The world is a safe and neutral and secure place, my home a safe haven. People are full of good intentions, and danger only comes to those who are looking for it. That's what my younger self thought. And then … age happens. And that's when you realize that is not always the case.
Some thoughts are not good right before bed. That's why I long ago gave up watching the 11 o'clock news, which is oftentimes filled with stories of violence, sadness or tragedy.
It just doesn't make for a good night's rest. I much prefer a peaceful book or the sound of my noise machine cradling my nerves with its serene sounds of ocean waves or a waterfall.
But the past few nights, I've broken my promise to myself and done two things that are knotting up my bed sheets with all my tossing and turning: one, I watched back-to-back, catch-up episodes of a new series on Showtime called "Homeland," a suspenseful cat-and-mouse whodunit (or more like who's-going-to-do-it) that I am absolutely addicted to, involving the CIA, terror threats and mind games.
The other thing? I'm reading the new book, Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us, and I'm having trouble putting it down. A collaboration between Mary Ellen O'Toole, PhD, a retired FBI profiler, and writer Alisa Bowman, it's both eye-opening and provocative—kind of a life guide to staying safe. Don't get me wrong: it's an important book, filled with advice that could protect you or even save your life. But, you might not want to read it right before bed.
Here are just a handful of the many myths about myself that this book has debunked:
- By now, I've had enough life experience to be able to make sensible and sound judgments: size up someone, pick out the liar or steer clear of the psychopath in the crowd.
- Most people are well-intentioned and trustworthy. And if I'm nice, no one will take advantage of me.
- If an intruder comes into my house while I am sleeping, I know how best to handle myself.
- I know how to get the truth out of my husband and find out if he is cheating on me.
- I know how to tell if someone is lying.
- If I'm hiring someone to do work in my house, it's enough to ask someone for a recommendation by asking a few questions like, "What did you think of him?" and "What kind of job did he do?"
- Just because someone is friendly, comes from a good family and looks harmless, they're safe.
- Trusting my gut is good enough.
- Body language speaks volumes. If someone has his or her hands crossed over her chest, she is defensive, closed-minded and a bad communicator.
- I know how to handle myself during an emotional conversation.
It's clear I still have a lot to learn.
And the old saying, "forewarned is forearmed," couldn't be further from the truth.
Speaking of forearmed, this gives me the opportunity to be generous, thanks to the big-hearted folks below, and offer you FOUR ways to stay safe and secure in the event of an unexpected danger. Yes, a bonanza of safety! Seems that safety is on a lot of people's minds—not just mine—lately.
1. A copy of the book Dangerous Instincts. Everything you don't know about risk assessment and keeping safe is in this book.
2. Two amazing products from the company Afterac, (http://www.afterac.com) which specializes in accident and disaster preparedness:
A 26-ounce, BPA-free water bottle that is packed with supplies like an emergency whistle, bandages, alcohol prep pads and more. Pretty clever, huh?
- Emergency Preparedness Kit
A backpack chock-full of supplies like food rations, a flashlight, drinkable water, a reflective blanket and more.
3. ISafe Waist Pack. Great for traveling, this bag hides a powerful battery-powered audible and visible alarm system. (I'm haunted by my niece's experience of being cornered on a deserted street in Paris in broad daylight by a hoard of teenage boys who grabbed her wallet. Something like this might have been just the deterrent she could have used.)
Four winners will be chosen at random from the list of commenters, and the gifts will be matched up with the winners as you see them listed. (In other words, the first winner to be chosen will get the book; the second will get the water bottle, etc.) If your name is chosen, I'll send you the good news by e-mail (so make sure to include your e-mail address in the comment). You'll have 48 hours to respond. If I don't hear from you, another name will be chosen. Offers are limited to the United States only (apologies in advance to my foreign readers).
Tune in next week when I share some tips on how to keep your emotions in check during emotionally laden conversations.
Until then, stay safe!