Bicycles, Beaches, Bumps and Bruises

Bicycles, Beaches, Bumps and Bruises

I vividly remember waking up my parents on my 5th birthday. I’d been begging them to get me a bike and they decided the 5th birthday milestone was an appropriate age. I couldn’t wait to wake up and see a shiny new bike! It was a pink, banana seat bike. The name “Candlelight” was on the front wheel fork and I decided it was the perfect name for her.

My dad attached training wheels and off I went! I don’t remember how long it took me to gain balance on 2 wheels, but I’m sure I didn’t master it the first time I tried to take Candlelight down the sidewalk.

We’ve all been new at something. There isn’t a single thing that people decide to try and they’re instantly great at. Everything takes trial and error and regular practice.

Kids are great at this. Everything is new to them and they want to try to do it all. That’s why parenthood is exhausting. You take your eyes off them for 1 second only to find them climbing on furniture or sticking fingers in outlets. It seems you are repeating safety warnings daily, hoping someday they’ll remember them on their own.

At some point in our lives, our “things we want to learn” list gets short and we stop adding to it. There are many reasons why this happens, busy schedules, budgets or perhaps complacency. It’s different for everyone and yet the same. As adults, we get to a place where we are comfortable with our life. We reach a place we’ve been dreaming about for years. Maybe it’s a full-time dream job or finding a partner and having kids, a dog and a cat. We carve out our cozy little corner of the world and finally feel like we can relax and be content with our life. The new challenges we face are created by outside forces and out of our control. Changing procedures at work, new child development stages in our kids, moving to a new city for a job, and other curve balls life throws at us.

Before all the self-help gurus jump down my throat, I’m not saying that’s the way it should be, I’m saying it’s the way it is. I believe our life path is pre-determined and the only thing in our control is how we respond to it. We can choose to have a good attitude and take these changes in stride. I think that’s the best way to deal with unforeseen disruptions to our regularly scheduled life. That’s not the point of my writing. My point is we stop choosing the new things we want to try because we’re trying to handle the unplanned life events. You’ve probably heard, “Things happen in 3’s.”

It’s like finding out you’re pregnant, while going through a job change that requires you to sell your house and move. 

Those examples might not apply to you, but I’m willing to bet you can look back on your life and find situations where everything seemed to change all at once.

When those events happen, we feel close to mental overload. So many new things to think about! So many unknown changes that we don’t know what’s around the next corner. As the time passes, we see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re thankful we made it through, and swear we’re never going to go through it again.

Is it any wonder why, as adults, the thought of purposely trying something new, with so many unknowns, is a no-go? We swore we would never put ourselves purposely through the mental anguish of uncertainty again. No one likes to stumble around like an idiot, not knowing the correct next move. Especially in front of everyone who seems to have their shit together.

No one wants to be the class dunce.

When I look at the world of self-defense, I see instructors talking about their years and even decades of studying martial arts. I see retired military or law enforcement individuals talking fluently in a tactical language that is foreign to anyone outside that world. Is it any wonder why women look at self-defense as this insurmountable skill? If it took those instructors DECADES to be proficient in their personal safety, when the hell are they going to find time to dedicate to learning? Not to mention the cost. Or the seemingly great physical shape you need to be in in order to be proficient. (I’m talking about the muscle bulging, tight shirt wearing, I lift heavy, picture taking and post to social media people).

Most women are trying to survive the women’s empowerment movement, telling us we can have fulfilling careers, be June Cleaver-esqe moms, with weekly Sex in the City lunches with our besties, homes that look like we’re channeling Joanna Gaines, and rock our wonder woman bodies.

All without breaking a nail.

Consumer insights tell us women control approximately 85% of purchasing decisions in the household. I believe it. But the study I want to see is how much of that 85% is ACTUALLY SPENT ON THEMSELVES. I’m not a gambler, but I’d wager the percentage to hover between 1-2%.

Women have been trying to be the best version of themselves, according to what society tells them that version looks like. They’ve been focusing on self-love and self-care by carving out 5-minutes of uninterrupted peace and that feels AMAZING. Sure, they’d love to have hours and maybe even an entire day (or 5) to relax and do what they want, when they want, without someone needing them every waking moment of the day. A few years ago, a good friend and I had the opportunity to travel to Australia to represent a charity at a gala function. It was 24-hours of planes, trains, and automobiles to get there. We were exhausted. But when we arrived at our accommodations near the beach, we dropped our bags in our room, changed into beachwear, and headed for the sun and sand. I think we sat there for maybe 10-minutes before we realized it was as close to a heavenly retreat as we could’ve ever imagined. It was mid-day in Australia, which meant it was midnight back home in the states. No one needed us. We didn’t have anywhere we needed to be for a few hours.

We could just be.

Sounds amazing right? That was 2-years ago. I can’t say I’ve truly felt that relaxed since. I literally had to travel halfway around the globe to separate mentally and physically from my daily tasks. It’s not exactly something I can do spur of the moment. The memories of that trip are forever encased in a special place in my soul. I visit that place every now and again when I need to reset and remember who I am.

Me.

Not any of the labels I proudly carry like wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, entrepreneur-me.

Little ol’ me.

Take the everyday woman I am and juxtapose that with the woman I was on the beach in Australia. It doesn’t feel like there’s a middle ground to me. I’m either 100% everyday life or 100% beach bum. I guess if I lived near an ocean, it would be easier to go between the 2. But like the saying goes, “No one needs you until you finally sit down to relax.”

When I talk to women about personal safety and learning how to be more situationally aware, I can see the everyday woman voice in their head saying, “When would I have time to take a class? How would I justify the cost? I can’t do that-I haven’t worked out in ages!” The beach bum voice says, “If you start investing time and money into that, you’ll NEVER have time to yourself. That will become your ME time.”

I don’t know about you, but if you want me to choose either sand between my toes, sun on my face, salt in the air, waves crashing on shore or the image of a stereotypical male ex-military/law enforcement/martial arts expert teaching me women’s self-defense by gouging eyeballs and crushing throats, I’ll pick beach bum every time.

I had a phone conversation with a guy (who I shall not callout publicly because that’s not how I roll) who wrote a self-defense book for women. The first 20 minutes of the call involved him telling me it was nearly impossible to get women to make their personal safety a priority. That his very famous friend, who encouraged him to write the book and even wrote the forward, was not able to help the book reach women like he’d hoped (It probably doesn’t help that this friend has had numerous accusations of sexual misconduct from women, but I digress.). His belief is that women needed to learn how to physically fight, and situational awareness is a by-product. When I look at his marketing, all I see bulging muscles in too-tight shirts and an angry scowl.

I’d call that a misfire.

I’m the first to say that it takes all types of people with all different backgrounds to make the world go ‘round. How I like to learn things may be different than the person sitting next to me. I’m not saying that guy was completely wrong in his approach. I’m saying if your current approach of marketing to women is not working, maybe try something different.

Or not.

I don’t care. You do you.

I truly don’t believe he should try to be anything other than himself. Women want authenticity. Women want honesty and vulnerability. Brene Brown is beloved by so many women because she promotes these traits. What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.

So, where does that leave us? How do we change the conversation, the marketing, the look, the feel of self-defense- so women see it and feel like the training is absolutely worth the time, cost, and effort? Remember, you’re asking them to give up their version of beach bum to learn something new. You’re asking them to trade those precious moments of uninterrupted bliss to feel like a 5-year-old on her first bike. Bumps, scrapes, and bruises included.

Is learning self-defense worth it? Definitely. Should every woman have a resource and place where she feels comfortable learning these life-saving skills? Of course. Has the self-defense industry done a good job marketing to women? Nope. Before you think I’m all doom and gloom, I think the industry has started to do some self-reflection. I think the industry as a whole, truly wants to help women learn how to be safer in their daily life. I know lots of self-defense instructors who are open to suggestions on how to change their marketing approach to appeal to women.

They are also determined 5-year-olds, getting their first bike with training wheels, wanting to learn how to do something new.

“Be brave enough to be bad at something new.”

Jon Acuff

What Does That Even Mean?!?

What Does That Even Mean?!?

Do you ever get caught up in the hype of NYE resolutions? I’m going to work out! I’m going to eat healthier! I’m going to climb Mt. Everest! When I hear people say those things, I wonder-what does that even mean?

In the case of mountain climbing-WHY?! It’s cold up there!

Let’s take the “I’m going to work out” goal. Does that mean getting a gym membership and going on a regular basis? Once you get to the gym, do you want to do cardio? Does that mean running, cycling, rowing? Does it mean lifting weights? Does it mean hiring a personal trainer to guide you in those workouts?

Saying you’re going to work out is a broad statement and means something different to everyone.

Maybe you’re someone who thinks NYE resolutions are overrated so I’ll use a different example. Getting directions.

My husband and I decided it was time to update our boys’ playroom. They need desks to work at and shelves to show off their lego creations. I found everything I needed at IKEA online, and chose the click-and-collect option for pickup. I’m not familiar with this particular store and I’d never used the order pickup system before. When I finalized my order, it gave me the following directions.

The closest parking is on the upper deck of parking garage on south side. Enter through the Returns & Exchanges entrance and turn to your left. Continue to the Order Pick up desk and ask for your order by the order number.”

What does that even mean? Is there a big sign on the outside of the building telling me which entrance I should go in? Is there a loading dock? Do I leave my truck parked near the doors while we walk in to get our items? Will anyone be able to help me lift the boxes in the truck?

So often, the people writing directions have details in their heads they assume everyone knows, and they forget to share them.

That’s exactly what I think of when someone says, “you need to be more situationally aware”.

Great!

What the hell does that mean?!?

Be more aware of what? What am I looking for? How should I act when I’m out in public? How should I act when I’m out with friends? How should I act when I’m with my kids by myself?  Trying to keep your eyes on small children WHILE being aware of your surroundings is a constant balancing act.

Look at the kids, look around, look at the kids, look around…now, what was I doing again? Oh yea, trying to find the next item on my grocery list.

Crap! Where did the kids go?!?

Simply telling women to be more situationally aware is too vague.

That’s where The Diamond Arrow Group steps in. We teach you how your intuition works. How it communicates with you, so you know what to listen for. We teach you the behaviors to watch for, so you know when someone is testing your boundaries.  We talk about using ALL your senses to inform you of your surroundings. We teach simple daily habits to practice, so you are present in your daily life.

Do you prefer to learn by taking online classes?

We have an entire video training series you can take from the comfort of your own home.

Do you prefer taking classes in person?

Our first public class of 2020 is open for registration.

Do you prefer from a presentation on the subject?

We offer hour-long sessions that work great for lunch and learn meetings or networking groups.

Do you prefer one-on-one coaching?

We offer private lessons where we come to you.

We learn about you and start where you are today. We take your natural strengths in to account, and work with you to build self-confidence in your personal safety abilities. We truly believe everyone can learn to be more situationally aware than they were yesterday.

I’m excited to announce something new for 2020. Emergency Action Plan facilitation for private business and public facilities.

Most companies have a large, three-ring binder with what to do in case of a fire, tornado, or flood. When was the last time it was updated? Does it include active shooter incidents or bomb threats? Do all employees know the procedure for accountability in the event of an evacuation? The last thing anyone wants to worry about is where is everyone and are they safe. Yes-there are many templates and tons of information to download from the internet. But what HR Manager has the time to figure out what applies to their specific company?

That where we come in. We will sit down with a business, review the current emergency plan or help create a new one from scratch, and offer suggestions on training or lead trainings for all employees. We provide clear guidance and assistance so companies feel confident in their plan.

The mission of The Diamond Arrow Group is to help people, especially women, gain confidence to live life on their own terms.

How can we help you?

 

“Vagueness leads to assumptions, where no one knows what’s going on.

Being specific opens the door to clarity, which leads to success.”

-Kelly Sayre

Did The Creepy Dude Become a Hood Ornament or Not?

Did The Creepy Dude Become a Hood Ornament or Not?

Last week, my dear friend Kelly Radi was the featured author during Ladies Night // Holiday Style at Copper Pony. I hadn’t stopped by to see this store that everyone raves about, I needed a hostess gift, and I wanted to show support for Kelly’s latest book, Wonder-Full. I thought this would be the perfect excuse to get out of the house by myself and spend time smelling yummy candles and laughing at sarcastic home décor.

My original plan was to be there at the beginning of the event (5pm) and get out before it got too crowded. Unfortunately, my husband had to stay at work longer that day, so I didn’t get out the door until 6:30pm. The reason this little nugget of info is important, is it changes who you are likely to encounter walking down the street.

The event was in full swing at the store, which is located in our downtown area. Parking is available on the streets and there are parking ramps and large lots within walking distance. I drove around until I found street parking that was in front of a well-lit building and around the corner from the store. I grabbed my J5 flashlight, kept it in my right hand, and stuck my hand in my jacket pocket. My handbag went over my shoulder and I walked without incident to the store.

The store is so cute!! I saw lots of people I knew, I wondered around and collected a lot more than one hostess gift, and as I was about to leave, a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile walked in. We lamented about the busyness of the season and how we needed to get together to catch up. She works downtown and her car was parked in one of the lots further away. I offered to drive her to her car and wait while it warmed up so we could chat.

Since she had just gotten there and needed to pick up a gift, I said I would get my vehicle, and drive around and pick her up when she was finished. I went back to my truck and then pulled out of my spot to find a spot closer to the store front. I ended up doing a couple of laps around the block before I spotted an opening near the front of a restaurant.

It was a spot you would drive into instead of needing to parallel park. As I pulled in, my headlights showed an older man, probably in his 60’s or 70’s, squatted down smoking a cigarette. He was tucked in a corner by the entrance to a business that was closed for the night.

Pause

(Let’s hit pause to break down the moving parts. Our intuition processes information faster than we can consciously analyze so it’s important to slow it down after the fact to understand key signals.)

 -It’s not unusual to see someone smoking outside an establishment, tucked into a building to get out of the wind.

-Observing his appearance and the fact that he was squatting or sitting down on the sidewalk, I guessed that he could be one of our homeless population.

-Whenever I put my truck in park, all the doors automatically unlock. I always re-lock the doors out of habit for safety. I locked my doors instinctively in that moment.

-I turned off my headlights so they wouldn’t be shining in his eyes.

Resume

I texted my friend to let her know where I was parked and asked her to text me when she was walking out the door.

In the short time it took me to send the text, the man had stood up, and was now standing at the front of my truck on the sidewalk.

Pause

-I wasn’t alarmed by him standing there but I did raise my awareness. I didn’t see a backpack on his shoulders, and he didn’t have any items under his arms.

-I couldn’t see his hands because they were below my field of vision over my hood.

-He didn’t have an expression on his face, it was simply blank.

Resume

I didn’t want to grab my phone to text my friend because I didn’t want to be distracted. I did look at him again to make sure he knew I noticed him.

Pause

-The different options for action started going through my head. Do I wave him along? Do I turn my headlights back on and flash them, hoping he’ll get the hint and walk away? Do I crack my window enough to tell him to please get away from the front of my truck? Or do I back out of my perfect parking spot and drive away?

Resume

My mental processing probably took 10 seconds, but having the man STILL standing there, staring at me, made it feel like a lot longer. By this time, I was uncomfortable because he had no reason to be standing there and had not changed his facial expression or tried saying anything to me.

I decided to go with the last option.

I turned my headlights back on, put my truck in reverse, and backed out of the spot.

As I started to drive away, I looked towards him. He had already turned and was walking into the restaurant. I muttered “jerk” and drove away. If he was a patron of the restaurant who had simply stepped outside to smoke, why did he have to stand at the front of my truck staring at me? Why didn’t he just walk back into the restaurant when he finished his smoke?

Honestly, I think I was more upset about losing my parking spot at that moment.

Fast forward to the end of the night when I recounted this experience to my husband. If you’re new to following The Diamond Arrow Group, my husband works in the Police Department for our city. This gives context to our conversation.

Here are the highlights.

Husband: Why didn’t you lay on your horn and tell him to get out of there?

Me: He wasn’t doing anything threatening, I didn’t want to draw unnecessary attention to myself, and it was easy enough to drive away.

As women, we don’t want to cause a scene every time a creeper does something that makes us uncomfortable. We already keep moments when we get that “weird feeling” to ourselves because we hear “you’re over-reacting” or “don’t be judgmental”. Plus, we’ve all been told “don’t cry wolf because when something DOES happen, no one will respond”.

Now let’s be clear, I’m not saying women are “crying wolf” when they talk about something that happened to them. I’m bringing this up because in our minds, we have to save those imaginary please believe me cards for the time when something really major happens.

The problem with that mentality is, who decides what’s trivial and what’s major?

Husband: I think I know who you’re talking about. Did you snap a picture of him?

Me: No, that thought didn’t cross my mind.

When we were on this topic, I questioned myself too. Why DIDN’T I take a picture of him? My husband said I could pretend I was FaceTiming with someone and take a picture without the guy even knowing.

As I mentally pictured raising my phone and pretending to take a picture, I wondered if that would have caused him to get angry. Going back to my earlier point, women don’t want to cause a scene. I don’t think I could be sly enough to get a picture without him knowing what I was doing.

Husband: If you saw him again, would you recognize him?

Me: I’m pretty sure I would.

This part of the conversation went into the reporting to law enforcement discussion. My husband WANTS women to report behaviors like this. The reason is because he can let other officers know and be watching for the behavior. What if this guy does this to women all the time? What if he’s done worse?

IMPORTANT NOTE: Everyone should have the non-emergency number for their local law enforcement agency saved in their phone. If you don’t, open a browser window right now and search to find it.

Husband: Did you say anything to him at all?

Me: Nope, I didn’t want to give an opening to conversation and have him get close to my window.

Again, I would rather avoid elevating the situation. I had no desire to start a conversation. I simply wanted to be left alone in my nice parking spot.

Our discussion was interesting. I kept saying, “if I wasn’t doing work on situational awareness and wasn’t married to a cop, I probably wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”

This was a non-event in my mind. For others, it might have really bugged them, and they would’ve done something different. Maybe they would’ve honked the horn. Maybe they would’ve motioned for the guy to move along. Maybe they would’ve stayed in the parking spot and not cared about the guy standing there.

As long as you do whatever you feel comfortable doing to stay safe, that’s all that matters. The important part is to do something. Consider your options, decide on one that works for you, and then do it.

I’ve studied all things relating to situational awareness and self-defense for years, and I’m still learning. I hear from so many of you “nothing happened but…I got this weird vibe”. It’s very real. Your senses are constantly taking in information. Your subconscious is always processing that information, deciding what message to send to your consciousness. Your intuition is taking that message and delivering it in physical ways (chills up your spine, nagging thoughts, knots in your stomach). Pay attention and never discount your intuition.

“Intuition is always right in at least two important ways;

It is always in response to something. It always has your best interest at heart”

Gavin De Becker

That Time of Year

That Time of Year

During the Holiday season, I start to feel like I’ve lost my marbles. The to-do list grows a million miles long. It seems we always need to be somewhere, by a certain time, with a certain food item…oh, and what are we going to do with the dog?

If I don’t take the time to think through what needs to happen and by when, it sucks for everyone. It can be exhausting and panic inducing.

You know the saying…

I look out at least a week in advance, to plan what needs to get done. I figure out my daily tasks, so I can be home when the kids get off the bus. As the other saying goes, “if you want something done, ask a busy person”.

Because I have a clear picture in my head of what I need to do and by when, last-minute surprises don’t phase me. Can I bring dessert instead of a side dish? Sure! I’ll pick up Christine’s cheesecake. (This is a real thing and yes, her cheesecakes are the BEST)

If I DON’T have a plan in place, those last-minute surprises catch me off guard.

If I’m scrambling during the day to get things done and the phone rings, I send it straight to voicemail (sorry-no time to talk!). Inevitably, I forget to listen to the message until much later.

What?!? Now I need to bring dessert?! Ugh! Guess I’m making another trip into town tomorrow.

By not having a plan for the day, taking time to run to the store only adds stress. Great, now I have MORE on my to-do list.

Instead of being relaxed and enjoying the season, I’ve turned in to the crazy lady driving down the road.  I’m stressed and distracted, not present and aware of my surroundings.

Sound familiar? Or am I the only crazy lady? 

What does this have to do with situational awareness?

Let’s switch the words around a little bit.

If I don’t take the time to think through what needs to happen and by when, it sucks for everyone. It can be exhausting and panic inducing.

If I don’t take the time to think about what I would do if I was attacked, I won’t be able to protect myself and loved ones. The feeling of helplessness is exhausting and panic inducing.

I look out at least a week in advance, to plan what needs to get done. I figure out my daily tasks, so I can be home when the kids get off the bus.

When I read a story about a woman being attacked, I take a moment to imagine the situation happening to me. What would I do? How would I fight back? What would I do if he had a weapon? What if I had my kids with me?

Because I have a clear picture in my head of what I need to do and by when, last-minute surprises don’t phase me.

Because I’ve thought about what I would do in an attack, I’m confident I won’t freeze. I know I will do x, y, z and fight back with everything I’ve got.

Mental preparedness not only helps manage stress in daily life, it helps you have confidence in your personal safety skills.

The Diamond Arrow Group has a simple mission, to teach women situational awareness & self-defense using their natural skills. Why? Because you should have the confidence to live life on your own terms. Being mentally prepared with a plan to fight back against an attacker is key to building your confidence.

Don’t let the craziness of the Holidays overwelm you. Don’t want walk around with tunnel vision because you’re stressed about your to-do list. Take some time tonight to make a plan for the week. What do you need to get done, in the next few days, so you can be present and enjoy the moments with those you love?

“Wherever you are, be all there.”

-Jim Elliot

How Can I Help?

How Can I Help?

 I get asked all the time,

“What made you start The Diamond Arrow Group?”

“Why did you decide to teach situational awareness to women?”

“Did something happen to you?”

All great questions and I thought it was a good time to do a blog post to answer them.

Let’s Take These One At A Time

In High School, I took Entrepreneurship Class my senior year. The first semester, my business partner and I made and sold custom candles. The second semester, the entire class ran a business making and selling sling-back chairs. Taking this class gave me the business bug and I knew someday, I wanted to have my own business. (Shout out to Mr. Oscarson and Mr. Larson!)

Over the next 15 years, I was constantly asking myself, “What type of business do I want? What am I good at? What doesn’t FEEL like work?”.

Why Situational Awareness?

A couple of years ago, I belonged to a women’s executive group. When it was my turn to present a topic to the group, I thought it would be “fun” to bring them to a simulation room and give a presentation on situational awareness. I enlisted my husband (who works in law enforcement), to go through an active shooter scenario while the ladies observed.

I realize my version of “fun” might be a little unique. 😉

My presentation went well, and the ladies were comfortably nodding their heads and having lots of “aha” moments. I discussed how their intuition works and why it’s so important to practice using all their senses to observe their surroundings. When it was my husband’s turn to “walk” through the active shooter scenario being projected on the wall-sized screen, the room got really quiet. To give you an idea of what the ladies watched, the scenario involved live actors in an office setting, an active shooter who my husband’s police avatar needed to find, and he used a training firearm that mimicked the sound and kick of a real firearm.

I suddenly questioned whether I should’ve asked if anyone had any heart-related health concerns.

After the scenario ended, the entire room collectively exhaled. I wondered if I was going to be asked to leave the group.

Then something wonderful happened. The women started asking lots of questions. “Why did you walk past the people who were shot and needed medical attention at the beginning of the scenario? Could you have shot the shooter in the arm to stop the threat? Is it really like that in an active shooter situation? What should I do if I’m ever in that situation at my work? What can I do to stay safe and alive?”

One of the comments I received was, “If you hadn’t presented on this topic, I never would’ve gotten this information.”

That’s when the seed of Diamond Arrow Group was planted.

Did Something Happen To You?

I’ve had almost 40 years on this earth, so the question requires more than a few paragraphs in a blog post, but I can point to a few key events.

The high school I graduated from had two students killed by a student shooter when my sister was a senior. I moved to Southern California in my early 20’s with my best friend and we had safety plans for a variety of scenarios. I’m married to man who is 20 years retired Army and currently in his 23rd year of law enforcement (our conversations can be quite interesting). Our local mall had a man armed with steak knives, chasing people down and stabbing them. He was shot and killed by an armed, off-duty Police Officer.

There are instances in my life where I felt uncomfortable or my boundaries were crossed. I had to learn how to notice when a person’s behaviors and actions had ill-intent, and what I needed to do to stay safe.

I’m Still Learning

I’ve read a ton of books on subjects relating to situational awareness. I’ve had many conversations with people who are experts in the self-defense industry. I try to learn something new every day. I read news stories of women who have been attacked and I ask myself, “What would I do if that happened to me? How would I react?”.

I don’t consider myself the expert on situational awareness. I simply want to share my journey of learning how to keep myself and my loved ones safe. I want women to see someone that looks like them and plays the same roles in life (mom, wife, sister, friend) that they do. I want women to realize they can be kind and yet firm in their boundaries. I want to show women they don’t have to apologize for doing whatever they need to do to stay safe.

Let’s Change The Discussion

For a very long time, the self-defense industry has focused on the physical aspect. How to fight an attacker. How to respond to violence with greater violence. But there’s a shift happening. There are more and more people talking about the psychological aspect. The pre-threat indicators that tell you a person’s intentions BEFORE anything happens. There are women (and some men) in the industry who realize situational awareness is crucial in self-defense and are working to bring attention to it.

It’s going to take time, but I sense the paradigm shifting. The conversations are starting and there is a collective effort to look at personal safety from a female’s perspective.

Tell Me What You Need

This is where I need your help. I need to hear what would help YOU. Tell me your biggest fears and concerns and I will search for answers. I know you already have a million things on your plate. I know you are taking care of everyone else and while learning more about your personal safety is important, it usually slips down the priority list. It’s real life.

Follow “The Diamond Arrow Group” on FB & IG and ask your questions in the comments or send me a direct message. Send me an email at kelly@thediamondarrowgroup.com and tell me your greatest fear when it comes to your personal safety. I want to help you build your confidence so you can live life on your own terms.

“What Is It You Plan To Do With Your One Wild and Precious Life?”

-Mary Oliver

 

Never Have I Ever

Never Have I Ever

The whole reason I started The Diamond Arrow Group was because I wanted to learn to AVOID a physical confrontation with an attacker. I consider myself to be athletic, but I never wanted to “test” my strength against someone (statistically more than likely to be a male), who may or may not be in an altered state (whether drugs or an adrenaline rush). When I searched for resources or trainings on situational awareness, the majority of what I found was specific to military and law enforcement individuals. I found very little information that talked about learning those skills for everyday life.

With my ties to those worlds, I decided I would become a bridge and translate the information from the tactical world to the everyday person, specifically women.

In The Beginning

It was intimidating at first! How do I take skills that can mean the difference between life or death for soldiers and first responders, and deliver them in a way that makes sense to everyday Jane? Becoming situationally aware can still be the difference between life or death for the average person, but I didn’t want women walking around in fear, waiting for a threat to jump out of the bushes. That’s no way to live. As women, we’re told over and over again that the coolest stuff happens outside our comfort zones, and in the next breath, we’re told not to go out alone after dark. We’re told not to travel solo to see the world. We’re told all these things we SHOULDN’T do in order to stay safe.

It can make it seem like we should just stay home.

And then we read about home invasions.

Is it any surprise women get frustrated by all the mixed messages?

Yea…That’s Not Helpful

I once received a newsletter telling me (and I’ll paraphrase) “The things women can stop doing immediately to be safe”. This well-intended- but way off the mark- list of tips included:

-Never mix alcohol and strangers

-Don’t go through a drive-thru late at night

-Keep unknown people in front of you

I had to read through the list a couple of times because I thought I must have missed the “April Fools” joke somewhere. I shared my response to the newsletter in an Instagram post so rather than re-type my comments, feel free to check it out here. The point is, telling me “don’t do this, don’t do that” isn’t helping me learn to be self-reliant. It gives me zero opportunity to learn how to be safer going about my daily life.

In my book, that’s a FAIL.

Finding My Tribe

In the last two years, I’ve been able to connect with some amazing people in the self-defense world.  A handful of those people included a group of women who had many years of martial arts in their backgrounds. They joined forces because they want to change the way self-defense is taught to women. They welcomed me into their conversation and answered my many questions. When the topic of training opportunities came up, it was a unanimous, “Go to VioDy!”. I had never heard of the training and in my quick google search, I realized there was an upcoming class in my home state. It was the chance to fully immerse myself in the physical and psychological world of self-defense and save a ton of money on travel expenses. Plus-two of the women were going to be there, so I had a safety net. I wouldn’t be all alone with a bunch of strangers. I was in!

What Did I Get Myself Into?!?

As the training dates got closer, I admit, I felt like puking from the nerves. I’d taken one physical self-defense class before, and it was with other newbies. My only true experience fighting someone was wrestling with my brother growing up. I would be walking into a room full of men and women who had years of martial arts experience and taught other people self-defense. I felt way out of my league. I figured they would realize I knew nothing, have pity on me, and let me sit on the sidelines and watch.

Yea…that’s not what happened.

It Got Real, Real Quick

Violence Dynamics isn’t a small-time commitment. It’s four days. It starts promptly at 9am (the group workout starts at 7:15 if you want extra punishment) and goes until 6pm. I would say 80% of the time we were on our feet, going through one-step drills. The instructors tell you to partner with someone in class (they make you change partners after each drill, so you ended up “fighting” with everyone in class) and you VERY SLOWLY physically fight. You might throw the first punch to your partners chin, and they respond by using your momentum to spin you around and put you in a headlock. Maybe you send an elbow back into their ribs, maybe they push you off balance and knock you to the ground. Maybe you kick at their knees to knock them down too. All these movements are done at such a slow speed, it looks comical, but it serves its purpose. You learn what it feels like to make physical contact without actually hurting each other.

Keep in mind, I had very minimal experience in the physical aspect of self-defense. I looked ridiculous on the first day. I ended up in quite a few “well shit, how do I get out of this now?!?” predicaments.

Learn By Doing

But you know what? Not once was I told I was doing it wrong. The instructors made suggestions on different moves to try but stressed the importance of doing what felt natural and getting better at that. Our class was unique in that 2/3rds of the students were “OG’s” (people who attended a VioDy previously). Every partner I fought with wanted to help me and answered my many questions. To be clear- the OG’s did not go easy on the FNG’s (rookies), and I’m glad they didn’t. I was there to test my limits and learn my weak points.

An attacker is not going to “go easy” on you.

I had some bruises, rug burn on my elbows, and my muscles were sore for days afterwards. But I gained confidence in my ability to fight back against an attacker much bigger and stronger than me.

It Wasn’t ALL Physical

The other 20% of training involved class lectures. The instructors covered topics like context of violence, conflict communications, force articulation, and aftermath of violence (this was especially interesting to me as I had never heard anyone talk about the aftereffects of experiencing violence). It was hard for me to just sit and absorb it all because I wanted to turn it in to a class discussion. Each instructor had a lecture topic and the way they explained the psychological side of violence was eye-opening. I’ve read a lot of books on the topic but hearing someone give their own real-world experiences makes a big difference. If you haven’t read Rory Miller’s Conflict Communications book yet, make sure to add it to your reading list.

Real World Scenarios

On the final day, we took a field trip to the Mall of America and learned about physical, mental and emotional boundaries, and what they look like. One exercise involved pairing up with a fellow teammate and playing a certain relationship. My partner and I decided to be mother & daughter. We needed to see if we could accurately project the relationship so strangers would assume that’s what we were. Another exercise involved getting “highly sensitive” information from one instructor to another by using a code and not letting the information get intercepted. It was a lot of fun!

After personally logging over 18,000 steps, the day ended by having dinner together.

The Wrap Party

Even after four days with these people, I wanted one more day to hang out. On the first day, you stood up, said your name, your code name if you were an OG, and talked about your self-defense background. We didn’t share what we did for a living, where we were from, or how old we were; we were simply people wanting to learn how to keep ourselves and loved ones safe.

For those four days, we were all focused on a singular goal, to go from strength to strength. Wherever you started from, they wanted you to get better.

Mission Accomplished

I could go on and on about my different experiences in the training (First time fighting in a car! First time fighting in a stairwell! First time fighting in the ladies restroom!). I’m happy to report I “punched” my graduation certificate and my official OG codename is Starbuck (not the coffee shop;-p).

In Conclusion

The training is awesome, and I highly recommend it to ANYONE. We had more women in the class then men. I met people from California, Nevada, and Alaska. A mom, her daughter and two sons attended, and they were all OG’s (not their first VioDy). All ages, all backgrounds, and all abilities. Everyone was welcome.

Next year is the 10th anniversary of VioDy and they have some epic things planned. They’re even calling it “Mega Prime”. I’ll share the registration link when it goes public with my email list. So, if you were forwarded this newsletter, make sure to get on my email list yourself!

“Develop the habit of doing unpleasant things quickly and without hesitation. If you are going to jump in the cold water, jump in the cold water. If you need to get up, get your ass out of bed. Do the dishes that need doing. Finish the hard jobs at work while everyone else is coming up with excuses to get out of them.”

-Rory Miller