That’s a beat up cheap piece of wall decor I have in one of my bathrooms. I liked that saying, so I’ve held onto this tacky wall “art” for decades, despite being urged to ditch it many times, usually after it fell on the floor one more time. I have it hanging right near the toilet in the bathroom by the master bedroom. My husband wasn’t a fan of knickknack junk or sayings. And he did not like the location where I hung this- at my eye level, not his, so he was always bumping it. It was so cheerful that I didn’t want to part with it.
Often, after I write a blog post, I reread it and wonder if I sounded mean or bitchy, so with my latest post doubts cropped up again. Saying something like, “A comprehensive plan would include a tiered level of goals, ways and means to achieve those goals and some timelines for the various moving parts. Into all this comes dealing with adversity and failure, which are going to happen, even with the best laid plans.” sounds pretentious and is the result of my interest in military strategy, I suppose. So, this post is laymen’s terms, because truly just about all of us have “tiered levels of goals” – stuff we’re working on now, stuff we would like to get done in the near future and stuff that’s off in the distance or even things that are present projects, but that we’ve had to prioritize. I don’t want to be mean-spirited or haughty.
It’s not just businesses or the military that come up with tiered levels of goals. Anyone working on home DIY projects or building a homestead constantly lives in the world of tiered levels of goals, because there’s only so much money and time, plus always lots more things that crop up to do.
The most serious problem for all of us in crisis situations will likely come with the people who don’t have any goals or just assume other people will be available to handle things for them, especially in an emergency situation. They assume someone else will figure out a solution in a crisis. It’s not just people who are obviously dysfunctional, like drug addicts, who are not prepared at all, we have an entire culture of unprepared people, who wait for some “experts” to tell them what to do and when to do it. They aren’t prepared to respond to any type of emergency situation. When I googled what percentage of Americans are prepared for emergencies I came across several articles that estimate over 60% of Americans aren’t prepared for a natural disaster, but I suspect when it comes to big storm events, as storms move closer more people rush to the store to buy food, water and supplies. That’s how hurricane preparedness works where I live.
In this recent large winter storm, many of the stories about strangers helping strangers that came out of Buffalo were heartwarming, but I listened to some news stories that left me wondering. For instance I saw a news report when grocery stores opened back up and a reporter was talking to customers lined up outside. That storm lasted a few days and I saw one guy tell the reporter he was completely out of food. Another lady started listing all the things she was out of – all the basics.
So, I want to mention some of my own typical planning failures that often led to outcomes that were disappointments. These were trivial projects, whereas being prepared for emergencies can be a matter of life and death. Often I would come across some project idea that someone else had done and that became my latest dream project of what I wanted too. It could be something little like a craft or sewing project or a cooking or decorating project, not necessarily some big project like building something or a project that would take a long-time to execute.
The first problem I often encountered when I attempted new projects was I did not do enough research before I started and didn’t have the requisite skill sets to successfully create these projects. Over time I learned to carefully read instructions to see what materials, tools and skills were required for each project. And that often led me to start on smaller projects to learn the skills I needed before attempting the bigger “dream” projects or I had to wait until I could afford the new supplies or equipment required for that dream project. I have some dream needlework projects that I still don’t feel confident in my skills to attempt.
Here’s a true story from when I was newly married and my husband and I had invited friends over to our apartment to eat. I had baked a cake for one friend’s birthday. Being young and clueless, I bought a small cake decorating kit. I thought I was going to be able to create elaborate flowers and turn out a cake that looked professional. My overconfidence stemmed from the decorator’s frosting recipe wasn’t that complicated. My husband had asked me if I was sure I knew how to do all that and I confidently smiled and told him, “How hard can it be?”
My mother had taught me how to make buttercream frosting and I had done that many times, so I ended with an inexpertly frosted cake with buttercream frosting – no cake decorations whatsoever, besides I tried making some swirls with the frosting like my mother did. Mine didn’t look too great.
Another thing we often don’t realize is how much time and resources various projects or new tasks take, because the glossy magazine spreads or the engaging scenes content creators put online makes things look easy. What you aren’t seeing is the years of hard work and/or practice those people put into creating what you’re seeing. They didn’t wave a magic wand to get where they’re at. They worked very hard to get there. Many endeavors have to be done in stages or require ongoing care and maintenance, not just once and done.
With the emergency preparedness efforts, many people react to fear-laced warnings or news when a big storm is expected to hit and while it’s good to get serious about emergency preparedness when an emergency weather situation is imminent, rushing out to just grab as many supplies and as much food as you can isn’t a good way to prepare. Calming down, assessing what you have, how you can better utilize what you already have, then working out a plan with a budget ahead of time can help you avoid mad dashes through storms. If you wait, crowds of unprepared people will be swarming stores trying to grab supplies too. Having a budget and a shopping list is a better way to utilize your resources and end up with food you can incorporate into meals. At this point though, if you see some bargain for some basic item that you know you use and you can afford it, it’s probably better to stock up now rather than wait. I also do pick up items that I find at Dollar Tree, that I think might be useful for various purposes.
Sometimes, life throws us curveballs, where we’re required to learn critical skills quickly, like people who reacted in that major winter storm a week ago. One young woman brought an elderly man into her home suffering from severe frostbite and was rendering first aid care to try to save his life. It could be some personal emergency. For instance, I did not know if I was up to the task of being a 24 hour a day caregiver for my husband, when he was sent home from the hospital on hospice care and completely bed bound. It’s not easy caring for someone who is bed bound. The hospice nurses taught me how to change him and change the bedding without being able to get him out of bed. They taught me how to handle all sorts of problems and issues. I learned that I could handle nursing care tasks that I wasn’t even aware of and some I never imagined I’d have to handle. You never know what life’s going to throw at you. Don’t ever say you can’t – just take a deep breath and try. The alternative would have been putting my husband in a nursing home of some sort in the midst of the COVID craziness and perhaps not even being allowed to visit him (now there’s a cruel COVID policy that still makes my blood boil – keeping family away from dying loved ones). That was not an option I considered. You just never know what kind of emergencies or crises you’ll face in life.
Having big dreams is something we should all cling to, because those can keep us looking to the future with anticipation, and optimism rather than fear and dread. Big dreams really are the seeds from which tomorrows grow, but we’ve got to figure out the right time and location to plant them, then invest the time to nurture them. We also need to be prepared for those seeds of dreams to perish. That’s when we really get tested, because most people will give up, while a few others will take a deep breath and start all over again. They’ll replant more seeds until those dreams bloom.
Changing that ratio is a challenge for all of us, because in a major crisis we’re all in it together.