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Beginner’s Luck: Could It Kill You?

After months of thinking, planning, looking, and saving, I was finally going to do it! I was ready to make bread from flour ground in my own mill. First I had purchased the wheat berries – which then sat on the counter for longer than I would like to admit – before being portioned out into glass jars and metal tins to store. Next, I had shopped around for a grain mill, until one day my husband said that his mother had ground her own grain and might still have her mill. Finally, we scheduled a trip to his parents house (a few hour’s drive), and came home with the grain mill. It was in several parts, with no instruction manual, so it sat for a while longer. Well, I needed bread, and had run out of flour, so today was the day!

After fiddling with the various pieces, I rustled up the humility to go ask my husband for a little help. After all, while we didn’t have the manual, he at least had the advantage of having seen what it was supposed to look like once assembled (albeit a decade or so in the past). A couple hours later (after unsuccessfully trying to clamp the thing to every surface in the kitchen) we had it together and attached to the kids fold-up art table, grinding out something that roughly resembled flour. We also had several cups of wheat all over the kitchen floor from many spills and incorrect assembly attempts. After about 20 minutes of grinding grain, taking turns holding the table so it would not wiggle too much (or just break in two from the pressure), and turning the metal crank on the grinder, we got about ½ cup of flour. Well, flour with a few whole kernels dropped in by our two-year-old trying to help. At this point it was really too late in the day to even start baking bread, not to mention the fact that ½ cup of flour wouldn’t exactly bake up into a whole loaf. Probably not even a pancake.

A few laughs, a lot of sweeping, and some time spent with the fridge open thinking of something else for dinner, I later realized how thankful I was that bread was not the only option for us to eat that day. Assuming that grinding grain would be a simple matter, quickly dispatched, I had arrogantly ensured that we would not have bread that night.

Trying something for the first time always has its pitfalls. The unexpected things that you would never have anticipated from reading about it in a book or on a website. These lessons are easily learned when the whole operation is still a hobby more or less, and the supermarket is still open just down the street. But think if I had waited to even try my mill until we had no other choice! It is easy to become overwhelmed with all there is to do to prepare, or worry that you will do it wrong, or not know where to start. This can result in paralysis, and compulsive consumption of information without any application. You must start applying what you learn. So for the procrastinators in the crowd, here are some ways to get started.

Do Something NOW

Stop reading. Yes, you read that right. Don’t even read the next sentence until you have gotten up and made a step, any step towards preparedness. Need ideas? Fill a single glass quart jar with water, add a couple canned goods to your grocery list, put a bucket with a screen on top outside to collect rain water, measure the area you are planning on planting a garden this year. Just do something.

Why are you still here? You have to start somewhere!

Make a List

Now that you did your one thing (you did do it right?) you are ready to move on to the next step. Write it down. Now I know that usually you make a to-do list and then do it, but for procrastinators (or the overwhelmed) that can actually serve as another way to keep from doing things. Or, if you are a perfectionist like me, you work so hard on making a comprehensive and perfect list that just getting it all on paper is exhausting enough.

After the birth of my first child I was having a hard time getting back into the swing of things. It seemed like every day, no matter how hard I tried, between diaper changes and nursing, and all the other little things of being a new mother, that I hardly made any headway at all on my “list.” In the meantime I was missing out on some of the most fun moments and snuggles of my little baby’s new life because I was so stressed out! So, instead of a “to-do” list, I started a “done” list. Every time I did anything, whether getting the baby dressed, taking a shower, or just staring into my little one’s eyes, bonding, I wrote it down. At the end of the day it was clear that I had not just sat around doing “nothing,” and the sense of accomplishment propelled me to the next day, and the next.

You can do the same thing with your preparedness work. Every time you make a step to get your family in better shape to handle any kind of disaster, write it down. Replaced the batteries on the smoke detectors? Write it down. Bought a whole bunch of canned goods on sale? Write it down. Planted a raspberry bush? Write it down! Over time you will begin to see progress, and that you can make steps to help your family. These little steps will turn into big ones, and over time you will realize that you are really doing it! So write the little thing that you did just now down. Didn’t do it? Go do it!

Find a Preparedness Partner

Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10 says: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

The power of having someone else to encourage you, rebuke you, remind you, and rejoice with you cannot be overemphasized. Perhaps this person will be your spouse, but even better is to find another person (or couple if you are married) to give each other other ideas, and hold one another accountable to action. Make a plan together and help each other achieve your goals.

Be Mindful of Your Motivation

Sometimes the only thing you need to keep on with a difficult task is a reminder of why you are doing it in the first place. Write a list of the reasons that making and implementing a preparedness plan is important to you. Maybe add some pictures of your family or friends. Every time you read an article, or learn new information, look at that list and resolve to apply what you have learned.

Educating yourself is a crucial first step in preparing for the future – but it can’t end there! Take the head-knowledge and make it a reality. Start stocking up on supplies, buy seeds, start your garden, store some water, and find ways to get off grid. Try, knowing that sometimes you will fail, but that it is all part of the learning process. And wouldn’t you rather have these stories of your beginner’s foibles now, when they can be humorous family jokes, rather than when your life depends on you getting it right the first time?

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