December 5, 2014, at age 63, I received a layoff notice from my long term employer. It was not a surprise. At several points over the last 8 years outsourcing of our entire department was considered (at a great cost savings to our employer) but graciously and miraculously 27 of us were kept on till the final implementation of a medical record system called EPIC on December 4. These years for me have been an experience paralleling the preparedness/homesteading lifestyle we all embrace in light of increasing weather events, political, societal and economic instability. My “hit the fan” event had a known time and date.
Out of life experience and necessity I have been an avid prepper/urban/suburban homesteader all my life, growing up in a single parent home with widowed immigrant grandmother and unmarried mother with their frugality lifestyle formed by the depression and WWII, continuing into a marriage with cyclical, lengthy unemployment of my spouse, his eventual leaving and resultant single parenting.
To prepare for my fan event I paid off debt and live by the cash system. This is an ongoing humbling process as I have been practicing living on a reduced income (using the difference now to save for a replacement car). This is no news to anyone, but there is always the best deal of the year to take advantage of in preparedness supplies that stretch the budget not to mention fixed expenses of home and life maintenance and my tithe. The hardest is the limitation on giving gifts and participation in spontaneous social events.
For years I have been expanding growing various types of berries, so I now have fresh fruit here in the north from May to October. Each year I am increasing veggie gardening in what used to be annual or perennial flower beds, increasing production but maintaining a low key visual appearance to the veggie gardens – 40 pounds of sweet potatoes this year in a little half circle former flower bed by my front door. Edible landscaping. Chickens are probably next as they are allowed in this city.
I have faithfully gathered supplies of all the things I normally use from baggies to beans, my favorite socks to seeds, to rocket stoves, rain barrels, rice and raisins. Accumulated is only a portion of what the financial experts say should be in the comfortable retirement living bucket, but in a time of need I have toilet paper.
There’s the background … so what is my point? This question arose in this process… What is my overall goal? What is my goal in light of an upcoming layoff?
Defining my goal is key to guiding my choices. If my goal is primarily increasing preparedness my choice would be to attempt redeployment within my company albeit with the knowledge and information from others that chose redeployment, that my age, education and skill set are likely to result in a pay cut and a long commute as I currently worked from home. With that as my primary goal I would continue on the same course with some alterations. That is not the course I have chosen.
My overall goal is to have the rest my life count in directly helping others, being available to be a blessing , walking alongside the hurting, sharing my knowledge and encouraging. My Christian faith is at the core of my goal. Following this goal will result in likely only maintaining the level of preparedness I now have but freeing the majority of my time to have an outward view. It is stepping off the edge of a cliff into the unknown.
As part of this process in January 2015 at age 63 I will become a full time college student at a nearby technical college. In my state at age 62 all college credits are only $20 per credit plus fees. I will be enrolled in a 2 semester sustainable food systems certificate program. I do not know if this will create the opportunity for some earned income, which I will need to supplement life, or whether this endeavor will be enjoyable personal learning and training for ministry outreach. There are many well trained and knowledgeable experts in gardening and sustainable living but I will bring to the table an additional much needed perspective. To me a baby green bean represents marvelous provision from the hand of a loving Father. After following the inner prompting that I needed to learn about parsnips I now know that a parsnip harvested in late winter while snow is still on the ground is like hidden manna set aside for a meal far in advance of the normal growing season and the incredible yield of a parsnip plant gone to seed is the principle of multiplication on steroids.
I know my goals, I am deliberately making my choices according to my goals. The world situations will go the way they will and at the end I will be satisfied with my life, fulfilled in my relationship with others and my Creator.
Take time to reflect on your goals and live accordingly.