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I’m only in my early 30s, but my parents taught me that one of the biggest, most important skills that you can have is a cultivating a positive attitude, even when everything feels it is going sideways. Josh Centers wrote a blog post about the stoic perspective a while ago and I encourage you to read (or reread) it. Here’s an example: I used to live in a two-family (outside of St. Louis, they are often called duplexes). I had an elderly neighbor who lived above me. She was always complaining about being old. (Her joints hurt, she couldn’t do as much as she used to, etc) My mother came to visit me. She encountered my neighbor and the neighbor started on her litany of complaints about being old. My mom asked her how old she was. The neighbor was almost a decade younger than my mom but thought my mom was younger than her! Why the difference? Potentially there were some lifestyle choice differences: at the time, my mom was walking several miles a day with three large dogs and gardening and herding her chickens through the yard daily. My neighbor had one small dog she barely walked and a couple raised beds in the backyard. But more than anything it was attitude. My mom knows she’s getting older and it is slowing her down some, which she finds frustrating to an extent, but she’s not going to whine about it and let those negative thoughts fuel her. Instead she focuses on what she can do. She’s given up a lot of sewing because she can’t see as well anymore. In lieu of sewing, she’s building my daughter a scrapbook of memories, collecting pictures and stories, snatches of song, and thoughts from my daughter’s grandparents on both sides, her aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. The quick lesson is that there will always be negatives. There will always be events that don’t turn out the way you hope. But approaching life with a positive “party on” attitude will get you further (and apparently keep you looking younger) than dwelling on what you can’t change. I also love the comment by Watermelon Samurai about being the descendant of survivors already. I think that thought has a lot of hope to it.

Hi, Tim, Sorry for the delayed reply. I saw this forum thread pop up weeks ago and read a lot of the responses so I’ll try not to duplicate too much of the good advice that others have already given you. In terms of a car/personal vehicle: I never had one in four years at college. Instead I walked everywhere, on and off campus. Walking gave me the advantage of knowing things that others didn’t, especially how to get places off campus like the city library or the grocery store. I also once had the joy of telling the friend driving he was driving us out of town instead of back to campus. He had gotten turned around in the dark. Knowing your surroundings and how to get places on your own can be at least as valuable as a car. Many people my age (30s) and younger don’t know how to navigate without a GPS. You should also check out public transit in your college town. They often offer discounted tickets or passes for college students and it will help you know the area better and reach more places. Just a final word of warning on the car: Used car prices are insane right now so hold off as long as you can before purchasing something to give the market time to settle down. Used cars have actually gone up in value somehow during the pandemic. In terms of fire alarms: The best piece of advice I received before going to college was to wear pajamas that I didn’t mind being seen in. There’s a lot of late night socializing that happens in college and there’s always some fool who sets off the alarm at 3 am for giggles. Also be prepared to leave your dorm at a moment’s notice. Always keep your keys, ID, and phone close. When I was in the dorm, our doors automatically locked behind us so lots of freshmen got locked out in the first weeks as they forgot their keys. We had a fire alarm go off at 3 am my freshman year and I distinctly remember waking up to my roommate’s death grip on my arm and the alarm blaring over my head. She was freaking out but we grabbed phone, keys, ID, pants (for her), shoes, and we were out the door and down the first flight of stairs before we even heard other people coming out of their rooms. Don’t be afraid to take charge of a situation, especially if your roommate(s) are freaking out. And don’t wait for other people to figure out the situation. In terms of food: This may have already been mentioned but since you may not know your roommate(s), keep a stash of Pedialyte or other rehydration beverage of your choice on hand. Even if you never need it for yourself, it will be invaluable in getting hungover roommate(s) moving in the direction you need them to go in an emergency. Best of luck in your college career! I hope you have a great time with it!

Just a note on that third rail: Speaking as a licensed foster parent, there are some things you should keep in mind before you jump into this work. 1. Foster and adoptive kids aren’t direct replacements for biological children. You aren’t going to parent these kids the way you would parent bio kids. You just aren’t. Foster and adoptive kids come with trauma. Trauma means they are going to push your limits way more than biological kids ever will. These kids have a mental narrative that adults are not to be trusted and they are going to try and force you to fit that mental narrative. (And they are good at it. They’ve probably already done it to 3-4 “homes” before they landed at yours.) And yes, this applies even to the cute little ones. Babies who come into foster care usually come in addicted to opiates or with fetal alcohol syndrome. Helping a baby detox is not for the faint of heart. I don’t take littles but those who do are truly saints and probably have the best support networks of anyone out there. 2. If you don’t want people to know you are a prepper, fostering and adopting is not for you. Either of these routes requires lots of people from the government and other agencies to visit and tour your entire house, including basements, closets, attics, etc. to make sure you don’t have a convicted felon living with you. (I wish I was joking, but that kind of nonsense happens.) As a short list of who you can expect might show up to visit you: social worker, licensing worker, court appointed special advocate (CASA), guardian ad litem (GAL), therapist. Multiple those people by the number of cases you have in your house and add one or two for every year you have the kids until they turn 18 or 21. (Turnover in social workers is massive.) 3. At least in the United States, you will quickly become familiar with the dysfunction of the family court system, where not much has changed since the days of stealing children from “unworthy” parents to “civilize” them in wealthier households. All that being said, I know this is getting long, so I will leave this post on a more positive note. 1. Foster and adoptive kids are wonderful kids who will do all the things that biological kids will do: make you laugh, talk you into silly antics, and tell you about their adventures. 2. Foster and adoptive parents generally form support groups to keep each other relatively sane and you should absolutely join one if you go this route for children. There’s nothing like laughing about the clever use of breaker boxes over pizza to restore your faith in your ability to parent these kids. 3. If you are still interested in fostering or adopting, get licensed to be a respite provider first. Respite providers are essentially state-sanctioned babysitters for foster children. Generally the kids are on their best behavior during respite so you’ll avoid the worst, but you’ll be giving the full-time foster parents a much needed and much appreciated break. As an added bonus, in the United States, you’ll also get a taste of the extremely poor compensation scheme devised by your state for foster parenting.

Hi, Jonnie. I have the same issue. Blood, especially the mental image of gushing blood, triggers my flight-fight response. However, I didn’t get either flight or fight in that card draw. I got “play dead” so I have a tendency to dizziness and fainting when I feel threatened. It’s not a helpful response in a health emergency. However, I have been on the first aid team at one workplace and have been continuously licensed in first aid/CPR/AED for over five years. One of the biggest things that helps me is focusing on action steps and blocking out the mental images. For example, instead of allowing myself to dwell on the image of blood gushing from a wound, I force myself to picture a square of gauze and myself pressing the gauze on the wound. I also start mentally or verbally repeating instructions to myself. I assure you in an emergency, the person you are helping will not be particularly concerned by you talking aloud to yourself. What also might help is practicing first aid steps on an uninjured inanimate object. Try using a tourniquet on a teddy bear for example. When you can handle a teddy bear or other dummy without blood, try using wine, red grape juice, or red Kool-Aid to simulate blood. Then start watching the videos other people suggested to desensitize yourself. My final tip is to know yourself (as you clearly already do) and prepare for your own reaction. What helps you snap out of fainting? What will trigger you? I know the smell of blood can trigger me. I also am fully prepared that in an emergency, after the paramedics arrive, I will have to sit in a corner somewhere with my knees up and head down and fight for consciousness after I no longer have tasks to focus me.


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I’m only in my early 30s, but my parents taught me that one of the biggest, most important skills that you can have is a cultivating a positive attitude, even when everything feels it is going sideways. Josh Centers wrote a blog post about the stoic perspective a while ago and I encourage you to read (or reread) it. Here’s an example: I used to live in a two-family (outside of St. Louis, they are often called duplexes). I had an elderly neighbor who lived above me. She was always complaining about being old. (Her joints hurt, she couldn’t do as much as she used to, etc) My mother came to visit me. She encountered my neighbor and the neighbor started on her litany of complaints about being old. My mom asked her how old she was. The neighbor was almost a decade younger than my mom but thought my mom was younger than her! Why the difference? Potentially there were some lifestyle choice differences: at the time, my mom was walking several miles a day with three large dogs and gardening and herding her chickens through the yard daily. My neighbor had one small dog she barely walked and a couple raised beds in the backyard. But more than anything it was attitude. My mom knows she’s getting older and it is slowing her down some, which she finds frustrating to an extent, but she’s not going to whine about it and let those negative thoughts fuel her. Instead she focuses on what she can do. She’s given up a lot of sewing because she can’t see as well anymore. In lieu of sewing, she’s building my daughter a scrapbook of memories, collecting pictures and stories, snatches of song, and thoughts from my daughter’s grandparents on both sides, her aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. The quick lesson is that there will always be negatives. There will always be events that don’t turn out the way you hope. But approaching life with a positive “party on” attitude will get you further (and apparently keep you looking younger) than dwelling on what you can’t change. I also love the comment by Watermelon Samurai about being the descendant of survivors already. I think that thought has a lot of hope to it.

Hi, Tim, Sorry for the delayed reply. I saw this forum thread pop up weeks ago and read a lot of the responses so I’ll try not to duplicate too much of the good advice that others have already given you. In terms of a car/personal vehicle: I never had one in four years at college. Instead I walked everywhere, on and off campus. Walking gave me the advantage of knowing things that others didn’t, especially how to get places off campus like the city library or the grocery store. I also once had the joy of telling the friend driving he was driving us out of town instead of back to campus. He had gotten turned around in the dark. Knowing your surroundings and how to get places on your own can be at least as valuable as a car. Many people my age (30s) and younger don’t know how to navigate without a GPS. You should also check out public transit in your college town. They often offer discounted tickets or passes for college students and it will help you know the area better and reach more places. Just a final word of warning on the car: Used car prices are insane right now so hold off as long as you can before purchasing something to give the market time to settle down. Used cars have actually gone up in value somehow during the pandemic. In terms of fire alarms: The best piece of advice I received before going to college was to wear pajamas that I didn’t mind being seen in. There’s a lot of late night socializing that happens in college and there’s always some fool who sets off the alarm at 3 am for giggles. Also be prepared to leave your dorm at a moment’s notice. Always keep your keys, ID, and phone close. When I was in the dorm, our doors automatically locked behind us so lots of freshmen got locked out in the first weeks as they forgot their keys. We had a fire alarm go off at 3 am my freshman year and I distinctly remember waking up to my roommate’s death grip on my arm and the alarm blaring over my head. She was freaking out but we grabbed phone, keys, ID, pants (for her), shoes, and we were out the door and down the first flight of stairs before we even heard other people coming out of their rooms. Don’t be afraid to take charge of a situation, especially if your roommate(s) are freaking out. And don’t wait for other people to figure out the situation. In terms of food: This may have already been mentioned but since you may not know your roommate(s), keep a stash of Pedialyte or other rehydration beverage of your choice on hand. Even if you never need it for yourself, it will be invaluable in getting hungover roommate(s) moving in the direction you need them to go in an emergency. Best of luck in your college career! I hope you have a great time with it!

Just a note on that third rail: Speaking as a licensed foster parent, there are some things you should keep in mind before you jump into this work. 1. Foster and adoptive kids aren’t direct replacements for biological children. You aren’t going to parent these kids the way you would parent bio kids. You just aren’t. Foster and adoptive kids come with trauma. Trauma means they are going to push your limits way more than biological kids ever will. These kids have a mental narrative that adults are not to be trusted and they are going to try and force you to fit that mental narrative. (And they are good at it. They’ve probably already done it to 3-4 “homes” before they landed at yours.) And yes, this applies even to the cute little ones. Babies who come into foster care usually come in addicted to opiates or with fetal alcohol syndrome. Helping a baby detox is not for the faint of heart. I don’t take littles but those who do are truly saints and probably have the best support networks of anyone out there. 2. If you don’t want people to know you are a prepper, fostering and adopting is not for you. Either of these routes requires lots of people from the government and other agencies to visit and tour your entire house, including basements, closets, attics, etc. to make sure you don’t have a convicted felon living with you. (I wish I was joking, but that kind of nonsense happens.) As a short list of who you can expect might show up to visit you: social worker, licensing worker, court appointed special advocate (CASA), guardian ad litem (GAL), therapist. Multiple those people by the number of cases you have in your house and add one or two for every year you have the kids until they turn 18 or 21. (Turnover in social workers is massive.) 3. At least in the United States, you will quickly become familiar with the dysfunction of the family court system, where not much has changed since the days of stealing children from “unworthy” parents to “civilize” them in wealthier households. All that being said, I know this is getting long, so I will leave this post on a more positive note. 1. Foster and adoptive kids are wonderful kids who will do all the things that biological kids will do: make you laugh, talk you into silly antics, and tell you about their adventures. 2. Foster and adoptive parents generally form support groups to keep each other relatively sane and you should absolutely join one if you go this route for children. There’s nothing like laughing about the clever use of breaker boxes over pizza to restore your faith in your ability to parent these kids. 3. If you are still interested in fostering or adopting, get licensed to be a respite provider first. Respite providers are essentially state-sanctioned babysitters for foster children. Generally the kids are on their best behavior during respite so you’ll avoid the worst, but you’ll be giving the full-time foster parents a much needed and much appreciated break. As an added bonus, in the United States, you’ll also get a taste of the extremely poor compensation scheme devised by your state for foster parenting.

Hi, Jonnie. I have the same issue. Blood, especially the mental image of gushing blood, triggers my flight-fight response. However, I didn’t get either flight or fight in that card draw. I got “play dead” so I have a tendency to dizziness and fainting when I feel threatened. It’s not a helpful response in a health emergency. However, I have been on the first aid team at one workplace and have been continuously licensed in first aid/CPR/AED for over five years. One of the biggest things that helps me is focusing on action steps and blocking out the mental images. For example, instead of allowing myself to dwell on the image of blood gushing from a wound, I force myself to picture a square of gauze and myself pressing the gauze on the wound. I also start mentally or verbally repeating instructions to myself. I assure you in an emergency, the person you are helping will not be particularly concerned by you talking aloud to yourself. What also might help is practicing first aid steps on an uninjured inanimate object. Try using a tourniquet on a teddy bear for example. When you can handle a teddy bear or other dummy without blood, try using wine, red grape juice, or red Kool-Aid to simulate blood. Then start watching the videos other people suggested to desensitize yourself. My final tip is to know yourself (as you clearly already do) and prepare for your own reaction. What helps you snap out of fainting? What will trigger you? I know the smell of blood can trigger me. I also am fully prepared that in an emergency, after the paramedics arrive, I will have to sit in a corner somewhere with my knees up and head down and fight for consciousness after I no longer have tasks to focus me.


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