These last few weeks have been a struggle. Ever since the burglary I notice that I’ve been giving myself a free pass. A pass to eat that cookie because it comforts me, a pass to spend $20 on scrapbooking supplies to preserve my memories, a pass to stop worrying about anything because, after all, life is short. Why waste it worrying?

While science and common sense prove that stress will kill us, I have swung too far in the other direction. I don’t really worry about anything. Nothing seems to scare me these days.

Debt no longer weighs heavily on my mind and, consequently, I have been spending too much money lately. To be fair, much of the spending has gone toward home security measures and replacing the phone I ruined dropping it in water because I was terrified to be without it for even a minute. But the total has been creeping up and I just don’t care.

This isn’t like me.

It also isn’t like me to eat out a lot or to indulge in foods that I know are bad for me. After all,  I’m trying to clean up my diet, improve my lifestyle and become healthy. Cookies and garlic bread are not part of the plan. Neither is the pizza and Diet Pepsi I guzzled at a meeting last night.

My behavior is wrong. I know that. I should be sleeping, drinking water and eating a more balanced diet. I should stay away from stores and be happy with what I have and stop spending money on fast food and magazines (Magazines have long been a vice. I’m much happier when I’m not reading them too. Will have to cover that in a future post!).

I need to face the fact I’m struggling to pull it together and that I’m not especially happy most of the time. I keep thinking tomorrow will be better, next week I will be back to my old self, after I eat this wonderful slab of Chef Mary’s Cornbread Salad I will be ready to go again. But it never happens.

Today hasn’t been awful. I ate a good breakfast and reasonably balanced lunch. My snacks have been within reason. I haven’t been near a store and haven’t spent money on anything today. After work I plan to walk two miles before heading home to see my parents. I’m having dinner with them to celebrate the eight year anniversary of my dad surviving a heart attack.

And see? You would think the fear of bad genes and bad lifestyle choices would scare me into making better decisions! Not tomorrow but today!

Today I will be happy. Today I will treat my body kindly. Today I will pay attention to what my life needs. Today I will take charge and choose the good stuff. Today.

Getting things straight

Today’s message isn’t one of frugality, creativity, encouragement or anything fun. Instead I want to share a story about an event that literally has changed everything about my life.

I spent one night last week at Mr. Wonderful’s house. This is a common but somewhat random occurance. I very easily could have gone another night but that evening worked so I went and all was right with the world. We made dinner, watched the Big Bang Theory, went out for a walk and lived our lives just as we would on any normal evening.

But at 4 a.m. I was awakened by a noise. We had a burglar inside the home.

He was just a room away from us when Mr. Wonderful ran him off.

This person picked the locks. He had a gun with a night laser. He would have made it all the way to our bedroom without us waking had it not been for a minor detail that caused him to make noise.

Up until that moment, that dark, shadowy moment on an Ohio morning, we believed that home invasions happen to other people. We believed that security systems were for other people. We believed we were safe in our own homes.

For the six people reading this right now, I am here to tell you this simply isn’t so.

Personal safety and security in your own home is just an illusion. The tooth fairy is more real than your safety. I don’t care who you are or where you live, crime can find you. And when it does, you will understand what I mean. I pray that it never happens to you but, if it does, you will understand when I say that you cannot place a value on that sense of security you have at this moment.

Regardless of your assets, regardless of how much money you have to spend, look at your home through the eyes of a would-be criminal. Are your doors secure? Locks can be picked, you know. Would you hear someone coming in a door or window? I’m guessing not. We didn’t.

What would you do if someone entered your home at 4 a.m.? Where are your kids? Would they know to hide? Would you have some way to protect yourself? How long would it take police to arrive if you called for help? Five minutes? Ten? Thirty?

You can be dead within thirty seconds of entry. They just have to find you. And if you’re asleep, if you have no warning, you are an easy target.

If you have some warning they are coming into your home, how will you defend yourself? Do you have a gun? Is it loaded? Do you even know where it is? Believe me when I say that you don’t want to go digging through a closet for your weapon if someone is already in your home. There is no time.

Load it. Use the safety. Put it close to your bed. Put it somewhere that curious little hands can’t reach it. Better yet, put it somewhere they will never find. But keep it somewhere that you can reach in a hurry. We had just a few seconds from the time they entered the upstairs. If Mr. Wonderful hadn’t acted so quickly and so beautifully, chances are we both might be dead today.

Please. As a personal favor to me – this stranger who normally shares recipes and inane thrifting tips – please take a moment to protect yourself and your family. A security system may be a good solution for you. If your budget is limited Lowes sells some home security items like door and window alarms, locks and chains and even door props that prevent your doors from opening from the outside.

Find some combination that works for you and teach everyone in your home to be safe. And then go tell your loved ones they need to protect themselves too. I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist but I really wish that no other person has to ever experience what we went through that night or live with the subsequent fear that has entered our lives.

Mr. Wonderful had a couple of valuable items stolen but they are just things. The stuff they take can be replaced. The piece of mind they take can’t be bought and sold.

I fear that it will never return to my life.

But I’m so grateful I was there that night. My fella may not have awakened on his own. If he had it may have been too late. So I’m good with trading my piece of mind for his life. I just wish it had never happened.

Learn from us and don’t let it happen to you.