Category Archives: Self-Improvement

Rule #5: Thou Shalt Know How to Protect Thyself

Women’s self-defense is something I am incredibly passionate about. Did you know that 1 in 4 girls will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime? That 60% of sexual assaults are never reported to the police? That 88% of sexual assault victims knew their attacker? That 15/16 rapists will never spend a day in jail?

I am passionate about this partially because I am a sexual assault survivor. Though I sometimes still have trouble convincing myself that it wasn’t my fault, I do know that things could have been a lot worse if I didn’t have some basic self-defense skills that I learned from women’s self-defense class I took a few years ago. I actually took the class somewhat by accident, because I was naive enough to think it would never happen to me. But it did. It wasn’t rainy or night like in the movies – in fact, it was a bright, sunny afternoon. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I was lucky because I knew some basic moves that, also luckily, were enough to scare off my attacker.

Defend yourself -- avoidance, anger essential elements for protection

photo via Fort Rucker

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re being assaulted, here are just a few things to keep in mind:

  • Your knees and elbows pack the most punch in terms of force (you’re also the least likely to injure yourself if you use your elbow or knee).
  • You know that self-defense bit from Miss Congeniality? It’s not bad – Solar plexus, Instep, Nose, Groin! The last two are especially good to aim for.
  • Make lots of noise if you can. Yell something – anything – it will get people’s attention.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings – if you’re in an unfamiliar environment, never go anywhere alone unless you’re absolutely sure it is safe (ask the locals!)
  • Trust your gut. If you feel a situation is unsafe, get out. Your instinct is always your bet.
  • If you are sexually assaulted, report it immediately. Even if they don’t catch your attacker, your report may help in the future if your attacker continues to attack other women.
Part of being the best woman you can be is knowing how to protect your awesome self. The effects of sexual assault can be devastating and long-lasting. You can’t know if it’ll happen to you or not – so the best thing you can do for yourself is be prepared. Don’t make the mistake I made and think it can’t happen to you. It can happen to anybody. So prepare yourself, and know how to protect yourself.
Here are some good resources:

Slutwalk London

photo via msmornington
Go forth and protect your amazing self.
xoxo,

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Rule #4: Thou Shalt Embrace Change

Autumn at Lake Clara Meerphoto via fkehren

As the leaves on the trees start to change, it’s a good season to think about change in our own lives. My life has been one of twists and turns and almost zero consistency, so accepting change has never really been a problem in my own personal life. For me, it’s been adapt or fail at life. As a result, not many curveballs thrown my way catch me off guard, and resistance to surprise is a pretty good character trait to have. It will make you resilient, like the trees that shed their leaves in the fall but bounce back, full-force blooming in spring.

It drives me insane when people say, “Don’t ever change!” Really, really insane. A you’re-lucky-I-have-good-self-restraint-because-I-really-want-to-punch-you-in-the-face-right-now kind of insane. Life is change. Change is life. When you ask me not to change, you’re effectively asking me not to live.


Be The Change
photo via victius

There are two quotes I’ve held near and dear to my heart for a very long time. One is the quote above, and the other is a Buddhist saying: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Compassion is necessary.” Change can definitely bring pain. But when it does, you have two options: mope; or go out and be the change. Embrace the change. To me, a fusion of the two quotes I love equals something like this:

“Change is inevitable, and sometimes painful. But when you accept both, you can move forward and you can begin to heal.”

That doesn’t mean we can’t question change. In fact, the book I Moved Your Cheese strongly suggests that we DO question change, as a sort of rebuttal to Who Moved My Cheese? (Both are very good, short reads, by the way. If you haven’t read them, it’s worth the 20-30 minutes it will take you to get through each one.) I agree with the idea we should question change. We don’t need to blindly move through life as the pawn of so-called “fate”. We can control our destiny. That doesn’t mean our path is obstacle free, but we do have the option of whether we’ll turn back around or figure out a way to get around that obstacle. The latter is more difficult, but it will move you toward your dreams.

My apologies for a shorter-than-normal post, but I’m being thrown a lot of curveballs at the moment and even though I rock at hitting every one of them out of the park, it’s still quite the workout.

Go forth and be okay with change.

xoxo,

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Power Monday: JWOWW

Yeah, you heard me right. This week’s Power Monday EDF is the Jersey Shore‘s JWOWW.

For those of you who read my first post, eyebrows may have been raised when I mentioned JWOWW’s name as an example of an EDF. But I hold my stance.

 Harper's Bazaar-Jersey Shore -JWowwphoto credit

Why she kicks butt: Jenni JWOWW Farley kicks butt in my book because of HER book. That’s right, her bookThe Rules According to JWOWW: Shore-Tested Secrets On Landing A Mint Guy, Staying Fresh To Death, and Kicking the Competition to the Curb. Why did I read this book, you ask? Well, it was an accident, really and truly. A friend gave it to me as a gag gift – I’d never even seen Jersey Shore before (I now admit to watching a few of the first episodes just to get an idea of what she was like as a person and see if she was truly an EDF worthy of this blog). But it sat on my nightstand, and it was good “thoughtless reading” – that is, it wasn’t an essay on race theory, or a Dante novel. And as I read more, I realized I was actually enjoying reading it. Not because it told me anything I didn’t know (I am Queen B, after all), but because the book’s message is genuinely good. I didn’t expect this, since my made-from-a-distance first impression of the entire Jersey Shore cast was, “Yuck. Trash. Go away.” (Just being honest.) JWOWW proved me wrong, and I was humbled. In the book, JWOWW touts a message of straight-up-EDF. She encourages girls to go for what they want, to be who they want to be, to not compromise, to take care of themselves. I’m serious folks, this is a good book – go buy it. Never in my life did I think I would so hardcore endorse something created by a Jersey Shore cast member. But I am, and after seeing her on the show as a real-life person, I can also say she’s a woman I would want as my friend and that she would be hella fun to party with. I’m just sayin’.

10 things you might not know (sources: jwoww.com and her book, except where noted)

  • Jenni grew up in upstate New York.
  • She moved to NYC for college when she was 21.
  • She’s a computer geek and graphic designer by trade.
  • She started and still owns her own graphic design company, Jenni Farley Designs, Inc.
  • Her favorite places to shop include Affliction, Bebe, Cache, Guess, Armani Exchange, Le Chateau, Steve Madden, and Express.
  • She likes drinking vodka seltzers.
  • Her favorite clubs at home in Long Island are Glo, Neptune Beach Club, and Savannah Lounge.
  • She released a clothing line in 2010 but it was recalled shortly thereafter. She said it will be re-released.
  • Her upcoming business ventures include a line of bronzer, workout videos, diet supplements, and sports drinks.
  • In April of this year MTV announced that Jenni and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi are going to have their own show.
Happy Monday – go kick this week’s butt!
xoxo,

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Rule #3: Thou Shalt Scorn Peer Pressure

As human beings, we ladies are a social bunch of creatures. We like doing things together. Eating, shopping, going to the movies, and getting ready for a night on the town – there are lots of things in life that we would rarely dream of doing alone. But sometimes, being social gets us in trouble. We do things in groups that we normally wouldn’t do by ourselves. Think about any movie or TV show that you’ve watched recently (even last night’s GOP debate) – nestled in the script there is undoubtedly drama that’s the result of peer pressure.

But hold on a minute. If you really stop to think about it – peer pressure isn’t always bad. When we surround ourselves with good, positive, well-meaning individuals, then as a collective we will surely make good, positive, well-meaning decisions. When we seek sobriety, we seek sober company. When we seek knowledge, we seek a teacher wise in their ways. In life we consistently turn to peers who claim to (and often do) know more than we do about what we seek. Still, sometimes the best intentions can be the most misguided, and can proffer the worst results for everyone. That’s why, as an EDF, you’ve got to know how to hold your own and how to stay grounded as an individual caught up in a sea of collective moments.

Resist peer pressure. All the cool kids are doing it

photo via busyprinting

If you’re familiar with Carl Jung, you’re familiar with the idea of a collective unconscious. According to Jung, the collective unconscious is an inherited set of thoughts that is identical in all human beings. While collectivity is something many argue we cannot and should not escape, the idea that we can share moments, ideas, memories, and even a collective unconscious does not negate the fact that individuals make individual choices about how they operate in the collective setting.

I have a friend who enjoys going out and having a good time with friends once or twice a month. She might have one drink too many, and the next day she doesn’t feel so well. We all make mistakes from time to time, and I never think her a worse person (or myself a better person) for having these hungover moments. But what drives me absolutely insane is that she never owns up to why she gets into these situations. She always blames it on others. “I had to drink – everyone else was drinking. Guys kept buying me drinks, and I couldn’t say no.”

Now, I don’t yell often. But I will yell this: YOU CAN ALWAYS SAY NO!!!!!

In case you skip over words in all caps, I shall re-emphasize: You can always say no!!! Always always always. There is never a moment in your life where you have to do something because someone asks you* to do it, or because you think everyone wants or expects you to do it, or because it’s “the only thing to do”. There are always at least two choices in every situation. Which path you choose is entirely an individual decision, and the intense collective moments are the moments where it is most important to keep this in mind.

If you do make a decision that you regret the next day, or the next week, the worst thing you could possibly do is say “I had to do it.” Honey, that’s just pathetic. Don’t let other people make decisions for you. And if you do, at least own up to the fact that it’s your own decision to let other people make decisions for you. You let them do it once, or maybe even three or four times, but luckily this is not a vicious circle. As soon as you take control of your own actions, life will be much more livable.

So, next time you find yourself in the middle of a group that’s about to do – or not do – something that you know is morally wrong, or you know you will regret, take a second to stop and think. You should be able to confidently answer these three questions at any crossroads:

  1. Why should I do this?
  2. Could this cause intentional or unintentional harm to anyone or anything (including myself)?
  3. Is this what I want to do right now, or is there a wiser way to spend my time?

Memo to yourself: you are in charge of you. Let this one thought guide all your decisions, and you’ll find yourself making much better choices.

xoxo,

* except maybe if you’re still living with your parents and they ask you to take out the garbage or clean the litter box

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Rule #2: Thou Shalt Trust Thyself

Time for EDF Commandment Number Two: Thou Shalt Trust Thyself

Note to Self: "Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live." ~ Goethe

Time for a story. College, for me, was a 4-year train wreck. Every year I went back thinking it’d be an awesome year, and every year something(s) ended up happening that made it awful. Mono, swine flu, broken hearts, pets dying, relatives dying, fights, teachers ignorant of a thing called “your students have lives too, and sometimes their lives are hard” – you name it, it happened to me. My one source of relief, then and now, has been yoga.

At least four times a week I would sweat and move and flex out my problems on the mat. After a particularly rough day in the fall of my senior year, I high-tailed it to the studio as I had many times before, but I left the studio with a discovery: I didn’t trust myself.

I don’t know exactly what led to this revelation, but boy was it a revelation. It changed my life. It changed the way I saw everything around me. The next time I found myself in the middle of making a tough decision, or working through a fight, or dealing with loss, I stopped and asked myself, “What do I need right now?” And then I trusted that I knew what was best for me in that moment.

It’s important and necessary to ask for advice when you need it. Asking for advice shows you have humility; it shows you’re mature; it shows that you respect others’ opinions. But you have to remember that that’s exactly what advice is: opinions. And if someone’s advice doesn’t feel right to you, then no matter how much you respect that person, it’s probably not a good idea to follow their advice.

Simplicity is a tempting siren – it’s easy to do what we’re told. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Trust that you have the power to make your own decisions, that your advice to yourself is good advice, that sometimes you’re the only one who knows what you need.

As one of my yoga instructors once said,

“There are no wrong decisions. There are only decisions that lead you down different paths of life. Trust that in each moment, you are exactly where you are meant to be, doing exactly what you are meant to be doing.”

Namaste,

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