I grew up in a community that was believed to be a safe place. It was a small town in southern Manitoba, surrounded by fields of grain and sunflowers. It was filled with peace-loving folks that opposed war and violence. People didn’t lock their doors when leaving the house. I could go to the park near my house on my own, even when I was a young child, without fear of being taken or even bullied by older children. My first memory of my world being unsafe was when I was a young child, about four. There had been a murder/attempted murder of two local youth in my small town. Trying to wrap my young head around the finality of death and the terrible thing that had happened had been very difficult. I couldn’t understand how someone could do something filled with such intense hatred. Suddenly this small town became unsafe for its occupants. Despite catching the person who had done this, people locked their doors and made sure they knew where their children were at all times. Some teenagers even began sleeping on the floor in their parents’ bedroom out of fear that they would be the next target. When I reflect on the events that shaped my small town nearly twenty years ago, I realized one of their greatest strengths was coming together to support the families and friends of those that were affected by this horrible act. Even though their safety had been drastically affected, they could still find pockets of people that could provide a safe place for them to process all that had happened. As I grew up, I began to understand the dangers that the world can thrust upon you more and more. By my early adolescence, I was exposed to friends who shared their experiences of bullying, suicide, abuse, and rape. I quickly realized the world wasn’t as safe as my small religious town often seemed to make it. As I then travelled out into this big wide world, things happened to me that really made me question my world's safety. At first, the pain just caused me to break away from harmful people. Then gradually, I cut out people that I deemed to be at risk of causing me pain and betrayal. My efforts were an attempt to mitigate the pain that I experienced and prevent more from happening. Had I continued in this pattern, I would have experienced a new kind of pain, however. I would have become so isolated that I would have lacked all the good things involved in human connection. I would have closed myself off to love, connection, a shared joy, and many other beautiful things. I now believe that there is a time to evaluate whether a situation or person is safe and make a wise choice as to whether to get or stay involved in it. This implies that some risks will be taken and others will be walked away from. This is perfectly okay. However, some of the risks that are taken could still cause pain of some kind. It is impossible to live a meaning-filled life, full of connection with supportive people, if one chooses never to take a risk. Hurt will happen anytime you are in a relationship with other people. There is a time and a place to get extra support from people around you that care. We all need that safe place to reflect, evaluate, and receive support. It’s not a sign of weakness. In fact, the people that are truly the most secure in themselves are the ones that have a good support network that they can turn to. The thing is, if someone never moves beyond sleeping on their parents’ bedroom floor, their growth is somehow going to be inhibited. We need a balance of being in a safe harbour where we can be built up and strengthened and getting out in the open water where we can stretch our sails. In fact, the harbour's very purpose is to enable the ships to get back out on the water. After all, a ship never launched is not a ship at all. 18"x24"x 3/4"