In this episode of the Small Scale Life Podcast, I talk about “going with the flow” and how Julie and I are developing a 10 step plan to navigate life’s rapids, waterfalls and log jams.

To begin, how many have you have heard this famous line from one of my favorite movies?

“Just go with the Flow….like a twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream.” ~ Steve Martin and John Candy in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”

I used this line when I gave my Best Man’s speech at my brother’s wedding many years ago because there is a lot of meaning in that phrase.  In this post and episode, we are going to talk about foing with the flow and how we need to navigate down the river of life.


Hall of Heroes – Gratitude

hall of heroes, gratitude, practicing gratitude quote

“It’s hard to have a bad day when you START your day with gratitude.”

As part of intentionally Practicing Gratitude, I am starting this podcast episode by recognizing some folks who have been active on Small Scale Life.

These folks have reached the Hall of Heroes for this episode of the Small Scale Life Podcast:

  • Amy Dingmann from A Farmish Kind of Life
  • Terrance Layhew from the Suit Up Philosophy Podcast
  • Greg Burns from The Contrary Beekeepers Podast
  • Hannah and AJ fromThe Wisconsin Homestead Podcast
  • A special thank you to some very cool people in my life that have good and positive energy including Maria the Intuitive Energy Healer, Tim, Trish, and Bert who are part of the Driftless Clan
  • Sarah Deziel for all of her hard work
  • Most of all, thank all of you for listening to this podcast episode, and if you want a shout out in our next Hall of Heroes, get active and participate on Small Scale Life.

What are you grateful for?  Maybe you should tell that person or that organization (or favorite podcaster).  Give it a try!

Definition of Flow

Flow; Mystic Shaman Oracle Card, tarot card; Oracle Cards

We use the word “flow” a lot in our everyday lives:

  • Water and other liquids, especially creeks, streams or rivers
  • Electricity and power
  • Traffic and traffic jams
  • Beer, wine and liquor at a party
  • Conversations with others
  • Inspiration and creative endeavors
  • Deep thinking and meditation
  • Describing our lives

For a simple, four letter word, “flow” takes on a lot of meanings and uses in the English language.  It’s no wonder people get frustrated learning this language!

What does Flow REALLY Mean?

Words used often are often overlooked and never examined.  This is especially true with this little four letter word.  Looking up the word “flow,” here is what I found for a definition:


The verb form means to move along steadily and continuously in a current or stream.

The noun form means a steady, continuous stream of something.

Sure, as a civil engineer, I learned about laminar and turbulent flow in my hydraulics class.  Like much of school, it was one of those things you suffer through and don’t think much about.  I was pushing through that class towards a diploma.

When I worked at the Traffic Management Center as a student worker and on traffic models as a new traffic engineer, we did talk about traffic in terms of water flowing through a pipe.  You could see how the flow of traffic would get impeded by obstacles (accidents, construction, police action, etc).  Obstacles slowed traffic down, and there was a ripple effect as a crash or incident created a traffic jam.

After leaving school, the Traffic Management Center and traffic modeling, I didn’t really think much about the word “flow” until I started recording creeks, streams and rivers.  You start to notice things: rocks, log jams, rapids, drops other obstructions that impede flow and create turbulence.  That turbulence creates interesting sounds: rocks and logs create soft and soothing gurgling sounds; rapids, drops and waterfalls create high energy rushing sounds that can almost sound like static on a radio or television (back in the day, no so much in this modern age).

While all of those obstacles can create great sounds for an ASMR-type recording, the fact that they cause commotion and turbulence in the quiet flow of a creek, stream or river.  There is a lot of energy around these obstacles, and it is the same in our own lives as well.


Work with the Flow, Not Against It

Eagles Ridge Gateway, Apple River, flow, Wisconsin

What creates commotion and turbulence in our own lives?

Literally everything.

Money/income (not having it or having too much of it), school, work, activities, family, friends, church, taxes, credit cards, news, our current culture, attitudes, belief systems, though processes, lack of gratitude….literally everything can cause rapids, a drop in our energy, waterfalls or a dam to occur (just using water terms).

These obstacles and blockages can significantly impact our attitudes, gratitude and interactions with others in significant ways.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Making hasty or poor decisions (for your career, business, relationships and life)
  • Trying to force things and events to happen (pushing a square peg in a round hole)
  • Having poor communication, interactions relationships with family and friends

At times in your life, you can feel like you are swimming upstream or against the tides. Not only are you pulling your weight through the water, but the river and current are working against you.  You are working WAY too hard; nothing seems to be going right.  Nothing is easy; everything is a challenge.  It is exhausting, and you can check out, burnout and tire easily.

While fighting the current sounds like a brave endeavor, this is how people drown in rivers or when they are pulled out to sea in a riptide.  They fight the current, eventually getting exhausted and slipping under the water.  Instead, when you are caught in a riptide or are floating downstream in a strong current, we need to work with the current and slowly work our way to shore down the beach or downstream of where we started.  Once we are on solid ground, we can walk back to safety and our family and friends.

Sometimes we create our own rivers with a strong current that can bog us down and pull us under.  We get excited, make some decisions and starting swimming.  It is a way “to get things started.”  Later, we realize our mistake and need to stop swimming against our own man-made current immediately.  True story; it just happened us!

Commotion, turbulence and chaos happen in our life everyday.  While we would prefer to have calm and still waters in our life, the fact is the winds of change blow and the water starts to flow.

Planning, Planning and More Planning

health and fitness, 24 hour plan, renew you

We have to have a plan for working with the flow.  Like the riptide or current in a river, we need to work with the flow and get to solid ground. What’s your plan?  What will you do to work with the situation you find yourself in?

Truth be told, there isn’t a one size fits all solution to life’s turbulence and commotion.  Try as we might, we cannot control other people, other things, policies, laws and life.

We do know that certain things can and will happen that significantly impact those calm waters, however.  We know that jobs get outsourced, businesses close, cars break down, your house will need repairs, it is going to rain or snow some day, pets and livestock will get sick and die, and people will get sick and die. 

What’s our plan for that kind of turbulence?

Julie and I talked about financial freedom, minimalism and resilience over the past couple years.  Adopting a Resilient Mindset is critically important, especially when we continue to see empty shelves for all kinds of goods and costs are getting more expensive.  We need to know what we have, what resources we have around us and how we can acquire what we need when Murphy comes knocking at our front door.  Having your financial ducks in a row, low debt and an emergency fund in place will help you when times get tough.


Can I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?

Hogtoberfest 2017, tribe, small community, homesteader, homesteading, flow

Do you remember the good old days when your mom would send you out to the neighbor’s house to borrow a cup of sugar?  You would trot next door in the snow and knock on the door and ask to borrow a cup of sugar.  The neighbor would laugh or smile and gladly come back with a cup or two, and they would happily tell you that it wasn’t a problem at all.

This is how I grew up. 

When was the last time someone came and asked you for a cup of sugar?  Sadly, in this day and age, it doesn’t happen much.  We don’t know our neighbors, and we don’t even bake anything anymore.

Keep in mind that this is not about mining and extracting resources.  We believe in a “gift for a gift” exchange.  Sometimes you might be or have the solution for someone that needs help in your network.  Sometimes you might need help.  Sometimes those gifts in return come at a later date.  This is the ebb and flow of life that we believe is healthy and normal neighborhood and community. 

The bottom line is that not all resilience is financially based.  We should understand what resources are in our immediate area of influence (property, neighborhood, community, town and county) and how to get them if we need them.  We should also develop a community and network of people that we can lean on when times get tough for you, your family or their family. 


 Our 10 Step Plan for Difficult Times

Creek, Flow; Palmyra, Wisconsin

I know what some of your are probably thinking….

“Well, that all sounds REAL great, but so what?”

Before I get into that, I want to address the folks who might be struggling with a significant crisis in their life right now. Please reach out to someone if you are having a crisis. 


If you are living through a crisis right now, then you are concentrated on getting through that crisis and are living in extreme survival mode.  There is nothing beyond that crisis, and you need to focus all of your resources on getting through that right now.  That is what you should and need to focus on right now.

Julie and I have been in survival mode for most of our lives, and we have had multiple crises going on at once. It isn’t fun, and it is really hard on you mentally, spiritually and physically.  Do that first and come back to this 10 Step Plan once the crisis is over.


For many of us, we are not working through a crisis. We are thriving, and that means we have the gift of time right now.  We can take the time to plan and locate and save up resources.

Where could you start?

If you don’t know where to start, perhaps you should start here.  I developed a series of core principles and themes for Small Scale Life, and I haven’t discussed this directly for a long time.  After a year of lockdowns, scarcity, fear and other chaos, it is time to get back to basics. Change is coming, and Julie and I are going with the flow of that change.

Our 10 Step Plan (and core principles listed in the Small Scale Life Facebook Group) are designed to slow your life down and focus on what is important.


1) Learn skills, practice those skills, and grow by teaching others (learn, do, grow and be a little better everyday)

2) Develop highly productive and easy to maintain gardens (Wicking Beds, Rain Gutter Grow Systems, Container Gardens and/or Raised Beds)

3) Lower the cost of one’s lifestyle (Minimalism – minimizing your footprint and getting rid of excess stuff that is not needed or used)

4) Become debt free through budgeting and by eliminating out-of-control spending

5) Locate, control and conserve resources (particularly water, energy, transportation)

6) Build your community (family, neighbors, and friends) around you and help it thrive

7) Be useful to others

8) Lead by example (Be the Lighthouse – which is one of my 2021 Guiding Words)

9) Return to the Land

10) Soak up Nature and become one with it


Feel free to download or save this image if you want a copy for yourself. I will have a PDF for FREE for folks who sign up and become an E-Peep (Small Scale Life Email Newsletter).


Flow; 10 Step Plan to Prepare for Difficult Times

Again, I will have a PDF for FREE for folks who sign up and become an E-Peep (Small Scale Life Email Newsletter).

Final Thoughts: Our Challenge

Workout Plan; Diet Plan; Weekly Plan; Spin Class; Cycling Swimming; Weightlifting; Elliptical Trainer; Kayak; Kayaking; Active Lifestyle; Fitness 

We can spend a lifetime chasing dollars and cents, yet we don’t have the sense to take care of these basic 10 Step Plan.  We have become addicted to consumerism, screens, and Modern Western Culture that pumps out garbage at an incredible rate.  That is where we get into trouble: too much debt, not enough savings, few prospects, no connection to Nature or people, and living life on the hamster wheel fulfilling someone else’s dreams.

Are you sick of that yet?

Reviewing Our 10 Step Plan over, I can see how we need to ramp up and execute them as Julie and I start our new homestead in a rural place where we don’t know many people. It is going to be challenge for us, but I think all of the work we have done is going to pay off.  We are starting to see results already, and we have just barely gotten started.  Just wait!

Change is coming. We need to go with the flow like a twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream.


We will use our paddle (our 10 Step Plan) to guide us around life’s commotion, chaos and rocks to keep moving forward.

Are you ready to join us on this adventure?

There will be twists and turns, some rapids and drops, so hold on tight.  Put on that life preserver.

It’s time for the river to take us where it takes us.

Push off; let’s go!

Listen to this Episode!

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