Thursday, March 12, 2020

A Fine Line Between Preparation and Paranoia

(Photo: Pam McDonald)
I come from a long line of tough individuals. My mother's family goes back to early Colonial America and westward expansion pioneers. I didn't know a lot of my family history until I dove into my genealogy. Along my quest, I have learned a great deal about who I am and why I do the things I do—why I have a knack for resourcefulness, preparation and calmness in the face of fear.

The most influential women in my life were my mother and my maternal grandmother. Their resiliency is a testament to the pioneer spirit of those women who came before them. I am who I am because of the life they led, the trials and tribulations they endured, and the lessons they passed to me along the way.
(Photo: Pam McDonald)
One of the things they taught me was to always be prepared. Both of them purchased in bulk and knew how to keep a "healthy" amount of vittles and supplies on hand. Having lived through the depression, Grandma was resourceful. Unlike my paternal great grandmother who hoarded food scraps in the basement out of fear, Grandma Martha wasted little and lived a good, but frugal, existence. She and my grandfather were dairy farmers and lived on a farm. They had a ready supply of meat, dairy, and eggs. They purchased fresh fruits and vegetables which Grandma preserved on a yearly basis. There was always a freezer full of meat, large cabinet bins of sugar and flour (you don't see those in kitchens these days), and a root cellar her grandchildren found intriguing. Kerosine lamps, candles, and handmade quilts were a part of everyday existence. Grandma was always prepared, including cookies in the jar should her grandchildren visit! It was a way of life.

(Photo: Pam McDonald)
Mom carried on the tradition, adapting to the needs of the day. We always had a freezer full of meat and a root cellar full of potatoes and canned fruits and vegetables (that is until processed foods and case sales became all the rage). She created the most beautiful quilts, had a hurricane lamp on the mantel, and a closet full of toilet paper and paper towels.

(Photo: Pam McDonald)
Not a lot is different from the way I live. I continue to practice the household arts my grandmother and mother instilled in me, including a mindset to always be prepared. I dabble in sewing and food preservation, have a large array of cast iron cookware, have a hurricane lamp on the mantle, and maintain a robust pantry, including quite the supply of paper products.
(Photo: Pam McDonald)
Speaking of paper supplies, imagine my surprise when I went shopping last week to replenish my stash of toilet paper. Nada, nothing, zilch! There wasn't a roll to be found. Because of a growing concern with the coronavirus, people are either preparing or acting out of fear. I don't want to judge, but I believe the reaction is more of paranoia than preparation.

There is a fine line between preparation and paranoia. Part of being resilient is being prepared for what may come and being okay if it doesn't. We don't know what we don't know about how the coronavirus will affect the United States. I am home with a sick husband who has been told he has the common cold. He probably does, but maybe it is more. We are self-quarantining in an effort to minimize the exposure to others—a good idea whenever sickness occurs.

I am thankful for the example my ancestors provided me and for this blog as a means of sharing perspectives with our followers. It is my wish and hope that each of us assess our spheres of influence as traverse yet another virus. Are your actions a result of paranoia or fear? Are you prepared?

Side note: I write this blog as my household battles what we believe to be the flu. Thanks to being prepared, I had the basic medical supplies to get us through this moment. Unfortunately, when I went to replace a few items, the shelves were bare. People who are sick have no means by which to get what they need. Does part of your plan involve taking care of one another in the event of illness?

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Digging a Little Deeper

Should the wildland fire service be called upon to respond, much will be asked of us. We have been placed in situations outside our comfort zones before (New Castle, Puerto Rico, Hurricane Katrina/Rita/Sandy, Columbia).
  • Are you prepared to receive the call to action? 
  • Will you refuse the assignment? 
  • Are you and your family prepared? 
  • Do you truly care about the well-being of those you lead? 

Pam McDonald is a writer/editor for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and member of the NWCG Leadership Committee. The expressions are those of the author.

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