The Difficult Path to The Simple Life


The Difficult Path to the Simple Life | Why slowing down and living simply is not always as easy as it soundsFrom city girl to simple life

I grew up in the city. Life was fast, competition was fierce and downtime was considered a luxury. Meals were often eaten on the go as I rushed from appointment to appointment; From the train to work; From home to school and back again. Always rushing. 

Always stuck in never-ending traffic, or alone in a crowd on the train as everybody averted their eyes from each other and looked down at their phones. Always scurrying around with everyone else stuck in the rat race, just trying to get through the day. Get through Life. 

I’d look up sometimes and see nothing but grey; Grey concrete shooting high into the sky on a backdrop of grey skies. And I lived in one of the greenest cities in the world! Still, it never felt natural to me, and I often found myself stressed, overwhelmed, anxious and depressed. 

I know there are lots of people who do love living in the city, surrounded by stimuli; Things to do, places to go, limitless options for dining out, a never-ending selection of entertainment, businesses open 24/7, bright lights, loud noises and crowds of people everywhere. The city teems with life, and some people thrive on that. I have many friends who do. They get their energy from the constant buzz of city life. I think it’s awesome for them! But it’s not for me.

 

Loving life in the slow lane

I like living a quieter, slower, frankly more boring life. I hate feeling rushed, stressed or pressured to keep up with everybody else. I’m energized by being in nature, gardening, reading, writing, solitude, having deep philosophical conversations with my closest family and friends, and spending time simply enjoying life in the moment. I once read that time is a currency, and that we all have a finite amount. I truly believe this, and I don’t want to waste mine.

The Difficult Path to the Simple Life | I reveal the hardest part of my move from city girl to small-town homesteader, valuing moments over money, learning to slow down and savour the simple life.

So we moved away from the city to the outskirts of a smaller town. It’s still quite large, but nothing like the big city. There’s lots of land still out here. There’s nature everywhere and room to breathe. Many businesses still close on Sundays and most dining options shut their doors at 8 pm. People look each other in the eyes here and most still say hello or offer a friendly smile. There’s less pressure to run the rat race because there’s really no rat race to run. 

Sure, it’s still busy here. We live off the main highway and as I write this I’m listening to sounds of rush hour traffic right outside our front door. But at night, the road is quiet and the traffic is replaced by the sound of crickets or frogs or owls or nothing, depending on the time of year. And you can see the stars when you look up on a clear night. There’s no light pollution to interfere. It’s heavenly.

We live on enough land now to grow a good-sized garden, we currently don’t pay rent where we live in exchange for taking care of the house, and I’m realizing my dreams of pursuing a simpler life where I get to stay home most days, spend quality time with my family, follow my passion for homesteading and write about it here to boot. I really couldn’t ask for a life better suited to me and my husband. But I still struggle to embrace simple living fully and completely, the way I really want to.

 

You can take the girl out of the city, but…

Last year when I was about 6 months pregnant with my daughter, I was working full time at a school where I had a conversation with another teacher. I told him I was also working part time at another job, substituting at other schools on the days this school was closed, starting a candle-making business from home and growing my first big veggie garden, all while being due to give birth in the middle of summer. As I told him all this, he looked at me, perplexed. Then he asked me, “why are you so busy?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I feel like I need to be. I like to keep busy.”

“Do you think it’s because you used to live in the city?” He asked.

I thought about that for a moment, and let his words sink in. Finally I responded, “maybe.”

The Difficult Path to the Simple Life | I reveal the hardest part of my move from city girl to small-town homesteader, valuing moments over money, learning to slow down and savour the simple life.

My husband and I on a hike on our due date. Even at 9 months pregnant I found it hard to sit still.

Learning to let go of the need to keep up with the pace of a faster life has been a challenge for me. Don’t get me wrong; To most people looking from the outside, it might seem like I don’t have a lot going on. But I’m always busy with some project, task, commitment or self-imposed deadline I’m working toward.

I’m very goal-oriented and I care about being successful. But what I’ve been learning lately is that my version of success doesn’t need to look like other people’s. I still struggle with feeling like I need to prove myself to others; To please them and be what they expect me to be, rather than who I really am. To feel accepted. To fit in.

I don’t think many of my friends and family members really understand this lifestyle that has captivated me, and I still get the feeling some people think it’s a way for me to justify laziness and get out of working for a living, which could not be further from the truth. I just want the work that I do to be worth more than a steady paycheque and a good benefits plan. And I don’t want to rely on a pension to provide for me in my old age. I want to rely on my own skills, knowledge and land.

But I still feel pressured to prove my success through the money I earn, the title I have and the things I own, because that’s how so many other people define and understand success. A stay-at-home mom with a few bucks in the bank and dirt under her fingernails is hardly the poster child for a successful woman in the 21st century. But that’s what makes me happy. And I believe being happy in today’s world is the greatest success anyone can achieve.

 

Success is all relative

My version of success is not about earning enough money to pay for a fancy lifestyle. Rather, it’s about living a simpler lifestyle so that I don’t have to earn as much money to support it. It’s not about having some big fancy title or status. Instead, it’s about living a life that’s true to who I am and what I believe. It’s not about accumulating things. I’d rather accumulate moments spent with my family, in the garden admiring the miracle of life, in the kitchen cooking, at home creating and doing what I love. 

The Difficult Path to the Simple Life | I reveal the hardest part of my move from city girl to small-town homesteader, valuing moments over money, learning to slow down and savour the simple life.

I decided to write on this topic this week because I’ve been feeling out of sorts for the past few days. I’ve been struggling to find where I fit. Do my friends and family think I’m strange for pursuing this dream? Do they take it seriously or think it’s just a phase? Often I don’t talk to them about it because they can’t relate to where I’m coming from. I hardly told anyone I was starting this blog before I launched it simply because I feared they would ask “what’s it about,” and I’d have to explain it to them, feeling weird and uncomfortable and utterly “different” as I did. After all, let’s face it: this isn’t the typical 21st-century millennial dream.

On the other hand, I feel like a fraud sometimes because of my inexperience living this lifestyle. I’ve connected with some amazing people online who are self-proclaimed homesteaders, preppers, farmers, gardeners and natural-living experts. Many of them have years or even a lifetime of experience doing what I’m teaching myself to do one step at a time. I’m proud to feel like I’m becoming a part of this community, but I often feel inadequate and even unqualified to give advice, like I do here, on this blog…

 

Learning to trust my journey

I’ve had to remind myself lately that life is a journey, and to trust that journey. To love where you are on your path and know that’s exactly where you should be. Right now I’m in a transition phase. I’m still learning to slow down, to let things go, and to allow myself a little grace.

I don’t need anything fancy. But I do need to feel as if I’m living my life honestly and being true to myself. For me, that means breaking free from the rat race, and living a life removed  from the stress and the pressures of the modern world.

A simple, slow, quiet life where I grow some of the food that we eat, make what I can with my own two hands, follow my passions, and spend as much time as possible enjoying every moment with the ones I love.

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CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
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8 Comments

  1. Paula

    Great blog post! I want to encourage you to stick with what your heart is telling you. You obviously love what you are doing based on the pictures of yourself in your element. Love your husband and your little one and evaluate each day you spend on your little piece of land by asking yourself, “Did I do today what I wanted to accomplish?” If so, keep smiling and keep plugging along!

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you for the encouraging words! I’m so glad that I found my passion as I know there are some people who never even discover what they really love doing because they are too busy “running the rat race” to even stop and think about it! And of course there are many more who have passions that they never pursue (or at least not to the extent that they would like to) because of others’ expectations of them. I know, even when I feel I am not living up to others’ standards, that I am doing exactly what my heart is telling me to do. If I died tomorrow, I would be able to say I lived a life true to myself, followed my dreams and put my heart into everything that I did. And that is priceless. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  2. Lynda Lu Gibb

    And Blessed we are to spend those moments along with you.. It is wonderful to see someones life taking it’s true path..

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thanks Lyndy! So awesome having you guys just across the yard. And your chickens! I mention them and their eggs often:)

      Reply
  3. Glenda Zelionka

    A girl after my own heart! I wish women could have stayed home with their children(and I don’t mean to drive them places and always be on the go) taught them cooking, cleaning, gardening etc. And you certainly have a knack for writing as well-just be you, relax(and work hard at the same time)-therapy. A big thumbs up Anna!!

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thanks Glenda! I love being at home with Evelyn. As every mother knows, some days are trying and I even get envious that Ryan gets to go to work all day and talk to adults while I stay home and deal with crying and dirty diapers. But getting to spend time with my daughter every day, to be present for all of her milestones and to bring her into the kitchen and out to the garden with me is a priceless gift that I don’t intend to waste. I’m excited to raise her like children used to be raised: being a part of where her food comes from, contributing to our family by helping out around the home and learning the skills necessary to become a confident, self-reliant adult with a strong work ethic and moral compass. That’s my dream for my kids. I don’t care how much money they make or what their “status” is. All I care about is that they are happy, healthy and have all the tools they need to take care of themselves and their own families one day, and pursue their own passions with my full support.

      Reply
  4. Deborah

    Great post. I think this is something we all struggle with. It is what is expected of us. Kudos to you for working toward your dream. I too am working toward my dream of just living in the moment.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Kudos to you for working towards yours too mom:) Remember to slow down and enjoy it before it’s too late.

      Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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The world is changing faster than ever.

We’ve barely had time to adapt to the “new normal” and still things are continuing to shift, change, and in some cases spiral more each day.

From rising inflation and persistent supply chain issues, to a looming recession and food shortages that are expected to get worse after a very tough farming year, to a war on European soil and the threat of cyber attacks and (God forbid) a nuclear attack, to the future of digital IDs and increasingly pervasive government control over every aspect of our lives, it’s no wonder more people are looking for ways to escape the matrix and “opt out” of the system.

I consider myself an optimistic realist: I hope for the best and I live fully and freely in the moment, but I prepare for the future accordingly based on what I can see unfolding in our world. And honestly, I find this “sweet spot” to be incredibly empowering.

This is why I do what I do and why I share it with you on a regular basis; I WANT TO EMPOWER YOU TOO!

That’s why I created The Society of Self-Reliance: A private membership that connects you with the resources, support and community you need to reclaim your independence and become more self-reliant in every aspect of your life.

From growing and preserving your own food to crafting and using herbal medicine to life skills like how to manage it all and stay calm in stressful situations, how to prepare for emergency situations and much more, if you’re ready to learn invaluable skills that will help you take control of your family’s food security, health and wellbeing, time, finances, and ultimately over your own future, The Society of Self-Reliance was created for you!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be reopening the Society doors for a limited time starting next week, and wanted to give you the heads up NOW so that you can get on the waitlist and make sure you don’t miss out when enrollment opens.

To learn more or get on the waitlist, click the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky or go to thehouseandhomestead.com/society

#homesteading #selfreliance #livefreeordie
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It’s October, and that means pumpkin spice season is officially here 🎃

This year, instead of spending $5 or more on a PSL loaded with questionable artificial ingredients, why not make your own pumpkin spice syrup at home with REAL PUMPKIN and all-natural ingredients!

All you need is some puréed pumpkin (I make mine with fresh pumpkins, but you can use canned), some brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, allspice and ginger, a splash of vanilla extract and some water.

Bring everything to a boil and then simmer and reduce. Strain into a bottle or Mason jar and store in the fridge for up to a week or so.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of this syrup to your coffee or homemade latte for a better quality, better tasting PSL for a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay at a coffee shop.

You can also add this syrup to homemade kombucha, or drizzle it over pancakes, waffles, French toast or even ice cream!

Grab the full recipe via the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/homemade-pumpkin-spice-syrup/

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Do you dream of escaping the rat race and starting a homestead far from the chaos of the modern world?

It’s no surprise that in this day and age, more and more people are ready to leave it all behind and move to a property in the country where they can grow their own food, live a simpler life and become more self-sufficient and less dependent on “the system.” But as romantic as it sounds, it’s definitely easier said than done.

In the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, I sat down with Ann Accetta-Scott of @afarmgirlinthemaking to talk all about what people need to know about buying and selling a homestead property.

Ann and her husband Justin recently moved from their two-acre homestead outside of Seattle, Washington to a 40-acre homestead in rural Tennessee. Ann and I sat down to talk about the realities of buying and selling a homestead, moving across the country to pursue your homesteading dream, what to look for when you’re searching for your next property, pitfalls to avoid (if you can!), and what you can do if you’re not ready or in a position to make your move just yet.

Whether you’re looking to purchase your first homestead or trying to sell an existing homestead and upgrade to a bigger property, Ann had some great insights to share that can save you time, stress and money when you’re ready to make your move.

Check out the full interview in the fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine: link in bio @anna.sakawsky or visit www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe, login to the library (if you’re already a subscriber) or view a sample of the current issue!

#modernhomesteading #homesteadersofinstagram #escapethematrix #selfsufficiency #selfreliance #selfsufficientliving
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This is why people don’t trust our medical system!!!

I very rarely go on a rant about current events but this has me feeling really fired up…

My husband and I each got an Amber Alert on our phones the other night along with millions of other British Columbians, informing us of a child abduction in Vancouver. It made the suspect sound like a dangerous kidnapper and said “do not approach. Call 911.”

As it turns out, it was the mother of the child (a 3-year-old boy), who had refused medical treatment without getting a second opinion and follow up blood tests, so the Ministry of Child and Family Services was called, she was arrested and her son was taken from her and was administered medical treatment in the hospital without consent and without a guardian present.

There’s a lot more to this story than I’m able to share in this video or this caption, so I’ll post some links below where you can hear directly from the mom what happened, and check out other IG accounts that have been in direct contact with her and the father. But the point is this was a GROSS misuse of our Amber Alert system, a GROSS abuse of power (turns out the boy wasn’t sick in the end anyway), and has now traumatized this family for life.

Doctors are not gods and as mothers we do not co-parent with the government!!!

This hits close to home for me because I too have been through the medical system and had my concerns dismissed, was misdiagnosed and given wrong information, and was treated with obvious contempt when I got a second opinion.

In this day and age of rampant medical coercion and the erosion of bodily autonomy over our own bodies and over those of our children, this story highlights the dangers of the very slippery slope we’re on.

As parents who only have the best interests of our children at heart, this could happen to any one of us. We can’t let this be normalized. Remember “first they came for (fill in the blank), and I said nothing. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Check out my stories for the full video that the mom, Wiloh made explaining the details of what happened or check out the comments for links to learn more & support this family.
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I’ve hesitated about posting this reel over and over because I know I’ll probably get backlash, hate and vitriol from some people in return. But I wouldn’t be being true to myself if I didn’t speak the truth that’s on my heart and mind…

If you haven’t noticed, there are currently thousands of Canadians sharing their stories and using the hashtag #trudeaumustgo on their social media posts right now in response to the divisive rhetoric and actions of our prime minister over the past few months. But our media has downplayed the issue and has attributed most of the hashtags to “bot” accounts and foreigners trying to influence our politics.

In response, real Canadians are making videos and sharing their stories to show that we are not bots, but real people who have been negatively affected by the words and actions of our leaders, particularly our leader at the top.

I used to consider myself a lifelong leftist and have supported the liberal government and Trudeau over the years, but after what I’ve witnessed over the past few months; After how he has spoken about Canadians who have made a different medical choice or who have protested mandates (which have done nothing to stop the spread of you-know-what anyway); After the hate and division that has trickled down from the top and infiltrated our communities, I can no longer stand silently by.

While I am 💉, a few months ago when I voiced my support for those who stood up against mandates and against the division being pushed on us by our leadership, I suddenly found myself among what our prime minister called the “small fringe minority” of citizens with “unacceptable views.”

I lost followers, friends and even a couple family members. I was told I’d been “radicalized,” although my views have never changed.

So today I’m adding my voice to the chorus of real, everyday Canadians who are taking a stand against tyranny and division in this country. As the saying goes, if we do not stand for something, we’ll fall for anything. I stand for freedom & autonomy, and against division & tyranny.

#trudeaumustgo

(Special thanks to fellow 🇨🇦 homesteader @meggarlandd for inspiring me & giving me the courage to post this:)
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What would you do if the grid went down?

Imagine not just the lights going out, but all power, all digital communication and information. Would you be prepared?

A lot of us THINK we’re prepared for a grid down situation, but unless you’re already living off grid, you might not realize how dependent on technology we really are!

In the fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, contributor Ashley Constance of @dirtypawshomestead and @alittleselfreliant shares her experience voluntarily going without power for the day, and what she and her husband, Shawn learned from their grid down experiment.

You might be surprised at the things they discovered and missed on their prep list, and it might prompt you to reevaluate whether you’re ready in case the grid goes down, or even just Google 😱

Check out the full story in the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine!

Link in bio @anna.sakawsky or visit www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com

#modernhomesteadingmagazine #homesteadersofinstagram #homesteading #modernhomesteading #prepping #nationalpreparednessmonth
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The other day when I had a few minutes to spare, I was out in the garden doing a little work when my neighbour said hi over the fence.

I lamented to her about how busy we’ve been and how hard it’s been to keep on top of this year. Very sincerely, she replied “wait until you have another one,” referring to our baby on the way.

“You’ll be moving back to the suburbs so quick, mark my words,” she said.

Now, I don’t for a second think there was any ill intent behind her statement, but still, it took me aback.

“We’ll never move back to the city or the suburbs,” I replied with a laugh. “This may be hard work but we love it.”

She then repeated her statement and followed it up with “just you wait and see.”

I decided not to continue the back and forth. After all, I told myself, it doesn’t matter if she or anyone else knows what’s truly in your heart. It doesn’t matter if she understands that there’s no amount of difficulty that would make me run back to the suburbs and leave this life behind. In fact, our dream is to upgrade to a bigger property someday where we can grow an even bigger garden and add more livestock to our homestead!

Likewise, I visited the city last weekend for a family event and as always, I had at least a couple people ask me “so when are you moving back to the city?”

Seven years later, and still we have friends and family members who think this is just a phase we’re going through, and eventually we’ll come to our senses and move back.

I used to get offended by these questions because I felt unseen; I felt like nobody took this life that I’m so passionate about seriously, and thought it was “cute” that I was “playing farmer” for a bit, but eventually I had to grow up and become part of the “real world” once again.

Now I just smile and reply “never:)”

Can you relate? How do you (politely) respond when someone questions your lifestyle choices or implies that you’ll eventually come to your senses and come back to “reality”?

Let me know below 👇
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The fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine just dropped!

In this issue you’ll find:

• Preparedness tips, tricks and advice to help you be ready for anything on the homestead (and in life!)
•The ultimate guide to growing garlic at home and it as both food and medicine
• Drool-worthy recipes that feature garlic as the star!
• Expert advice from A Farmgirl in the Making’s Ann Accetta-Scott on what to look for (and look out for) when buying or selling a homestead property
• Advice on how to learn and grow from perceived homesteading “failures”

And more!!!

Go to modernhomesteadingmagazine.com or click the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky to subscribe or login to the library and read the latest issue if you’re already subscribed!
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When I first started homesteading, I had a burning desire to become more self-sufficient and live a more sustainable life.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a rebel at heart, and learning how to homestead and become more self-reliant was a way for me to “throw a proverbial middle finger to the system” and live life on my own terms.

As a teenager, I was the girl who drove around town with punk rock music blaring from my car, Misfits sticker on the back and studs around my wrists. I felt misunderstood and angsty and like I desperately didn’t fit in with the world I grew up in.

I always knew in my soul that I wanted something different; Something more.

Today I’m the mama with stretch marks on my belly and battle scars on my heart. I’m the woman who gardens and cans food and makes her own tinctures and believes in something greater than herself and fights every day to stay free in a world that feels increasingly engineered to keep us hopelessly dependent.

Today I feel whole and at peace, and connected to a higher power and a higher purpose. I feel like I’ve finally found the place where I belong.

This journey has been about so much more than homesteading for me, and I've learned, lost, gained and loved so much more than I ever could have imagined.

Because, as I've said before, homesteading doesn't happen in a vacuum. Life is always happening at the same time.

This is the full, raw and unfiltered story of my homesteading journey, and how I've gained so much more than a pantry full of food along the way.

Click the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky to read more or check it out here >> https://thehouseandhomestead.com/how-it-started-how-its-going
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The news we’ve all been waiting for…

IT’S A BOY!!!

After so many years and too many losses, our hearts are so full and it feels like we are inching closer to our family finally being complete.

I’ve always known in my heart and soul that we were meant to have a girl and a boy. I know, it sounds cliché and very “nuclear family,” but years ago I saw a psychic who told me I would have a girl who loved to be centre stage and had a personality larger than life, very much how our daughter has turned out!

She also said I would have a boy who would be much more introverted and in tune with nature and with his own intuition. That’s yet to be seen, but I’ve always had this unwavering vision of a son and a daughter that fit these descriptions, and my heart has been set on a son ever since we had Evelyn.

Of course, things went sideways for a few years. Shortly after Evelyn was born, I became pregnant again, but we made the heartbreaking decision to terminate that pregnancy at 24 weeks due to a severe medical diagnosis. We lost our son, Phoenix Rain on June 15, 2018. Our hearts were shattered and have never fully healed.

Over the next few years, I had 3 more early miscarriages. None of the doctors knew what was causing them as most didn’t seem to have any sort of genetic explanation. We were told it was “something environmental,” but weren’t given any clues as to what that could be.

After pushing to see several specialists last year (after our most recent loss), and being told once again that there was “nothing wrong with me,” I finally got another opinion and found out I had something called Chronic Endometritis: A low-grade infection in my uterus that I believe in my heart was caused by my c-section with our daughter; A c-section I didn’t want and probably didn’t need, but felt I needed because I was under pressure to make a decision before the surgeon went off duty.

I’ll never know for sure, but when I pushed for more testing and finally got a simple round of antibiotics, the endometritis cleared up. I got pregnant again almost immediately and so far we now have a healthy baby boy on the way.

(Continued in comments…)
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We’re living through interesting times. Many people have even used the term “unprecedented times,” and while that may be true in that there has perhaps never been another time in history when we’ve faced so many existential threats all at once (ie. a global pandemic, climate change, political divisions, AI advancing at an incredible rate, cyber attacks, nuclear threats, globalization, food shortages, supply chain issues, hyperinflation, social media and the age of information/misinformation, etc. etc. all converging at once). But despite all of this, we are not the first generation(s) of humans to face hardships and threats of great magnitude, and in fact we’ve had it better than any other previous generations for most of our lives, especially here in the west.

The fact is, there are lots of things we can do to ensure we’re not sitting ducks when these threats come knocking at our door. But it takes action on our part, not waiting around for someone else to fix things or take care of us.

In the Summer issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, I sat down with The Grow Network’s Marjory Wildcraft to talk all about the realities of our current climate, including worsening inflation and looming global food shortages, as well as what every day people like you and I can actually DO to improve our food security, become more self-sufficient, care for our families and communities and ensure our own survival and wellbeing even in difficult and uncertain times like these.

While I don’t believe in fear mongering, I do believe in acknowledging hard truths and not burying your head in the sand. That being said, things may very well get worse before they get better, and we would all do well to start learning the necessary skills, stocking up on essential resources and preparing now while there’s still time.

Check out the full interview in the summer issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine. Link in bio @anna.sakawsky to subscribe or go to www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe or login and read the current issue.

#foodshortages #selfsufficiency #selfreliance #foodsecurity #foodsecurityisfreedom #homesteading #growyourownfood #fightinflation #stayfree
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