Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Self Sufficiency - A Different Take on it

 Being self sufficient or self reliant is what many strive for.  I don't know what that means to you, but to me it has always meant pretty specific stuff.

I have always thought it meant living off the land.  Grow and raise all your food.  Provide for your needs and maintain without outside help.  Being independent.  Being able to provide everything you need.  A home with it's own water system, electric grid (or none), it's own heat system, etc.
Is that what you think?????

Well  today I want to get you thinking about a different kind of self sufficiency/self reliance.  So much is the same - but the reasoning is sooooo different.
Many of you women can relate AND men as well!

You are suddenly alone.  Whether you are widowed or divorced - it is you and you alone.  There are many things that 'some' women have never done or had to worry about.  Car maintenance, home maintenance, carpentry, yard work, etc.  Many gals have never been involved in finances or money management - yes that still happens!
There are guys who have no idea how to grocery shop, cook, mend, do the laundry or maybe even clean house.

Now that you are alone - your are self reliant and have to learn much and do much.
  • There is no one to work things out with - no one to toss ideas around with - no one to help make decisions
  • You have to deal with HARD things alone
  • You need to be in control of money management, banking, investments, financial decisions of all sorts
  • You need to be safe and secure.  Whether it is re-thinking how you live in your home (windows, doors open/close), locks, security systems, or other means of security (self protection)
  • You need to take care of yourself if ill.  Always aware of being safe and healthy
  • You have to be the problem solver
  • You prep alone - you also learn there are several meanings to SHTF!!
  • Repairs are on you - or you hire it out.  Car maintenance, home maintenance, appliances or HVAC or yard equipment
  • Yard work is yours
  • Have to take care of all the legal stuff - taxes, insurances, changing names/ownership of things, designating  benefactors, wills, funeral prep (for you)..............
Now there are many who have been fortunate enough to have learned many of these things during their lives.  I was fortunate to know how to do a lot myself - only because I needed to so as to be helpful in my marriage.  BUT, I had hubs there to guide me and give me instruction.  That meant a lot.

Sure we all have friends, family and neighbors that may help - but most often you have to ask.  No one is aware of all your needs.  Truthfully I would rather hire something done than ask for a favor.  That is just me.
Your new "self reliance" means LEARNING new SKILLS and new KNOWLEDGE on all sorts of things.

You will need to trust your own instincts and ideas.  Be an individual and don't conform to what everyone THINKS you should be.  You can do anything!!!
Go forward toward your goals and go forward bravely.  Gain confidence with each new thing you try and master.
LOVE YOURSELF.  Know that you will screw up at times and know that you will be victorious at times - just be kind to yourself.  Self acceptance is huge!

As we get older - self sufficiency means something new.  We have to go with the flow and move forward.
As you can see - being self reliant or self sufficient because you are now alone - is very much like being self sufficient as a homesteader.  
You have to learn new things, you have to work hard, your have to make important decisions, you gain skills, you make mistakes and you win some, you are independent, you need to learn to provide for your needs.  
You are ALL important in every action of every day.
Learn that important phrase -  ME, MYSELF, AND I!!!!!!!!

Is it easy?  Nope!  
Is it fun?  Not really.  
Is it important?  YES - it is of the upmost importance
AND YOU KNOW WHAT?  It is satisfying when you accomplish what you thought was impossible. 

Sadly, most of us will go forward and experience this new lifestyle.  No one wants to - but it is inevitable.  
My suggestion to you - learn all you can now!!!!!!  Be involved in all aspects of your life.  Make sure your husbands do the same.
Self reliance happens to men and women!!!!! 

Just remember - YOU CAN DO IT!


  1. Very good post. With a husband who is 29 years older than I, I have been very aware of my situation since before we married. As his health slowly deteriorates, I have had to take on more and more. Fortunately, I'm very independent and had already learned how to do (or find out how to do) most of what we need. The only area where I am deficient is in managing investments. He does it well, so I have left it up to him. In the past year or so, we have had more discussions about our money and his thinking behind what he does with it. I have also been reading more on the subject. Although I do not look forward to it, I know there will come a day when it will all fall on me.

    1. That is a pretty significant age difference - but you just never know what the cosmos has in store!
      I am glad you have learned to be independent - it is so important.
      G always made the investment FINAL decisions. We talk about stuff all the time and usually I only 'half way' listened - because he did such a good job. Now I wish I had listened better. I think I am doing OK - but all I know is I am doing my best.
      Hope you don't have to worry about it for many, many years.

  2. What a great article Cheryl! I can't imagine what you have gone through with the loss of your dear husband Glen. I'm so glad you were and are prepared to move forward and so thankful you are giving advice and tips to help others. Thank you!

    1. Thank you. Worst thing a person can deal with - but there are so many here that have endured it. Many readers know exactly what I am speaking of.
      Anything that might help others just a tiny bit - is worth sharing.

  3. Absolutely all true. When my sister widowed at age 57, she was "frozen" so to speak. So, I suggested she call me and we would "open the mail together". I flew there every 5w for 6 months (thanks be to God I could afford it), and she had a list of things to do for those 2 days. She asked her adult son to teach her some basics and he was wonderfully supportive. He organized tool kits for her from his Dad's stuff and helped get rid of the rest he didn't want.

    It is 14y today. So long yet so recent.

    I would suggest don't go it alone. Find someone who will be supportive who won't tell you what to do, but will support and encourage.

    Great post Cheryl!

    1. So true. I have very supportive family and many close friends - but some things you just need to do yourself.
      My Mom bless her heart - had never written a check or balanced a checkbook when Daddy passed. My sis and I got her through that and she even learned to make her own investments.

      Never be afraid to ask for help. Look around and see who makes wise decisions and ask them. Baby steps all along the way. It sure is a learning curve and it takes a while.
      Thanks. Hugs to your sis.

  4. An excellent post, Cheryl. As you well aware, for us widows, it's often a rude awakening and we have a LOT to learn. But, we often overlook that it's the same for a widower. Reading your post, I was immediately reminded of something my mother shared a couple of years ago. She and my father wintered in a southern locale, in a 55+ community. We lost my dad 8 years ago this week, and she has continued to winter in the south (except this year, due to COVID concerns in her community). A couple of years ago, she recounted a story from her park. They have regular Friday pot-lucks in their clubhouse. That year, Mom encountered a gentleman from her park when they were both getting their mail and she asked if he was coming to the pot-luck that evening and he responded that he didn't think so. He'd lost his wife over the summer and didn't know what he could bring. His wife hand handled all the shopping and cooking, he was a little unprepared. He could scrape something together for himself, but didn't feel comfortable making a dish for others. Mom suggested that he sign up to sit at their table that evening and he could be her "guest" that evening, since she was bringing enough (and her table would certainly understand; they'd done the same for her the winter my dad passed away). He agreed and enjoyed his evening with the group. The following week, he asked my mom if she would help him with a project. He wanted to bring a dish to the next pot-luck and had found his wife's recipe for deviled eggs, something she made that he always enjoyed. But he didn't have the ingredients and didn't know where to find them -- their grocery store could be large and daunting to someone not familiar with shopping -- it was to me, and I regularly cook and shop! Mom told him to write down the ingredients from the recipe that he knew he didn't have and add anything else he might want to have for breakfast or lunch and she'd go with him to the store. She helped him navigate the deli counter for the first time, the ready-to-heat-and-eat counter, guided him on selecting good quality produce, and through the other aisles, and he filled his cart. She told him she'd be back on Thursday to help him prepare the eggs, and then on Friday morning to assemble them. That week, with my mom's guidance, he prepared his first pot-luck dish and proudly walked into their rec room carrying his tray of deviled eggs. He shared how Mom had helped him, and she praised his efforts as a good student, noting that she just guided him through the steps, but he did all the work. I share this because, it's not just women. We all go through this learning curve as we age, and we can all become more self reliant, even in old age.

    1. Exactly, that is why I mentioned many men don't sew, mend, shop or cook or do laundry. Things us most of us gals take for granted. I have single male friend always ask "how to" make things. He writes it down and he is doing much better (as long as it is simple).

      Men and women - widowed or divorced - may have many things to learn. It is daunting for sure.

      That was wonderful of your mom helping him and I am sure that was a huge turning point for him. I bet it expanded a better quality of life for him - just to be socializing.
      We all need to look out for one another and offer a helping hand when it is needed.

    2. That is a wonderful story...thanks for sharing it.

  5. I have been on my own for over 20 years. I moved 500 miles away from my family support, and really was alone then! I take care of almost everything, and what I can't I hire out. Im very independent now, but there are still times I get so tired of making all the decisions on my own. I know you are strong too. It's not always easy though! Celie

    1. WOW, that was quite a transition. SO far away. I have always been an independent type person as well and maybe a bit of a loner. Oh, I will manage fine.
      You are right, sometime it would be nice to have someone help on decisions.
      No it isn't easy - but doable. I hope all reading this that are going through it or may at some point realize there is a lifeline here.

  6. I'm so glad I took over preparing our income tax report for the accountant. Now Dh looks it over but he is happy I do it. He knows about the financial stuff and machinery. We recently had a meeting about my 401K and our retirement. I know so little about it but I'm learning. My parents had no money to invest and only had SS & dad's retirement fund at the end. Mom was overwhelmed at Dad's death and they had not talked about his funeral, except he wanted a plain pine box. (Do you know those cost more than a regular casket! My bil made it in 2 days, we helped with supplies.)
    I'm also thankful our eldest son is a banker so he can help with whatever financial questions.
    And I know who to ask advice from over other issues: vehicle, farm-related, household repairs.
    Getting older is hard.

    1. That is wonderful that you both share your knowledge and you both are involved in the daily things. It is so important.
      Isn't it crazy about the cost of the casket? Everything about a funeral cost is crazy.
      It sounds like you have a great support system. That is wonderful.
      Getting older isn't for sissies!!!!!!

  7. I have been forced over the years to learn so many skills, because we had no mney to buy things. I learned early on in my marriage to do without. Hubs is really not a good fix it guy and usually breaks things worse when he tries to fix something. I just learned to do everything myself and never to ask for help EVER. If I wanted a job done right I did it myself. HE sometimes gets upset when I hire something done and I never ask or discuss it with him, because he would try and fix it and it would cost more money in the end. But boy do I have skills, mad skills:)

    1. Good for you girl. All women need skills. There truly isn't anything that we can't do. Mind over matter.

      There are many men who just aren't mechanical at all. I guess there are gals who can't be domestic too. Sometimes we just have to bite the bullet and do what we now to be the best thing for all.

  8. This post is excellent and obviously really spoke to your readers! The main point is to learn all sorts of skills, whether they traditionally be labeled "male" or "female". I have always said that students should not be allowed to graduate high school until they can pass a proficiency test on life skills.

    1. AMEN - students should have Home Econ. and shop and they should learn basics like paying bills, managing funds, etc.
      It seems none of that is taught any more.
      Skills are skills and we all need them.

  9. Being in the same position as you, Cheryl, I lost my husband 4 years ago. I always took care of the paper work and the inside of the house. My biggest issue was taking care of the 3.5 acres of land we have. I did finally get a lawn guy and I forgot about a big garden. I now have three nice size planters on my deck that I use for flowers and herbs. I go to the farm market during the summer and still can, freeze, and dehydrate food for myself. I do have a son that I may need to call on occasion for some things, but I try not to bother him as he has a job, home, and family to take care of so he is my last resort. I hire people to do what needs to be done. But I am always on the look out for what other widows do to 'get by'. It is not easy but it is also very fulfilling when you do something yourself and get it right. I had a handyman that did things but he passed away last summer also. With so much snow on the ground now, I am not able to get out my driveway. But that is OK. I planned ahead and have plenty of food stocked away for the winter. As they say, this too shall pass and I can get out and stock in again. We need not be afraid of being alone. We just need to pull up our big girl panties and get on with getting on. God is always with us and His guidance helps.

    1. WELL SAID!!!!!!! You know we can do whatever we NEED to. Some things change though. Like your big garden - that is fine and you have figured out a new way.
      My parents had 1/4 acre of garden land behind their yard and of course Mom didn't use it. Both of my brothers raised garden there and Mom got fresh goodies.
      Maybe you could rent out garden plots to neighbors or allow someone in need to garden a bit.

      Yep, we can do this. Some old ways, some new ways. It can get lonely for sure - but we all have phones and computers and can entertain ourselves in some way.
      Take care and thanks for giving your thoughts.

  10. Unfortunately many of us end up having to do skills that are not in our wheelhouse, but the good thing is that afterwards it is a good feeling of accomplishment and another skill we can add to our skill set list.

    1. Yes indeed. I can do all kinds of things I never imagined I could do.
      It is quite a good feeling and our 'resume' grows!!!

  11. When you're on your own you get to do whatever you want. The flip side? You have to do it all yourself. Sometimes that means asking for or hiring help. The important thing is that it gets done.

    1. You are so right. I can go to the beat of any drummer I desire - but it does get lonely too.
      No matter the situation - getting things done is the solution. One way or another!