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Who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it?

These three questions were posed to us by Carrie Lightfoot of The Well Armed Woman at the beginning, and again at the end of our instructor training weekend in Arizona. I’ve taken my time thinking about the answer because I wanted it to be perfect, but I think I’m just going to let it flow.

Who am I? 

 

Anyone who knows me well, knows one of my favorite television shows of all times is White Collar. The main character of the show is named Neal Caffrey, and he says, “To be an artist, you have to know who you are.”

That’s the first time I started thinking about that quote. I consider myself an artist. I can (kind of) draw, paint, sing, write, create… that counts as an artist right?

But I’m also so much more than that. I DO consider myself an artist, a writer, director, a singer, but I’m also a mother, wife, nerd, fangirl, teacher, level I Reiki healer, medic, student, and so much more. Not to mention, I am a survivor, but I prefer the term protector. . I’m a lot of things rolled into one and I don’t think that there’s ONE term or sentence that can accurately describe me as a whole, but for the purposes of this exercise,

                                                                          I am a protector.

What do I do?

I do a lot of things, but the first that comes to mind is WORRY. I’m a worrier. But I don’t think this is the purpose of the exercise Carrie gave us 🙂

                                        I encourage, inspire, and teach women how to pull
from within the confidence that they have and EMPOWER them with it.

 

Why do I do it?

I do these things, take classes, train, train more, and teach other women because the world has told us for a long, long time that we are weak and incapable of defending ourselves. To let the MAN take care of us, when sometimes, for whatever reason, that’s not an option. Women are FIERCE and STRONG and COURAGEOUS and so many don’t realize the full potential that they hold inside of them. I’m starting this journey to help other women find that courage and strength and use it.

                                                  Being able to protect yourself is invaluable,
and more women need to know that they are capable of it.
I’m here to help them see that in themselves.

Went to the range today to shoot the new gun…

After swearing up and down we’d never go to the ‘Man Cave’ range  again (not the actual name, just the one I’m using to refer to it!), we attempted to travel the extra 38 minutes to a different one, only to find out there was over an hour wait! This wouldn’t have been a problem had we not promised my mom (who was watching Supergirl, our daughter) we’d be back by a certain time. Knowing that wouldn’t work, and it would be over a month before she’d be back and able to watch her so we can go to the range, we bit the bullet (I promise I’m not TRYING to make these horrible puns) and went to the Man Cave Range.

While waiting to be checked in and all that good stuff, I noticed a woman who was visibly upset, headed to the bathroom. The male Man Cave employee was trying to sell her ear plugs and was clearly paying NO attention to the fact that she was distraught and trying to get to the bathroom. My heart went out to her, as I’ve shed many tears at the range over the last year, and I couldn’t help myself from following her into the bathroom to check on her. She was alright, just a little overwhelmed by everything going on in the range, and I shared a little with her, telling her I understood and offered some tips. I did agree that the ear plugs under the muffs would help lessen the sensory overload she was experiencing, and she got some and was much better off for the rest of their session. Her husband had taught her a little, but again, there’s nothing like a woman teaching another woman how to empower herself and helping her find her confidence.

This event just solidified the overwhelming NEED for women to reach out and help teach other women about firearm safety. My drive is stronger than ever, and I’m determined to get the ball rolling on this as soon as possible! I have at least seven women (including the one I met today) interested in a class with me, and honestly, I cannot wait.

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Anxiety is so strange.

This afternoon, I bundled my daughter up and we walked to the mailbox. This may seem like nothing to you, but for me, it’s a HUGE step. For MONTHS now, I haven’t been able to leave the house (which is a townhouse attached to two other people– UGH ) for any reason other than I HAD to. About a month ago, I made the decision to take my daughter for a walk. We were gone for 45 minutes. Again, this may sound like nothing to you, but every noise I hear, every person I see, each car that passe–, they are all high-level threats to me. It’s hard to go about being normal when you’re constantly on high alert.

While my alert level has not changed from RED to anything else yet, I’m more comfortable than I have been – even if it’s just a little bit – going outside. I don’t like to spend a long time outside, I don’t like to interact with anyone, but I’m forcing myself in small steps to do this.

So why then, was it so much easier for me to board a plane, which I’ve never done before, fly to Arizona, and spend five days there with people I’ve never met face to face than it is for me to walk to the mailbox on the other side of the complex? I really don’t understand, maybe because it was a new experience instead of something I’d done over and over again throughout my life? I’m not sure. All I know is, it seems strange because most of my life, I’ve had anxiety about flying, but it was easier to do that than walk to the mailbox.

I know that I’m capable of doing things like flying and meeting new people, but daily tasks still seem daunting! Every time I walk by the door or the window I’m terrified – but looking out over a plane wing is perfectly fine. I guess this means I need to do more new things, as they seem easier, but the thing I’m really struggling with these days is the daily tasks. They’re the hardest for me.

If you know someone dealing with PTSD or anxiety, just be aware that there are days when ANY form of communication is too much. There’s days when opening the door, or even a text message is too much. Phone calls go to voicemail, texts are left unanswered, and it takes a true support system to just let them be. The most valuable thing to me are the people who understand that it’s HARD for me to be social these days. The ones who understand that I disappear because I can’t handle communication. To all the texts I’ve left unanswered, the missed calls, and the unanswered emails, I’m sorry.

This blog is not just about the victories I’ve had in this journey, but to help others understand exactly what I’ve dealt with and what I am STILL dealing with, even to this day. It doesn’t get easier right away, they tell me. While it’s been almost a year since the home invasion, I’m still struggling with a lot of things on a daily basis, and not many people understand. It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you, it’s that it’s mentally DRAINING to even CONSIDER a conversation with ANYONE. It has nothing to do with any one person individually, and to anyone I’ve “ignored,” trust me, I’m still feeling guilt over not answering. It just isn’t as much as the thought of a conversation taxes me to the point of exhaustion.

I hope that this has shed some light on my evasive behavior over the past year, and I hope that it’s clarified some things for people in my life that may think they did something wrong, or that I just don’t like them. This year has been hard in so many ways, from the invasion, to the financial struggles, to the loss of someone I held very dearly to my heart, and sometimes (who am I kidding – most of the time), the only way for me to deal was to shut down.

Anxiety is real. PTSD is real. Depression is real. For anyone who hasn’t experienced these HORRIBLE, crippling illnesses first hand, you are very lucky, but you also must be understanding of those of us who struggle with them. The majority of days, I feel like getting out of bed and making sure my daughter is taken care of feels like the biggest victory of all. It’s very hard to relay this feeling of accomplishment to someone who has never battled and struggled with these illnesses. Please be mindful that everyone is fighting some kind of battle internally, and just because they may seem aloof or cold, it doesn’t mean that they are, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s aimed at you!

Why it’s so important to train your WHOLE pack!

This morning, I refreshed the facebook feed to see something awesome. A 14 year old Iowa boy was able to stop a home invasion because of training he received from his father with a rifle. You can watch the video from Iowa Gun Owners’ facebook page HERE. This is the perfect example of why you need to train your entire pack, or family :). They had a plan and they put it into action, and because of that, those kids are safe today!

Anyone who knows me personally, knows I am a BIG, BIG believer in training. For those of you that don’t know me, I was formerly the head of the training department in the medical transport company I used to work in. I was also an instructor of several certifications required for medics & paramedics. I know PERSONALLY (both in the EMS field as well as in my personal life) that when things get serious, you fall back on your training whether it’s good or bad. This is why training is so, so important.

The boy in the video had a plan that he had clearly practiced. Not only had he been taught firearm safety from his father, but he also knew to get the cell phone and the rifle to bring into the closet with him. I cannot stress the importance of not only HAVING a plan, but PRACTICING that plan.

I’m currently working on putting together a course that will discuss exactly this. Planning for different scenarios– home invasions, fires, storms, even power outages. All of these require a plan and practice. It doesn’t take long to figure out what you would do in an emergency situation, nor does it take very long to practice that plan a couple times a month. Besides, this can be the difference between life or death, so is it really something you want to NOT practice and be prepared for?

 

It’s not easy being a woman in a man’s world…

I had a lot of thoughts about what my first post would be, and while you can expect a big long post about The Well Armed Woman/NRA training I received this past weekend, I figured I’d just jump right into my journey starting with my (horrible) experience today!

There is a range that my husband and I frequent, which, for the moment, will remain nameless. This range is the closest to us by about thirty minutes (if traffic is GOOD… if it’s slow at all, you can add another thirty min to an hour!), and they also teach concealed carry courses, as well as some NRA things. I figured this would be a good resource for me with questions about Virginia based certifications, right? Hahah… yeah, me too…

When I went in, it was with a smile and my head held high (as my confidence is generally better since returning, even though it’s only been a day or so says my husband) and walked right up to the only available employee who happened to be a young man. I told him that I was a newly certified NRA instructor and get this… HE LAUGHED! He made NO attempt to hide his amusement. It was at that moment that I lost him completely and I could have told him that I had gone to the moon and his reaction would’ve been the same. He didn’t listen to a single word I said after that.

He tried, kind of, and told me they weren’t hiring (as I’m sure the youngest employee on staff knows EVERYTHING about human resources there, of course), and when I reiterated to him that I did not, in fact, want a job there, I simply had certification related questions, he directed me to the office manager who directed me to the owner of the business who wasn’t there, despite my knowledge of said owner’s vehicle being parked in the lot.

I went home and found the email address of the owner and contacted him, asking the question in the most concise, clear way I could. I was still met with confusion and told that the NRA certification was sufficient but that there was “much more involved” to become an employee of this range, that they weren’t looking to hire, and that I would NOT be allowed to teach anything at their range if I was not an employee. I thanked him for his time and am moving on. This is the THIRD NRA instructor I’ve reached out to (all male) and have been met with the same type of reactions.

While I was warned that this would be difficult, I didn’t think that a range that hosts a chapter of The Well Armed Woman would be so discouraging to women! I wish I was in the financial position to build my own range, but alas, I am not. So more creative thinking is going to be needed, especially since not everyone is going to want to travel the hour+ it will take to get to the other range.

This is just a bump in the road, and I’ve survived too much to let this bring me down, though it is discouraging. I’m just going to have to be much more creative in this endeavor! Ideas are always welcome!

On the bright side, I was surprised when I finally found MY gun today! A Glock 19, 9mm. It’s fantastic! I didn’t think we were going to be able to purchase it so soon, but my husband surprised me and told me he was proud of me and that he had REALLY wanted me to be able to get this one today.

my glock

I can’t wait to order my holster from The Well Armed Woman, which, if any of you are looking for holsters (or anything gun related, honestly!), let me tell you– that is the place to get them! They have every kind of holster you can think of from on the waistband to purses!

 

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