Off The Grid host Bill Heid talks to popular blogger Lisa Bedford – also known as Survival Mom. Bill and Lisa discuss survival and self-reliance from an often-overlooked angle: maintaining the will to survive. That is, when there really is a crisis in America and we all have to fend for ourselves, will we have the knowledge and the desire to survive? How will we handle the stress?
Lisa says it’s not enough simply to know how to survive. We must want to survive. We must have that core desire. In this episode, Lisa and Bill talk about how history, faith and family can give us guidance.
Lisa and Bill also discuss current events, including the Colorado floods and the mass shooting in Washington, D.C.
Off The Grid Radio
Released: September 19, 2013
Bill: And here is today’s show. I’m Bill Heid, host of Off the Grid Radio, with our special guest Lisa Bedford, AKA the Survival Mom. Lisa, welcome.
Lisa: It’s my pleasure.
Bill: In your latest email, you talk a little bit about… you are AKA The Survival Mom, just for folks to know. And it’s great to have you. Talk about some positions, your perspective, just with as far as being a survival mom. You’re looking at some of these things that are happening in the news and I think you and I were just mentioning, you’ve got kind of these out of the blue emergencies that kind of keep cropping up. You’ve got floods seeming to come out of nowhere. You’ve got armed gunmen just seeming to randomly go after people and there’s a place for survival in all of this, isn’t there?
Lisa: You know, I think that with all of the talk about survival and everything, all the chatter we hear on forums and different websites, and these really sudden emergencies, the time to think, the time to act, the time to talk, the time to research – that time is over. And I think it’s really a huge concept to grab ahold of. We can spend days and hours – years, in fact – deciding what should be in the perfect bug out bag. And where we’re going to go when everything falls apart. But, the fact of the matter is, we need a really quick plan when we notice the flood waters are creeping up, or when a sheriff pounds on our door and says, “You need to get out now because of wildfires.” The time’s up. And you know, the buzzer ending the game has just gone off. So what do you do? And I think that is a really important piece of survival and preparedness.
Bill: Lisa, do you think since the times have changed – in other words, let’s go back 100 years, maybe. Life wasn’t moving quite as quickly for our ancestors. Even for grandmas and grandpas we can remember. So, I think things were easy. There was probably a better standard of living in many ways, because you got by without two jobs and without all the race. Today there’s such a race and inherent in that race is, is there time to do other things? So I think people today just, when somebody comes knocking on their door, they’re just so hazed by what’s going on in their day, in many cases, they don’t even know how to respond, right? It’s like it is coming out of the blue, like you said in your most recent email.
Lisa: Right. Right. And you know coupled with that, Bill, is the barrage of information we get. And yesterday, with the shooter at the Navy yard is a prime example. Almost instantly, we get information and it’s wrong. It’s conflicting. Things change by the moment. If you think back to the days of our grandparents and great-grandparents and beyond, you know, yes, things happen suddenly, but very often there were eyewitness reports and it wasn’t just the non-stop flow of information, a lot of it inaccurate. And I think in a way that makes it even more difficult to make these snap decisions.
Bill: Yes, so really that’s a great point. Really what we’re talking about is, we’re kind of hypnotized by the news media and the fact that really, the internet I would say as well, at the rapidity at which folks want to scoop a story. You go back 100 years, 150 years, and if somebody shot someone in Detroit, it made the news in San Francisco because that wasn’t a common thing, right? Today people get shot all the time and it doesn’t even make the news. But if somebody got shot in Detroit, it would make the news in San Francisco days later. And there would be a lot of time to process what happened, and put it in its contextual framework. But today, bang, bang, bang as you say.
Lisa: Yes. And I think that to a point, Americans who pay attention to the news have maybe become a little jaded, Bill. Because we see these reports change from moment to moment, when all the dust has settled, and maybe those of us who really want a perspective. We pull back some and we look at the different reports and maybe we realize, maybe there was some manipulation involved. Maybe there was some bias, propaganda involved. And the next time something happens, you know what? I can’t blame someone for saying, “Well, now wait a minute. The last time this happened, we found out later that, you know …” Fill in the blank. So there could be some cynicism, and then also you touched on the rat race. And you know one of the most frequently asked questions I get is – and have gotten over the years – is how can I convince family members and loved ones to prepare? And you know what? Frankly you gave the answer just a moment ago, when you said that everyone is just so burdened down by just day-to-day living. And when we tell them, “Hey you need to get ready, just in case there’s ever a shooter at your child’s school.” It really is no wonder that so many people, they just can’t extend their energies. Their mental, emotional energies, to get all fired up about being prepared, when they have the bills to worry about, and they have the kids and single moms and dads are struggling. So, yeah, it’s kind of a dilemma for an awful lot of people.
Bill: It is a dilemma and on the show we constantly sort of say, I think you need, there needs to be, you can have all the gizmos, you can read all the books, you can read your book. We sell a lot of your book, and your book is a great one. Just Survival Mom. And it’s, Stephanie tells me in the office, one of the bestselling books we have. I was thinking about having all these things, getting all this advice, but boy, if you don’t have at the core of your existence, if you don’t have it settled who you are, what your place in this world is and all of those kinds of things, those are actually survival questions that not enough families … “We’ve got our dehydrated food. We’ve got our water. We’ve got all this stuff.” But in a pinch, I think some of the things – the ability to think – really kind of because of all that jadedness, in a pinch I think really, if you don’t have anything at your core, you kind of don’t have anything at the periphery either.
Lisa: You know, that really takes on a part of survival that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention, and that is just the emotional element, the mental element. Very often I’ll hear – and I’m sure you have too, Bill – that, “Oh, if things got that bad, I wouldn’t want to survive.” And my comeback is always, “I may be in the depths of depression and discouragement, but if I’m gone, who looks after my kids?” Is it really fair as a parent, as a grandparent, you know maybe as just a trusted and stable member of your community or your church, to just kind of give up before anything happens to not try and put anything in place? You have to look at the next generation and the next generation. You know, how are they going to survive? You know, for a lot of us, we have put things in place for preparedness and survival, really not just because of ourselves, but really for the kids and the grandkids and those that we love.
Bill: Certainly. And I think a good training course for anybody would be to go just on YouTube and watch some videos of Auschwitz and other Nazi survival camps and a lot of those folks came back with a pretty darn good spirit compared to today’s temperament. In other words, people said, “Yeah, we had it hard for awhile.” Well, hard for awhile? You were in a Nazi concentration camp for three years! You had it hard? “Yeah, we had it hard for awhile.” Today you have people saying, “Well, if I don’t have cable, I’m going to jump out the window to my death,” because who would want to not be able to watch their shows, right? Isn’t it interesting how historically, when someone says, “I can’t take it anymore,” how the gradients … you know in the old days, the Pilgrims didn’t even have any food and of course their attitude wasn’t, “I can’t take it anymore.” They had five little kernels of corn. What’d they do? They were praising God for the corn that they had and said, “Gee. My world’s pretty good. I got five kernels of corn per day. What a good deal I have. At least, that number could be zero.” So compared to toady, as you were saying, people just … man, they’ve ratcheted up the level of, you know, cliff jumping, and said if the slightest little thing is wrong, “I don’t want to live.”
Lisa: It really is fascinating how our perceptions, our expectations, have become skewed. And we live in the most – you know, arguably – the most prosperous time in human history. Here in America. And yeah, our priorities are so off kilter. So off kilter and we look around the world and we see people who are living lives of desperation – at least from our perspective – and they’re happy. And families are in tact. And we have so much that we can’t even look ahead to a time when the power might be out and maybe we need a couple of flashlights. You know? And so we’re ill prepared. I think a really key part of survival is getting back to a lot of those basics, and getting back to the concept of, if it came right down to it, could I take care of my family? Could I secure our home? Because ultimately we are all human beings, and take away the veneer of civilization and every, the fancy clothes and the money and all the electronics, really, we’re human animals. And here in America we don’t often see that truly ugly side of human animal, but we see it displayed all over the world. And most recently in Syria, you know, with some of the atrocities that have been committed there.
Bill: Well, without a doubt. I was thinking as you were saying that, just the lessons that we can learn everywhere, always, just with, with our eyes open and ears on alert. Just, what are the, a person can sort of, that’s the nice thing when we talked about the maybe negative thing of too much information. But some of the positive things, Lisa, is that you can put yourself with your imagination in a survival situation, not unlike what happened in Washington D.C. recently. You can put yourself in a flood situation. Just go there in your mind and work that out. Just going to Syria might be a little bit tougher for most people, but we could sort of, in a really, maybe even if a distant way, kind of imagine what it might be like to live in a war zone, where you didn’t know – and here’s where your faith comes into this I think, big – where you don’t know what’s going to happen next. And folks in cultures where and in situations where you don’t know what’s going to happen next, you start – they say there’s no atheists in a foxhole, right? – You start looking for, as you said, what is the single most important thing. And then, boy, you grab onto that because there’s no other ropes to grab onto.
Lisa: Right. I think that what fascinates me is the level of comfort and maybe our skewed perception, and yet how big a topic survival is. From Survival Man to Bear Grylls to the different websites and the whole industry that has built up around survival, which tells me that maybe really deep inside, maybe there’s a craving to be challenged. Maybe there’s a craving to go out and prove yourself, you know, against the wild. Against wilderness. Against, you know. Dangers, you know. It reminds me of Earnest (inaudible 12:00) and when he was going out to, you know, he put out an ad in an English newspaper and he said, “This is the reality of the voyage I’m about to take. It’s almost certain death.” And he had men lined up around the block, applying for that job. So, the good thing, I think, is that there is still interest in survival. My son, just by watching Bear Grylls, you know, he’ll say, “You know Mom, I think I know how to skin a squirrel.” And he’s never done it, but I think the fact that the information is out, the interest is still at a very high level, I think that’s a good thing, overall. For just being ready for emergencies. But people have to take it to the next level. It’s not enough to just watch or read a book or watch something on YouTube. You have to take it to the next level and put things in place.
Bill: I think that’s really at the core of this, and I think one of the things you can do – if it comes to skinning a squirrel – there are more squirrels, so if you skin a squirrel the wrong way, why, it’s not the end of the world, right? There’s other squirrels to skin. So, maybe that could be your next book. But, in other words, get out there and get dirty and do these things, rather than just, as you say, make an extraction out of something and think that you’ve got something. Maybe you say, “Oh, I assent to that intellectually,” but that’s not the same as actually … having a book isn’t the same as practicing and doing and I think, really, where we need to go in this movement is a lot more people, once you put a book in your shelf, a lot of people think, “Oh, I’ve got Lisa’s book, or I’ve got this book, so if something happens, I’m going to buy that book for insurance and I’m going to go to it that day when the crisis hits and I’m going to look up how to survive.” And I’m not saying it’s too late, but I’m saying really …
Lisa: It’s a gamble.
Bill: Books are meant to be ready. And in your book I think you cover so much ground and you offer so much breadth and depth inside that book that I think you, it just gives people all kinds of examples of just some actions they can take.
Lisa: Thank you. You know what? Thank you so much for those kind words. It was quite an experience writing that book. I had about three months to write a 100,000-word book, and it was a fun challenge. And I would do it again, but it’s always nice to hear that, you know, yeah, it was helpful to someone. In fact, recently, kind of coinciding with our line of conversation here, I’ve actually, I’m in the process of writing a curriculum to go along with that book. I’m using my book as a textbook and I am posting the lessons, one every other week, on my website. Specifically for people who maybe have done just what you’ve said – they’ve read the book or read and pursued lots of survival forums, but they still really don’t have a good evacuation plan. They still don’t have any items for everyday carry. You know, in their purse or their wallet. So my curriculum – and I used to write curriculum when I worked in education for a number of years – is really all about putting down specific plans in place and I have assignments. No quizzes yet. That may come, who knows! But, I agree completely that that really is, it’s the actions. Taking action. Just simply reading a book or simply saying, “Yes, I, you know, I’m a gold star member on this particular forum. We talk about survival all the time.” But what really is going to bring peace to someone is the things they put into place. It’s not so much all the talking and chatting and reading. It’s knowing. It’s knowing that you have that emergency plan. That you have the emergency evacuation routes all mapped out.
Bill: Well, around here my friends who hunt and fish and trap and stuff don’t really talk about the fact that they can butcher a pig or, you know, clean a squirrel or a goose or something. It’s just, that’s a lifestyle. It’s not something that, that’s out there. It’s something that’s inside. So there’s a lot more confidence that comes when you’ve got it down. I guess it’s like giving a speech or something, right? They say a lot of people are nervous about giving speeches but if you’ve got your subject matter down, it sure makes it a lot easier to give that speech, and if you understand what it is you’re going to do, it does make it a lot easier to take the action that’s necessary, lest you be frozen. I think a lot of people just end up getting frozen, whether it’s in a flood or other emergency situation, like, “What do I do?” And you don’t want to have … that’s the only response that’s the bad one, is the non-response.
Lisa: That’s right. And in the newsletter article that I wrote, that you mentioned, you know, initially, that was my point. You put things in place now, and really a lot of the survival planning, it needs to be brainless. It needs to be automatic. You know where that bag is. You know where you’re going to go. You know where your kids are so you can pick them up and run. You know all those things and it is just so automatic. Because, really, our brains do really quirky things under pressure. One of the best books I have ever read is by Amanda Ripley, and it’s called, I think it’s called The Unthinkable, and it’s why, you know, how and why people survive. And she just goes into the philosophy of what our brains do and how literally time stands still, at least for the person, you know, who is in crisis. But, the time to do the planning is not in the middle of it. And certainly that’s not the time to sit down and read my book.
Bill: The brain is a powerful thing and I remember a story. I can’t remember, Lisa, if it was typhoid or cholera, but it hit tribes of Indians and it would kill everybody in the tribe who got upset and frustrated and worked up about it, because the stomach acids somehow allowed it to move quicker. So if you, if you’re tensed up about something that’s going on, what would happen is, you’d release a lot of stomach acid and that would facilitate the problem. Facilitate the disease and make it spread. And so, these diseases would go through these Indian tribes and guess who it would kill? It would kill the middle ground. It would kill the, the moms and the dads, and it would leave the little kids and the elderly, basically unscathed, because they didn’t know, you know. The old people said, “Well, I guess, I guess you die sometimes.” And so they didn’t get too excited about it. And the little kids just kept on playing, and they didn’t die. But really, our bodies and our minds are hooked up more. And this is what you’re saying, is a lot of wisdom in respect to survival skills, because as they’re hooked up more than you know, and I think both, perhaps, you and I, maybe me more because I hear a lot of bravado from men in survival situations, somebody talks a big game about what they would do if X, Y or Z happened. And I almost kind of just in my mind want to kind of say something to them, but I rarely do. Because I know the people that talk that way, I’ve seen personally, those folks freeze up. And sometimes the big talk comes from sort of lack of … it’s an insecurity talk, more than just that, that comfortable easy feeling that know, that you have in your heart when you know what you’re going to do if the situation arises.
Lisa: Maybe that saying, “Those that can, do, and those that can’t, teach?”
Bill: And those that can’t teach, teach gym. That’s what Woody Allen would say.
Lisa: And those who can’t, brag. You know? With all the bravado.
Bill: Yeah! Yup. I want to say one other thing about your book that I like. You touch on the Great Depression, and that’s one of my favorite times, because it was a time to go back and look at historically. If you remember, Lisa. I’m a nut for the Bible, so I’m always trying to remember things when people kind of go back and they did something right. So Moses was here. He’s telling folks about, you know, when he’s getting ready to die he tells people about what God’s done for him and David certainly did that and (inaudible 20:16) and even Ben Franklin. They were at a Constitutional convention and he said, “Look, the God of providence has done these things for us.” So all this historical stuff, right? Here’s what’s happened in the past, and we’ve made it. Our God has pulled us through. So then you get to the great depression and there’s just so many examples of people that lived without anything and they – I mean, I talk on this show once and awhile about this book, and you mentioned it, or you mentioned the concept of living through the Depression, how people made it. And I have this book called We Had Everything But Money. Priceless memories of the Great Depression. It’s a whole bunch of pictures that, really, it’d be a good survival book. People wouldn’t think of that, but it would be a good survival book to go buy on Amazon or wherever you buy your books. Put on your counter table, just to remind you. You look through this stuff and you see, yeah, these people didn’t have any money. But what’s the point of the book? We had everything except money and so they’re all together with their families and they did everything together and there was a sense of security from having each other there, that they could enjoy – we can all enjoy – if we lose everything. We can still have something. We can still have each other. And I think that’s powerful. When you talk about, you know, I was looking at your book again before the show and I saw that section on the Depression and I thought, “Man, I’m so glad she wrote that.”
Lisa: Well thanks. I think, when you go back to just, the title of that book, well, what did they have? They had strong family. They had extended family. They had communities. You knew, you could trust pretty much everybody. And I think that’s an element of being prepared and that’s an element of survival now, that we have some control over. You know, we can work to spend time with our family. I recently heard a very well known radio host talk about his family had given up, you know, their nightly TV watching. And it drove them crazy, but ultimately they were spending time together. And they were really, you know, bonding. And I think as a mom, that has been one of my long-time goals. I told my kids, “You know, it’s the two of you. You know, 50 years from now, it’s going to be the two of you.” And I want them to be bonded with each other. Well, as parents and grandparents, we have control over an awful lot of that. And yes, someday when the time comes, if everything hits the fan, what will we have left? We’ll have our faith, as you mentioned. And we’ll have our family. And maybe not much else!
Bill: Pretty important stuff. Pretty important stuff, to get down to the bare essentials of what it takes to live. Lisa, I’ve got another one I want to throw at you, and this is just, I’m kind of playfully throwing another book or maybe another concept for you to think about. Here’s what it is – it seems like folks like you and myself and a lot of others, as you said, there’s a bit of an industry that’s formed up around this concept of self reliance and survival and so forth, but it seems like we’re getting prepared for things. We’re encouraging people to get prepared for the events we’ve been talked about. What sort of apocalyptic, big thing events that can happen? From small thing like the power going out to just, EMPs and things like that. So, there is this discussion, I think, that it’s very healthy. But here’s another type of survival I just, I wanted to get your feedback on, because that kind of survival is the eaten-by-alligators kind of survival, and what I’m saying is, is there another kind of survival that people like you and I to be talking about, the nibbled to death by ducks kind of world? In other words, how many people just living everyday are snapping, like these shooters? And a lot of them are on drugs. How many people are on antidepressants because they … you see what I’m saying? This is another form of survival, and it’s surviving just the day-to-day life and kind of a crazy world. Certainly crazier world than the world of the Depression we were discussing. But, is there maybe room for this conceptually to start talking about survival in a little different context? How do we keep from just being sort of consumed by the world that we live in? Because it seems like it’s out there to consume us.
Lisa: Interesting. You know, I’ve actually thought of going back to school and getting a degree in counseling. Because I do see a great need, currently, a growing need, just for that kind of thing. It really actually does concern me. Especially where families and kids are concerned. You know, we hear reports in Greece and in some of the European countries that are struggling greatly and we hear of increase in children being abandoned. We hear increases of suicides, depression, of divorce, families breaking up. And even in the best of times, what is the number one thing most couples – at least number one or two – most couples fight about, you know, it’s money. And just the stresses. I think there are a lot of stresses being placed on families and individuals that I have not seen in my lifetime.
Bill: Well, think about this, Lisa. Think about you take something like just how do you survive – like here’s another book title. How to survive by staying married. In other words, if you could stay married – that’s a hard thing in today’s world, so I’m not casting anything against people that haven’t been able to do that – but I’m saying if you can stay married, look at what happens when you don’t stay married. You’ve got kids; you’ve got all these things. Things split up, your income splits in half, your kids split in half, your stress level increases. All this, it’s a cascading series of events and you know what? You’re probably more likely to be killed by the stress that comes from trying to juggle the life that you need to lead if you separate from your spouse if you are from a terrorist, for sure. But no one talks about that. Where’s that book? Where’s that, at least in terms of our grouping? And I think that’s a category of survival that’s very real. Very real.
Lisa: I think that, I think at the very core of that, Bill, would be an awful lot of information that is basically not politically correct.
Bill: Well, good point.
Lisa: You know, because at some point you have to touch on the role that faith plays. And you know we live in a world now where that has become more unpopular and I was telling my kids not long ago I have never seen so much hostility in my life toward people of faith. But I think that is a great book, because survival, you know, early on, you mentioned what is at the core. You know, who are you? You know, what is at your core? What gives you reason and purpose to survive? And I think that is a really valid point. I would love to talk more about that and, you know, maybe research it someday.
Bill: Yeah, that’s just stuff to think about. And when I was thinking about you, I was thinking, “What are some good things to talk about?” And I thought I’d throw – I don’t normally throw curveballs kind of out of the blue, thanks to people – but I thought maybe in your case that might be something you get a kick out of. Just in reading your works and getting your emails and so forth.
Lisa, we’ve got a couple of minutes left. Why don’t you tell people what you’re working on right now? What you’re looking forward to. What the website is again, and all that. And we’ll make sure everybody knows how to get more information from you.
Lisa: I can always be found on my main blog. My first love. We’re always told to return to our first love, so my blog is TheSurvivalMom.com and I truly do love writing and keeping that up to day. From the beginning, I wrote it for the busy mom who might not even have time to shower in the morning. So my articles – and my book too – was designed with just short little bits of information. I’ve also started an al-women’s, we call it a radio network. My goal was to get lots of different voices out there. Women’s voices, on all topics. Not just on survival and preparedness, but we touch on everything, from parenting to homeschooling and a whole lot more. Homesteading, gardening, you name it. And then again, the curriculum. I really felt that was something I wanted my next project to be. So, every other Wednesday there is a new lesson posted on my blog, and it has assignments. It has additional information that’s not in the book. And really, I call it step by step with the Survival Mom.
Bill: I would say assignments, but also encouragements, which is an important part of what you’re doing.
Lisa: Yeah, in fact, lesson number one, one of the main things I stressed was to not go out and spend a lot of money. In these times right now, we don’t need experts, survival experts, telling us we need to spend a fortune on this kit or, you know, $4,000 worth of freeze dried food. We do what we can, where we are, with what we have.
Bill: Well, that’s a good point. And Lisa, with that, I think we’ve got to get ready for our break. Thanks so much. Lisa Bedford, The Survival Mom, thanks for being with us today.
Lisa: You’re welcome.
Bill: We thank you for listening today. As we said, we know your time is valuable and we appreciate you spending some of it with us. Thanks again for listening to Off the Grid News Radio.