I’ve been robbed. I’ve become a statistic.

I’ve been robbed a lot; three times to be specific—four if you count the time in college when my credit card was somehow used to buy soccer jerseys and ship them to Yugoslavia.

2007 was the beginning of a crazy time for me. I suffered a major injury in May, my sister and best friend moved a million miles away in July, I witnessed a horrific car accident that left me literally holding someone’s body together in August, and in October, I was robbed at gunpoint.

Robbed at gunpoint-Day 19 of 365

Today my two co-workers and I were robbed at gunpoint. I knew the second he walked in that something was off. In my head I was thinking “what would I do if we were getting robbed?” Before I could finish the thought he saw me and made me come out of my office… I actually said “Dude, are you serious?” He and his Glock were very serious… He dragged my co-worker around by her hair… Yelled at me to get on the floor while another co-worker threw the little bit of cash we had at him… he got away with $68.40…

Our robbery was the first in a string of robberies in the small downtown area where I was working. After us, they always used masks so we were the only ones who could ID them. When they were caught, we were called in to the State’s Attorney’s office for interviews but it never went to trial since they pled guilty to avoid federal charges for a different robbery. We’d seen them and they knew it… I was paranoid for months.

The second time it was my truck in April of ‘08. Shortly after, I posted THIS to Flickr:

STOLEN CAMERA

My car was broken into Thursday night and my purse was stolen along with my phone, mp3 player, USB key and some Blockbuster videos yet to be returned… I know, stupid me for even leaving my purse in the truck. I promise I’ve already kicked myself! The thieves managed to wipe out my checking account, charge my company credit card as well as my personal cards before I could cancel them. Praise God for fraud insurance! All charges have been removed and all the money will be returned to my account shortly. 

The bummer is they got my phone and I don’t know ANYONES phone numbers!!! Please help me get my people back and send me your phone numbers!

I ask you, what is the worst thing you can do to a flickrite?

The tragedy is that they stole my camera… like severing an appendage… I feel lost…

As some of you know this has been a crazy year for me so although this wasn’t an attack to my face I think I’m taking it harder than necessary. Please pray for the resolution of all these complications and for God to restore my peace.

I had everything I needed to report the lost cards and file insurance claims but I was still shaken. In a time when land lines are dwindling, without my cell phone, I was lost. Thank God for my awesome roommate and the use of her credit card and cell phone!

I called the police and they told me to file a report online. Are you kidding me? I was freaked out! I’m a tax payer! I made them send a cop, if only for me to feel a little more secure.

You don’t know how much you have in your bag ‘til it’s gone. Things add up fast and most car insurance covers a minimum for lost property. The three Blockbuster movies I had stashed in my bag to be returned cost me over $60 alone! Throw in a camera, MP3 player, phone and you’re over $1k… let’s just say, I was still out a lot after the insurance check was cashed.

The third time, they crowbarred my door and burglarized my house just two months later…
again

 

SERIOUSLY?….

I live in Orlando for goodness sakes! The home to the “Happiest Place on Earth”!!!! Turns out that Florida is actually rated fourth in the country for robbery according to StateMaster.com.

I was numb…

I was done…

completely overwhelmed…

Overwhelmed-Day 20 of 365

In August I witnessed a horrible car accident on the Turnpike… I stopped to help and drove away that day covered in someone else’s blood… For weeks all I saw when I closed my eyes was rolling cars and bloody torn open bodies… Now I see guns flashing in my face, my co-workers being man-handled… I can’t stop the should have, could have, would haves… what’s done is done… the cops say we did the right thing… I just want to close my eyes and see nothing but the dark…

To keep sane, I focused a lot on dealing with the technicalities. Getting together insurance claims can be painful and grueling, even if you have all your ducks in a row.

A quick Google will give you lots of tips for what to do to prevent a robbery as well as things to do after a robbery has occurred. Some great basic tips can be found at CrimePrevention.org but here are a few practical things I’ve learned:

  • Trust your gut; if a person or situation seems really wrong, it probably is.
  • Know your insurance—Know what it covers, how to file a claim, your deductibles , etc. For instance, based on your plan, some things stolen from your car won’t be covered at all.
  • Know what you have—my biggest problem was that I owned a lot more than I thought I did. My stolen jewelry was estimated at over $4k for replacement but my insurance only covered $500. If I had know that, I could have purchased additional jewelry coverage.
  • Keep things to a minimum in your bag and NEVER leave it in the car.
  • Pay attention to your credit reports. You can get these free annually. DO IT. Here are the links:
       Experian
       TransUnion
       Equifax

It’s been over two years now and aside from keeping the car empty, I’m not sure that I’ve really changed any habits. Inside is another matter; I know I’m a different person. These events as well as several others earned me an honest to goodness diagnosis of PTSD. I’d always thought that was reserved for war veterans. Six months in therapy helped, especially after all the shock wore off. I saw how quickly my life could be taken from me. I knew what it felt to be completely powerless. I learned how little I cared about material things. I found out how important it is to have a community of friends around you… without my people, well, I don’t want to think about it.  There is still some residuum I deal with but I take it a day at time… all you can do is all you can do.

More than ever before, I had to remember to trust in God’s reasoning, His timing and His provision… and He got me through it all.

Have you ever been robbed? Do you have any tips to share? Tell me about your experiences and how they’ve changed your day-to-day life.

Morning Pages

 

So I’ve given several whacks at directing this blog into some sort of focus but I think it’s time to give all that organization and direction garbage the heave-ho. I mean, it’s my blog, and frankly, no one reads it … or do they? Hmmm… Are you out there, Reader? Do you care that I have no tidy theme? I don’t think you care. And that, dear Reader, is why I like you so much! That and you are an awesome listener.

I’m working through the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It is self-described as “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.” Julia is a patient teacher. She is slowly coaxing me along a path that I used to think was extremely treacherous but it turns out, it’s not so bad.

One of her main ideas is that we have a logic brain and an artist brain. Logic brain is our everyday, survival instinct, keep it all in nice tidy boxes brain. Artist brain is the inner child, the irrational one, the one that still thinks crayons are rad and fashions twisty ties into stick people. Logic keeps Artist locked in the subconscious as much as possible. I mean, Artist just isn’t practical, she makes too much noise. Lock that girl up!

The most essential exercise, says Julia, is the Morning Pages; three handwritten, stream of consciousness pages of brain dump every morning. This practice is supposed to help us get past the nay saying of Logic and let Artist out to play. Have you ever sat there, before the caffeine has kicked in, and try to write three pages? I know, three pages don’t sound too bad but at the end of page one, your hand begins to cramp up. In the middle of page two your handwriting goes completely. Mine starts to look like wavy lines and the last letter of most words don’t even take shape. Oh well, these pages aren’t to be reread, they aren’t meant to be good writing, they just are to be.

I don’t know about your logic brain, but mine screams for order, for a schedule and routine. Yes, “Morning Pages” is now a recurring event on my Google Calendar. Artist is going to have to build up some serious muscles if she’s going to survive.

Through the process, I keep meeting with little snags that I now recognize as my logic brain chiming in. I decided to rip out each page from my notebook as a write it and Logic freaked out. “How will we keep the days together?!” Artist consented to date the pages and list 1 of 3, 2 of 3 etc. I selected a typical mailing envelope to store my pages. I yearned to see that envelope big and fat… I envision a spot on a future bookshelf (it was white, I don’t have white book shelves) that held stacks of fat overflowing obnoxious orangey yellow mailing envelopes. Artist squealed with delight!

I got this envelope and Logic was practically tapping her foot with anxiety… “You ARE going to label it aren’t you? Print a label; it’ll look nicer. Perfect and centered. You can even include little blanks for the date range of the pages within. Better yet, create a template so that every envelope you ever use will have the same label. It’ll look tidier on the shelf.”

I forced Artist brain to embolden herself… Artist wanted to write directly on the envelope in scrolling cursive and in French “the envelope for the morning pages.” With a little help from Google Translate and a Sharpie, it was done.

 

l’eveloppe pour les pages du matin

French? I don’t know why. It is what it is. I decided that I’d also include in this envelope things like this. Spur of the moment rants etc. Things I wrote as workshop assignments. I want those envelopes fat and stacked!

I’ve even given myself permission to fold this envelope so that it fits into my notebook easily. Artist leaps and chants that the envelope should be:

 used and abused…

beat up and taped up…

doodled on and noodles on…

It should be showing its stripes by the time it reaches that shelf!

Logic is freaking out about that a little. She wants to keep it pristinely flat, organizing the pages within sequentially and perfectly aligned. Just because Logic said that, Artist says, “NO! Stuff them in folded or however they end up. Heck, don’t even be careful when you tear them off the notepad so they end up with raggedy edges! You can pull them out and unfold and stack them neatly later. We’ll let Logic indulge later when we decide it’s time to read some early pages or when there’s no more room to shove in more untidy pages.”

So I tuck the slight wad of folded pages I’ve already written into the envelope then fold the envelope itself, finally tucking it into the inner pocket of my notebook. It belongs there and I smile.

And there it is, my newest challenge, finding a bit of balance between Logic and Artist. I’ve decided that although I feel this method is unblocking my creative spring, it may also be revealing that I suffer from multiple personality disorder.

Swell.

*Read all about Julie Cameron and The Artist’s Way on the official website http://www.theartistsway.com/