It seems fitting today to be writing this post announcing my return to the blogging world. You see, today I’m celebrating a milestone. Today’s my birthday. But not just any birthday. Oh, no. Today I turn 40. I know in the scheme of things 40 isn’t that old. But still, this is a milestone for me, and it’s got me in a contemplative mood. So I hope you’ll bear with me, dear readers, while I reflect upon some of the lessons of the past year, the changes in my life, and the insights I draw from them:
- Express gratitude freely and often. The turn of another decade has me in the mind of appreciating the amazing people that have come into my life, those that have stayed with me through some pretty difficult times, and the experiences I’ve weathered during the past year (and the past four decades). And the people I’ve lost recently remind me that we can’t always count on having tomorrow. So hold those you value, and tell them you appreciate them, because you never know when the world will throw you a giant curve ball. It might be a predator or disaster, but it might also be (and indeed, is more likely to be) the assault of a disease, or of random happenstance. Don’t let those words go unspoken. To that end, I’d like to take a moment to publicly thank my dear friend MamaLiberty for keeping the lights on in my absence.
- Embrace change. The past year has brought tremendous upheaval to every area of my life. I’ve weathered a divorce, the move to a new city, starting a new job, making new friends, and seeing “Nutmeg” turn 18 and go off to pursue her own dreams. All of these are positive changes in the long haul, but that doesn’t make them one crumb less stressful. I guarantee that the coming 12 months will bring changes for all of you that will cause you stress, too – perhaps not the same ones as mine, but change is the way of the universe. Don’t fight change; embrace it, roll with it, and “improvise, adapt, overcome.”
- Don’t go it alone. There’s a reason why soldiers and cops roll out in teams. Whether the challenge you face is an act of violence or the more ordinary bumps and hurdles of life, our strength comes from the fact that we can draw upon the support and help of others. When you’re thinking about your life and the challenges you face, consider who you can depend upon for support and help, and build your team.
- Push the envelope. Certainly, I’ve had to push my limits of what I thought I could do in making the decision to seek a divorce, and in finding a new job and establishing a home for myself in a new city. But I’ve been pushing my personal envelope in other ways this year, too. I’ve been trying different kinds of shooting. I’ve started doing yoga, walking for exercise, and changing the way I eat. I bought and am learning how to ride a motorcycle (something I’ve wanted to do for years but felt too afraid to tackle until now). Pushing outside our comfort boundaries forces us to grow and evolve, and that’s never a bad thing. Always strive for growth, not stagnation.
The biggest lesson for me in the past year has been simply this: Embrace freedom and then take advantage of it. We use our weapons, our training, our situational awareness skills, as tools to create a zone of safety in our lives. But that zone of safety doesn’t count for anything if we simply sit inside our little cocoons and don’t ever spread our wings and fly. Chase your dreams – not recklessly, and certainly not without considering the risks. But chase them. That’s what my focus on defensive skills and tools is all about for me. I have the confidence to go on a motorcycle ride up the beautiful California coast because I know I have the skills and tools and training to keep myself safe from both misfortune and predators (human and otherwise). But that confidence doesn’t actually do me any good if I stay locked up at home and never get on the bike.
Your guns and knives and flashlights, your mindset and awareness and training – that’s all important stuff for keeping you safe, and can be fun in its own right. But really, it isn’t – or at least, it shouldn’t be – the whole point of the exercise. Rather, those things are tools for securing freedom – but it’s up to you to take advantage of that freedom once you have it.
So, how about it, readers? What lessons have you learned in the past year, about self-defense, about shooting, or about life? What wisdom would you add to my list? I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments?
A brief administrative note: Now that I have the space, time, and clarity, I’m planning to start blogging again. Not, probably, as often as before – my new job keeps me much too busy to commit to a daily post or two – but at least two or three times a week. I’d love to hear what’s on your minds, and what you’d like to hear about. I also hope to continue to bring you MamaLiberty’s musings – and if you’d like to share your voice, I’d love to have guest posts!