Happy Monday!!

Last month of school!
And all the kids say "woot, woot"

Now all the moms say:   *heavy sigh*
 Put all the toys in the backyard and fix the lock on the gate.

Left Brain proves awesome once again and puts up my outdoor office our brand new gazebo.   With bug net AND privacy screen thank you very much.

It rained most of the weekend.  because of course.

I was too busy staring at my lovely office gazebo and not paying attention to the sky.   If I had of looked up.....I would have known just by looking at it......it was gonna be messin with me.

 Donetta Sifford @donettasifford
@NorthWestMommy Great lists!! Have you done Top 10 Things You Notice First About Someone? I'm meeting lots of bloggers, so this came to mind

Those who have frequented my Monday lists know that I often bring the funny.   Yes. Laugh now.
So you'd think this prompt would be ripe with opportunity.

Also, recently been to Walmart.     At least a month's worth of fodder right there in a single visit.
However, I'm also somewhat traumatized and Cannot Unsee.
I feel victimized by stray and erroneous fashion sense.
And no one likes to be victimized....which got me to thinking......

....I've worked in a prison.  I am married to man in uniform with big gun.   I have the inside scoop on How Not To Get Noticed. 

And by that I mean, specifically, by the bad guys.
Thus, what follows is my tips on how to keep yourself safe and reduce your risk of becoming a target of a crime.

1.   Nothing will make you a target faster than looking distracted.  Or sad.  Or afraid.  Or depressed.  Your body assumes a certain posture when any of these emotions are ruling you.   Eyes downcast, or averted.  Shoulder slumped.  Head down, or averted.

Walk with your head up, eyes looking frontward and with purposeful stride.   Even if you are lost.

2.  If you look like you have something a criminal wants:  texting on iPhone (also, distracted), or listening to an iPod, carrying a laptop case......or wearing designer duds in da ghetto:   you might as well just hang a sign around your neck.  "Free to whoever can beat me up."

Dress according to your whereabouts whenever possible.   Keep expensive items tucked away.

3.  Don't flash money.  Inside a business as well as outside.   Duh.   You know the saying, "a fool and his money are soon parted."

If you must travel with a lot of cash - try separating it.  Keep smaller bills in your wallet, and stash the larger bills in something closer to your person.

4.  If you must walk alone at night - try to keep to well lit areas as much as possible.   Again, walk with head up, eyes alert and with purposeful strides.     I also have a mini flashlight on my key chain -- there is no place where you are more vulnerable then fumbling to get your keys in the lock of your car.  Having a little light can save you time.  You can also use it to shine in an attackers eyes to temporarily blind him if necessary.

5.  The bad guys want their dirty deeds done fast.   Thus, they will always target someone who looks weak and has that vibe that they will obey.   Again, you should carry yourself like you know where you are going,  what you want....and no one had better get in your way. 

6.  One of the easiest clues that you are a weak and compliant person is that you allow people to get in your space; or, especially if you actually move into theirs.   For example, someone stops a car beside you as you are walking, rolls down the window and asks for directions.  A very common thing we've all encountered, right?   Do you move towards the car and offer assistance?   Well, you are a a very nice and most helpful person.....but you also just demonstrated you can be easily taken.
Help by all means.  But maintain your position.  Stay on the sidewalk and do not approach the car.    If they should exit the car, keep a distance between yourself and them.   As soon as you allow a stranger into your space, you increase your risk.

7.  This also follows to allowing a stranger an opening -- meaning they insert themselves into your situation, and you allow.   For instance, a man insists on walking you to your car.   He won't take no for an answer and you may be tempted to think "how nice. he is concerned for my safety."   And in the majority of cases, maybe that's true.  But if he dismisses your concern, or lack of trust and keeps insisting?  Warning.   A true gentleman would sense your unease and either back off, or suggest something alternative you are comfortable with.
I was actually in this situation.   I did not know the man, but when he suggested that he simply just walk about 20 feet behind me to ensure I reached my car, that let me know he was concerned with both my personal safety AND my need for assurance in him.

The most common situation we've all faced:  alone in an elevator in a hotel at night -- a lone man steps on.   Do you stay on or get off?   I've done both.  When I remained, all the above rules applied:  head up, direct eye contact with him, and make conversation.  Show that you are assured in yourself.  And it doesn't hurt to imply that you are on your way to a friends room, or that your honey is waiting for you.   And if you exit -- do not apologize.   Just.Go.

8.  Are you Tuned Out?  You know I love music, but there are some definite situations when I will not have my earphones on.   If I was going running in the woods alone along our local trails?  Absolutely not.  Not only cannot I not hear a potential attacker's approach -- I can't hear a wild animal either.  If I am just walking through the city or on a very busy trail - sure I'll have music.   And never at night when you are most vulnerable.    Being tuned out to your surroundings and lacking one of your 5 senses = huge advantage to the bad guy.

9.  Are you lost?   And yes, I mean literally.   Fine, but try not to look it.  Or at least, try not to look like it worries you at all.   You are calm, cool and collected and will figure this out because you are strong and capable.  No easier target than a damsel in distress.  You are already at a disadvantage....because you are lost!  But you are also more likely to let your guard down and ignore those instinctual warnings when a stranger offers help.  Desperation is not your friend.  If you must ask directions - go inside a store or gas station.  If you are walking/running, find a group - not a lone person.

10.  In a rush?  Great...I know a short cut!   Wait....not so fast.   The short cut is not always the best.  Especially if you are not familiar with the route.  You could find yourself back at #9 very fast.   If you are traveling alone especially, stick to the more populated and popular route.  A lot of city short cuts in particular tend to take you through the rougher areas of a city.   Avoid.

Okay, so not the funniest list I have ever written.  In fact, there's nothing funny about becoming a victim at all.  And since I care about y'all so much, I've shared the wisdom gleaned from the bad guys themselves.

So unless you are actually like Black Widow and can do this:

So remember, in order to be You No See Me.... head up, eyes forward, and walk like you know how to kick some a$$ -- without even messing up your hair.

Stay alert. Listen to your instincts:  Fear can sometimes be your best guide.  
Reduce your risks.

And if you cannot carry a can of pepper spray.....well, that stay in place hair thing???
ever spray hairspray in your eyes?
yeah that. 
No see anything no more.
Especially you running safely away.