There are a lot of different living situations in the coverage area. From more bustling city or suburban centers such as Watchung, Westfield, or Bridgewater – to the more sprawling rural areas like Alexandria, Stewartsville, and Bethlehem, PA.

Most folks out here have “modern” type jobs. And while there are many farmers and old school type the professions out here – most, if not all, utilize modern equipment.

And yes – it is completely true, that the farm type work is a helluva lot harder and more intense than most other jobs – next to no one is really “living off the grid,” even if they are outdoors-types, or even into prepping themselves.

Out here in New Jersey – you’re probably no more than a 10-minute drive from at least some kind of store. And certainly no more than a half hour away from something far more substantial.

So despite our beautiful and spacious (relatively speaking) areas – it’s nothing like being in the middle of nowhere except Mother Nature.

My Self Reliance (Shawn James)

If you haven’t seen this guy’s YouTube Channel – My Self Reliance – you should check it out.

This is the type of “entertainment” that we need more of in this world.

But first – let Shawn tell you a little bit about who he is (in is own words from his website

My name is Shawn James, and this is my story.

From an early age, I had a love for the outdoors that distracted me from just about everything else in life. Because I was so passionate about fishing, canoeing, hiking, bird-watching, archery, hockey, and soccer, I had little interest in school or work. I was a dirt-bag wannabe, but I kept one foot in middle-class society, trying to figure out where I fit in.

Really, like most people, I desired the comfort and trappings of wealth but did not want to sacrifice my passion to acquire them. It took me many years of trial and error, but I soon realized that I could earn more than enough money during short bursts of high intensity and focus. Working less than 40 hours per week but earning twice what my friends did, legally, allowed my to focus on my love of the outdoors. This discovery turned into a lifelong obsession with self-reliance, independence, and freedom.

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Growing up in suburban Ontario, Canada, I was fortunate to be surrounded by farmland and a navigable river where as a young boy, I could wander endlessly, fishing, paddling and skating on the river, bird watching, foraging wild edibles, building outdoor shelters for overnight forays and playing native with my primitive archery equipment.

When I was in my teens, my summers were spent working hard at a construction job where I earned excellent wages, so at the age of seventeen, I purchased a couple of acres on an island in a small lake north of Parry Sound, preparing for a life focused on the outdoors.

At twenty years of age, I sold that property for more than double what I paid for it and invested the profit in five and a half acres on the mainland of the same lake. This experience was my first lesson in leveraging and passive income, and I liked it! By the age of twenty-one, I decided school and work were not that interesting and I prepared myself to spend twelve months building and living in a small log cabin on that property. It was my first mini-retirement, a sabbatical of sorts, and it set the stage for a lifetime of self-gratifying living. It was the fulfillment of a childhood dream and it was extremely rewarding, but, once again, middle-class society sucked me back in.

Back to reality, my focus turned to start a family of my own. Fortunately, the lessons I learned during this time prepared me for my current life of passion, prosperity, and self-reliance.

Now in my mid-forties, I’m living the life of my dreams. I’ve had expensive cars and boats and I’ve traveled the world, but I always come back to what truly makes me happy – the outdoors. For that reason, I’ve opted out of commercial society, stepping down from the corporate ladder, and regularly turn down opportunities for increasing my wealth. Instead, I choose to live simply and free. For many others, a dream life includes the typical status symbols – the big house, lavish lifestyle, expensive toys. That’s fine if that’s your dream, and I’ve been there and enjoyed that too. But now that I’m middle-aged, I realize that I’m much happier to live free, without the stress that accompanies attachment to material things. And, without the need to sacrifice my freedom in exchange for the hard work and time required to increase my wealth or maintain that expensive lifestyle.

I’m constantly asked how I was able to retire so young, working no harder than average while spending most of my time with family and pursuing my passions over the years. Efficiency, focus and strict adherence to wealth principles are the short answer. This website, along with my social media channels, provides the long answer, in great detail. I’ll show you exactly how I designed my self-reliant life. In the meantime, is a platform for me to explore and reveal my passion for the outdoors, and why I believe focusing on nature has provided me with the tools to succeed in life. As one of my success habits, I’ve kept detailed journals of many of my exploits, business ventures, and relationships over the last thirty years. I refer to these journals while I chronicle my life, detailing how I got to where I am today; economically, physically, emotionally and intellectually self-reliant, free to live life to the fullest.

Building a log cabin by yourself?

Below is an amazing thing Shawn James did by himself – and mostly with manual tools. He built a frickin’ log cabin. Looks sturdier than most modern construction, that’s for sure. This got some press and a lot of views – so there’s a chance you might have seen it. I doubt most people enjoyed the entire hour, however.

Here is a time-lapse version of the same project:

Why we enjoy My Self Reliance

There are several reasons in particular why we admire this person and enjoy his work.

For one, the end product is way outside what is considered common these days. There are many points in his video productions that remind me of movies long ago. Long, extended scenes without commentary. Just beautiful cinematography. You cannot truly tell a deeper story in just a few minutes. But that is what people have become accustomed to in 2018. If it’s longer than two or three minutes – and without a smashing punchline or other nonsensical events – most folks are unable to bear it. Sad.

Two, Shawn offers pragmatic and sensible advice in the work he shares. Not offensive to those susceptible to being offended – but at the same time quite spot-on.

Next, there is a sense of calm. There’s no mad “rush” to get a message across. But rather I see it as him slowly painting a masterpiece of work. And you should never interrupt an artist. Just observe and see what he (or her) is doing.

Lastly, despite his off-grid mindset – his overall filmmaking abilities are astounding. Beyond belief, and across many spectrums of technology and angles. It takes a special person to want to not only live a quiet, peaceful life in the middle of nowhere (along with the bugs and sub-freezing temperatures) but to simultaneously have the skill and time and mental capacity to put together such amazing pieces of work.

In the end – we cannot emulate that – but we can be inspired

Never say never.

We don’t want to live that life Mr. James is living. Not today at least. But we can still enjoy the work or find inspiration from it. Just because someone is doing something they love – and are quite successful at doing it, does not mean everyone should “copy” that.

But you can be inspired by the literal self-reliance he has. And the peace of mind is priceless.

About the author


NJroute22 (site admin) is an avid traveler along NJ Route 22 (and almost all of central New Jersey!) Family man, pet lover, and property owner who has a natural curiosity for everything around.