Friday, February 25, 2011

AIS explained

For the past year or so, I've toyed with the idea of changing the name of my blog. Adventures in Self-Reliance was something I came up with pretty quickly and without much deep thought. At the time, I was reading Atlas Shrugged and about libertarian economic and political philosophy. Over the years, though, I've written more about kids and less about societal and cultural issues or even our home improvement projects. I've often thought that the name and the explanation may not still fit as I write more about kids than anything else. 

It turns out, though, that the name still fits our philosophy quite well. It's just that the idea of self-reliance tends to get a bad rap in our society. It conjures up images of militiamen living on compounds or the "heaven helps those who help themselves" crowd. That's not us. 

Self-reliance does not mean we don't rely on others. We do. We rely on those we trust and love. But ultimately, we display a trust in ourselves and our abilities that we rarely see these days. Around here, we feel that, with the help of Google and a little elbow grease, there's virtually no limit to what we can accomplish. 

Take our back yard drainage issue, for instance. About a year ago, my husband researched solutions to our problems and then dug a bad-ass ditch (by hand ... think human Ditch Witch) to install a French drain in our side and back yard. According to him, it has saved us hundreds of dollars.

How? Obviously, doing the labor himself, buying some supplies with our credit card rewards and having some donated was a huge savings. We got some rocks from a family who took an old refrigerator off our hands. It was a fair trade; we were both looking to unload something we no longer wanted. There are other cost savings that he pointed out. He told me that he could have just hired someone to do the work and then gone to play golf or to the gym to get some exercise. Instead, he stayed home, dug a ditch and got a good workout.

This is pretty characteristic of how we do things around here, hence the name of our blog "Adventures in Self-Reliance." Some would say we cheated the middle man (the gym or the golf course) or robbed a workman of a job. Not so. We saved money that we can now spend on something else, hence giving business to someone else, or nothing else, hence fortifying our own safety net.

And that brings me back to the kids. Always. The safety net. The hard work they see us doing. The learning as we go. Our little adventures in self-reliance lead us to ...

... consult but not rely solely and blindly on the experts and trained professionals. 

... do projects ourselves not just to save money, but to learn how to do it. 

... not subscribe to the idea that a good education begins with preschool and ends with college.

... have the confidence to tackle projects ourselves and the good sense to know when to call in the professionals.

... unlock the mystery of our kids by observing our kids and not blindly following the advice of experts. 

... know when our children are ready to sleep through the night, give up pacifiers or potty train not by watching their peers but by watching them. 

... believe that ignorance of how to do something isn't an obstacle but an opportunity.

... understand that the best way to save money is to not spend it. 

... not have a five-year plan, or even a one-year plan, but a 24 hour plan. Living moment by moment, doing the next right thing and trusting that the details will fall into place. 

... take the road less traveled with confidence. After all, if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.

For us, it's about using the good sense that God gave us, plain and simple.

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