Be Strong To Be Useful

I embrace the label “prepper”. The movement has gone mainstream over the past few years. What movement? The awakening of everyday people realizing that Uncle Sugar is not the answer in troubled times. Preppers take their preparedness into their own hands. Here’s the Survival Sherpa’s Guide to get started on your climb to preparedness.

Prepping is a journey, not a destination

My lovely wife, bless her heart (that’s right y’all – I’m southern), understands and supports this fact. Over the last two years I’ve added these skills to my toolbox (she just smiles and encourages me – and helps): soap making, blacksmithing, home brewing, water collection, medicinal plants and herbs, CPR training, barefoot running (strengthens the foot and ankles), backpacking/camping, and now, blogging (not a great skill after TEOTWAWKI ).  There never seems to be enough stuff, knowledge, or preps. I’ve never watched “Doomsday Preppers” by National Geographic highlighting the growing population of preparedness minded individuals in our country. It’s past my bedtime when it airs. The little I know from reading, the show seems to promote preppers as crazed, gun-totting fanatics. I love my guns, but I don’t watch sensationalized crap on TV. My advise to newbie preppers is to “keep it real” as my students say. Below you’ll find 7 tips to get your journey started. Starting is the hardest part.

Specialization is for insects

Five years ago I stumbled upon and realized that I was a prepper. Thanks to Mom and Dad, I was a prepper before prepping was cool. They taught me how to be self-reliant, an independent thinker, and a serial multi-tasker.

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” — Robert A. Heinlein

My parents went through tough times growing up and passed on their experiences and knowledge to me and my siblings. The ability to think and apply knowledge is the key to surviving our uncertain times ahead. Whether it’s a financial collapse or natural disaster your best human survival skill is the ability to think. The last thing you want is to be the recipient of a Darwin Award in an emergency/SHTF situation. Stupidity will thin the herd – as nature intended.

If you haven’t noticed our predicament, you are not paying attention or watching too much mainstream media. Here’s what I see. A financial collapse is coming. It’s inevitable. Don’t believe me. Read some history. There is no way to print our way out of this enormous hole of debt. Read some Rothbard and Mises to get enlightened.

Two years ago, our family sat around a Thanksgiving table at the in-laws. My mother-in-law brought up and expressed her I-lived-through-the-great-depression opinion on a story she read in the local paper about our economy. In a nutshell, she knew the present levels of debt and fiat money printing will ruin us. “Our money is no longer backed by gold,” she rightly stated. She was scolded by a young 20 something nephew who was getting his MBA in Keynesian economics at our state university. The once pleasant conversation turned heated as he demanded that we believe our money is backed by gold and that our national debt was good for “leveraging”. “Where’s the gold?” she asked. His arrogant ignorance and his presence ended when he called her “un-American” for her beliefs. Debating is okay. Insulting his grandma-in-law opened a can of reality on this “educated” Keynesian. My lovely wife immediately threw out (I’m being nice here) this ungrateful, ignorant, schooled fool. He’s never apologized to my mother-in-law. Haven’t seen him in two years. If I ever see this poor propagandized soul again, I’ll introduce him to Mr. Mises and Austrian economics.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928

Wake up and smell the truth – and prepare accordingly

Fortunately, the internet makes your prepper education much easier than in previous generations. My position in government “education” gives me a front row view of the dulling down of common sense and critical thinking of the masses. Our ruling elites depend on our insane system of forced schooling to mass produce dullards who believe anything and question nothing.

On the phone yesterday with my daughter who graduates from college in May, we discussed her plans. Originally, she wanted to attend grad school. Now she’s not so sure. She is aware of the fact that student loan debt for higher education exceeds $1 trillion dollars. She’s not sure the money spent/owed is worth it. I told her to follow her gut. She’s so bright and has so much going for her, why go further in debt?

Albert Einstein described insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Recovery is not going to happen. Collapse is coming. Prepare accordingly.

Here are a few of my go-to preparedness sites:

The Survival Podcast

The Economic Collapse Blog

Backwoods Home Magazine

The Survival Mom

Survival Jane

Willow Haven Outdoor

Project Appleseed

Knowledge and skills trump gadgets and tools

We perform what we practice. Gadgets and tools aren’t very useful unless you acquire skills to use them. Example: Can you start a fire from scratch without a Bic lighter? How about sharpening bladed tools (axe, saws, knives)? For families with young kids, this makes for great outdoor family time. Unplug the TV and computer game. Take kids camping, hunting, fishing and hiking. Encourage play. Play is essential in learning. Make games of preparedness. Plant a garden. Get your hands dirty, literally. No backyard? Grow vegetables in containers and get creative. I ran out of room in my garden once and planted tomatoes and peppers in plastic storage containers on my back deck. They grew like kudzu.

Make a written plan for emergencies.

What if the kids are at school, mom and dad are at work, and society goes berserk? Is there a plan in place to get the family home safely? Our children are grown and out of the house. We still have a plan of action (written down) in case the S Hits The Fan.

Avoid information overload

How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time. Seems logical but many newbie preppers experience information overload and shut down. As in any new undertaking, a solid foundation is necessary. Fundamental preps should include: Water, food, shelter, and a way to protect yourself and family (self-defense). Focused energy and resources should be spent on securing these items. These doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. Rethink, reuse and recycle. There’s so much stuff that can be made useful in your preps. Yard sales, Craig’s List, and thrift stores are great at stretching your prepper budget. I’ve added many 100% wool sweaters to my cache from local thrift shops. I call this “Common Man Sense.” Budget for what’s important. Is that latte at Starbucks really that tasty?

Be redundant

Once you jump into prepping, take care of the fundamentals and build redundancy. Can I purify water with more than one method? Always have a plan B and C. Figure it out before you have to.

Get fit for SHTF- Be strong to be useful

I chuckle every time I read some survivalist’s comments on how he/she plans to survive TEOTWAWKI. The chuckle comes when I see their picture posted and wonder how they plan on humping a 60 pound backpack to their fully stocked retreat location on top of a mountain. I’m not cracking on their plan, just don’t see it happening when they are winded by climbing the three steps leading into their house. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about what modern fitness experts tell us we are supposed to look like physically – beach ready with sculpted abs and tan bodies. I’m talking about functional fitness.

So, a plan has to be doable – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Let’s address functional fitness for SHTF.

In a SHTF/TEOTWAWKI event our bodies will be shocked by physical demands. In my ex-coaching days, I never had my football players swing baseball bats during practice. That skill wasn’t very useful for optimal performance on the gridiron. Working out at the gym may offer some transfer in a collapse situation. However, in my experience, carrying buckets of water and swinging a sledgehammer to split firewood can’t be practice in most modern fitness centers.

Ditch conventional wisdom and grease the groove. What’s “grease the groove?” Whatever you want to improve (cardio, upper body, lower body, etc.), do it in intervals throughout the day. For instance, if you want to increase your pull-up repetitions, do a pull up each time you pass a pull up bar (or other structural equivalent). Swing a sledgehammer on an old tire or firewood pile if you have one to increase you upper body strength. I hit 20 to 30 push ups on my breaks at school. I no longer do cardio (long distances over 3 miles). Over the last two years, I started sprinting once a week. This triggers my fast twitch muscle fibers, build muscle mass, and burns fat. And it only takes a few minutes, where the long runs use to take close to an hour. Boring! Note: Disregard the silly stares you get when sprinting through your neighborhood or park barefooted. Be strong to be useful.

Here are some non-conventional resources on jumping, climbing, lifting heavy objects, playing, and natural movement:

Mark’s Daily Apple


Robb Wolf: The Paleo Solution

What did I miss? Let me know.

Semper Vigilans,


Categories: Functional Fitness, Preparedness, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, SHTF, Survival, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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