“When the Student is Ready, The Teacher Will Appear.” Intro to My Mentors.

By on July 21, 2017

I’m extremely fortunate to have mentors that shape my life and inform my work, (aka, this path I stumbled onto!) I never intended to study underreported crimes, self defense, or home security products. Those topics never made my portfolio nor were they on my bucket list. But stay on this path I shall…

One Revelation

Because of gunfire heard over several years and once close to home, I started to question long-held assumptions about my personal safety and defense of family. These were hard questions. Their answers contrasted starkly with long-held, rose-colored denial. For example:

Question: Who’s going to protect me if I wake up at night to a bad guy at the foot of my bed?

Answer 5 Years Ago: Oh. That…… I dunno. Don’t think about it. I don’t know anybody that creepy….

Answer Today: (Short answer): They’re unlikely to make it upstairs intact.   (Long answer): I’m the one responsible for my own personal safety, and the safety of my home. It’s not the job of the police, the government, my neighbor, or the off-duty cop down the street to protect me or save my life. It’s up to me to keep bad guys out of my house, and know what to do if they steal inside. 

Yep, I turned a bend. There was no turning back to being a Queen of Denial.  This not small effort had to be shared.

Determined to Write a Book to Help People

Out of a need to know, I began to research and write. I read a mountain of disheartening data, double checked it, verified it and read more. I researched products to make our home secure, we installed a half dozen. I researched home & self defense and tried various approaches: Jiu Jitsu, Krav Maga, Silat, Bulldog Jeet Kune Do, handguns, shotguns, and NRA classes. Steep learning curves at 50+! Some defense schools didn’t suit me; others fit like a glove. With 10,000 hours into this endeavor, I’ve learned something about the world and a lot about myself. It’s the unexpected teachers along the way, however, that have left the deepest impressions.

5 Qualities of My Mentors

Geotechnical engineer, Jim Hamel, PhD, aka Dr. Revolver. Jim’s gone to his gun club weekly for 20 plus years, (less in winter). Sometimes he takes one gun and just one cartridge. His quote that’s burnished on my brain: “Make your first shot count”. He successfully hunts whitetail deer with .45 magnum revolver.

Over these last 4 years, nine teachers / guides / mentors have shown up out of the blue. Each one’s known someone I sorta knew, (‘six degrees of separation’). Each one’s impacted my life and influenced my book. It’s almost as if I’m producing a play about personal awareness where the cast chooses themselves, each actor crafts his message, and plans his entry and exit.

My cast of mentors include: a highly decorated warrior, retired law enforcement officers, an undercover agent, a goldsmith, a Tai Chi instructor, and my field work mentor-turned-revolver coach who said on the range one day, “You gotta make the first shot count, Suzy”. The 3 gentlemen above in the top image, L to R: Steve Schwarzer, Mastersmith; Brian Keith, retired Law Enforcement Officer and cold case investigator; and, Matt Keith, Law Enforcement Officer, and County SWAT.

I’d say the mentors I know share these 5 characteristics:

  • Knowledge & Mastery
  • Willingness to share
  • High standards
  • Talent for teaching and conveying information
  • Accessibility

When I have an insoluble question or a trouble spot in my training, I make an appointment with a particular mentor. We choose where to meet, and arrive on time. These meetings are remarkable for their intent: to transmit and receive. They teach, I listen. They demonstrate, I emulate. Every story has a nugget, every technique has a why, every movement has a mindset.

I’m grateful for such opportunities; humbled by them. I work to not waste them, by training, practicing and writing. Soon, I’ll be teaching people how to prevent home break ins (we all have unique spaces and abilities), and how to think about and practice home defense. My mentors will be with me in spirit.

Look for a series in late July /early August that covers each of these people that are so instrumental to At Home In the Real World.

May all your calamities be averted !

Suzy Meyer, Author
Pittsburgh, PA

I'm a landscape architect, gardener, and of late, a certified NRA instructor. I enjoy practicing T’ai Chi, playing bocce, and walking through watersheds.. This blog is my journey full of learning curves to calm the chaos.


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