March 2009 - Posts - Surviving on Shoestrings by Donna Miller
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Surviving on Shoestrings by Donna Miller

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March 2009 - Posts

  • I took the road less traveled by....

    "I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." 

    Robert Frost (The Road Not Taken 1915)

    This poem always made me reflect on life. Am I a follower or a leader? Do I know when to be one or the other?"

    The road less traveled by" - what does that look like now in this day and time?

    I've come across the poem again and read it with new eyes each time:


    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth.

    Then took the other, as just as fair,
    And having perhaps the better claim,
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
    Though as for that the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same.

    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black.
    Oh, I kept the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.


    The road less traveled by can be viewed as having made a difference in our lives with either regret or with contentment. It's not the road that leads to our happiness, but the way we view the choice that leads to it.

    Our family has chosen the road less traveled to homestead. Are there days it is not easy and the work load is heavy? You better believe it! But if I look to the more often treaded road and long to have taken it, there is  a difference that would be missing in my life, the life of our family and kids that could not be replaced by another choice. The chickens hatching, the bunnies, the garden work and rewards, the firewood and marshmallows - all are 'the differences' we have due to that choice of roads.

    Every day you, the reader of this post, make choices. You made the choice to read this (bless you!) and will make a choice how to receive it as an attitude. Reading it is not what makes the impact upon your happiness - your attitude toward the choice is what impacts your life.


    When choosing to skimp, save and live frugally even though it seems like hard work, it is the road less traveled by. Developing a homesteading mindset, even in the suburbs is also a road less traveled by. What we do with that choice and how we view that choice is what makes all the difference.


    Best Blessings and enJOY the journey!




    Donna Miller is a work-from-home wife and mother. She delighted to share her trials and triumphs of learning to homestead anywhere. The Millers own and operate Millers Grain House which offers Organic and Chemical-free Whole Grains, Bosch Mixers, the NutriMill, instructional tutorials, recipes and more.
  • A "leg up" vs. a "hand-out".

    Please let me preface that I know many people who are legitimately in a 'program' of some form, so don't take this the wrong way. There are real people in real need. I also believe their character would prefer a 'leg up' over a 'hand-out' any day of the week. At least, they would after I explain the difference. I can speak because I have been there.

    Yep. I looked the difference up. Just to make sure I wasn't living in some southern colloquialism time-warp. I'm a vocabulary geek. They do each mean what I thought they did.


    leg up:

    a.a means of help or encouragement; assist; boost:

    b.advantage; edge


    a.a portion of food or the like given to a needy person, as a beggar.

    b.anything given away for nothing, as a free sample of a product by an advertiser.

    Is there a reason why home grown tomatoes taste better than store bought? I believe it is the effort put into growing them yourself. We can argue the point of what is in or not in the soil, but the truth is, you've earned it and it is a sweet reward!

    Is there a reason this quote is, well, quoted so often? "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach him to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."  One fish will not keep a man (or woman) from goING hungry. It only stalls the inevitable unless another fish falls in his/her lap the next day. 

    Let us look at what is created with a 'hand-out', shall we?

    By the first definition, yes, it is our duty to care for the needy, but to give one fish means they are only temporarily cared our obligation fulfilled? I would say "HARDLY." But also, by simply handing out items that are needed, we have reduced this person, this soul, this productive body of society to a 'beggar.' That is not a label to many would willingly wear for too long.

    Secondly, when something is given for 'nothing' - someone, somewhere IS always paying the price for it. Usually it is the consumer, unwittingly until the end, but still ultimately paying a price. By becoming dependent upon the 'hand-out' and seeing no way out or worse, lethargically addicted to it as a source of sustenance (be it drugs, food or money). A free sample from an advertiser, as we all know, is meant to entice us to buy and take the bait, for who's gain? Do those giving free samples have OUR best interest at heart or their own? Free information is one thing. Free money, free food, free items are all another, much like bait.

    Now let us look at what a 'leg up' is in comparison.

    Let's take the saying to 'teach a man to fish' that act not only impacts his own starving body, but that of his family, friends and community. He will likely out of his boosted confidence spread this skill by teaching others. He enjoys the fish he works for with a more enthusiastic gusto than the one that washed up on shore (that's a little 'iffy' smelling).

    Encouragement says: "YOU can do it!"

    Assistance says: "I'll help YOU, but I'm expendable, YOU are what is important."

    Giving someone a boost, advantage or edge puts them ahead in the game, but the game still has to be played by everyone who is in it. No benchwarmers ever helped win the game.

    On a personal note, I know the difference between the two intimately. I was on scholarship (poor-people & talent scholarships, not brainy-people scholarships) for all of my high school and college years. That was humbling and encouraging. It wasn't a free ride. I had to do work-study and still pay for classes. Had I not had that 'leg up' I would not have never gone on to school.  Yet, early on in my adult life we found ourselves struggling as a married couple to make ends meet and suddenly a baby was on the way, surprise!  We did turn down the government subsidies we qualified for (well below the line) because we'd known what it was to be poor and work hard all our lives already. We did accept food from a food bank ONCE because we had three small children and a job loss. That was all it took to realize the difference between working hard because we had someone give us a 'leg up' (wanting to honor their encouraging trust in us) and waiting for that next 'hand-out'.

    I don't fault anyone for doing what they need to do. I just think the two differing means of 'help' create two different attitudes in the receiver. I would rather help someone feel empowered because they don't need me anymore, they’re fine now, and can go and give a 'leg up' to someone who needs them.


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