When was the last time you were on a plane and heard the flight attendant say, “We know that most of you have heard the safety announcement a thousand time so we’ll save everyone time today and skip it. It you have someone sitting next to you who is a first timer flier, please feel free to give them the rundown.” NEVER! Why? Because it is through repetition that when an emergency occurs, we are more likely to remember what to do.
An Amber Alert was issued a couple weeks ago in the Denver area for 10 year old Jessica Ridgeway.  Friday, Govenor Hickenlooper stated, “This is an unthinkable end to an unthinkable crime in our community. It is with a profound sense of sorrow that we learned of Jessica Ridgeway’s death.”
As the search for Jessica ended, the start of Justice for Jessica begins. If we can help save one person- child or adult- from having to endure the torture that Jessica and her family have, then justice is being served. Like on airplanes, I’m using the repetition tool by bringing info you may have heard before, to prepare yourself for an emergency.  Please teach your children ways that they can keeps themselves out of dangerous situations and what to do if they are in them.
Although people with ill intend will always have the element of surprise, there are many ways one can increase their chances of staying safe. The following are rules that were collected from offenders in jail. Remember- like animals in the wild, they are looking for the EASIEST prey they can find. You must convince your potential attacker that you are not worth it!
  1. A ponytail may look cute, however, it is an easy thing for the perpetrator to grab. This applies to long hair too. Women with short hair are less likely to be targets. Tuck your hair under a hat or into your collar when in a situation that may be sketchy.
  2. The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who’s clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors to cut clothing.
  3. Always be aware of your surroundings.If you are on your cell phone, you are probably distracted and not as aware of your surroundings. Stop talking and start paying attention. Take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behavior, don’t dismiss it, go with your instincts. You may feel little silly at the time, but you’d feel much worse if the guy really was trouble
  4. The number one place women are abducted from or attacked is the grocery store parking lot. Why? They are distracted. What woman hasn’t found herself looking for keys in that big black hole of a purse? Put your keys in your hand before leaving the store. If you have a panic button on your fob, be prepared to use it! It’s better to have a false alarm, then no alarm at all. Number two location is office parking lots/garages and number three is public restrooms. Be aware and be prepared.
  5. As soon as you get into your car, LOCK YOUR DOORS! Do not sit there balancing your checkbook or calling your friend to share your latest sale find. You are a sitting duck. Start your car and get out of the parking lot towards a place safe.
  6. People carrying umbrellas, or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands are much less likely to be attacked. Despite what we have been taught, keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon.
  7. If you feel that someone is following you, stop, look them in the face and ask them a question. It will catch them off guard, plus they will know that you have now had the chance to identify them.
  8. If they are coming toward you, put your hands in front of you and yell Stop or Stay Back. Most rapists say they will leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she was willing to fight back.  If you have pepper spray, keep it in a place you can easily access and (even if you don’t have it), yell “I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY!” Again, they are looking for an EASY target.
  9. If someone asks for your wallet or purse, don’t hand it to them. THROW IT away from you. This will give you a chance to get away. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!
  10. I personally recommend taking a martial arts class. Not only is it good exercise but it prepares you to be on guard at all times. It actually gives you a feeling of power versus feeling like a victim. Bonus for me was that I met my fabulous husband in the class.
The “I” in the Linus Effect is Invest in Others. Talking with your loved ones about safety is a good way to help them to be better prepared in an emergency situation. It is a way to help serve Justice for Jessica. And like the airline safety announcement, always “put on your mask first before helping others.” The Latin phrase Conduce per Exemplem (Lead by Example) is very appropriate when it comes to personal safety.
KAREN LOUCKS RINEDOLLAR is the founder and Denver coordinator of Project Linus. She speaks with groups about making a difference through The Linus Effect and customer service in the healthcare system.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

In Working for Peanuts: The Project Linus Story, I wrote about how someone once gifted me the book: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s all Small Stuff by Richard Carlson. It was a beautifully appropriate present as I was finding I was allowing myself to get bogged down by the daily grind of running the nationally reknowed children’s charity Project Linus. Once I realized that most of the tedium of daily routine was small stuff, it was like a boulder was lifted from my shoulders. I was able to relax and be more productive.

It’s those little things in life that can drag one down to the point of uselessness. “What did she mean by that?” , “I’ll never get through all my emails”, “Why did that person take the parking space that I was waiting for?” That kind of thinking lays fertile ground for unhappiness. The following may sound brutally honest, however it is true none-the less- chances are, the other person wasn’t thinking about you at all. They were just getting on with their own hectic day and you happened to find yourself in the crosshairs. There was no ill-intent meant.

In my life’s experiences, I’ve even witnessed people who purposely put themselves into this position. It’s as if they wanted to become a target so they would have something to talk about. Perhaps it makes them feel important.

Whenever you find yourself in a stressful situation, ask yourself: Will this matter one year from now? This is a great tool to pull yourself out of the heart of an emotional matter and bring it back into perspective.

Alyssa Goodman, a professor of astronomy at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is quoted as saying,The thing that’s grand about spending your time thinking about the universe is that it makes you feel insignificant. I don’t mean that in a bad way. If you understand that we’ve now discovered entire solar systems that contain planets similar to Earth, and that those are just the ones we know about, since most of the stars we’ve looked at are within about 300 light-years of Earth and the distance to the center of our galaxy is nearly 100 times that—then you realize that the laundry you’ve left undone and the dumb thing you said yesterday are about as significant as slime mold. ”

So the next time you find yourself with an elevated blood pressure or unable to sleep because you feel you have been slighted or daily life is getting you bogged down, just remember two simple words- Slime Mold. If nothing else, it should bring a giggle to your heart. Remember, worrying will NEVER change the outcome.

Karen Loucks Rinedollar is the Founder & Denver Coordinator of Project Linus, Professional Speaker on The Linus Effect: Five Easy Steps to a More Fulfilling Life, and Author of Working for Peanuts: The Project Linus Story.