4 Lessons From Our Personal SHTF Event

by Todd Walker

We all get blindsided by personal end of the world as we know it situations. Loss of a job or the death of a loved one can turn your plans to a pile of rusting rubble. Some events are worse than others. There’s no way to prepare for all of life’s storms. Losing a job sends desperation and panic through a single mother’s bones. How will she feed, clothe, and shelter her babies?

Life is not fair

I’ve repeated this line to our own children and the students I teach more times than I can recall. The pain of this statement is like sliding down a dull razor into a wading pool of alcohol. It does more than just ‘sting’.

Our world as we knew it stopped this past January. Dirt Road Girl (DRG) was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain. After melting down in tears and working through the initial wave of emotions, we were empty. All we wanted were answers and healing, maybe a miracle. TEOTWAWKI happened. Personally.

SHTF happens

Whether it’s a sudden change or gradual loss of quality of life, SHTF happens on a personal level all the time. Ours happened suddenly and has progressed gradually. Fighting the cancer has left us drained physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and every other ‘ly’ imaginable except spiritually. We aren’t the first to get strapped into this crazy cancer roller coaster ride. It just seems that way. We had no answers. Just questions. Hanging on for dear life.

Why am I sharing our personal SHTF struggle? There are lessons in it for all of us.

1.) Physically: I heard more than one doctor say that due to her “being young and fit” we can be aggressive in our treatment. After months of her body being assaulted by chemo and radiation, she’s glad she put effort into her physical conditioning. Just going through the treatments has added years to her. She’ll recover and rejuvenate when they stop pouring poison in her.

What kind of shape are you in for your personal SHTF or worse, a universal TEOTWAWKI? You could be in the best physical shape. It doesn’t matter if you’re deprived of sleep. I just spent the last three nights on a plastic hospital cot next to DRG. I may have gotten 12 hours in three days. I wondered how sleep deprivation would affect me in a long-term collapse situation. The number of pullups, pushups, and squats I can hump won’t matter if my brain shuts down from no sleep. Without REM sleep for more than 3 days, we lose our ability to think and act coherently. This highlighted a glaring weakness in our hunker down strategy. We must have enough bodies for watch duty in a long-term collapse.

2.) Mentally and Emotionally: I lumped these two together because I’m to mentally drained to separate them. Everyone who has survived cancer told us that attitude determines survival chances. Never quit. This past week DRG got an infection and spent three days in the hospital with hoses pumping fluids and drugs into her body. I’ve never seen her more sick. Being raised by mid western parents that survived the Great Depression taught her mental toughness. You can’t get that from popping a pill. Being tough mentally was passed down from her parents. She’s gone through a lot of fire in her own life that has forged her attitude. Something that all preparedness minded parents need to instill in their kids. Don’t lie to them and cave to PC pressure by telling them that everyone is a winner and gets a trophy. You’ll only hamstring them for life.


Get them off the video game baby sitter. Take a walk…together. Breathe the air. Smell the wind. Listen. Just sit somewhere and listen. No talking. Look inside for just five minutes. As the adult, fight the urge to think outside of yourself. Focus on you and your child. And don’t forget to turn off the cell phone. You’ll come away refreshed…mentally and emotionally. Take advantage of these peaceful times while we can.

Get rid of the crutches. Millions of Americans are on all kinds of mind and mood altering drugs to mentally make it through a regular work day. An increasing number of students have to be drugged to get through 8 hours of forced schooling. According to this report, “since 2007, the number of prescriptions for A.D.H.D. medications dispensed to people ages 10 to 19 has risen by 26%, to almost 21 million yearly, or about two million individuals.” What’s going to happen when there aren’t pills to help them cope? Mood swings from hell and dangerous levels of freaking out will follow.

Personal SHTF events, while they suck going through, with the right mental attitude, will prepare you for the big one. Get your mind right.

3.) Financially: We are down to one paycheck. That’s it. Not complaining here. We’ve had to make major adjustments. We’ve always been frugal in our preparedness purchases – always looking to save money. It’s pretty simple. We either have to spend less or take in more. At this point, we are going with the former. What use to be extra time for me is now used as a caregiver to DRG. Side jobs that produce extra income take time that I can’t spare. So we cut our spending. Here are a few ideas that you may want to try. They may not sound like much, but they do add up.

  • Great Depression Tooth Paste/Powder: Baking soda with a little coconut oil
  • Homemade laundry detergent. We use to use this but got away from it and started using store-bought. It’s necessary now.
  • Homemade cleaners. Baking soda and vinegar.
  • Use Kroger Card. We shop at Kroger and build up fuel points. You get $.10 off/gal of gas for every $100.00 you spend in the store. So, we buy gift cards that we use for items we normally would spend our own cash on. This summer, I bought 35 gallons of gasoline at $3.00/gal for storage. I saved $.40/gal.
  • Eat storage food
  • De-clutter and sell items

I’m sure you folks have more great ideas. I’d be glad to hear them.

4.) Spiritually: I was a part of organized religion for most of my life. Over the last ten years or so I’ve grown closer to God by not being involve in institutional church. Your mileage may vary. Since DRG’s diagnosis, we both have grown more in tune with what we think God is trying to show us. Mercy, love, peace, and forgiveness. There was someone I held a lot of unforgiveness towards for a couple of years. “Life is short” really sinks in now. I didn’t have to forgive this guy, but I did. How can I withhold forgiveness when I need so much myself. That’s freedom. Letting go. Embracing my humanness. I can’t change this dude. I can only change me.

Our personal SHTF experience was a dark-night-of-the-the-soul for our family. We’ve overcome the initial shock. I’m still scared of the unknown. The way we prepare is to be prayed up and laid back. Find out what God is doing in your world and join Him. Be thankful for each day. Have fun and enjoy life like there’s no tomorrow. There’s a purpose in all of our personal SHTF events. It’s our job to figure it out, learn from it, and move forward.

Ideas are always welcome!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Frugal Preps, Medical, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

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25 thoughts on “4 Lessons From Our Personal SHTF Event

  1. Todd, your comments touched deeply. All the best in your journey and thanks for sharing. Great, great, great advice.


  2. Definitely some good advice & reminders- thanks so much for sharing this. I’ll be keeping you both in my thoughts and prayers. You’re going through one of the toughest experiences life can throw at a person… it’s good that you’re viewing it as an opportunity to grow stronger.


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  4. Very inspirational, a lot of great advise, and glad to see you have stepped out of the “institution” which allowed for you to draw closer to God! You do His work daily through instruction to others. Thank you, keep it coming…Blessings assured 🙂 Got you and yours in prayer!


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  7. Great post Todd. So many people hesitate to share the most personal details of life, but this is what makes someone’s elses experience carry the weight and impact that it does.

    And thanks for touching on the spiritual too. Many people don’t touch on this, but the reality is that most of us are spiritual people on some level. Failing to acknowledge or address this is cheating yourself out of life.

    All the best to you guys. Keep drinking up everyday!


    • Survival Sherpa

      Thanks Dan for the words of encouragement. Really appreciate your thoughts! Keep doing the stuff!


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