchase this PSS2105 Ship.  Calling the ship “affordable” might not be the best word to use. 

With mining vessels, expeditionary teams, 142 planetary bases, 2000 plus floating merchant depots and new discoveries occurring each day, there will be plenty to keep me busy out there.  Jobs on earth have become so scarce that seemingly everyone is itching for a chance to become a “Space Entrepreneur” of some kind, though most can’t afford it. 

Being estranged from my relatives and never having children due to medical complications I wasn’t tied to this rock, and didn’t feel guilty for leaving it behind.  I stopped hanging out with my friends some time after she passed, my friends were her friends and vice versa, so being with them just hurt me too much.   

After making the decision to leave earth, I’ve found comfort in planning this adventure obsessively night after night.  Pouring over star maps, plotting my course, researching space industry possibilities to earn at least enough credits to keep my adventures going and acquiring the right modules to upgrade my ship.  This constant work kept some of the sorrow out of my mind. 

Measuring almost 60m long, 20 meters wide & 7m tall, my shiny copper colored PSS2105, which I christened “Babygirl” (my “pet name” for my wife), is moments away from its maiden voyage.  I’ve rehearsed pre-launch many times during my licensing training that I spent nearly 5 months attending.  The training is imperative, just like anything you’d fly or drive, but the license becomes nearly pointless once you leave earth’s airspace as it’s nearly as lawless as international waters would be on earth. 

Knowing the dangers I’ll likely face, I’ve outfitted Babygirl with a couple modules to ensure I maintain my independent freedom floating through the cosmos.  I installed an energy shield (for protection), towing beam (for salvaging, mining and whatever else I might wanna grab while I’m out there), EMP pulse (to knock out any threats systems long enough for me to hyper out of there), and two pulse cannons (for when I have no other choice but to shoot).  I’ve also brought my grandpa’s antique carbine rifle that he used nearly 100 years ago when he was in the military, just in case. 

While Babygirl runs through her diagnostic pre-launch checks, I look at the loading time and see that I have nearly 3 minutes before it’s launch ready.  I try and think of any last minute things I might need or that I might forget, but I’ve been basically living out of this ship for the past month and all my things are already here with me.

I have a decent sized living quarters for this size of ship but I mostly packed light as all my music, movies, books and entertainment are digitally stored on the massively powerful AI Drive that runs all of the functions on the ship.  I brought some normal earth clothes with me, but I also splurged a little on a ridiculous space suit that resembles something like a superhero outfit that will let me assume this new identity of the “space adventurer” that I’m about to become. 

I get an alert from the spaceport tower that I need to respond with my Ship ID and inform them when I’m 5 minutes out from launch.  I respond, “SpacePort Command, this is PSS Babygirl, I am now 5 minutes from launch OVER.”  SpacePort Tower respons, “5 minutes out confirmed, will confirm final count 30 seconds out. OVER”   

Going through this sequence countless times during training, I automatically check to ensure items in the fuselage are secured and that my seals and sensors are nominal.  To be honest, I’ve been obsessively going over pre-launch items to the point I doubt many other ships have been as launch ready as mine.  

Taking one last look out of the port window before strapping in, I look nostalgically at the earth.  It’s hard to describe the feeling of leaving earth for the first time to someone who isn’t faced with the reality of possibly never seeing it again, but to keep it simple, it’s bitter sweet.  Even with all the bad and evil that exists in the world, earth is still a beautiful thing to behold. 

Before becoming too emotional, I snap my attention back to what needs to be done and the adventure that lay before me, my feelings turn back to excitement.  I scan the ship one last time before securing myself down in the bucket style seat and putting my helmet on.  “I’m finally doing it..” I said to myself, not realizing I was broadcasting my words to the tower.  “Yes you are” chuckled the man in the tower, “You’re 30 seconds out now, start the final launch sequence. Good luck and Godspeed, OVER”.  Chills of excitement cover me when I hear these words.  I haven’t felt this alive in years. 

Selecting the launch icon on the interface wasn’t as familiar to me as I’ve never done so in real life, only in the simulators.  As I press it, the ship starts to hum loudly.  I glance at my exterior camera screen to see a small crowd of people watching me about to take off.  They were only there to see the launch itself, not because they knew or cared about me.  Personal space travel still isn’t extremely common, sort of like a super expensive luxury car that you mostly only see in video or pictures. 

I rest my head back into the seat after checking the ship’s readings one last time. I close my eyes as the AI starts the countdown “10, 9, 8, 7..” the countdown seems to take forever as my life on earth flashes before my eyes like the life of someone who’s moments away from dying.  I see my parents, who have long since passed, my family, friends, co-workers, but I mostly just see my wife.  The laughs we had, the time spent together on this floating rock, and the love we both felt, this reminds me of the cold truth, that nothing lasts forever.  Appreciating that it even happened is all I can really hold on to. 

The AI continues reading, “6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1..Launching”.   My body sinks back into the seat as I feel the tremendous power of the tri-booster rockets coming to life.  Everything is vibrating.  I’m finally doing it.   

My ship rises upward towards the heavens, faster and faster with each second that passes.  I soar through the white, downy ceiling of clouds, leaving water droplets streaking down the glass of my cockpit windshield.  The sky starts turning a darker shade of blue and I get another wave of excitement knowing this is actually happening. 

The sky before me is nearly black now, but I guess, it’s not a sky any longer, it’s now.. space.  Making this realization I feel my stomach turn nauseous, not from fear, but from weightlessness.   A smile overcomes my face.  “I’m a spaceman now” I said to myself, unbuckling from my seat as the AI reads aloud that systems are nominal.  I float immediately to the window, look back towards earth and think to myself  “Babygirl, we did it!  Where to now?”

What’s your COVID tipping point? When is enough, enough?

“It’s not my job to tell you how to live your life, but it’s also not anybody else’s job to tell me or others how to live ours.”

Gary Phipps

2020 has really been something, aside from very elderly folk, we have not seen something of this magnitude in modern times. Despite where you stand on issues such as lock-down orders, mask mandates, forced store closings and more, YOU as the individual must ask yourself “when is enough enough?” At what point do you say NO, it’s time to start actually living again.

I know some of you are thinking “this guy is the problem. This way of thinking is what got us into this mess”, but if you take a moment to understand my point, you’ll see that’s not the case, nor the point I’m trying to make.

We are now as of November 13th, 2020 nearly 10 months into the COVID “pandemic” and many are saying lock-downs and spikes in cases are expected to continue and get worse. Remember the “14 days to flatten the curve”? I won’t bother posting links to reported numbers from the CDC of other places simply because they aren’t consistent. If you ask a panel of people who are ardent mask/lock-down supporters, most will likely give different “numbers” that they will use to justify these mandates. I’ve found out that arguing “numbers” and “sources” has been one of the most frustrating thing about arguing the validity of the pandemic regardless of the “side” you’re on. It comes down to who the individual trusts with disseminating the information they are digesting, and the truth is, you have no way to know for sure that this information is true or not.

With that being said, how long are YOU willing to accept living under the fear umbrella that is the COVID Pandemic? I understand the thought process of “wear a mask and stay inside for those who are at risk” and other forms of that argument, but are you willing to live like a hermit for the rest of your life for “others safety”? No matter what side of the argument you’re on you SHOULD still have a tipping point. When is enough, enough?

One of my favorite movie quotes of all time from Shawshank Redemption “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin'” comes to mind when I think about ending the lockdown. Another quote I find fitting is from Benjamin Franklin who says “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Think about this for a second, you’re now nearly a YEAR into the pandemic, one whole year out of your life, how many more are YOU willing to live like this? I for one would prefer living my life freely, able to go to the movies with my kids, go to a restaurant with my friends, concerts and other things that make life WORTH LIVING.

The solution to the pandemic cannot be worse than the sickness itself and we are now way past that point.

Let’s fast forward three more years. The “pandemic” is still ongoing with spikes in infection and lock-downs every few months, hospitals and graveyards are still NOT being overwhelmed, kids now attend school 100% virtually, social skills and interaction with others is on the decline, depression and alcoholism is rampant in society, thousands of business owners have lost their dreams due to lock-down mandates, marriages are ended out of stress about money and lifestyle, and the lower/middle class is nearly completely dependent on federal and state welfare. If you think this outcome isn’t realistic, you’re fooling yourself.

I’m sure there are a bunch of people out there who would willingly live the next 50+ years of their life wearing a mask and adhering to lock-down mandates and orders, but I am not one of them.

You might ask me “Gary, so what’s your solution then if the way we’re doing it now is so stupid?”. My answer is this – It’s not my job to tell you how to live your life, but it’s also not anybody else’s job to tell me or others how to live ours. If you think people should be controlled and told what they can and cannot do, where they can go and where they cannot go, what they can buy and what they cannot buy, then YOU are a bigger threat to living fulfilled life than COVID is to freedom loving people everywhere who only want to live their life the way they see fit.

If you’re worried about COVID or at risk, please stay home, wear a mask and social distance as much as you see fit, but please stop telling others what they should and shouldn’t do, it’s their life, not yours.

Slow Descent: Investing in an uncertain future

TIMES ARE CRAZY RIGHT NOW!  Protests, riots, unjust police, COVID Madness, political discourse and unemployment are becoming the norm.  Not a day passes by that you don’t see outrage and lawlessness in the media with no obvious end in sight.  Yes it’s an election year, and you might think that when Nov 3rd comes and goes things will start to get back to normal, but what if they don’t? 

No matter who is elected this November, it’s not likely that the public outrage regarding police brutality & corrupt politicians will stop people from continuing similar protests and escalating it to levels that could trigger an even worse course of events.  Just like Newton’s 3rd law, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.

Here’s a quick hypothetical scenario for you:  Let’s say (insert your political candidate) wins the election.  The other side will not be happy. They will make their disdain known through other means (like violent protests) that will ultimately negatively affect your “teams” position or even your daily life.  This has secondary and tertiary effects, chaos ensues..

Another hypothetical scenario: Lets say COVID lock-downs continue across the country, eventually hurting the economy to the point that it can’t recover and the country collapses or we find ourselves in a DEEP recession/depression that creates inflation to the point normal people can’t afford basic items or hold down a steady job to provide for their families. Chaos ensues..

You may or may not think either scenario above is “probable”, but you can’t deny that the probability of both scenarios occurring in the future have significantly increased over the past six months.  You likely know a couple close friends or relatives who have lost their jobs recently or maybe friends or groups of friends split by political differences.  Ideological views are hard to change and once a side is chosen, people tend to dig in. 

Regardless of your personal beliefs or what “side” you’re on, you’d be a fool to not take these signs of our times as a wake up call to start investing in your future, not only from a financial standpoint, but a survivability standpoint.  How are YOU ensuring that you and your loved ones will be safe and have what you need to get through the potentially difficult times ahead? 

In my previous article “Ask yourself these survival questions: Prepping with a purpose”, I talk about questions you should ask yourself in “Bug-out, Bug-In” types of scenarios, so I won’t cover those again here, but I do want to expand on the section talking about “Are you prepared for a slow descent into an emergency prepping scenario“.  We may very well be in the beginning stages of that “slow descent” now. 

This “slow descent” scenario is one of the hardest situations to navigate when it comes to the individual hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.  Politics, situation, location, peer pressure, family as well as other factors will come into play when you start planning your investments for you and your family’s future.   So the call will ultimately be up to you and how severe you think society’s outcome will be in the not too distant future. 

Just like with finances, investing early will always have the future you thanking the past you for your efforts when it comes to prepping.   Setting yourself up for success now, regardless if people say you’re being crazy, is never a bad bet.  That’s another reason why prepping shouldn’t be for any singular situation, but instead to prep from a myriad of scenarios so your base is covered.  

What exactly can we do now? The answer to that question depends on your situation entirely.  Will you only be looking out for yourself?  Will you be in charge of ensuring a family of 5 is fed consistently?   Do you have elderly to care for?  None of these questions have an easy answer, but below is my list of focuses that you should start preparing for now, or at least start working towards since we don’t know exactly when/if things will fall apart. 

  1. Location: Where will you and yours be able to ride things out when society falls apart?  In my opinion, you should make this decision before any others because your location will dictate your capabilities regarding water, food and allies, these are important for obvious reasons.  I recommend staying away from overly populated areas, but also not be in the middle of nowhere. Even the most resourceful loners can use help from a community nearby at some point.
  1. Sustainability: How much food and water should I have on hand now and how much would I need each day/week/month to sustain myself and my group?  Once you do the math, it’s pretty overwhelming to think about how much food and water it really takes to sustain one person, let alone an entire family.  The average person needs about 1500 calories per day to survive and about 4 liters of water per day to survive in a normal consumer driven society.  During a stressful survival situation, you’ll need almost double that per person as you’ll be expending much more calories and need to intake more than you are now.  Stockpiling goods is preferred for the short-term scenarios, but supplies will run out eventually and there might not be any stores to pick up groceries from.  Can you garden?  Can you cook without electricity?  These questions might inspire you to learn a new skill or purchase equipment that will help you out in these scenarios. 
  1. Money: I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not expert when it comes to finances, my bank statement will tell you that, but there are still things you can do to help improve your potential future situation if things do get tough.  The need for money may not just go away, society still may function using money up to a point, and you’ll need to “play that game” until you no longer can.  Cash on hand will be key.  Keeping as much cash as you can afford on hand will make the days leading up to people realizing money no longer holds any value much easier.  Gold is another popular prepping item that has been used for centuries for monetary value, however I would be hesitant to solely have gold as your only source of “survival money” as gold only holds as much value as the person you’re trying to give it to.  That person you’re trying to purchase something from might find the box of ammo you have much more valuable.  Diversify your “money” and don’t rely on any one thing when it comes to your survival.
  1. Time: This is the one thing everyone of us can invest more of when it comes to preparing for the worst.  Fist off, take time to think through these scenarios, figure out what your unique situation looks like and how best you can work through these difficult scenarios that you and your family might one day face.  Take time to learn a new skill.  Will your skills have any value to your group when it’s needed?  Put in time organizing your gear, making sure you have the supplies you don’t and if you don’t, take the time to put together a list of items that you can slowly add to.  Take time to research the best items and goods to keep for the long term like rice, beans and non-perishables.  Taking just 15 minutes a day to think about or do something pertaining to your future investment of survival can very well mean the difference between surviving with confidence or struggling not to starve.  

As I’ve said before in my previous article, I don’t claim to be an expert on survival. Having had many conversations with “normies” who haven’t asked themselves these questions before, it has shown me that most people are nowhere near ready for these types of situations.  Please let me know in the comments what your thoughts are and if I missed anything that I can add.  Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

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