Making the Choice Not to Carry

1070609_65995437On a recent trip to Seattle for business, I had a chance to have lunch with the inimitable Kathy Jackson. As you might imagine, our conversation touched on all sorts of topics, including armed self-defense. At one point, I commented about how I think it’s important to encourage other women to become responsible for their own safety, but that it’s also important to let women come to that decision on their own and not be pushy about it.

Kathy said something which surprised me, but which on reflection I totally agree with. “I’d go farther than that,” she replied, “and say that I think it’s irresponsible to pressure women into making that decision.”

Though we didn’t talk in depth about Kathy’s reasons for feeling that way, I’d like to talk about the reasons why I wholeheartedly agree with her sentiment.

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Why We Make the Choice

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s funny, sometimes, how the most ordinary of moments can remind you of the most profound truths. It was New Year’s Eve, early in the afternoon, and I’d been invited to a friend’s house for a potluck. When I arrived, my friend had gone to the store and her teenage daughter, “T.”, was home washing dishes and watching her young brothers.

T. is a sweet young lady and someone who, like her mother, matters very much to me. Although I know this is so, I don’t spend a lot of time consciously thinking about it. Both T. and her mom go shooting with me sometimes, and when we’re together we have an easy, comfortable relationship. They’re definitely people I consider family, despite not being blood relations.

When I arrived, T. greeted me with a broad smile and a hug. I stowed my contribution to the potluck in an overfull fridge and grabbed a dishtowel. T. washed and I dried, and then she tidied up the living room while I grated a block of cheese for enchiladas. I made a bowl of ravioli for her brother, she tidied up a stack of videos and XBox games. We didn’t talk much, merely enjoyed each other’s company while we worked.

And then, it seemed as though the zoom lens of life shifted focus, and I experienced the strangest sense of crystal clarity, almost vertigo-like in its presence. It felt like looking up at an IMAX theater screen, somehow impossibly large and disorienting.

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A Gentle Reminder

This is just a brief post to offer a public service announcement: Hug your loved ones and tell them what they mean to you. Do it now, and do it often. Don’t trust that you can do it later. Then, go look in the mirror and give yourself some love too.

I found out yesterday that an acquaintance of my sister’s, and the son of one of my mom’s good friends, passed away suddenly and tragically on Tuesday. He was younger than me, and I’m not yet 40. We never know how many tomorrows we’ll have until it’s too late, and neither will our loved ones. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether it is an act of violence, an illness or accident, or another kind of tragedy that ends our lives.

So, go hug your spouse, your children, your parents. Call a friend and tell her what she means to you. Write a letter, a card, an e-mail. Reach out and connect with your loved ones, and do it often.

Teachable Moments

I’ve had a few people ask me lately about teaching firearms safety, safety and self-defense to kids. I’m working on some stuff specifically about teaching gun safety and shooting to kids, but it’s also important to me that my daughter learn the skills of personal safety and awareness.

Nutmeg is almost 17 and she’s at that age where she finds sport in calling me an “old lady”. (I’m on the near side of 40, though barely, and this seems terribly old to her). So, she’s not yet learned the lesson that kids seem to forget between the ages of 12 and 25: namely, that the way Mom survived to be “an old lady” is because she actually knows stuff.

Because of this, Nutmeg tends to be impatient when she perceives that I’m “teaching” her stuff. She’ll say things like, “I have to listen to blah-blah-blah all day at school; I don’t want to listen to it at home too.” If she’s feeling especially flippant, she’lll say “learning stuff causes cancer.” There’s no question Nutmeg is growing up to be a spirited young lady, which is a good thing, but which means Mom has to be a bit cleverer about taking “teachable moments” where I can find them.

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Of Scary Movies and Real Emergencies

As I mentioned in my last post, Nutmeg had her friend “T.” spending the night yesterday. The girls had a fun-filled evening watching scary movies and eating junk food, and when they went to bed around midnight, they were giggling about whether zombies would come eat their brains in the middle of the night.

But the crisis that found them was of the much more mundane variety.

I was woken from a dead sleep at about 4:30 am by a knock on my bedroom door. It was “T.” She looked worried. “I’m sorry to wake you guys,” she said, “but Nutmeg was climbing down the ladder from her bunk bed and she twisted her ankle BAD.”

I went to take a look. Sure enough, Nutmeg was half-sitting, half-laying on the floor at the base of her bunk bed. (Although she’s an only child, we bought the bunk bed so her friends have a place to sleep when they’re over.) Her face was pale, and I could see a bruise starting to form on her leg. “It’s that same ankle,” she said between gritted teeth. She fell about a year ago while climbing out of the back of a pickup truck, and though her sprain had been promptly treated, that leg still wasn’t quite as strong as the other.

I ascertained that she didn’t need to go to the Emergency Room, iced the ankle for about 20 minutes, and then sent her to bed with some Tylenol. This morning, she’s sore but hobbling around.

Lessons learned?

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Fun, Cheesy Puffs, and Scary Movies

Things will be quiet on the blog for the next day or two. Nutmeg’s friend “T.” is spending the night, and I’m writing this while watching two giggly girls work their way through their supply of junk food and as many scary movies as Netflix can deliver before they fall asleep. Still and all, I’m enjoying it, even though I’m having a hard time remembering ever being that young and energetic. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I just heard a plaintive cry for more popcorn…