The Solution To Uncertain Times

...and how to thrive during the 2nd year of a pandemic. 

Notice I said "thrive" and not "survive".

The media will have you think that everyone, but everyone is struggling, emotionally, mentally, and physically. It's not true.

This pandemic has been inconvenient, even when we ourselves were sick, but we haven't struggled. If anything it's made us kick into high gear and become more self sufficient.

I haven't decided whether other people are truly struggling or if they've been immobilized by the shock of not being able to do the things they normally do. I think it's the latter for many, particularly young people.

It's been sort of an adventure--for me, at least. Not that it hasn't been a nuisance at times. I've come down with more sinus infections and skin allergies in the past 12 months than is normal for me. Most of the time I've sucked it up, though a couple of times I've had to get medical intervention. Thank heaven for tele-medicine. 

For someone who hates to go to the doctor in a normal year, I really dread it during pandemic season. While I'm not afraid to be out and about, I don't go looking for trouble either. A doctor's office is a breeding ground for all sorts of transient bugs. That's where we picked up the virus in the first place.

My doctor asked me if I wanted to get my mammogram, colonoscopy, and bone density tests, but I flat out told her I don't plan on going to any medical facilities unless it's an emergency. She understood completely and didn't press the issue again.

As for thriving in an uncertain world, I think it's a matter of perspective. I don't like things as they are, but I know how to rise above uncertainty. 

The answer is simple. Self sufficiency.

I don't mean stocking up on canned goods and bullets, though that never hurts.

I mean being able to handle a crisis without government intervention. My personal opinion is when the government gets involved a lot more palms get greased than the ones who really need it. 

Every time I think about Pakistan getting $25 million for democracy/gender studies just so US citizens  can get a measly $600 it makes me furious. And that's just the tip of the 5600 page stimulus bill for items OTHER than covid relief. How do these politicians even sleep at night? And who do you think is paying for this?

I'm tired of giving money to other countries. But it's all part of the system, one hand scratching another's back instead of focusing on its own citizens.

That's government for you. Spare me their BS.

Here's what I do need:

I need a doctor on occasion, but I don't necessarily have to see one in person. (knock on wood)

In a normal year, I might need a mechanic, a repairman, a grocer, and a butcher, but in a pinch we can handle all those jobs on our own. 

I'm not particularly mechanical, but I'm exceptionally good at following directions. If Greg can't show me how to fix something, YouTube can.

The more you can do for yourself, the less you need from others. It's self sufficiency at its finest.

The other part of self sufficiency is getting out of debt. Back when we had a mortgage and a car note, I was constantly plotting ways and means for paying down our debt. My mission was to owe no one. It was the happiest day of my life when we became completely debt free. 

The same went for when we wanted to buy a new house. In the 80s, we saved every spare penny for an entire year so we could put down a substantial down payment on a house with enough left over to start repairs and renovations. We paid that house off in nine years.

It was part of a plan. A long term plan to be sure, but one we adhered to with determination because it liberated us from debt. 

That brings me to the third piece of thriving instead of surviving.

Steadfastness. When we're subjected to micro-reads, sound bites, and capsule news, we are groomed to be impatient and expect instant gratification. It's a slippery slope because it also trains us not to stay the course when things get tough (or boring).

If you want to thrive, you can't just give up when things become inconvenient. This is probably the toughest thing to do because we've been softened up by society. Someone is always there to pick you up, be it a government program, a loan, help from family, and even Go Fund Me pages.

For the record, I'm not against charity as long as the person in question is truly in need. If I read on social media that they then had a mani/pedi or drinks with the girls, they're abusing the kindness of good people and that makes them jerks in my book. This is why we generally only donate to people with sick pets. I know what it is to spend your last dollar on a sick dog and I'll gladly help if I can.

I didn't mean to get off topic but it's a sore point with me when people have their hands out before they've really worked their butts off. With social media it's easy to ferret the fakers. 

I've worked hard all my life and I know what it is to go without. But guess what? It was no big deal (though I'll admit to being tired of eating rice and pasta for 3 years back in the 70s). Deprivation only made me that much more grateful when I did climb out of that hole.

Bonus Tip: Build your emergency fund. If you don't have an emergency fund, start saving for one this very minute. This is the cornerstone of self sufficiency.


We've been given a great gift with this virus. This is your chance to show what you're made of.

The first year was fraught with a lot of fumbling and putting the right infrastructure into place, but this year there's no excuse not to make it your best year ever.

Issac Newton invented calculus and developed his theories for gravity, motion, and optics. He was 24 years old and in seclusion for 18 months during his era's pandemic.

What can you accomplish in the same amount of time? 

Have goals. Write that book, build that house, learn to cook, garden, or homeschool your kids. Learn a trade or teach one. You may never get this opportunity again in your lifetime.


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Jackie said…
Thriving not just surviving indeed Maria.

We too feel somewhat inconvenienced but none of the three in our little household get too impatient for things to go back to normal, what used to be considered normal anyway.

Growing up without all the toys at peoples fingertips today taught us that simply using what we have works just fine.

Especially now the stores are able to stock up on TP and other necessaries we cannot do without like we can with certain electronic devices, etc.
Maria Zannini said…
Jackie: I learned that lesson by accident 30 years ago. I was visiting my next door neighbor who was the age I am now. Her home was tidy but utterly void of anything modern.

I thought they were poor, but it turned out they were just frugal. They had no money cares in the world. And they were content with what they had. There was no need for high end tvs, vcrs,or fancy kitchen gadgets.

I learned that day not to judge people by how they lived, but rather how they treated others. I loved that old lady to the day she died.
Angela Brown said…
The pandemic has certainly been a source of all manner of interesting revelations.
Maria Zannini said…
Angela: I don't think anything really surprised me--except for finding seeds. I never would've thought they would sell out so quick. It's both sad and good.
Stacy McKitrick said…
I had my appointment with my primary care physician via the phone, but I still see my other doctors (on base) in their clinic (cardiology and oncology), which is not near as bustling as it has been before COVID. And I certainly wouldn't forgo my mammogram since that's an indicator of whether or not my cancer has returned (which I hope it never does). I had a cardiac MRI back in July and I'm due to have a stress Echo next month. I can't afford NOT to have these appointments/procedures. So don't put off too long if you're at risk.
Anonymous said…
Very interesting and I do agree with many of your comments on self sufficiency and good ole making the best of a crappy situation.

I will give some thoughts on your young people comment through, as the pandemic in IL I think is very different than TX. I see the people who work for me, struggling emotionally while being single, living in studio apartments downtown and working from home. They have made the best of it for a long time (we are at 10 months WFH at this point) but there’s something to be said for this type of extreme isolation that can cause emotional struggle rather than thriving. Our team chats are a bit more sad than they used to be and video calls don’t make up for water cooler chats in the office. Second, I see my friends with young families struggling with becoming teachers while working from home, some stopped working all together because schooling is too much. I had a friend who would have lost her job because of her compromised immune system, but thankfully her job decided to keep her on remotely. I also think the young folks who work in the restaurant and service industries have it super tough, because the money is now very inconsistent if you have a job at all. But I think overall everyone struggles with the isolation if you aren’t used to it. That might be your next blog in isolation.

But then there’s me, where the roughest times have been being bored with each other when the weather is crappy and we can’t get outside, and when Dave’s job closed down for a month and a half on governors orders and we lost that income. Otherwise, we had a fun summer and fall and my garden was great and we are still enjoying the things I canned.

Just some thoughts - Becky
Maria Zannini said…
Stacy: People with disabilities or are immunocompromised have an additional burden. You have no choice but to follow up with doctors. For that you have my sympathies. It forces you to be that much more aware of your surroundings and the people who interact with you.
Maria Zannini said…
Becky: Call me ageist. LOL! The young people around us seem disconnected with society and the pandemic seems to have made it worse. I can only attribute it to not knowing what to do with the excess energy. I was much the same at that age, but I channeled my energy to high impact hobbies. Had this pandemic happened when I was 25 I'm sure I'd be climbing the walls too.

Loneliness is a struggle all to itself. I think it's worse in big cities where you can forget you're lonely because you're always surrounded by people. Personality comes into play too. I'm very comfortable with my own company. And I don't mind not seeing people for weeks at a time. But when you're 20-30 years old you're at the height of sexual expression. It's inevitable that confinement would make things worse.

We're talking about dealing with all new parameters, something we were never taught or experienced. Think back to the 18th and 19th centuries where many pioneers didn't see another soul for months. They did everything on their own. And they raised and schooled their children on their own until there were enough families in their area to commit to regular schooling. Even then, the kids were often let go early during harvest season. They were dependent on their children as extra labor.

I think the best way to handle loneliness is to know that this isn't forever. There's a time stamp to all pandemics. Plan for 2022, but use 2021 as a catalyst for where you want to be a year from now.

That, and get a dog (or cat). You can't be lonely if you have a pet.
Luba Meader said…
Hello Maria... I just totally agree with everything that you've said about the pandemic and self survival and self awareness. I believe that this pandemic has been an eye-opener for many. Some good, some not so good. Its brought some new friends and friends who no longer are friends. It feels like two-edged sword. Years ago, I learned gardening. Growing up in a metropolitan city I has no clue about gardening, but one learns. I also learned how to can my veggies as well. Learned how to bake my own bread and learned how to be self-sufficient. Today, I'm grateful that I learned that, especially in light of the pandemic. If need be, I now have the skills to be self-sufficient. I hgv ad two dogs, Tasha and Mitzi. Mitzi was a black lab and Tasha was a German Shepherd. I had two cats, Shadow and Coconut. Just like their names and my favorite colors, black and white. Mitzi and Tasha kept me safe. I still love the city and hope to visit Munich this summer or early fall to see my family. Between you and me, my happiness is up to me and I know 2022 looks more promising every day. I no longer put much stock in the government system as it's up to me and not the government. Thank you gor such a great post, Maria. You never disappoint and I always look forward to reading them.💜💜💜
Maria Zannini said…
Thanks, Luba. Self sufficiency is nothing but a series of steps. In the beginning I knew absolutely nothing--not even how to plant a seed. Now I grow enough to give away.

I'm sorry you haven't been able to see your family. It's especially tough when you're overseas.

PS Good for you for learning how to can and bake bread! I love to hear stories like that.
Mike Keyton said…
That was a great post, Maria. It was like being in your living room or garden listening to you talk - the thing we all strive for ‘voice’. Too many things to pick up but
Politicians: check
Emotional self sufficiency: check — though as you say that is often an age thing, experience tells you everything passed in time.
And one thing you did mention in passing, the short attention spans and immediate gratification social media encourages. I’m very much aware of the conscious effort involved in committing yourself to reading a serious book after an hr of social media. It’s why magpies don’t wear glasses.
One thing though, the young are the victims (and sometimes the culprits) in all this, their education savaged, employment and careers put on hold
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: I think the one truly awful thing about this pandemic is that the lives of young people (particularly those on the cusp of graduation or beginning a new job) were the hardest hit. Those transition points in our lives are often critical to getting ahead, getting a sports/academic scholarship, or getting an internship.

It was unfair, but there's nothing to be done for it. They were literally interrupted at a crucial point. Most will recover, but it truly was a shame when after they've worked so hard for a goal were denied their just reward.

We were all in a sense interrupted. The thing to remember is that all things are transitory. People need to stop seeing the pandemic as a crutch that's holding them back, and instead use it as a stepping stone, a free pass to reassess or restructure our lives.