Morningside College Friday – Fierce, Fun and on Fire!

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What can I possibly say about Morningside College?  These kids were fierce, fun, and on fire to make their campus a safer place.  From the moment I arrived on campus to the moment the program was over we were laughing like old friends.  The turnout was awesome (and on a FRIDAY night!) and everyone was 100% into it.  I got some great questions after the program too.

Then something else magical happened.  The awesome student team that coordinated the event took me out to eat at a Mexican place that evidently has a pretty big following, La Juanita’s (La Jua for short).  No joke, my chimichanga was so good, I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it.  And we were seated right next to this epic mural that I insisted we must take a picture in front of.  #diva

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I’ve had lots of awesome meals with amazing students in my almost 6 years with GFB, but let me tell you, Morningside College knew the way to my heart. Teaching students how to become their own best protectors AND eating cheesy tortilla wrapped saucy goodness?  Life just doesn’t get any better than that, friends.

-GFB Heather

Wright State’s Got It Right!

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I had the privilege of speaking at Wright State University last week… And let me tell, you they are doing things RIGHT.

Aside from the fact I walked into  another seminar of 2 men speaking on self-defense and personal safety (so thorough, they are!) I was approached by a male staff member that also worked in counseling for domestic violence. He introduced himself and wanted to know what GFB is all about. After listening to my short speech, not only did he not tell me that I should do this or that (sometimes people who have “certified credentials” in self defense like to do that), he commended the work and stated “That’s great what those guys are doing out there (referring to the men’s seminar outside) But we need badass women showing other women how to protect themselves.”

WOW. I was so flattered and proud to be representing the mightiness that is GFB. Talk about RESPECT!

Not much to my surprise after this warm greeting, the rest of the night was full of enthusiasm, engagement and hella-good times. The crew at Wright State was just kick ass.. and taking such fantastic steps to make their beautiful campus a safe and supportive one. They are doing it RIGHT I tell you. Thank you SO much for letting me be a part of your inspiring spirit Wright State.. see you on the flip side!

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

Manhattanville College Castle Throw Down!


Last Friday we kicked off our first throw down of the Fall 2014 Girls Fight Back Tour. And apparently we are rollin in style this year, cus friends, I spoke to Manhattanville College peeps in their castle. Yep, that’s right. A castle. Uh-huh. We fancy. It was my first time speaking in a castle, and probably the first time the bad ass ballet ever went down in a castle. In fact, there were a lot of firsts. It was the first day on campus for every student in the audience. Their first night staying on campus! Yep, they don’t get much brand-newer than that (yes, that’s a made-up word). Props to Manhattanville for getting this essential message out LITERALLY from day one. Proactivity at its finest.

But all though my new friends might be green, they were mean and tough when it came to fighting back. So engaged and ready to support one another, asking important questions and ready to take personal safety into their own hands. It was awesome-sauce. All I can say is the class of 2018, you bad. In all the right ways. Thanks so much Manhattanville for letting me kick off (and kick ass, in the most literal way) your first day as freshmen. Boo-yah!

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

Third Annual DePauw “Throw Down”

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DePauw and I go waaaaay back. Well, three years. This crew knows how to kick it. And seeing as how this was my third time speaking at DePauw, thanks to Delta Sigma Theta, we had a lot of up close, personal and REAL talk. These ladies are all about fun, spirit and WOMEN empowerment. Heck, a few of the guys showed up solely out of support. It doesn’t get better than that. DePauw, thank you so much for having me back and I’m looking forward to round 4.

Love and Hugs,
GFB Bree

St. Francis = Bomb.com

 

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Can I tell you how much I love these ladies at St. Francis? Good, cus I’m gonna. I mean these girls made my month. The energy in the room was insane. We were vibin. Crowd participation? Please. These students were ready to jump up on stage and teach the badass ballet themselves they were so pumped. The epitome of being your own best protector. But I think the highlight of the day was when one of the students approached me (who was probably 90 pounds soaking wet, mind you) and exclaimed “I feel SO empowered!” Friends, this is the equivalent to finding $20 in your jeans from last year. Times a million. I can’t tell you what a gratifying feeling it is knowing the skills a student learned at a Students Fight Back seminar has affected her outlook in such a positive way. It gives me goosebumps. And based on the feedback, I’d say she wasn’t the only one who walked away feeling a little taller that night. Hell yeah St. Francis. That’s what kickin’ ass is all about. Thank you to the stellar Student Government team at St. Francis for putting on such an awesome and memorable event. I hope to catch you all on the flip side (aka next year!:) Peace and love sistas!

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GFB Bree

Wishing Loads of Wonderful for Jacksonville University!

 

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Had a super fantastic time at Jacksonville University! Thanks so much to the incredible Kelsey Martin and Dolphin Productions for hosting me and also to all the badass ladies of Alpha Epsilon Phi! Also huge ups to Ryan for volunteering to be my partner in crime (fighting) and also to his family for serving our country!!! Such an absolutely amazing group of students – I wish you all loads wonderful!!!

-GFB Leah

Shout out to GFB from Ellen Snortland and Gavin de Becker!

Ellen Snortland author of Beauty Bites Beast and Gavin de Becker, author of The Gift of Fear recently mentioned Girls Fight Back and the importance of a self-defense education for college students in this article published by The Huffington Post.

Virginia Tech – Samanata’s Legacy

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You know, we have a lot of fun here at Girls Fight Back, but ultimately our work is about healing. One of our core values revolves around resiliency and states: “Though the statistics are shocking, we are here to say that we will not conform to the violence. Our world and most of our individual lives have been wrongfully altered by violence. We believe in recovery on individual, societal, and world levels.”

Last night, I presented Students Fight Back at Virginia Tech, a campus very much in recovery. Of course we all remember the horrifying mass shooting that took place on April 16, 2007 and even more recently, a charismatic and well-loved VTech student named Samanata Shrestha was murdered. It was Samanata who was very much on my mind last night as I took the stage to present. I didn’t know her personally, but in conversations with students and faculty before the program, I really got a sense of her energy and the legacy she left behind. It is in memory of all those we have lost to pointless violence that we do this work. And I like to think that the laughs we have in our programs serve as reminders that we can triumph. Evil does not win. We can choose to take back our peace.

Many thanks to everyone who came out in the snow and cold. Your presence was a gift to me.

-GFB Heather

Fight Back on Spring Break!

Recently our own Bree Swartz joined HLN’s Lynn Berry on Weekend Express to discuss how to make a game plan for a safe spring break.
You can make a game plan too! Watch the interview for helpful tips on how to be a spring break badass, and check out the Girls Fight Back spin-off program website, SafeSpringBreak.org. Now is the best time to book Fight Back on Spring Break for 2015!

Bree Swartz

Davidson County Community College – Sassy!

Nothing kicks off a busy week quite like spending your Monday morning with some smart, sassy gals that live life large and in charge! Thanks to Davidson County Community College for getting my week off to a great start. I’ll be at Virginia Tech tomorrow night and Roanoke College Thursday. Then it is spring break, peeps! Holla!

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-GFB Heather

Reserved for Girls Fight Back

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The crew at Everett Community College rocked my socks off. I mean really.. check out the crowd they had. They brought treats. They gave away GFB swag.

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They promoted the pants off their badass event. And did you see the “reserved for girls fight back” parking sign??

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Um.. this pretty much made my year (yes, it is the little things). But this sign stood for me than just a parking space. It made me realize that the leaders at ECC are reserving space on their campus for the kick-ass Trojans who are the Girls Fight Back spirit. The Trojans who are fighting to take back their power. The Trojans who are fighting for equality for all. The Trojans who are making their campus a safer place. The Trojans who are worth fighting for. Yes, this “space” is reserved for you mighty Trojans. It is all about YOU and your fierce spirit.. thank you for letting me join in on the ride. Till next time…

GFB Bree

Thank you Morehead State University!

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It was an absolute joy to open a can of whoop ass with the fearless students of Morehead State University! I would like to thank LaShayna Sawyers, Nate (our fantastic SBG) and their super fans for putting together this awesome event. Everyone rocked the Badass Ballet and I have to say that these ladies really are dangerous!

I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe spring break!

-GFB Morgan

Don’t mess with Texas Christian University!

This group of gals were super fun and had a hella supportive community behind them: the crowd was of all ages, including young daughters of a coach on campus. The whole TCU bunch deserves some serious high fives for engaging the youth, students and faculty to impress the Girls Fight Back message across the board. Well done friends. And thank you for letting us be a part of your fierce community!

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-GFB Bree

Georgia Southern University #nailsit!

When it comes to spring break safety awareness programming, Georgia Southern University #nailsit! (Yes, I just used a hashtag in a blog post. Roll with it.) Their greek organizations are focused on educating about the importance of designated drivers; they have FREE campus-wide HIV testing today; and last night, campus health services brought our Fight Back on Spring Break program to about 350 of their students. We had a blast!

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You may not know much about our Spring Break program because we only roll it out once a year, but it is a fantastic co-ed event that includes all the awesome info from our Students Fight Back program, but also focuses on travel safety tips, as well as, how to make smart decisions about just how much fun you are planning to have on your spring break. It’s one of my favorite programs to teach because I get to tell some great (and some horrifying) stories from my junior year spring break trip…… Ah, memories….

It’s never too early to start planning for next year, so give us a call if you want to bring Fight Back on Spring Break to your campus! And if you want to have an amazing turnout like GSU had last night, here’s a tip: connect with greek life on your campus. Our program was brought in my health services, but through their connections with greek life, we had a turn out that required us to order extra chairs….TWICE! Nice, huh?

Thanks to all the students who came out last night! You were so much fun! Bird.

-GFB Heather

Bad Ass Ballet at Anna Maria College!

I had an absolutely amazing time doing the Bad Ass Ballet with the wonderful women of Anna Maria College! Thanks so much to Lisa Saverese for being such a terrific hostess, Theresa “Smalls” for the great intro and good laughs and to our awesome volunteer Franco for not only being my fight partner but also for helping with the song mix. :)

Wishing everyone at Anna Maria a safe and happy spring break. And best of luck to everyone with all the incredible summer internships I heard about! What a bunch of super women!

And thank you all ever so kindly for my awesome AMC shirt!

-GFB LeahAnna Maria 2

FALL IN LOVE WITH..

 

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The day of love. Hallmark or not, even as badass women, the holiday evokes some kind of feeling from all of us. Whether you cry when your father leaves you a voicemail in an attempt to make you feel better because he got sad at the thought that you don’t have anyone on Valentine’s Day (yes, I’m still waiting for this phone call again this year.. thank you Dad for your thoughtful effort) or you wake up early, giddy because you can’t wait to surprise your lover with the gift you’ve schemed up. Regardless, this day doesn’t go ignored.

However, today my feisty friends, I started viewing St. Valentine’s special day quite differently. I have decided that I am choosing to love myself the way I love someone I’m in-love with.

That’s right. I’m going to fall in love with myself. Now before you get all judgy on me, this isn’t a conceited, take “selfies” of myself all day kind of love (puke). Allow me to explain.

Not too long ago I was in a wonderful yoga class when I had a moment of “holy crap, I get it.” Very zen, I know. But there were several things that lead up to this “ah’ha!” light bulb. First, the energy in this specific class (Yoga to the People) is so giving and inspiring. Basically, badass soul brotha and sistas unite.

Second, prior to my epiphany, we were in a strenuous pose for the third time (chair-pose for you yogis out there). And as everyone’s thighs are burning and it is showing on our faces, the instructor says something to the affect of “now take this energy you’re feeling to stay grounded and send it to someone who needs it today. Maybe it’s someone special in your life, maybe it’s the person you flipped the bird to who cut you off this morning or maybe it’s yourself.” Immediately dismissing her suggestions, I knew I wanted to send it to my momma, because, well, I think she deserves the world. But I didn’t even THINK of myself (and I hadn’t flipped the bird.. yet).

Now several minutes later, I’m laying on my mat as we are in a the few final poses of class, which are very relaxed. And I suddenly start… crying. Yep, I’m that cool person crying next to you in yoga. You’re welcome. But it just hit me all at once: What if I could love myself the way I love others? Now I know, I’ve heard it before, “love yourself.” But what would it be like to truly be in love myself? Treat myself with compassion, kindness and understanding. Give myself a break the way I do others. Instead of beating myself up because, well I seem to find a million different reasons, what if I truly adored myself the way I’ve adored men I’ve been in love with? Believe in myself and encourage myself the way I do for the loved ones in my life. Wow. That could be pretty wonderful, huh?

Still resistant to the idea? Think of it in relation to the instruction you get while waiting to take off for a flight. The flight attendants are describing that in the very rare event there is a loss in cabin pressure (aka the plane is crashing) they instruct you to first put on your oxygen mask and then assist those around you. That’s right, even before your children. Because if you pass out trying to help others, including your children, you’re pretty much useless.

So if we take care of ourselves first, love ourselves fully as if we are in love with ourselves, imagine all the good we can do for others. Imagine how much more love we can give to others if we are full. It’s limitless!

Thankfully, I’m surrounded by a beautiful group of people right now and one in particular is leading me on a journey of healing. Literally the day after my yoga class, we talked about self-love (there are no coincidences). So this concept, although I’m working on it, is something I am truly accepting.

And I challenge all of you strong, independent women to embark on this journey (because it is a process that takes work) and give yourself permission to genuinely fall in love with yourself. Just try it out. See how it feels. Stop yourself mid-beat-myself-up-session, and treat yourself the way you would a dear friend, a lover or a family member. Go look in the mirror and say “I love you!”

Love your beautiful, strong, badass self and know you are taking a step towards being a happier you. Which the world not only wants, it needs.

Happy Valentine’s Day from us to YOU.

With love,

GFB Bree

 

Book Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings Book Cover

Book Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

 

1865 – The 13th Amendment is ratified abolishing slavery

1870 – The 15th Amendment prohibits the denial of the vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude

. . . . . .

1920 – The 19th Amendment prohibits the denial of the right to vote based on sex

 

The Grimke Sisters (1792 – 1873 – Sarah & 1805 -1878 – Angelina) lived to see slavery abolished but not long enough to see women get the right to vote over 50 years later.  They are two of the earliest outspoken American feminists and two of the best known female abolitionists.  Both women were born in Charleston, South Carolina to a plantation owning and slave owning family.  Going against their family’s way of life and also against all standards for women of their time, they became leading abolitionists and later feminists by speaking in public, publishing pamphlets, and assisting with the education of many of the children of the abolition and feminist movements.  Their combination of these two passions was controversial in their adopted faith of Quakerism as many feared it would split the abolition movement into two groups—those who also felt that women and slaves deserved equality and those who were passionate about ending slavery, but still held fast to male superiority.  And, so it did.  At a time when women had no legal rights and were relegated to the roles of wives and mothers only, these two sisters dared to speak in public on political issues to both women and men.  Their published works include, “Letters on the Equality of the Sexes,” “Appeal to the Christian Women of the South,” and “An Appeal to the Women of the Nominally Free States.”

 

The strength and conviction that it takes to stand up for what one feels is right despite the views of those around you is awe inspiring, especially at a time in history when women had very few role models to look to when forging an unconventional path.  In Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Invention of Wings,” the story of the Grimke Sisters is beautifully told in the form of a novel.  Though some aspects of the narrative were created to fill in the gaps, many of the characters, facts, and historical events are true with quotes from the writings of both women included.  If your background in feminism doesn’t stretch much past the 1970’s, exploring the original works of the Grimke Sisters and the ground they gained for all of their sisters is a must.

 

Sue Monk Kidd’s novel is a story of courage that brings to life the ugly history of slavery in our country through the eyes of Sarah Grimke and a slave owned by her family, Hetty “Handful” Grimke.  The alternating narratives of the two main characters speaks volumes about civil rights and brings to mind the words of Emma Lazarus, author of “The New Colossus,”, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”  This applies to the dual struggle of Hetty, who was bound by the terrible shackles of slavery, and Sarah who was blessed to be free, yet still not truly free due to the limitations placed upon her sex; and it applies today to remind us to continue the fight to end oppression in whatever form it appears.

 

“The Invention of Wings” gets a GFB Thumbs Up.  — GFB Gina

 

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Whatever is morally right for a man to do, it is morally right for a woman to do. I recognize no rights but human rights—I know nothing of men’s rights and women’s rights; for in Christ Jesus, there is neither male nor female.”

― Angelina Grimke

 

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“Here now, the very being of a woman, like that of a slave, is absorbed in her master.  All contracts made with her, like those made with slaves by their owners, are a mere nullity.  Our kind defenders have legislated away almost all of our legal rights, and in the true spirit of such injustice and oppression, have kept us in ignorance of those very laws by which we are governed.”

― Sarah Grimke

 

To read the book: http://www.amazon.com/Invention-Wings-Sue-Monk-Kidd/dp/1472212746/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1390612592

It’s a New Year, GFB Friends! What Will You Do to Live Your Best Life in 2014?

Holla, 2014!!!!!!!!!!!

Sassy Self-Defense Guide -- UPDATED for 2014!

Have you set any New Year’s Resolutions?  We really hope part of your 2014 goals will be to continue your self-defense education, or if you haven’t taken a class yet, to sign up.  We are here to help!  This summer several of the GFB girls will be joining Bill Kipp and Debra Thomas of FAST Defense for a great weekend training in Colorado.  More info here.

Wherever you live, we have a class for you.  Download our Sassy Self-Defense Guide for an updated list of IMPACT and FAST courses nationwide.  So many of us wait until we experience a tragedy to take that first step.  Be proactive and remember that an education in self-defense isn’t just about fighting.  It’s so much more than that.  Knowing and being empowered to protect yourself can change everything about the way you view your world, the choices you make, the relationships you enter into, everything . . .  Ladies, you ARE your own badass.  You ARE your own best protector.  You don’t have to live in fear another day.  So, download the guide and join us in Colorado next summer or join any of these wonderful instructors listed in our guide and take that first step toward living your best life.  It’s a lot more important than losing five pounds and a heck of a lot more fun!  You ARE Worth Fighting For!

Best Wishes For an Awesome 2014 from the GFB Team!2013 academy GFB

Girls Fight Back with The Winston-Salem Jaycees

The Winston-Salem Jaycees are an awesome organization that I have been a part of for almost a year now.  They focus on providing social and community service opportunities for young people in my hometown.  When they expressed interest in offering a self-defense class for members, I jumped at the chance to volunteer my time!  We had a small, but mighty turnout of powerful women warriors.

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My favorite thing about doing community programs is seeing the diverse types of people who attend.  For this program, I particularly loved seeing a mom in the audience with her two college-aged daughters.  I say the family who fights violence together, stays together!

As much as I love travelling with GFB, there is something incredibly powerful about these local programs and knowing that I’m doing my part to make my little corner of the world a bit safer.  As we close the door on 2013 and look to 2014, I hope I can do more to bring the Girls Fight Back message to my friends, family, and neighbors!

GFB Heather

Graduation Time!!! – GFB Leah Has Been Promoted from Speaker in Training to Junior Speaker

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The GFB Team wishes to extend congratulations and a warm welcome to the Speaking Team to Leah.  The process of becoming a GFB speaker is an intense one that includes graduation from our Summer Academy, FAST Defense training and graduation, quite a bit of reading and studying, a series of conference calls and consults, two complimentary practice gigs that are taped and reviewed by the rest of the team, and unanimous approval from the current team.  We really want to be sure that the women who are chosen to represent us and the GFB message are the best of the best and we couldn’t have made a better choice with Leah.

Leah is based in NYC.  She majored in Cultural Studies at McGill University and wrote her Honor’s Thesis in Film and Women’s Studies.  When she isn’t representing GFB, you can see her on the stage as a comedian.  Huffington Post named her one of their Favorite Female Comedians and College Candy listed in her as one of the Top Ten Female Comics. She is also a regular on VH1′s 100 Greatest Series and has toured for the troops in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.  She already has some events booked for Spring 2014, so coming soon to a campus near you . . . . meet Leah!

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GFB – Girl in Progress Leah

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GFB Girl Today – Leah –  Junior Speaker