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This past weekend Vancouver Island was hit by an unusual amount of snow, with 8-10 cm of snow hitting Victoria and the Lower Mainland. Heavy windstorms in the evening and over night left about 74.000 households without power. Our house and family had no electricity for 36 hrs and this resulted in surprising life lessons learned.

10 centimeters of snow and windstorms in February might be normal circumstances if you come from anywhere else in Canada unless you live on the very southern part of the west coast of BC. We are simply not equipped for dealing with a lot of snow. Snow plows are clearing the roads, but it can take a while until they get to your road, especially if you live in rural areas. Our road stays snowy until either freezes or melts. It’s either deal with it or walk.

We rarely have larger power outages here, so we have not yet invested in a power generator for our house. However, a surface well only supplies our house with water and that does pose a problem during any outage. So when we saw the wind warning on Friday evening, we filled a few pots and containers with fresh water, just to be on the safe side. A few weeks ago, we also stashed 2 Gallons of water away in our garage. One never knows one might need it. 😉

And to no surprise, we awoke to a beautiful, white Saturday morning, without any power. Our wood stove kept us warm and we were able to cook our meals using our gas stove or the BBQ.

So what surprising life lessons did I learn from this outage?

1. If you are on a well you need a generator

No surprise there. Our house is generator ready, all we have to do is get the thing and that is it. We would be fine if we had one:

  • Freezer and fridge could be maintained and food would not go bad.
  • Well, cistern and the septic pump would be able to operate
  • A few electrical outlets would be available to charge your devices for staying in touch with the outer world
  • Some lights would work as well.

The only thing really missing would be warm water. But you can live without that for a while.

2. Electricity can be a distraction

36 hrs without electricity made me realize how addicted to having power at our fingertips we truly are. We listen to music, turn on the lights, have water and hot water on demand, keep our homes warm, heat up food in mere moments and store groceries either in the fridge or freezer for a long time. It also allows for all kinds of distractions: browsing the internet, watching TV or playing computer games. Don’t get me wrong, these are wonderful things to have, but I realized that none of those are genuinely fulfilling.

3. Family is key

During our electricity-withdrawal we had so much more time for each other: we played board games together, built a snowman, looked for animal prints in the snow, went for walks, read books, indulged in a candlelight dinner.

Yes, you can have all those things when you have power, but why is it then that we don’t take time for the things that truly matter?

4. Going slow is incredibly beneficial

During the power outage, I neither went riding nor made progress on this blog. I played a bit with my bullet journal, which was fun, but what I truly appreciated was to spend undistracted time with my family. No chores, no TV. And I even went to bed way earlier.

5. Don’t panic

Amidst all this glorifying of this power outage, I have to admit that I easily freak out about any outages. We had it warm and had enough drinking water, but not having access to running water for the toilet, washing hands or cooking always fills me with immense dread. Thankfully my husband calmed me down multiple times during the outage. Without him, I would have been so stressed.

When I told our family back home in Germany that we were OK – even though we were melting snow for water – I realized that we were fine. We had food and water and it was warm. Even more so, a friend who lives close-by offered us a place to recharge our batteries and energies. We were truly fine.

6. An opportunity for gratitude

This withdrawal from electricity made me reflect and allowed me to cherish the small moments of being together as a family while making the best of a situation. It made me appreciate the luxury of electricity, warm, running water and all the amenities it brings. I am also deeply grateful to all the men and women out there working to restore power, clearing the roads and helping people in need. In addition, I am incredibly thankful to my husband for being my rock, who did not let me worry more than I already did.

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Whenever the power is out, I feel like I need to hibernate. Like life is on hold. This is so silly. The moment I allowed myself to enjoy this, which I admittedly only achieved for a short period of time, I realized the beauty of being off the grid. I made progress on my dreams and goals and I learned these surprising life lessons. I did not create a new blog post, nor went out riding on the trails, but I gained a new level of understanding, reflection, and appreciation, that made me realize all over that I am already living my dreams.