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Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 – What a Year for Change

When the days are short and the weather cold, it is a our tradition to reflect on changes the year about to pass has brought, and to give thanks.

As each year closes, we have been amazed at blessings that have continued to shower on us, and we give praise to the Lord who has made each of our years better than the last.

This is not to say  there aren’t challenges and setbacks. This year has blown by in most respects. Amidst health issues and inevitable and unplanned expenses,  I was able to retire from my “day job” in mid October and joined my husband in his leather business full time. While only a couple months into that transition,  we are extremely happy with it.

I had two major plans for 2014: retiring, and my book writing project, “The White Haired Shooter.”

Both these plans underwent a multitude of twists and turns during the year, and a quote attributed to Woody Allen really fits:

 “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”

I started blogging in January of 2014, with articles that form the information base for the book,  and by early summer had established a fairly solid direction and felt ready to start putting the book together.

To better prepare myself, I began studying the process of writing, publishing, and marketing. Part of my studies involved taking part in “flash fiction” events and contests, and I got hooked on learning the dynamics of story writing.  That process rekindled  a bookworm’s childhood dream of writing books myself – and I suppose, on the brink of second childhood, that’s poetic timing!

As I’ve shared in previous posts, I am still writing.  I have down-sized the scope of the original how-to book, and began writing a novel that illustrates the challenges, progress, and integration of self defense – in particular guns- in the lives of three mature women.  One of the women just happens to have a how-to book designed to help the mature woman learn to shoot, and, da da da daaaaa, it is written by yours truly, the White Haired Shooter. (Funny how that worked out, eh?)

Haven’t figured out how to market the how-to book part yet, but entertaining a few ideas, and having a blast doing it.

Quite a change from my original intent. But I like to think, a better approach.  There are many training manuals, videos and classes available for women these days, to just write one without any “real” credentials – other than I am a mature woman, I shoot, and have assisted in training others – isn’t much of a platform to launch from.

The audience I am targeting (all right, I’ll try to control the puns) is the mature woman, and her decision whether or not to learn to shoot a gun as part of self defense. That is so much more than just the basics of pulling a trigger and learning proper grip, and is the primary aim  (okay, I promise that’s the last one) of the White Haired Shooter.  I had an epiphany, taken straight from my study of fiction:

 SHOW don’t TELL

And that’s what Sylvia, Laura and Pat, the main characters of the novel, are doing.  I believe it’s got the potential to entertain while informing, and be far better than trying to integrate that theme into a how-to manual alone.

This project will take longer than I ever imagined, but I am excited about the different levels and opportunities  opened up by basing the mature woman’s experiences and challenges in a work of fiction.

As a major part of  “getting schooled,” I am once again side-tracking, this time by writing a couple of novels based on short stories I wrote during the summer.  I feel better “practicing”  with them, and then bringing new skills to the main book(s).

Blogging, unfortunately, will be inconsistent for some time. With the changes retirement has brought, and working our own business, I have a lot of adjusting to do.  Old schedules have been tossed, and new ones haven’t yet – if ever – been formed.  God only put so many hours into a day, and they do fly by when we’re having so much fun!

Finally, and from the heart, here’s wishing you and yours have a wonderful holiday season and a blessed New Year!

 

~~  Peggy

The White haired Shooter

The White haired Shooter

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Punctuation Series #2 : Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma Chameleon

Punctuation Series #2 : Comma, Comma, Comma, Comma Chameleon

And thank you, You Think I Can Write, for this wonderful expose on the elusive rules of COMMA!

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2014 in General Discussion

 

Back to Basics – Punctuation

Way past time I take punctuation seriously.  These two tomes have moved up on my study list:

Strunk

chicago

 

Reluctantly –  with worry lines furrowing my brow – I am studying basic punctuation.  It has been brought to my attention that I overuse, misuse, and frivolously use my nemesis:

   THE COMMA

I admit, I never paid attention to the correct use of that punctuation mark in school or since.  Years ago I studied medical transcription, and I nailed 97% of the course. My downfall: that dang comma. I was torn apart by the teacher for being oblivious to this basic form of punctuation. She was baffled.  More recently, I lost points in a writing contest for comma transgressions. The judge gave me 100% on everything else, but on punctuation: 50%. Once again, comma mucking ruined my chances.

I had hoped to slip out the back door on this issue during my lifetime, but it is becoming obvious I am going to have to work through this.   I have overcome other areas, and this too will come (I hope).

I just need to find the proper motivation. With the Lord’s grace.

I have subscribed to the “put ’em wherever they feel right” method, and I am now becoming “comma-phobic.” My eyes glaze over, and I can only manage to skim read through the examples. Makes me feel downright silly, it does!  (also over use exclamation points, and just avoid semi-colons).

There, confession is good for the soul.  My new year’s resolution is to the master the COMMA.

So far, I have been pleasantly surprised as I re-read (or more truthfully, first time I didn’t skim read)  “The Elements of Style.”  I found it easy to read and even interesting. Amazing.

The Chicago Manual of Style, however, is still a blur!

 

— Peggy

THE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

The White haired Shooter

The White haired Shooter

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2014 in Writing the Book

 

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Situational Awareness: Part 2 – SAFETY

 

 

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

 

In the last post, we discussed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s a premise that a person must have basic foundational needs met before they can move on to relational, social and intellectual growth. Safety is a basic foundational need, on the pyramid it follows the physical needs of food, water, clothing and shelter, and health.

Safety is not tangible or easy to quantify need. Complicating that, safety is a highly personalized perception.  What one person considers safe, may completely terrorize another.

It is easy to take our safety for granted until a situation arises that threatens us. Natural disasters: hurricane, blizzard, earthquake, drought, tsunami, extreme temperatures, and Political and Social situations: war, terrorism, political strife, poverty, crime and inequality; each bring primary needs like food, water, clothing and shelter to the forefront, along with safety concerns.

Safety should be recognized and treated as a responsibility of an independent adult. That requires understanding the dynamics of situations we are in, which is easy to say, but can be difficult to pin down.

Throughout the earlier years in a woman’s life, roles are fairly well defined. Depending on our health and what road we travel, we are first children, then student, partner, employee, mother, teacher, and caregiver well into the beginning of our elderly years. Physical changes occur  gradually and differently for each woman, and our  roles also shift at varying rates to less defined ones. Younger women begin to take up what had been our past responsibilities. We are becoming the grandmothers, retirees, elders and role models.

At this stage of life,  a woman is typically reliant on  life partners, children, friends and those in professional capacities, church affiliates and society in general for her safety.  More often than not, what an older woman is relying on is her perception of safety, not the reality of any given situation. She expects to be safe because she’s always been. .  It’s not a problem of denial, it’s generally because nothing has happened to cause her to review.

It’s an accepted fact that change becomes more difficult the older we get. Habits of a lifetime, and sometimes just the lack of energy required to change, affect our ability to respond to challenging and unexpected situations.  Complications of health problems, medication, arthritis, vision and hearing loss can leave an older woman an easy target, or make responding to an emergency more difficult. Without attention to a positive proactive plan, fear will blossom. And again, fear tends to paralyze our ability to process and assess.

Situational Awareness is training yourself to recognize and assess before you find yourself in harms way. Making it part of your “tool box” of go-to solutions you aren’t required to formulate on the fly gives you an advantage. Good news is: it’s all based on common sense, everyday things that you can easily accomplish.  The hardest part is making it a part of your daily life. That requires motivation and commitment.  We’re talking life-style change. That has so many benefits, and allows you to continue to “climb up the pyramid.”

The first step in gaining this awareness is keeping yourself in shape, physically and mentally. Paying attention to diet, exercising, getting quality sleep, is a good start. You’ve got to take care of those basic physiological needs before you can move up the pyramid ladder and take an active part in maintaining safety for you and yours. There’s work to do, and just because we’ve moved into our “golden years” doesn’t end that.

The second step is accepting your responsibility for your safety, and those dependent on you for safety.

So, ladies, where are you in meeting your responsibility for your own safety?

 

Do you give any thought to it?

Are your taking care of your basic physical needs?

Who and what do you depend on to provide safety? Is it real? Or just a perception or wish?

Do you routinely pay attention to your surroundings at home, work, shopping, traveling?

If you find it difficult to answer any of these questions, try writing down your thoughts. Make a list, or begin a daily journal. How did you feel while you were out shopping, visiting, at church, home alone, traveling?  Get to know when you are fearful, “zoning out” what is around you, or engaging with other people. Help yourself to understand what you are doing right here and now.

Next post we’ll look at some specific physical, mental and emotional factors that may have an affect on our ability to remain safe.

~~  Peggy

 

The rain came down,

the streams rose,

and the winds blew and beat against that house;

yet it did not fall,

because it had its foundation on the rock.

— Matthew 7:25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Situational Awareness: What is it?

 

The White haired ShooterTHE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

Situational Awareness is a component of self defense that belongs in everybody’s toolbox of personal preparedness. At its most basic level, it means being aware of, discerning, assessing and factoring in the elements – people, place, things, events, and even time – that are around you, and how you are or might soon be affected by them. Taken to the next step, training in responses available to cope with possible situations, and learning how to relate and react to situations.  Situational Awareness is taking personal responsibility for where we are, what we encounter, and how we act.

We have had many commonsense basics drilled into us in our youth. Why does that early training tend to fade and be forgotten so easily as we become adults? I think it’s because it’s not a vaccination you get as a baby that stays with you and lasts your lifetime.  It’s more like the daily food and drink you ingest, to help you grow and keep you strong and healthy.  You need to attend to it every day of your life, or — like the saying goes —  If you don’t use it, you lose it.

As parents we teach our children not to talk to strangers, look both ways before crossing the street, tell your parents where you’re going and when you are coming home. The responsibility for a child’s safety lies in the adults around them – family, neighbors, friends and professionals of  “the Village” that protects and raises that child.

During adolescence and the teen years, a shift begins. With new friendships and relationships, it’s a time of testing boundaries, and immersion in experiential  activities. After high school, many kids go off to college, the military, or find jobs, marry, or take longer to leave the nest while finding their place in the world. But still the protective “shield/umbrella” of childhood lingers. Mentors coach them as they develop into adulthood.  For young women these lessons are critical. Awareness of their surrounding, taking care of how they dress and learning not to put themselves in bad situations, checking in regularly and not going places alone, and some practical self defense classes help immensely.

Once childhood is fully behind, chances are few keep their situational awareness a priority, unless a tragic or frightening situation is encountered.

Many, but not all, tragedies might have been lessened or  avoided if time had been spent developing a routine of awareness, which means taking responsibility for learning and knowing what surrounds or comes within your scope.  Making that as much a part of life as the air you breathe and the food you eat.

That sounds like setting a high, unattainable standard to some. Or maybe just plain paranoia. Afterall, just how important could all this attention on being safe?

One theory that helps put that into perspective is psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, proposed  first in 1943 in his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”, and expanded and developed in his widely accepted 1954 book Motivation and Personality. And it has stood the test of time. A pyramid diagram has developed over the years since then, to illustrate his premise that the needs on the bottom (foundational) must be met before a person can experience the next level, and so forth.

MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds_svg

In this diagram, Safety is a foundational need, outranked only by basic physical needs like food, clothing, shelter.

Safety is intangible and never permanent. How we perceive we are safe is highly individual, and can easily be a false sense. We may feel safe when we are in a group, when we have family close by, have trust in law enforcement and other professionals. But what happens when we are alone, traveling, out of touch, or someone or something interrupts that feeling of safety? When our trust that others will keep us safe is betrayed, or they are unavailable, or have left.

This blog has posted in length about fear, and proposes fear typically incapacitates and interferes with our ability to respond appropriately or quickly to threats to our safety. Unless we have thought about and practiced what we need to do for a variety of potential incidents, we would have to formulate a response while under stress and duress. That doesn’t tip the odds in our favor very often. This is not a “preppie” or extreme survival issue alone.  It is basic common sense for responsible adults.

Next post will look specifically at factors women face as they grow older. We’ll look at reassessing things that have changed in your life, and some ideas to include situational awareness into your daily routine, specifically geared for our “golden” years.

 

~~  Peggy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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