Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Victor not victim.

I love crawling into my bed after being away for a few days. I love the feeling of coming home, of being immersed in my life, of being part of the daily flow of the world around me.

It was an awesome weekend. Bike rides on trails along the river, through the woods and meadows. Storms and sunny weather. Laughter. Sharing stories. Reading. Watching movies. Good food -- really good wine. Working out in the gym, steaming up and kicking back in the hot tub. A delightful respite from everyday.

This morning, I awoke and the day beckoned with all its predictable and not so predictable events. Crime-stoppers is doing a reenactment of a drive-by shooting across from the shelter where I work. Two people were harmed in that event. They're still in hospital. Four more people were killed this weekend, my daughters informed me over dinner last night. Their unspoken questions hung in the air between us. "What's happening to our world? Why is there so much violence?Are we safe? "

I don't have an answer to the bigger questions -- what and why. There are moments when I too feel as though we are spiralling into violence, letting loose the furies, pulling out the stops on our reservations to 'do harm'. In the US, 20,000 guns enter the market every day. More people have been killed by guns since the end of the Viet Nam War than were killed during the conflict. Toy manufacturers recall products that are deemed hazardous, safety devices are put on car locks to prevent inadvertent death and hairdryers come with warnings to not use in the bathtub. My computer comes with better security than a gun. No one can access my files unless they know my password. Yet, anyone can flip the safety off a gun and take aim at another human being.

Startling. Sobering.

Our little town on the prairies has grown up into a big city with big city problems.

I don't have answers for my daughters' questions. I can only work with them to understand their responsibility in their own safety. Awareness leads to action. Taking measures, being safe, ensuring we do what should come naturally in a city of over a million people is critical to our peace of mind.

When Conrad was released on parole, I had to create a safety perimeter to ensure my daughters and I did not live in fear of him. It was my responsibility. What I did had nothing to do with what he may or may not have done. -- I could not control what he may or may not do. -- It had everything to do with acknowledging my fear, turning up my awareness, and taking appropriate action.

Acknowledge. Awareness. Action.

Brian Willis (http://www.winningmindtraining.com/) said it eloquently when he was helping me determine what I needed to do to create a safety perimeter. "The police cannot protect you from violence. They are not with you 24/7. It is your responsibility to ensure you do everything you can to keep yourself free of violence."

At the time, I was fearful of what Conrad might do. I had to question how real were my fears. Had I created a monster in my head greater than the man? Absolutely. To put the monster at rest, I had to face my fear, take appropriate action -- and let it go. I put in an alarm system, cut down the bushes around my house, put in security lights, made sure the basement windows had bars, contacted my neighbours and told them about the situation. I met with a police sergeant at the local precinct to inform him of my concerns -- not to insist he protect me, but to ensure he identified my number as an 'at risk' number requiring immediate response should I ever call or the alarm be tripped. My daughters and I took 'personal safety' training from Brian and his son. He ensured we understood -- it was our right, our duty, our responsibility to do whatever it takes to keep ourselves safe should Conrad appear.

Those actions were what I needed to do to create a safety perimeter in which my daughters and I could live without fear of always glancing over our shoulder, jumping at shadows and leaping into terror at the thought of Conrad 'on the loose'. Keeping my mind clear of my own fears was my responsibility -- with my safety perimeter intact, I was free to listen to my intuition, should it awaken me to possible danger.

The same holds true with everyday living. We live in a city of over 1 million people. There is the possibility of violence -- no matter the size of the place I live. In acknowledging violence exists, there are weapons in the hands of people willing to use them, and people who use their hands as weapons, I do not have to live with the fear of denying the truth every moment when I walk out my front door. Denying my fear of the violence on the streets of Calgary is like burying my head in victimhood. I deny my responsibility and tune-out of my intution. To be a victor I must be aware. I must acknowledge what I can do to keep myself safe, and I must take appropriate action. In acknowledging the truth, I take action. In my action my peace of mind is restored. I let go of my fear of the unknown and step with confidence into my power to create the life of my dreams.

Peace of mind comes when I live the life of my dreams -- not based on my worst nightmare but rather, founded on my belief that I have the power to do what it takes to live my life freely. When I stand in my power, acknowledge the truth of my life today in freedom, I walk surrounded by the incredible beauty and joy of living life on my terms. I am not a victim. I am a victor.

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