Sunday, January 15, 2012

Getting Naked in Front of You--defining my core values

This week's assignment in the "Simplify Your Life" Challenge was extremely difficult. Participants were asked to pick 5 words or phrases that best defined their core values and rank them in order of importance. She provided a neat little printable full of possible value words to get people started. I printed it out and started off by crossing off words that had no business being anywhere near my values, words like "wealth," "patience," "beauty," and "success." Then, I went through and circled the words that appealed most to me and seemed to fit best with my life and worldview. I ended up with (in order from top to bottom of the printable):
  • Freedom
  • Contentment
  • Learning
  • Perseverance
  • Love
  • Family
  • Self-reliance
  • Resilience
  • Happiness
  • Endurance
  • Laughter
  • Humor
Twelve words in all. Since the guidelines for the exercise suggested collecting 10-15 words to start with, then whittling it down to five, so far, so good. I looked at my list and thought to myself, how do I shave off of that?  They all seemed pretty core to my value system! After staring at my paper for a while, I realized that a lot of these words were very closely related. My loved ones are my family, for example. Contentment is a mild form of happiness in my view; perseverance, resilience, and endurance, at least in the way I was viewing the words, could be no more distantly related than cousins. When I started looking at them like that, it became clear to me that I basically had five families of words in that list. Then it was just a matter of ranking them. Here is that ranked list and how I came to it:
  1. Love/family: It might be cheesy, but love conquered all, at least on my list of values. Without the love of my family and my love for them, nothing else really matters. That made it so it was clear it had to be my number one value. After that, it got kind of tricky...
  2. Happiness: This and the number 3 value are pretty much tied. I don't think I can be happy without being free, but being free and miserable wouldn't do either, which is why I decided to put happiness as number two. If mama ain't happy, well, what's the point?
  3. Freedom: I don't do well in a cage, whether it be a physical one, like I felt I was in when we lived with my mother-in-law, or one made from rules, regulations, or unjust laws. I gotta do what I wanna do or we're going to have a problem. As such, I try to put myself in situations where I should have the most freedoms, whether that be by reading over a lease to make sure I can do what I want to before signing it (which I did here...and then the property manager just tries to change the "rules" on me by the power of her will) or voting in every election for the people I feel best represent my values.
  4. Perseverance: Gotta keep on keepin' on, no matter what happens. With all the crap I've dealt with in my life, there have been quite a few times I've wanted to give up, even landing in the hospital for a semi-forced weekend get away (the police officer gave me a choice: I could go willingly, thereby having more say-so in my treatment and when I got out, or I could go in handcuffs and be at the mercy of the doctors and courts as to what my care would consist of. I chose to go willingly) because I was going to attempt suicide. Since that low point, I've decided that I'm tougher than that. There are people that care about me (see number 1 for just a few of the examples), so I am going to keep on truckin'. No matter what life throws at me, I can take it. (No, Universe, that is not a challenge. Please don't take it that way!)
  5. Self-reliance: I lumped learning in this in my mind, since the learning I see as most valuable is how to do things to be less dependent on others. As sad as it is, life has clearly taught me that depending on others can be an extremely serious mistake, since they, whether it be individuals or the system, can let you down at the worst possible time. This has served me well, such as this past summer and fall when I was canning and freezing all the food I possibly could, since the only money I could reasonably count on to feed my family of 5-6 was the $161 a month we were getting in food stamps and, when my husband lost his job, that became a reality. He officially lost his job on November 6 and we still are only getting $161 a month in food stamps, which is a lot harder to live on when you can't just walk outside and find food (just mud and/or snow) in the garden. If I hadn't canned and froze all that stuff....well, it would have been even worse. Ultimately, I want my whole lifestyle to be self-reliant, living off-grid (wind power for primary electricity, solar as back up) in an Earthship, growing all our own food, including having chickens for eggs and goats for dairy. I don't ever have to worry about the bad things that would happen from not paying bills ever again! Now I just have to get to that point... If I just owned a piece of land an acre or larger, I'd be 90%+ there!
How about you? What are your core values?


  1. For one of the virtues - self reliance - we can look to past generations for solutions. One example is how our ancestors coped with hard times, such as war. I found an eBook from 1918 titled "Foods that will win the war and how to cook them." It explains how to cope with the food shortages of WWI and how to make-do with cheaper alternatives and what you can grow in your 'liberty garden'. It includes recipes for economy dishes such as Mock Duck, but also teaches how to make creative substitutions, such as using cheese or nuts in place of ground meat. Some of the cheese recipes sound very good! The book is now a free text. The address is: and the information page on it is:

  2. Thanks for sharing your values! I love how perseverance has got you out of a hole.

  3. I included resilience in my list which I think is closely tied to perserverance and self-reliance. You have to find strength in yourself as it's not going to come from anywhere else, is it? Good luck with the rest of the challenge!

  4. I agree all those great words are linked and such good values to have - self reliance, perseverance, resilience all to me shout "survivor" and "strength". I am sure you will make it to your goals!