Lessons Learned

 My friend, Chris, who recently lost her home to a fire wrote a “Lessons Learned” post for all of us. See her words below.
There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from our recent experience.
There are the standards like “don’t take anything for granted”, or “live every day to the fullest”.
Those are certainly true!
But I think for the gun/prepper communities (and yes we were both gunnies and preppers) there are deeper lessons to learn.

We are not wealthy people. In fact at this moment we have no source of income! I say that not so anyone will take pity on us or feel sorry for us, but so that those reading this can fully understand (maybe lol) or thoughts or decisions.
Last October I was unexpectedly laid off from a position as a manager at a Dallas, TX based pharmaceutical company. It was a good paycheck and I had been there 7 years. I had not been truly happy there however for about the last 4 years. I felt I was called to do more than sit at a desk and read reports. So, in October my husband and I prayed and felt that I was being called into midwifery. To become a midwife I was going to be required to be in a apprenticeship, unpaid, for 2 years. My husband had been staying at home with the boys and managing our small farm as we worked toward self reliance. He also on the side built custom knives.
With the layoff came a severance package. We sat down, figured our bills and expenses and said ok we can do this. We also about that time received a dividend from some stocks we owned.

Around the about Dec/Jan time frame we determined that we should finish purchasing the firearms we had been looking at. We purchased most things in 3’s as we have three sons we hoped to pass things down to.

Jump forward to May 2nd. We had a house stocked with at least 12 months of non-perishable foods. We had clothes that had been collected for some while for the boys up to the age of about 12 years (the oldest is 4). We also had guns. Lots of guns ;-). The total was probably close to 35 in the house. Some rifles, some shotguns and some pistols. Of which we got out 2 shotguns (survived the fire) and 7 pistols which were either on our persons or grabbed on the way out. Then of course there was the ammo, magazines, holsters and all the reloading supplies. There was also some cash and a few precious metals.
All these things were to be there for the long term. Either to get us through for a year of my schooling or as a heritage to our sons.
That of course doesn’t include the irreplaceable things like the door post the kids height was measured on, the family cookbook, the baby books and other family items.

Lessons Learned?
1) Listen to your gut in any situation! If your instinct says something is wrong, listen! If I hadn’t been persistent when I smelled smoke things may have had a different ending.
2) Keep a well stocked get home bag in your vehicle(s). The bags we had in the house were lost. The bags in the car were and continue to be lifesavers. The temperature dropped 30 degrees the day of the fire. My husband was able to get a wool blanket from one of the cars and keep warm that day. This applies to kids too. I had a stocked diaper bag for the boys with extra clothes. Also- if you have pets it might not be a bad idea to keep a few emergency supplies in your bags for them.
3) Keep the cars as full of fuel as possible. We were able to pull to a neighbors property, but if this had been a wild fire we would have had to evacuate the area.
4) Get a fireproof safe for your legal documents and cash/precious metals. We did not have one. It was something we always said yeah we should get but never did. We lost a fair amount of cash  but our metals were spared.
5) Consider having some firearms/ammo/mags stored outside your house underground. Again something we talked a lot about but just never got around to.
6) Same as # 5 for food.

We have grown closer as a family unit because of this. We are more in touch with what is truly important. We are and will continue to rebuild and establish a new normal for ourselves. I will be returning to my midwifery studies. And we will continue to work on the farm and garden. We will eventually rebuild on this property. Maybe not in the same spot on this land.

MOG Person Of The Year

Monty over at Monty on Guns has a post up about the person he chose to be The Person of the Year.

Monty writes a great blog and I enjoyed every single post he has written, but this one might be my favorite.

Fearless

A few months back or maybe it’s been a year now I read a book called Fearless. It’s the story of Adam Brown, A Navy Seal who died in combat.

I wrote a post about it at the time I think. One of the things I admired about his family was their courage and kindness to share his story. It is not a picture perfect one. Adam was flawed. I know we all are, but many of us do not like to let other people know that and neither do our families. Especially, after we have perished.

One more story of a perfect hero might be a great read, but for me(a flawed kind of gal), his story did more than touch me and reinforce my gratefulness to those who serve our country. It inspired me.

I hope that as you read this you understand I am not comparing my struggles to his or my minor accomplishment to his remarkable ones, what I am saying is that in his story I found things that tangibly helped me.

Apparently, he was fearless. As a child he jumped out windows and stood up to bullies and lived life with abandonment. Clearly, that is not me, but there are parts of his story were he was afraid. Where he faced things that terrified him and he struggled.

As I have said before when one is surrounded by very strong women like Tam, Brigid, Erin, Roberta, Kathy Jackson, it is easy to feel weak and whining  Again, that is not against them…good, good, good. I am doing everything in my power to raise my girl’s to be those women. To be strong and fearless, but as I struggled and struggled and struggled, often with the same damn thing(like showing up at MMA class) it is easy to believe that you(I) are the weakest person around and then make judgments based on them. Often very helpful self judgement that do not lead to anything positive.

When I see people who clearly are strong and brave, but who have struggled more than once, it gives me hope and it inspires me. I have never used others as a way defend my own issues, but instead as hope.

I also have never been one for mantras or what I call false senses of hope. I sometimes think people get so caught up in the ritual of praying, reading  or listening to inspirational things that they forget to actually find some use I them. As a result I have in the past shun any semblance of those things in my own life.

However, when something isn’t working…

We think our minds tell us what to do, but actually we tell our mind and then it reacts from there. If we or our parents or society keep telling the brain something long enough it believes it and then we think, “Oh crap if my mind thinks it or believes it it must be true. I can’t change how I think and feel…BOLOGNA!

Tell it something different.

Try it.

You will see.

A friend of mine, you might know him as Cam(that is how he comments on this blog) told me a year or so ago to find a mantra or inspirational saying. I already had, but I didn’t really use it. After he made the suggestion I decided to try something different. I began actually putting the saying I found into action in my life.

When I got(get) scared, I would(do) say it over and over…

“You Stand Master” It is what reminds me that I am in control(not in terms of the universe. I decided and I can do or not do whatever I want. There is absolutely zero reason for me to pursue training. None. No one cares and many people think I am nuts.

I continue to face my fear of going to the next level because I have deep, deep desire to not allow fear to stop me from anything and I have a deep, deep desire to learn more. I can not explain that fully, but I do not have to. The point is when I am afraid I ask myself…”Why are doing this thing?” The answer is almost always because I want to(if it isn’t I do not do it). Why on earth would I let anything stop me from doing what I want??

Now, my list of wants is really small and really simple. I want to have peace inside my own skin. I do not want to be afraid. I have been afraid and it is paralyzing. I hate it.

I want to be strong mentally for myself and my kids. I do not want to be moody or haunted by the past(abuses against me or my own mistakes and guilt). I think they deserve a mommy who is strong enough to put that stuff behind her and move on.

I want to know without a doubt that I can and will defend my life should I ever be put in that position.

And I want to be smokin’ hot for my man.

From that list I think I can be a happy, kind, giving person. A good friend, a great mommy and not a bad wife. Plus, hopefully, a valuable contributor to society.

I have goals and I have ways to achieve those goals, so when fear natters in my ear, I say over and over again…this is what YOU want. You stand master.

That’s my thing. Doesn’t matter what my thing is. What matters is that if you are struggling(and my email box says many, many people are) that you define what you want your life to be, you find healthy ways to get there, and perhaps you find a saying or someone/something that inspires you to move forward in positive ways.

When the song Fearless first came out, I bought it because it was my little, itty, bitty, tiny way of contributing to Adam’s memory and a way of honoring him, but I only listened to it once. I thought it was kind of cheesy. The other day while I was running the song popped up on my itunes since I was running I didn’t bother to change it. I must have listened to it 100 times since then. For whatever reason, now it has meaning to me.

I love the line…”Believe you’ll get stronger every time you fall…”

Now, of course believing isn’t enough, but that is a good step. Believing that I can get stronger and then acting as though I actually believe it has had led to tremendously positive changes in my life.

Do I continue to struggle…YES. Does it matter…NO. The time between “Crap there is that fear again” and “Oh shut up stupid fear. I am doing this” is decreasing every time I face it.

Honestly, I was annoyed last night as I went to the gym to do my self defense class. I got there I was butterfly-y and fidgeting until the class started and once again, I was fine. Perfectly fine. Didn’t hesitate or back down or cry. I loved every second and for a beginner I think I am doing fine. I am still scared because I know it will get tougher and I am not a fan of this choking-out thing that these people think is so darn nifty, but in just one class I know I am ready to go back every week and instead of having to talk myself into it, I am truly looking forward to it. I was annoyed because I thought how any times has this end exactly the same way and you still put it off???

I came home pumped up and excited and showed TSM every move I learned  Although I was nice. Since we do not have mats, I did not do the take down move where one lands on their back.

Let me be clear about this too, this is not about self defense  I don’t care if anyone else takes self defense classes but you probably should). Just like I do not care if anyone else carries a gun(but, seriously, you probably should). This is not about becoming me or doing what I do. We are all different, but again as emails pour in, I realize many folks(men and women) are struggling with fear of some kind. This just me telling a part of my journey again and sharing what has helped me. Maybe it will help someone, maybe not, but the point is if something is holding you back, stressing you out, scaring you or causing some kind of grief and you’re sick of it…then you might want to find some positive  healthy ways to make changes.

Now, you are gonna have to excuse me because last night did this to my body and if I sit for too long my legs do not want to let me walk down the stairs.

IMG_20130521_203127_600 IMG_20130521_203324_731

 

I will leave you with this…

http://youtu.be/QgGtKWCVy0M

I Went, I Conquered, I Kicked-Butt

Well, I went, I paid, I got my gear(my class is tomorrow), but I signed a year contract and the only thing stronger than my character is my cheapness, so I will be back tomorrow night for the actual class.

When I arrived no one else was there except C(the owner) and Mike(the finance guy). They said “We never thought we would see you again.”

I said, “Ye of little faith.” I did leave out the whole I was scared out of my mind and it took me 11 days to get my act together part.

Chad said 90% of the people who come in and take a trail class never do not come back. 90%…That seemed like such a high number.

While going over the contract with Mike, C popped in to tell me about the new gun he bought. That I can talk about all day long. Felt much more relaxed after that.

I will keep you updated.

motto1*Saw this here.

A Fantasy

I am continually amazed at the on going struggle I have to keep moving forward. Even when I make great strides and am convinced I have conquered and overcome whatever obstacle that was in my way, I find myself dealing with it again and again.

I realized a while ago that the person I had been training with was not going to follow through. Even though I was pretty sure back in December it has taken 5 months for me to find another place to train. I made lots of excuses for him and me and deciding there was not another quality place in the area, but those really were nothing more than excuses.

When I finally accepted that there wasn’t a good reason for me to be doing nothing, I got busy and serious about finding a place to train. By the grace of god and the universe I found it. I called, I emailed, I showed up, I faced all my fears and again, luck was on my side as this place was everything I prayed it would.

Success!

Or not…

It has been eleven days since I had my first class at that gym. Eleven days and I have not been back.I have changed my eating to meet the more stringent training schedule, I have focused on stretching and getting better sleep. I have been dressed with tennis shoes on and bag packed ready to walk out the door only to find some reason not actually get in Jayne(my truck) and go.

I have found a million reasons why I can’t go…it is expensive, my kids need me, my yard needs work, I am probably not going to need those skills anyway and on and on.  Everyday I get ready to go and TSM(my man) says good for you and then I say, “but we really need to put the money towards ammo or the carpet.” and he says. “Bullshit.” So, I say, “We are so busy and two nights away from the kids is a lot at this age and he says. “Bullshit.” “Those are all excuses.” “Just go.”

But, I don’t.

One problem with excuses is often times they have a bit of validity. Unless you are independently wealthy most all of us tend to have more than one valid thing that we could be putting our time and money towards. One thing might not even be more valuable than the next, but simply a matter of priority. If I stopped doing this and buying that then I could have plenty of time and money to spend with my kids(which I already to a ton of) and buy what we need and still make it to this place for training. I have, of course, known that all along.

Still, I didn’t go.

The real issue was, has been and remains to be, fear. As I sat here day after day, night after night thinking about this drill and that one and improving and having to spare with strangers who are more skilled, tougher, and who do not give a flying flip about me just flat out scared me to no end.

I was, as many of you know, afraid to train with the guy before too, but it was one on one and I had made a commitment to show up. I was not going to back out on my word to one person. Plus, I had the illusion that someone cared. That it mattered if I showed up. It was as much a character issue for me as it was facing my fears and so character trumped fear. Terrified and nervous, I showed up every single time.

This place doesn’t need my money nor do they care if I in the class or not. Whatever fantasy I have about someone knocking on my door and dragging me to train is nothing more than that…a fantasy.

The real character issue isn’t about the commitment I made to someone else(while important), it really is about my commitment to myself. A commitment I mostly certainly have not honored.

If I want to get stronger, more fit both mentally and physically, if I am serious about doing everything in my power to make myself more prepared to defend my life then I am going to have to give up the fantasy and find the courage to walk out that door.

And I shall.

Today is that day. Today I will be driving my truck, by myself, to the gym. I am going to pay my money and once again stare down that old annoying friend of mine(aka fear) and do what I have set out to do.

Today, I Stand Master…

Don’t manage your fear. Lead your fear. Take charge. When fear climbs on your shoulder and starts nattering in your ear, here’s what you do: You Stand Master. -Danielle Laporte

 

A Book, A Book!!!

My new friend Peter from Bayou Renaissance Man has a new book.

Peter was nice enough to email me and then let me call him to discuss shotguns a while back. His advice was right on and even though I didn’t get to pick out my own gun(thanks for buying me one honey:), I still found it so helpful and kind.

Anyway, here is a link to his book.

I Smell Something Burning

Here is a video of my friend’s house that burned down. It is a very compelling video of the personal devastation of fire.

 

I want to thank all of you who donated. I was personally touched and I know Ce and her family were as well. See her note below…

“On behalf of the Adams family I want to say thanks! Thank you to everyone who offered a prayer, a good wish or sent a gift card.

The outpouring of support and live we have received from the gun community out weighs what even our own family has done. So as AGirl said in a previous post you are our family!

Special thanks to the Rudek Family, the Belcher Family, the Desert Rat Jak Family, the Spider Elliott Family, Cindy and those who sent anonymously.
If I missed someone I’m sorry – I’m not getting to the PO box daily right now.

Now for a update on the situation – we are back on on property in a travel trailer. Living in a trailer with three boys under 5 is quite an adventure but we are all happy to be back out here.
We have started the clean up process and will be at that as well as the inventory list for the insurance company for a while.
The county fire marshal and the independent investigation hired by State Farm both agreed that it was a “attic fire of unknown origin”. They have provided our insured amount for the structure to us and now we have to give them a inventory list. They can then say we’ll reimburse after you purchase new or decide to cut a check for “inventory” (that seems like such a cold word). Either way neither the structure or inventory amount is going to cover rebuilding to the size of house we had with today’s prices. So, we are going to move forward with the clearing of the site and see what happens from there. The Lord has a plan and we are praying that it will be shown to us!

Thank you again for all your support!”