When the Unthinkable Happens in Your Home Town

Thousand Oaks California, Stock photo
Thousand Oaks California, Stock photo

This morning, my husband woke me up to turn on the news, as he had already heard about the horrific mass shooting in the Ventura County area, my former childhood home. I couldn’t believe the news. Not only were innocent college kids mowed down while they danced, a brave Sheriff Deputy lost his life as well as he ran towards the danger. #AndMyHeartShatters

As soon as I watched the unthinkable events unfolding before my bleary eyes, a flood of emotions poured in as I tried to make sense of what I was seeing. Twelve dead and dozens injured in Thousand Oaks, California. Wait, what… this can’t be right? I needed a moment to breathe.

Thousand Oaks California

Suddenly, these mass shootings had become all too personal for me, my family and high school friends. I grew up in the picturesque small town of Newbury Park California, a quiet, bedroom community that is the next door neighbor to Thousand Oaks, the site of the latest mass shooting.

We were a mere 40 miles from the hustle, bustle and crime of downtown Los Angeles, yet far enough away to have a beautiful quality of life. Every homecoming game for both schools was the highly anticipated rivalry between the Newbury Park High Panthers and the Thousand Oaks Lancers.

NPHS panthers

In our idealic home towns, we were free to enjoy life without worry, in safety and without fear, except for the grounding we might receive from our parents for missing curfew.

Survival Tips for Mass Shootings


According to an article by The Bug Out Bag Guide, one of the most important steps in surviving a mass shooting begins as soon as you enter the venue. According to author and survival expert Robert Richardson, “Whenever I enter a new place, I make sure I know exactly where my exit points are, that way should something happen, I know right where to head once the danger strikes.”

The article continues; “This one strategy can save you not only during mass shootings but also during threats like earthquakes or fires. You should always have an exit strategy.”

This informative article has great practical tips, which you can read about HERE.

English class 1980
Hippie English class, circa 1977, NPHS.

Back in our day, the biggest foes we faced were the annual California wild fires, sunburns from spending too much time hanging with friends at Zuma Beach and getting busted T.P.ing a friend’s house.

thousand oak shooting


According to Psychology Today, “Taking a step back from our fear and trying to think about what we know (what therapists call “cognitive reframing”) can help ease our fears, at least a little bit. And despite that dreadful knowledge, we must make every effort to live our lives better, to love better, and to cherish every day we are given.”

Also, feel free to turn off the news, yes seriously. While it’s important to stay informed, over-saturation of these incredibly tragic events can be overwhelming to anyone. When you feel yourself getting anxious or stressed while watching coverage of these disturbing tragedies, change the channel or better yet, go for a walk.

nphs choir

In the end, I’ve decided to take a stand of my own, refusing to hand over my positive spirit or to give in to fear. I will always think of the Thousand Oaks/Newbury Park area as paradise, and no one can steal those memories away from me. That’s how I will fight terrorists and mass shootings, by believing there are far more good folks in this great nation than bad.

May God bless this beautiful country and keep us all safe.

Sending you thoughts of peace, love and strength in these difficult times.

With much love,

gold heart signature


Psychology Today

The Bug Out Bag Guide

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