Life’s New Chapters

Life’s New Chapters

Five Things You Should Know Before Transitioning to a New Chapter in Life

My oldest niece asked me to do her makeup for prom again this year. It was my last opportunity to do it, since she will be heading to college in the fall.

She is a bright, kind, smart, funny young woman and to sound totally cliché- I can’t believe how fast time has gone! Listening to her and her sisters talk about makeup, clothes and part-time jobs- I found myself thinking back to my senior year of High School and all the excitement I had for the next chapter in my life. I would be going to college in a neighboring state where I felt like I was going to figure out who I wanted to be when I grew up. The possibilities were endless!

That’s what the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new chapter in life is supposed to feel like. Excitedly (and maybe a bit nervously) stepping out of your comfort zone to grow and learn more about yourself. With that growth also comes mistakes and failures. It’s part of gaining experience and building resilience. It’s not always what you know, it’s who you know that opens the door to those experiences. Do you know how to tell if a new friend or mentor is someone you can trust?

Most of us grew up being told, “Never talk to strangers”. Well guess what- when you grow up in the same town, with the same people, and you leave for the next chapter in your life, you’re going to meet a whole lot of strangers. If you never learned how to talk to strangers, how to read body language, how to understand the ways a person might try and manipulate you to do something you don’t want to do or the situations that can potentially turn dangerous, you’re going to get a life lessons crash course with bigger consequences.


Here are five things to know before stepping into a new chapter in life:

1. Make charm a verb
Instead of saying, “they are so charming!” say “they are trying to charm me” and then ask yourself why. Why is this stranger trying to charm me? Is it innocent or are they trying to get me to do something I don’t want to do?


2. Too many details
Liars will give too many details when they’re telling their fabricated story because they KNOW they’re lying and they’re trying to convince themselves and you they’re telling the truth.


3. The unsolicited promise
“I’m not going to hurt you, I promise”. Uhm…well that’s great to know but why would they feel the need to say that in the first place?


4. Messengers of intuition
Fear, dark humor, apprehension, nagging feelings, hesitation-these are just a few of the ways your intuition will try and communicate with you. The greatest of these messengers is fear. When you feel fear, you need to stop and pay attention to what’s going on. There are two main truths to intuition – 1) it’s always in response to something present and 2) it always has your best interest in mind.


5. Baselines & anomalies
Baselines are what you would normally expect to see in a particular environment. A library will have a very different baseline than a college hockey game. An anomaly is something or someone that doesn’t fit the baseline. Is someone being loud in the library? Is someone sitting in their seat when the hockey team scores the game-winning goal? Keep in mind, context matters! Maybe they’re sitting at the hockey game while everyone is cheering because they were cheering for the other team. The important thing to remember is to watch for anomalies and ask yourself if it’s something you need to pay more attention to. 

By learning and understanding these basics of situational awareness, you can start to hone your instincts and make safer choices in your daily life.

In my life, the crazy and amazing opportunities happened when I stepped out of my comfort zone and traveled to new places and met new people. I want the same opportunities for you! I want you to have the confidence to make safe and smart choices to live life on your own terms.


“The most interesting things in life happen just on the other side of your comfort zone.” -Michael Hyatt


Did you hear that?

Did you hear that?

Observe Your Surroundings

What is the first thing you think of when I say, “observe your surroundings”? I’m going to guess you thought about looking around and using your sense of sight to SEE what’s in your space. What if I told you your sight was already being influenced by another one of your senses?

That’s right, your sense of sight is secondary most of the time because you might hear something before you see it.

If you took an informal poll of your friends, most of them would rather lose their hearing instead of their vision. But your hearing capabilities evolved from its survival advantage. You hear things before you see them, especially at night or in the dark. Your hearing influences every other perception you have.

You’re surrounded by noises every day. But just like with sight, your ears can be listening to tons of sounds in your environment, without your brain really hearing them; your antennae are always up, but they don’t always send a signal to pay attention. Such signals only register in your conscious awareness when they’re particularly important (as in when you hear your name said at a noisy party), or when they break the usual pattern/tone/rhythm that your brain expects (like a scream, crash, explosion, or someone is talking in a strange or suspicious way).

You can tune into more sounds than you usually hear by “perking up” your ears, concentrating, and trying to distinguish and pull out noises you’re usually “ear-blind” to.


How can you practice hearing more than you usually do?

1. The next time you arrive to a meeting at a coffee shop early, instead of getting on your phone to check social media, try closing your eyes or looking down and see how many different sounds you can hear.

2. When you are in a social setting, see if you can pick out a specific voice or noise amongst all the other sounds around you.

3. If you hear a noise (and you’re in a safe setting), trying to guess what made the noise before turning to look and see what it was.

Moms have a tendency to really excel at these exercises because they’re used to hearing the cupboard door to the snacks open when it’s not supposed to or pick out their kid screaming “mom!” on a playground with other screaming kids, but anyone can improve their hearing skills.

Start by taking 5 minutes sometime today to stop and really listen to the noises going on around you. Who or what is making the sound? Is it a happy, sad or mad sound?  Are any of the sounds something you should pay more attention to?

“And in English you have this wonderful difference between listening and hearing, and that you can hear without listening and you can listen and not hear.” -Daniel Barenboim

Mental Models

Mental Models

What’s Your Contingency Plan?

Women tend to run through different scenarios in our heads of how our day is going to go. If something doesn’t go as planned, there are probably any number of contingency plans we already thought of that can get everything back in order.

So, what’s your contingency plan if you see something or someone and your female intuition tells you something’s not right? Do you have a contingency plan in your head that tells you to take action by letting a store manager or security personnel know what you saw? Do you have the words to describe what you saw that made you uneasy? Have you thought about stopping in the middle of whatever you were doing and leaving the area? What if you have your kids with you? What if you’re with friends?

Most women are great at multi-tasking. You can juggle multiple priorities at once and keep everything moving forward. But what would you do if you realized someone was following you? What action steps would you take if you saw someone acting suspiciously?

I love watching hidden camera shows where a scenario is set up in front of unsuspecting strangers to see how they will react. It’s so easy for everyone sitting in the comfort of their own homes to judge the reactions of others in these instances. The viewer at home KNOWS it’s a fake scenario, they know what’s going to happen before the bystanders do and since it’s not them on camera, it’s easy for them to say, “I would’ve done this or that.” Instead, the unsuspecting strangers look around to see if anyone else saw what they saw. They look around to see if anyone else is going to say or do something. Their not sure what to do in that type of situation and it shows in their hesitation to take action.

Two very important lessons can be learned from these candid moments:

1. If you’ve never thought through a situation mentally, your reaction time when it does happen will be greatly delayed-if you react at all!

2. It’s easy to laugh or even make fun of the unsuspecting strangers for their delayed reactions because you KNEW what was going to happen.

As my R.A.D. self-defense instructor partner likes to say, “Your body can’t go where your mind hasn’t”. If you’ve never thought through how you would react in a threatening situation, your body won’t know what to do when it ACTUALLY happens.

Here’s a great exercise for you. Wherever you are right now-imagine you just heard a window break. What would you do? Whether you’re at home, at work or at a coffee shop-where’s your closest exit? If an exit isn’t available, are you able to barricade yourself in a hiding spot? Are there other people you need to take care of, such as small children? If you are by yourself and have no where to hide, what can you use as a weapon to defend yourself? Remember, anything can be used as a weapon. Hot coffee will burn the skin. A heavy handbag can be swung at someone’s head. A picture frame with sharp corners, a heavy frying pan, a high heel shoe, ANYTHING you have quick and easy access to can be used to defend yourself. Don’t forget your fist, knees and legs are always an option.

It might be uncomfortable to think about yourself in a threatening situation but having a mental plan on how you would react and what steps you would take in different scenarios can truly mean the difference between staying safe and being injured or even worse-killed.

Create Mental Models

The next time you read a headline about a woman being attacked, ask yourself-what would you do if you were in that situation? This is NOT victim blaming. You weren’t there so you can’t possibly know what choices the victim had and therefore you cannot pass judgement. This is simply an exercise in creating a mental model of what you would do if you ever found yourself in that situation.

Practice Mental Scenarios Each Week

When your adrenaline kicks in and you start to lose your fine-motor skills, having a mental plan and even better, muscle memory, will help you respond quicker and more efficiently to stay safe. Start practicing these mental scenarios every week and soon you will begin to notice how you pay attention to things differently and how you automatically run through different scenarios in your head on how you would react.

“There is always a part of my mind that is preparing for the worst, and another part of my mind that believes if I prepare enough for it, the worst won’t happen.” -Kay Redfield Jamison