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Tending the Mind Garden Part 1:

You can’t spell Winter without Win

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No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn”

Hal Borland

I have no idea who Hal Borland is but I’m sure he’d be proud his quote finally made it into The Beartaria Times.

I’m feeling very motivated and uplifted as winter comes to a close, and would like to share some of that with you. For context, I’ll get you caught up on just a little bit of what’s been going on in my life this last year. This is going to be a 2 maybe 3 part series about cultivating an anti-fragile mentality starting at the very ground level where all tricks begin: The mind. I’ll share some methods you can use to help get your thoughts and spirit in order. The journey may be difficult, but your attitude will turn that into a win every time. My intention is that you find at least one or two golden nuggets from this and can apply them immediately to your life.

The One Man Board Room

I have recently started a profitable local small business with no money in the middle of winter in Wyoming. It’s a handyman business and is something many handy Bears who require money or a different job could start. As my unemployment money ran out and my savings dwindled, the pucker factor was high. Without hesitating, I created a rough business plan on the fly, and began making a website and setting up the business back end. This included social media pages, logo design, payment processing, and so on.

The business launched in December 2020. I had done minimal market research but was certain my skills with home repairs and remodeling were in demand in my area. Almost immediately I felt the doubts and fears weighing heavily on me. As the last of my savings dwindled, I was considering how many squirrels I could convince my girlfriend to eat. Squirrels are free, organic, and have a largely vegan diet which I’m sure any health conscious homeless people can appreciate. Thankfully it hasn’t come to that yet. With this stress pushed to the back of my mind I kept leaning into the tasks I needed to get done. Just one step forward, and then the next. I am reminded of my time in some of the more difficult military schools I’ve attended. You must win in your mind first in order to survive the harsh training. Any negative thought that rises must be dealt with quickly.

Note: Negativity is the energy you put on a situation or problem that needs to be addressed. For example: If you’re feeling crushed or weighed down emotionally when you get a flat tire, YOU respond with that energy and YOU need to learn to shift out of feeling bad (i.e. afraid, worried, despair) when problems pop up. Instead, you must cultivate the ability to keep a good attitude when dealing with problems. Having a sense of humor about it, and making a decision carefully but QUICKLY to solve the problem are a must.

Keep Your Mind Fertile

Just as the height of my anxiety kicked in, I reached out to Heaven in gratitude and really began to relax and let go. This happened almost in a flash. I felt the fear fall away and then the phone started to ring and jobs started to come to me. I leaned further on my faith and became increasingly grateful for the abundance that God has already blessed me with and will continue to bless me with in the future. It was important for me to keep my mind “fertile” with gratitude and a winning attitude. I felt like God had realigned my spirit with the path he has laid out for me. You must seek the Creator and humble yourself to His will for this to work for you long term.

This spiritual “re-centering” came at the exact time it was supposed to. It always does.

I am always grateful for the times the Heavenly Father has graciously given me clear help and inspiration. The point I want to drive home is that for you to win, you have to be active on the field. It’s much like when your car breaks down in the middle of the road and a kind stranger shows up suddenly and starts pushing your car. When that happens, the right thing to do is get out and help push while taking the wheel and guiding the car to safety. Like the kind stranger, God will do His part, and you should do your best to help even if it’s just as a gesture of gratitude.

Two are better than One

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

Psalm 31: 10-12

One key element that I know Creator God brought into my life exactly when He knew I would need it, was the calm, positive presence of my girlfriend (Blonde Genius Bear). Having a good partner who understands this battle of the mind is such a blessing.

When life throws hot oil at you, make fried chicken!

Nighthawk Bear (while attacking a castle, no doubt)

For those of you in relationships, it’s a good idea to really take this to heart and help coach one another when you’re undergoing a rigorous time of growth. Like a spotter in the gym, your significant other is there to help you shoulder the weight and keep moving. It’s really beautiful to experience. I wish this for all of you.

Healthy, Holy and Whole

The specific things I do to help “push my car” are a pretty standard part of treating my mind, body, and soul holistically.

The word Holistic comes from the Greek word holos or “whole.” Interestingly, I believe the word “Holy” also comes from this same root. To be Holy, is to be healthy and whole. If your mind or spirit is feeling downtrodden or you can’t shake some doubts and fears (or worse), you may have a “Soul Cold” and need to detox.

I won’t fully discuss every possible part of a good soul detox otherwise you’ll be reading this until NEXT winter. So, for the sake of time, I will list a quick checklist of the basics so you can self-assess that you’re at least not actively poisoning your own spirit with the following:

Soul Detox

In holistic healing, the first step is to STOP POISONING YOURSELF. This goes for your mind and soul as well. This is a super critical part of tending your mind garden.

  • Stop watching the news, and movies/shows (Stop wasting time. It’s ok to cut loose a little bit every now and then, but if you’re watching movies every weekend, and bingeing on TV shows, you’re doing yourself and your community a disservice).
  • Repent (meaning “turn away from”) any unhealthy or dishonorable or “bad” behavior (drunkenness, unfaithfulness, the “big 10”, etc)
  • Forgive any wrongs done to you (easier said than done but this is a MUST)
  • Monitor your “self talk” for anything overtly negative and even destructive
  • Focus on gratitude (more on this later)
  • Clean up your diet one item at a time (Clean eating is a must. You don’t have to do it all right away, but begin making progress, learning about this NOW)

Changing your life is a constant process. You’re either improving, or you are sliding down hill. You never stay the same. Don’t worry if you feel behind on making these changes. Make the commitment to start now. Don’t stare too long on the past. Remember that a small changes done consistently (this is KEY) over time, will lead to monumental progress when you look back even 2 years from now. There are volumes of examples I could write on this, but this will give you the building blocks to begin your personal lifestyle shift if you need one.

Recap

You are not on your own in making your life better or overcoming challenges, but you are responsible for taking action and doing the work of moving forward. If you stay in motion, and seek the path of the Creator, you will be fine. If you stop moving forward, or get too bogged down by unhealthy influences in your mind or body (most importantly the MIND) you will stumble. That’s ok, just work on stumbling less and cleaning up your life.

Remember this (you have no excuse to feel “surprised” once you know this): Even after you feel like you’ve mastered basics, you will still reach incredibly difficult times in your life where you’ll wonder “what did I get myself into.” That’s ok, that part is called Growth. Lean into it, and focus on being grateful for your life and the blessings in it. I will write more on the actual practical application of gratitude in the near future. It’s almost as if it’s a jet fuel of sorts that will fuel your ability to recover from punches that life throws at you.

Until next time, turn that hat backwards, turn into the wind, and slap a huge grin on your face. The wind brings change. For those who have the courage to go and see what’s out there, may the change ever be in your favor.

Lifestyle

Making Pine Needle Soda: A Fantastic Foraged Beverage

Pine needle soda, a truly one-of-a-kind beverage, has been savored worldwide for its zesty taste and health benefits.

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Pine needle soda, a truly one-of-a-kind beverage, has been savored worldwide for its zesty taste and health benefits. It’s not just a refreshing drink, but also a creative use of natural ingredients. Here’s a simple guide to crafting this unique soda at home.

Pine needles are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, which help boost the immune system. Different species of needles can offer different flavors, but it’s important to make sure the trees you harvest from are not toxic. Avoid using needles from yew, Norfolk Island pine, or Ponderosa pine. You should do additional research to insure you are staying safe.

The recipe I followed is easy and only requires a jar, strainer, and measuring cups. Start by identifying the pine tree you would like to harvest from; I used fir, tamarack, and white pine. Again, make sure you don’t use anything unsafe. You can choose to use new sprouted tips or even mature needles, which means you can also have fresh pine soda in the winter months!
You can scale up the recipe, but for reference, use the following:

  • 2 Cups Pine needles
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2-4 Tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness you desire)

For the above measurements, I recommend using a quart jar. Begin by rinsing the needles, not too thoroughly, because the carbonation comes from natural yeast living on the pine needles. Add the sugar and water and seal the jar. Leave to ferment so it can become bubbly soda! Make sure to “burp” the jar every couple of days to release some of the gas so it does not build up and explode the jar! In 5-7 days, you will have soda, God willing.

Serve over ice and with some citrus if you’d like. Enjoy!

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Lifestyle

Reconnect and Rejoice: Beartaria Times Weekly Challenge

Maintaining solid relationships with family and friends offers numerous benefits that enrich our lives in meaningful ways…

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In our fast-paced world, losing touch with friends and family members who once played significant roles in our lives is easy. This week, the Beartaria Times invites you to participate in our heartwarming challenge: Reconnect with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Give them a call, ask how they’ve been, and rekindle that bond.

Maintaining solid relationships with family and friends offers numerous benefits that enrich our lives in meaningful ways:

1. Emotional Support: Close relationships provide a robust support system during tough times, offering comfort, advice, and a sense of belonging.

2. Improved Mental Health: Regular interactions with loved ones reduces feelings of loneliness and depression, contributing to mental well-being.

3. Increased Longevity: Studies have shown that strong social connections tend to help people live longer and enjoy better health.

4. Enhanced Happiness: Sharing moments, memories, and experiences with others brings joy and fulfillment, fostering a more positive outlook on life.

5. Personal Growth: Friends and family often challenge us to grow, learn, and become better versions of ourselves.

6. Creating Memories: Every interaction creates new memories, adding richness to our personal histories and offering stories to cherish for years to come.

We encourage you to take this challenge to heart and reach out to someone you miss. Whether it’s a friend from high school, a distant relative, or a former colleague, a simple phone call can reignite connections and brighten your day and theirs.

Once you’ve reconnected, share your stories and experiences on the Beartaria Times community app. Post about who you called, the memories you shared, and how the conversation went. Did you learn something new? Did you laugh about old times? These stories can inspire others to take similar steps in their lives.

Join us in this week’s challenge and celebrate the beauty of human connection. Let’s make an effort to nurture our relationships and remind those we care about that they are valued and remembered.

Happy connecting, Beartarians! We look forward to hearing your heartwarming stories.

Sincerly,

– The Beartaria Times Team

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Lifestyle

Into the Wilderness: Part 1 Knives and Knife Skills 

Knives will perform numerous tasks, better or worse, based on their grind, edge geometry, and thickness. That said, I have found that a full flat grind is ideal for food prep and butchering, though a high saber grind works well too. 

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By Gabriel- The Last Huntsman

As with many of us in the Beartaria community, we have found the mundane existence of modern Babylon completely unappealing, ungodly, and unfulfilling. As a result, many of us seek to make our way, either by downsizing our footprint in the modern digital world, homesteading our sustenance, or becoming producers. For some of us, however, that also means getting out into the wilderness; far away from civilization, we test ourselves and our bodies to become more like our ancestors of old,  becoming non-domesticated humans. 

In this article series, I will detail at least one part of the wilderness- a popular term coined as bushcraft. Bushcraft seemingly has taken many different names and forms.

For me, it’s practicing basic wood skills such as shelter craft, fire craft, knife skills, axe skills, and other tools, and can even have some hunting or tactical applications.

Though you can write a whole book on bushcraft, as many already have, we’re just going to get into some knife basics for this article. 

Choosing Your Knife

Knives are mankind’s first tool; they are essential for basic tasks, whether processing your food, wood processing, cutting cordage, etc. In addition, knives can be used in a myriad of practical tasks and defensive means. While having a flimsy folding knife can be ok for opening boxes or backyard/vehicle camping, bushcrafting skills require having a solid and reliable fixed-blade knife, ideally full tang, for practical tasks.

You will have to determine if a smaller knife or a larger knife would better suit your purposes. A saying often goes, however, that you can do small tasks with a big knife if you have to, but you can’t do big tasks with a small knife, but having a smaller blade is less weight and easier to conceal. That’s just food for thought. Another consideration is steel choice; I will simplify carbon steel or stainless steel. Knife Nerds is an excellent resource to dabble into all things knife steel. Carbon steel, while generally tougher than stainless steel, can be prone to rust. So if you’re in a coastal environment, it can be hard to maintain. Stainless steel is more rust-resistant and can have better edge-holding capabilities. However, it can be more prone to snapping or chipping during extreme use.

Knife Skills

Using your knife to split wood is known as batoning. This is done by utilizing your knife as a wedge while you use another log (baton) as a mallet to beat the spine of your knife blade through the log. This can be a rather rigorous task on your knife. However, it is sometimes needed to make wood burnable when conditions are wet or when it’s hard to stabilize a log and safely use an axe. In many cases, the wood logs could be wet; however, the wood on the inside will be dryer and more suitable for fire craft. Splitting wood is necessary for ease of burning to cook, keep warm, and many other things.

Making feather sticks with a knife is another handy bushcrafting knife skill. It is done by finely slicing small curls of wood into a bundle. This bundle is perfect for fire tinder. While most small sticks, twigs, and other tinder may be too big or have too much moisture to catch a spark well, the feather sticks can be from a freshly split log that you just have batoned, which should be dryer. Making feather sticks takes time to master, learning what knives work best and what wood works best. The finer and thinner your wood curls are, the better; they will catch a spark or flame easier to start your fire.

Chopping is another handy knife skill to practice. I’m sure many will ask why you would use a knife to chop when you can use an axe. Well, for one, it’s more likely to have a knife on your person than an axe. If you’re hunting, scouting, or hiking, having a solid knife is lighter than packing a knife and an axe. Finally, it can be safer, as having an axe in full swing can be more likely to miss or over-swing. Having a medium to larger knife size will obviously help with the performance of this task. Good ergonomics will help the knife maintain in hand and absorb shock during chopping tasks. 

Striking a ferro rod (ferrocerium rod) is a skill that can help you get a fire going in your wilderness adventures. Firstly a ferro rod is a metal rod that will produce sparks when struck with a flat edge and can last thousands of strikes. So why use it over a lighter? Lighters can be finicky at best; they can get too cold, wet, or drain themselves of fluid. That is a big no-no, mainly when you’re depending on it.

So simply put, Ferro rods are just a survivalist/bushcrafter’s go-to fire-starting tool. Ideally, your knife will have a 90-degree spine on the back edge of the blade. This sharp, flat edge can strike and scrape the ferro rod. However, not all knives have a sharp spine, so having a small scraper or a spare knife may be necessary. In a worst-case scenario, you can use the edge of your knife; however, this is not recommended as it will damage your edge. When using the Ferro rod with your blade, you want to ensure your rod is as close to your tinder bundle (feather sticks) as possible. This will maximize the amount of sparks and heat transferred into those fine wood curls to get a fire going. 

Notches are another bushcrafting knife skill that is good to learn. It is essentially cutting a notch in various shapes to allow cordage to be held in place for constructing many things in the wilderness. Notches can be used to build tent stakes, fire spits, shelters, and even wild game traps. Notches can be carved directly using the knife or with a knife and baton. Though there are several notches, the few fundamental ones are the square notch, v notch, and stake notch. They may seem self-explanatory; however, carving these can take a measure of skill with your knife.  Square notches can be done by simply partially cross-batoning your knife into the wood, then doing so again, a short distance from the first, and twisting your knife- this will pop the excess wood. Stake Notches are achieved by partially cross-batoning and carving the extra wood with your knife toward your baton mark. V notches are done by cutting a ‘V-shaped groove into the wood.  

Then, one of the oldest knife skills is probably out there, processing animals or vegetation for food. People have been using knives to kill and butcher their livestock and wild game or cut up their humble veggies since humanity’s beginning. As we return to our roots, having these knife skills can make things much more manageable and save you money. 

Knives will perform numerous tasks, better or worse, based on their grind, edge geometry, and thickness. That said, I have found that a full flat grind (shown on the knives pictured above) is ideal for food prep and butchering, though a high saber grind works well too. 

 As I’ve stated, knives are one of mankind’s primary tools. We will always have a place to use a blade, especially as we separate ourselves from this fruitless modern world. These are just a few simple knife skills necessary for bushcrafting and wilderness adventures. The easy way to practice and master knife skills is to get out there and try to have fun. As you enjoy yourself, you’ll find ways to make things happen. Always check out my content on my Youtube channel, Beartaria Times app, and Instagram at The Last Huntsman. Feel free to follow up and message me with any questions. Finally, be prepared both physically and spiritually. God bless and carry on. 

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