An Excerpt from ‘Left of Bang’

“On Friday, January 3rd, 2014, 22-year-old Roxanna Ramirez was working in the loss prevention department at a Target store in the San Francisco Bay Area when she noticed a man who stood out. Afterwards she said, ‘Something just didn’t seem right. He was acting weird, as if he was up to something.’ Even though the man didn’t steal anything, his behavior piqued her interest and she intuitively recognized him as an anomaly.

Using the store’s video surveillance system, she tracked the man out to his car, where he began shaking the steering wheel. While there was nothing she could do or needed to do at that moment, she wrote down the man’s license plate number. A few hours later she learned about an Amber Alert for a seven-year-old-girl and thought that the make and model of the abductor’s car was similar to the man she followed through Target.

She called in a tip. That tip led to the arrest of David Allen Douglas and the safe recovery of a missing girl who was sitting in the back of his car. Ms. Ramirez’s awareness helped save a girl’s life. Because she had been operating in Condition yellow and was actively searching for people who stood out from the baseline, she stopped a child abductor. Getting left of bang requires identifying a potential threat before something happens.”

(Van Horne, P., & Riley, J., (2014, June). Left of Bang, Black Irish Entertainment, LLC)

Tactical Flashlight

Perhaps, you have thought of flashlights as only something you kept in your kitchen drawer to use when the electricity went out or took on a camping trip. However, if used correctly, a tactical flashlight could quite possibly save your life. They are typically much smaller than a traditional flashlight, emit blinding light, and are made of weapon-grade aluminum.

Purchase a waterproof tactical flashlight with at least 200 lumens of light output. To be effective for self-defense, your flashlight needs to be bright enough to ward off attackers. Some tactical flashlights also have a strobe for SOS attention. You want a flashlight that is small enough to comfortably fit in the palm of your hand and easy enough to use in a moment’s time.

  • Lighting up a parking lot or dark area with a tactical flashlight places you in control of the situation. Any time your path is dark, shine your flashlight.
  • Shining your light directly in the eyes of a potential attacker is quite painful and will temporarily blind her. This will give you the opportunity to flee.
  • Flashlights can go anywhere with you. When weapons are not welcome at a place of business, flashlights are allowed. I have traveled by airlines with my tactical flashlight, tucked inside my carry-on bag, numerous times, both domestic and international, and I have never been asked to give up my flashlight at the security check point scan.
  • The bezel edges on tactical flashlights have serrated edges and, if necessary, could be used as a weapon if you needed to fight back by striking your attacker very hard with the beveled edge.
  • Tactical flashlights are handy tools when the power goes out or your car breaks down.
  • Get in the habit of carrying a tactical flashlight in your hand every time you go out, or in a readily accessible place for you to retrieve it.

Keep your cell phone on your person

Perhaps most of us women carry our cell phones in our purses, brief cases or back packs. I know I usually carry mine in my purse. Recently, was brought to my attention to keep my cell phone on my person for security reasons. If my purse were snatched or I misplaced it, I would still have my phone and all the information I carry in it within my reach.

Keep your head up!

Walking with your head down, looking at the sidewalk, texting, and/or wearing earbuds or headphones sends a message to someone observing you that you are living in the white and not paying attention to your surroundings. As we pay more attention to our phones and/or music we are listening to, we pay less attention to our surroundings.

Instead. . .

1. Walk with your head up.

2. Keep your head “on a swivel,” paying attention to your surroundings.

3. Walk with a purposeful stride.

4. Keep you phone handy, in case of emergency; but don’t text while walking.

5. Keep your earbuds/headphones out of your ears, and focus on your surroundings.

6. Become a “people watcher.” Enjoy the children playing in the park. Enjoy the beautiful day God has given you. Smell the flowers – really.

Why is your brain your best self-defense tool?

Your brain is always with you and can be exercised in a moment’s notice. Living in the yellow is an intentional, learned discipline. When you are aware of your surroundings – whether that be driving, at the mall, concert, coffee shop, place of worship, walking/running, or any place you are – you can train your brain to be alert and smart to the situation at hand.

When walking alone to your car:

Be aware of your surroundings.
Have your phone ready – but not texting or placing/receiving a call.
Have your keys ready.
Have your packages and purse on your person ready to place in your car/trunk.
Don’t put items on top of your car.
It’s a good idea to carry a tactical flashlight and use it to look inside your car before getting inside.
Lock your car as soon as you get inside.

Use your intuition and learn to trust it. As women, I believe we are wired this way anyway. If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t a safe environment.




Living in the yellow

A couple weeks ago I was flying home from Chicago via O’Hare and I was very much living in the yellow. I noticed people around me, and particularly how they placed their items and bags on the conveyor belt.

Because it was winter, and I was flying back home to Nebraska, I had on a heavy coat, sweater, two scarves, gloves, and big boots. My carry-on was my purse. When I travel I like to carry a cross-over purse, because I am in control of my purse and know where it is at all times. As women, we keep our world and valuables in our purses, don’t we.

Usually I need two bins placed on the conveyor belt to get my carry-on items through security. I place the least important items in the first bin, i.e. clothing, belt and shoes. I place the most important items, i.e. my purse, i-pad, brief case in the second bin – the one closest to me as I walk through the scanner. Why? Because the most important items are closest to me and I can keep my eye on the bin as it travels through the scanner. After I walk through the scanner, I immediately pick it up off the conveyor belt. If I “beeped” the scanner and the security person calls me to the side for an additional body scan, my eye is still on my purse/briefcase.

While I was placing my items in the bins, at O’Hare, I noticed the woman in front of me. She threw her purse – which was wide open – in the bin and placed it on the conveyor belt, and away it went. She then placed her clothing items in the second bin and sent it through. As she walked through the scanner, it “beeped” and the security person called her over to the side for additional scanning. I walked through the scanner (didn’t set it off) and reached over to pick up my purse, which was always within my eyesight, and then picked up my clothing items.

The woman in front of me was still over with the security person while her wide-open purse with her personal life and valuables was just waiting at the end of the conveyor belt. Someone could have quite easily have helped himself to items in her purse.

Living in the yellow is a learned discipline.

Why would a Licensed Professional Counselor become an NRA Instructor?

The word “psychology is derived from the Greek word “psyche,” meaning “the study of the soul or self. ” Cognitive psychology studies human thought process.  As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I practice cognitive counseling.  It is, indeed, a privilege to be invited into the broken emotional parts of my client’s life as together we sort through the mental debris and negative attitudes that keep her stuck. We all process life differently. There are no steadfast rules.

So, when I learned of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting where 12 died and 58 were wounded on July 20, 2012, my heart was broken and I cried for those that were killed and maimed that night – even though I didn’t know anyone at the theater. It didn’t matter, because they were each human beings with a soul and the very life of each one was taken away or dramatically altered. I  was so sorry for the lives lost that night and the families and friends that somehow were left to carry on.

Over the next several months I learned we all have a right to be protected from this type of violent, senseless behavior and the responsibility begins with each of us as individuals.  I learned the perpetrator looked for this sign when deciding where he was going to stage his attack against innocent men, women and children.  The theater he chose was the only theater within 20-minutes of his home that banned guns with this sign:

Thus, my study and research began.  I learned that un-armed, law abiding citizens are sitting-ducks for crazies. Where  they are able to exercise their right to bear arms, attacks like this are frequently avoided or deterred.