Girls Fight Back at Salisbury University!

GFB Jaime rockin' the sweet shades from Salisbury University.

Hi all!  Last night was awesome for a couple of reasons.  First, I got to hang out with the lovely ladies of Salisbury University.  Second, they gave me the sweet shades you see in the picture at the top of this blog.  We had a great time talking about intuition, awareness, and kickin’ booty! I want to give a big thanks to the wonderful ladies who coordinated this event and brought me to campus.  I had a fabulous time at Salisbury . . . Stay dangerous, ladies!

Fighting back at Salisbury University.

Girls Fight Back at Elizabethtown College!

Stop number three on the Pennsylvania seminar trail was Elizabethtown College and it was GREAT!  The crowd was full of energy and a little rowdy with some shenanigans up their sleeves . . . Just the way I like them.  Heather Rhodes deserves a big thank you for bringing Girls Fight Back! to campus.  I’ve been the worst about getting a picture before the whole crowd leaves lately but I did manage to snag a photo with the lovely ladies you see above.  Thanks Elizabethtown! 

I Met a Maverick . . .

Actually, I met a lot of Mavericks. Yesterday, I got to bring Students Fight Back! to the University of Nebraska at Omaha, home of the Mavericks . . . and they are AWESOME! I arrived in Omaha and it was sunny and 70 without a cloud in the sky. In case you are wondering, that is a sure fire sign of a great event to come. While my hotel reminded me a little bit of The Shining (a possibly bad omen), I had a feeling that the Mavericks would be a lively and enthusiastic crowd. As it turns out, my intuition was right on. The organizers and the crowd were so welcoming and engaging and everybody really embraced the palm-knee-knee, even our “Scary Bad Guy,” David. Thanks for being such a great sport!

Mavericks

Spring Reminder

It’s a beautiful day today and I spent the morning at an awesome dog park with my very small (but very tough) dog, Spike. There are various trails to follow throughout a massive stretch of land. Of course, everyone else was out enjoying the day as well so it was a little crowded. When we go during the week we often have empty trails to ourselves. It reminded me of all the questions I got this semester about being safe while  jogging alone. I imagine, most of which came from the tragic Chelsea King murder.

Now that the weather is getting nice and we’re all spending more time outside, maybe getting in shape for summer -I figured I would throw out some reminders:

TRUST YOUR INTUITION

If you arrive to the park , trail or other location and feel that something is “off”, then choose a back-up plan. Maybe your local high school track or the gym.

BE AWARE

Take a look at your surroundings. Are you the only one there? If not, who is there- families, other joggers, creepy weirdos?

Stay aware. It’s hard not to get in “the jogging zone” but be sure to stop and check your surroundings every so often.

BE A BAD VICTIM

Make sure someone knows where you are going and when to expect you back.

Choose public areas and jog during daylight hours.

Use the buddy system. Jog with friends or teammates when you can.

Leave your IPOD at home. You’re ahead of the game if you can hear what’s going on around you.

Now…go out and enjoy this great weather!

Niceness vs. Intuition

“He seemed so nice at first.” This is a statement I think we all hear frequently in many different contexts. You might hear a friend say it after going on a second date with someone who was so nice on the first date but turned out to be a big jerk on the second. You might hear a victim of sexual assault saying this about her assailant. It begs the question, what is happening to these nice people?

Here’s the deal. Being nice is a choice, not a personality trait and anyone can chose to be nice for a period of time to get something they want from you even if they are the furthest thing from nice. To put it bluntly, people can use niceness to manipulate you. Now, I’m not saying that you should stop trusting all the nice people in the world, because many people chose to be nice and are genuinely good people. However, if your intuition is giving you a signal that the seemingly nice person you are dealing with is a bad news, trust your intuition.

Your intuition will steer you toward the people you want in your life and away from the people you would rather keep out. Trust it and let it work for you.

Portland Actress Shares Success Story

Alana and GFB Speaker Jaime Out On The TownThe best fight is the fight never fought. If you have ever been to a Girls Fight Back seminar, you have undoubtedly heard one of our speakers tell you this. You have also heard that setting boundaries with both your words your body are truly fantastic tools that we can all use to avoid violence in our lives. A good friend of mine and wonderful actress, Alana, told me a story this week that makes me believe in boundaries and preparation with even more conviction.  This is Alana’s story.

Alana went to France over Thanksgiving. First, I think we should all take a moment to be jealous of Alana’s holiday plans that were probably much cooler than our own. OK, now that is out of the way and I will continue with her story. When Alana was in France, she was sight-seeing and doing other cool things and came upon a marketplace of sorts and various people were trying to sell all sorts of things. One person stuck out for all the wrong reasons. Alana had a weird feeling about him because he was trying to get people to come over to him but did not appear to be selling anything. The man addressed Alana, she told him she wasn’t interested, and turned to walk away. He grabbed her arm. Let’s all take a moment and realize how inappropriate it was to grab her.  Alana whirled around and said, “Don’t touch me.” Oh, by the way, she said it in French! How cool is that?!?  The man did not let go and Alana prepped for a knee drive, which made him think twice and release her arm.  

 Alana went to one of the GFB seminars I put on in Portland last summer and said the seminar helped her know how to handle the situation, so this story made me incredibly happy. Let’s break Alana’s story down a little bit. First, Alana had a weird feeling about someone but, at first, was not sure why. This was her intuition. To directly rip off the words of Gavin DeBecker, your intuition is knowing something without knowing why. Later, Alana realized this man felt out of place because he was calling attention to himself in a marketplace but was not actually selling anything. That is also a great example of being aware of your surroundings. Second, Alana set a very clear verbal boundary when she told him she wasn’t interested in talking to him. Third, Alana set a very firm, final, unmistakably clear physical and verbal boundary by turning to the man and saying “Don’t touch me!” When that did not work, Alana was prepared to defend herself and fight back if necessary.

 This is a total success story that should be celebrated.  Alana fought the best fight ever . . . The one that is never fought! Alana trusted her intuition,  being a bad victim, and was completely prepared to defend herself. While, I am so thankful she didn’t actually have to fight, I am equally thankful that my friend Alana knows that she is worth fighting for and had confidence and presence of mind in a scary situation. Success stories like this are more common than some might think.  They just are not talked about enough. Be on the lookout for the success stories in your own lives and remember to celebrate them.

Security?

In the grand tradition of this wonderful holiday weekend I was spending some quality time recovering on my couch, next to the fire, sifting through decorations. I was hoping someone had started to air “A Christmas Story” and was flipping through the channels when I came across the show “I Survived”. The episode featured a young lawyer named Jennifer Morey.

Jennifer lived alone and chose her apartment complex, in part, because of the protection provided by on site security guards. She was just starting her career, working long and late hours and always felt safe knowing a guard was there.

That safety was tested on April 15, 1995 when she awoke to find a man on top of her. She realized she was going to be raped and began to fight her attacker, a man who used her first name, but whom she did not recognize. During the struggle her attacker cut her throat almost from ear to ear. He then pulled her off the bed and threw her in the bathroom. Likely believing she would bleed to death, he told her to stay in there. Even after putting up such a fight and losing blood quickly, Jennifer was still able to use her lower body strength to keep the door closed with her feet until she believed her attacker had left and would not come for her again. She then ran from the bathroom and called 911.

Richard Everett was the dispatcher who picked up the line and together they began to try to save Jennifer’s life. He told her to add pressure to the wound, that help was on the way and tried to keep her calm. During the call, Jennifer heard a knock at the door. The man identified himself as Bryan Gibson, the security guard on duty. Jennifer told Richard that it was security and asked if she should open the door. The advice he gave her at that moment, based on intuition, was likely the most crucial thing he did that saved her life that night…DO NOT open the door.

Fortunately, Jennifer did not have to wait too long as police and ambulance arrived shortly after. They were greeted by the on duty security guard Bryan Gibson, who told them that he too had fought off the attacker after he escaped from Jennifer’s apartment. After reviewing the crime scene and Gibson’s injuries it wasn’t long before police realized that it was Gibson who was the attacker. He had left behind some crucial items at the scene. It’s believed he went back to Jennifer’s apartment when he realized this. To this day, Jennifer believes she would have been killed had she opened that door.

This may not have been the wonderful holiday movie I was searching for, but this story really stuck with me. Richard Beckett had no reason to think that the man at the door, whose job it was to protect the complex, was there to cause any harm. His intuition and quick thinking kept Jennifer safe.

Jennifer survived and began to rebuild her life. She won a civil lawsuit against the security company Gibson, who had twice been re-assigned because of behavior issues, worked for. In fact, from 1991- 1995 this security firm employed 130 guards that had felony records ( I’ll spend a little time on that in a future post). She is now a successful lawyer with her own practice. She met and married the man of her dreams a few years after the attack.

 Richard Beckett was at her wedding and they remain close friends to this day…

Just a hunch? Maybe not…

A piece in the New York Times this week, third in a series of stories about the research of “Brain Power,” sheds interesting light on the existence and importance of human intuition.

The concept of a hunch, or a gut feeling, is explored as it relates to soldiers’ abilities to detect hidden explosives in war zones. Woven through the research is the story of Sgt. First Class Edward Tierney, who impulsively ordered his patrol of nine men to fall back from a car holding two small boys parked unassumingly on a sidewalk in Iraq. Seconds later, the car exploded.

The story concludes:

“Since then, Sergeant Tierney has often run back the tape in his head, looking for the detail that tipped him off. Maybe it was the angle of the car, or the location; maybe the absence of an attack, the sleepiness in the market: perhaps the sum of all of the above.

‘I can’t point to one thing,’ he said. ‘I just had that feeling you have when you walk out of the house and know you forgot something — you got your keys, it’s not that — and need a few moments to figure out what it is.’

He added, ‘I feel very fortunate none of my men were killed or badly wounded.’”

The article delves into the science behind this phenomenon of intuition, explaining that the humans are often subconsciously aware of details that accompany danger, and they feel a sense of urgency even before the brain has time to process those details.

‘”Not long ago people thought of emotions as old stuff, as just feelings — feelings that had little to do with rational decision making, or that got in the way of it,’ said Dr. Antonio Damasio, director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. ‘Now that position has reversed. We understand emotions as practical action programs that work to solve a problem, often before we’re conscious of it. These processes are at work continually, in pilots, leaders of expeditions, parents, all of us.’ …

As the brain tallies cues, big and small, consciously and not, it may send out an alarm before a person fully understands why.”

The importance of listening to intuition – whether you are on bomb patrol in Mosul or meeting a new “friend” at a party – cannot be underestimated. One of the leading books on this subject is called “The Gift of Fear,” by safety expert Gavin de Becker. GDB describes intuition as knowing something, without knowing why. The book goes on to explain that two facts about intuition are always true:

1. Intuition is always based on something, even if you can’t consciously see a reason to be wary.
2. Intuition will always lead you to a safer place, never into danger.

Trusting our intuition is one of the greatest tools we have as humans to guard our own personal safety. But going through life ever vigilant and prepared to listen to our survival signals does not mean that we live in constant fear. On the contrary, because we know our intuition will warn us of danger, just like Sergeant Tierney’s intuition warned him of an imminent explosion, we feel at peace, unthreatened, comfortable in our own skin.

This confidence we gain by acknowledging and trusting our intuition, in fact, allows that very intuition to function more effectively. Consider this statement in the New York Times piece:

“In war, anxiety can run as high as the Iraqi heat, and neuroscientists say that the most perceptive, observant brain on earth will not pick up subtle clues if it is overwhelmed by stress.

In the Army study of I.E.D. detection, researchers found that troops who were good at spotting bombs in simulations tended to think of themselves as predators, not prey. That frame of mind by itself may work to reduce anxiety, experts say.”

Thus, our intuition makes us feel more confident and secure, and that very confidence allows our intuition to function at a heightened level, keeping us even safer, making us feel even more confident, and the upward spiral continues.

The moral of the story is:

1. Intuition is one of your most powerful safety resources.
2. What appears to be just a “hunch” is likely a signal that your brain has not even processed – listen to it!
3. Trusting your intuition will raise your confidence, allowing your intuition to thrive, keeping you safer, and so on.

Next time you know something without knowing why, trust your instinct. Your brain knows more than you realize!

Having Faith

I loved Megan’s recent article on being Paranoid versus being Proactive. It reminded me that just about a week after I returned home from the Girls Fight Back Training Academy, my husband and I were lying in bed, just about to drift off to sleep when I suddenly had the thought that the door wasn’t locked. It was strange because I didn’t think “Hmmm..is the door locked?” or “I can’t remember if I locked the door or not.” I simply thought “the door isn’t locked.” So I got up and locked it. My husband asked what I was doing and I told him I was going to lock the door. When I returned to bed, he asked, “so now that you’ve had this training, are you going to be paranoid all the time?” I simply asked him, “What’s paranoid about locking a door that is unlocked?” (and for the record, it was unlocked) Our conversation continued and finally ended with a discussion over who empties the dishwasher more often, but that really isn’t the point.

The point is that it is hard to separate the idea of being careful about your safety from the idea that you are being paranoid and suspicious of everyone. Both my husband and I were raised in small towns where people don’t just leave their doors unlocked, they leave them wide open! I have one member of my family who still to this day doesn’t even have a key to their home. It is unlocked 24/7. In fact, recently someone accidentally locked the door as they were leaving the house and this relative had to call a locksmith to get them into their own house! Since I practice simple safety precautions (like actually locking my doors), I’m used to being called paranoid or (when it comes to my daughter’s safety) overprotective.

I won’t lie, when I’m out running errands with my daughter, I am a little hyperaware of our surroundings and our safety. People often offer to help me with things like putting up a grocery cart or carrying bags to my car. They usually offer this help because I am carrying too many bags and digging through my purse for my keys with my 15 month old wiggling around on my hip. And for the most part, I used to refuse the help 10 times out of 10. Why? Because I didn’t trust people. Or really because I didn’t trust myself.

You see, when you don’t trust your intuition, it is easiest to go to one extreme or the other. You simply choose to trust everyone or trust no one and accept whatever comes from that choice. For me, I trusted no one and that meant doing everything myself and having lots of headaches.

This week, I took my daughter to lunch at one of those fast food type Japanese places. You know, the ones that have those yummy rice bowls with chicken and zucchini.  While I was waiting for my food, I started the process of getting my daughter situated in a high chair.  Well, I got the chair and dragged it over to my table only to realize that it was sticky and gross.  I decided I needed to get out a wipe from my wipe case and clean it off.  Now my daughter is still in my arms and I’m digging through my bag to get the wipes.  I find them and that darn wipe won’t come out.  I’m just about to try and pull it out with my teeth when this man comes over and asks if I need any help.  I’m just about to say no, thank you when I stop for a moment.  I realize that I don’t have a creepy feeling about this person.  My intuition shoots me a quick message to say, “he’s OK.”  So I say yes and this nice man gets out the wipe for me and cleans the chair.  He even goes to get my food at the counter and brings it to me!

As my daughter and I are enjoying our lunch, I realize that by trusting my intuition, I have freed myself up to have faith in others.  I can count on my intuition to guide me towards helpful, honest people and away from those who mean me harm.  It feels great to believe in the goodness of people; to know that my instincts can guide me through any situation; and to know that the next time the guy who bags my groceries offers to cart them out to the car for me, my answer will be YES!

Not just another day on the bus…

We hear about situations all the time, where disturbed people get on to buses and passengers must decide what actions to take to remedy dangerous or uncomfortable situations. Yesterday was one such day.

After a long day of work, I got on my bus to head home. As I stepped off the first bus to transfer to another, a young man in his twenties followed close behind me, lighting a cigarette. As I waited for the light to change to green, I looked over to see him staring at me. He was taller than I, wearing a dress suit and black dress shoes. He held his black jacket in his left hand, loosely away from his body. His white with red pinstripe shirt, hanging out of his pants. He looked like a normal guy coming home from work.  However, there was something not quite right about him, though I couldn’t say exactly what it was.

As we crossed the street he followed close beside me. As he continued to smoke his cigarette, he proceeded to pull a faceless balaclava over his neck as he sat next to me on the bus bench. It was then that I knew for certain that something was off. There were several other people at the bus stop and my false sense of security convinced me to stay seated beside him. I was tired and I resented having to move from the only available space at the stop, in an effort to avoid this guy.

A minute later, my bus pulled up and I got on. As usual, there was only a few seats available so I took the first available seat before others got on. As I sat down, creepy guy sat down beside me. I opened my book in an effort to avoid any communication from him. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed his hand fall to the side of the seat that was shared between us. He slowly inched his way towards my thigh. He then took his other hand and went to pull something our of his pocket. I swiftly moved my hand to a ready position in anticipation of having to fight. When nothing happened, I left doubt to convince me that “I” may just be exaggerating the situation, I walked to the front of the bus to ask the bus driver which direction this bus took. This being my bus, I knew the answer but wanted a polite excuse to leave my seat. As I walked back to another seat directly across from this man, I noticed his hand was not in his pocket as I had first thought. He not pulling out a weapon, but he did indeed pull out something, covering himself with his jacket. I couldn’t believe what was happening on the bus, right in front of me, in front of everyone in broad daylight. I became enraged.

A man who was sitting beside this guy saw what was happening, became embarrassed and walked to the back of the bus. I looked over to a woman across from him and made eye contact with her. It was like I was looking for confirmation of what was happening. She looked back at me and we both knew what the other was thinking. Silence.

Something inside of me snapped and looked over at this man and said “Seriously! Are you kidding me with this?” No response. No one else said a word. I realized in a moment, from the way that he looked at me that he was psychotic. His direct stare and smirk sent a chill up my spine. My instinct told me that no verbal boundary setting would make a difference and that it was best to avoid him completely. As we came to the next stop, a little girl got on the bus with her mother busily attending the another child. As the little girl went to sit beside him, I heard the words come out of my mouth “No!” her mother looking at me, I repeated , “No. Not this bus.” Without question, she and her little girl got off. I walked to the front of the bus, told the bus driver what was happening and got off.

I pulled out my phone, dialed 911 and called the police. I gave them a complete description of this guy, including the bus number on the back of the bus. What happened next, I can’t know for sure.

Some people may experience a situation like this and shake it off as a creepy one. I however, chose to look back at the events and see what I could have done differently, what I did and what I won’t do again.

As people, as women, we tend to make excuses for our first reactions. We need to let our instincts guide us and not allow logic to blind us from potential danger. When I got off my first bus, I saw someone and instinctively knew something was wrong. I was uncomfortable that he sat beside me, but instead of moving I stayed seated. I allowed this man to sit beside me on the bus. I didn’t want to create a scene. Instead of telling him to move his hand, letting him know that he was in my space, I ignored my discomfort and made excuses to move. I looked to others for acknowledgment of something I knew myself.

All of the training in the world is not useful unless it’s practiced, acted upon in the real world. We have to be comfortable using our voices, trusting our instincts and putting them into action. One could argue that I made the right choices, as I really didn’t know this man’s full intent. He could have indeed become physically dangerous. Personally, as  a self-defense instructor, the physical defense aspect is less scary to me than the verbal boundary setting. I think that this is common to many women. It was a situation that was in many ways passive aggressive and a grey area of what should have been said or done. At the end of the day, despite questioning my actions, I made choices that kept me safe. I was able to stay calm and act in ways that didn’t escalate the situation. This allowed me to deal with potential danger and notify those around me of a threat.  I got the woman and girl off the bus, I told the bus driver what was happening and I then got myself to safety and called the police. Perhaps, that’s exactly what I was supposed to do; to be here to tell you about it.