May involve taking advice from strangers.
Self-sufficiency requires identifying three things: what’s within your control, what’s beyond, and what falls in-between. Yvonne Wakefield tells how she finds all three in Babe in the Woods: Self Portrait, a story of what happened after building a log cabin for herself as a young adult. After the unfortunate death of her parents, Wakefield uses what little money she has left to her name to purchase land and build a home by herself. Whether you grew up in the city or in a rural area, her story of perseverance and self-sufficiency will inspire and likely remind you of your own experiences.
In a similar fashion to how she learned a lot while building her home in Babe in the Woods: Building a Life One Log at a Time, she begins a new chapter of her life upon purchasing a truck. She quickly learns how being “safe” can take on many different meanings. For instance, she appreciates the safety offered by the canopy from rain and heavy coastal fogs. That being said, it is not enough to protect her sketchbook from the morning moisture and she quickly learns to wrap it in a plastic bag before sleeping. Despite the safety offered by the canopy from the rain, she also understands it cannot provide safety from greater dangers. She spends many sleepless nights on the roadside watching headlights whizz by. She found it most helpful to practice drawing a gun, aiming, and being threatening overall, with a fierce “I shoot first… ask questions later”.
Whenever things became overwhelmingly tough on her journey, she was lucky enough to obtain advice from both strangers and new friends. Some of this advice was important, such as how her friend Del told her to always watch for ripped up stumps and windfalls because those were signs that the bears were out and about. Some of this advice was painful, such as keeping whiskey on hand for when injuries occurred; she notes that whisky is good for not only wounds, but also for loneliness.
Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice she got was also the simplest; so long as you keep warm and fed, you will survive. She had no time to be self-absorbed because crying over her losses was a luxury she could not afford; she instead kept her eyes on the prize of survival and focused on staying warm and fed.
In times of self-doubt and fear, Wakefield worried that the glue holding her together might crack. She makes a conscious effort to keep herself intact by focusing on herself and having confidence in the many skills she’s acquired along her journey. While most readers will not find themselves in this exact situation of living alone in a homemade log cabin, Babe in the Woods: Self Portrait will still inspire you to be self-sufficient in whatever environment you spend time in.