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

What If They’ve Had It All Wrong?

What If They’ve Had It All Wrong?

Last week I had the opportunity to close out an inspirational day at the first annual S.O.A.R. (Seize Opportunity And Rise) conference for women. Every speaker shared their story of overcoming adversity, facing fear head-on, and striving to live life following their passions. When it was my turn to get on stage, I felt like my message about challenging the status quo on women’s self-defense was going to seem out of place…

…and that’s exactly why I couldn’t wait to share my story.

I had three key points I wanted them to walk away with; how carrying themselves with confidence, communicating effectively and using mental preparedness, plays a crucial role in their safety. Those three points are synonymous with the message of most leadership development seminars. We talk about these topics when it comes to career success all the time. What women haven’t been told is that these are the same skills they can use to stay safe.

Carrying Yourself With Confidence

How you walk into a room or around a conference expo floor can have a great impact on the impression you give potential clients or future business partners.

Communicate Effectively

To be an effective leader or team member, you need to be able to communicate with clarity. Whether it’s advocating for a promotion or why your solution to a challenge is the way to go, you have to be able to clearly explain why you think your solution is the best choice.

Mental Preparedness

When you discover a problem at work, you mentally visualize how the different solutions will play out. Being able to utilize this skill can help you avoid options that aren’t the most viable.

You’ve probably experienced these exact scenarios or something very similar over and over again and at every level of your career.

Look At Those Skills Differently

Let’s change out some of the words to make them apply to self-defense.

Confidence On The  Street

How you walk down the street or around a store can have a great impact on the impression you give an attacker looking for their next victim.

Communicate Boundaries

To create and maintain healthy boundaries with others, you need to be able to communicate your boundaries with clarity. Whether it’s letting a stranger know they are making you uncomfortable or telling someone you know their behavior is unacceptable. You have to know what your personal boundaries are and clearly explain they need to respect those boundaries, or you will leave.

Visualize Victory

When you read a story about a woman being attacked, you shudder and wonder what you would do if you were ever in a similar situation. Hopefully, you literally put yourself in that situation and visualize what you would say and do. Or you picture yourself fighting back against the attacker with everything you’ve got.

What’s Different

Notice that none of these scenarios involved a specific martial art or weapon.

Does having experience in the martial arts or handling of weapons help you in a physical confrontation with an attacker?

Absolutely.

Do you need to start with learning those skills in order to keep yourself safe?

Nope.

Start A New Conversation

In my opinion, the conversation on women’s self-defense has started with the wrong topics. When most people hear “self-defense”, they think of physically fighting. How to kick, how to hit, and how to do a mean karate chop. Being able to physically defend yourself is a critical life-skill, but what about learning to spot a potentially dangerous situation BEFORE it happens? Isn’t that just as important-if not more important to learn?

“Success isn’t about the end result, it’s about what you learn along the way.”

-Very Wang

One Size Does Not Fit All

One Size Does Not Fit All

Newsflash…Men and Women Think Differently!

You’re shocked, I’m sure.

It’s so cliché, but women view their social interactions differently than men. Especially when it comes to situational awareness and self-defense. The passion for my work comes from wanting to bring the conversation about self-defense from a women’s perspective mainstream. There’s not a better way to do that than to talk about my own personal experiences.

Let Me Set the Stage

I’m a car geek. My love for the sound of an engine roaring, the smell of a mechanic’s garage, and the look of a sleek body style came from my Dad. It started at an early age and has stayed with me over the years. My husband came across a ’72 Mach I Mustang for sale a few years ago and within 48 hours, we were in the process of purchasing it. There are some things that still need work, but it’s drivable and we enjoy taking it out on date nights.

We live in Minnesota and the days are getting shorter and colder (hello winter). When we heard a local establishment was having their final car show of the summer, we took the Mustang out for her potentially last cruise. When we arrived, the parking lot was packed with cars. Fortunately, we were able to get one of the last “show” spots and proceeded to walk around and chat with other car fanatics. As we were walking around, I spotted someone I thought I recognized in the crowd. I wasn’t sure though, so I didn’t wave and say hello.

Meet Fred

For the sake of ease, I’m going to call this guy Fred.

We continued to walk around, and I spotted Fred again. This time, he noticed my husband and I, so he started making his way over to us. As he got closer, I noticed his appearance had changed since the last time I’d seen him. The way his eyes looked and some of his mannerisms told me he was in an altered state.

I’m not talking like Fred had had a couple drinks, I’m talking something a little stronger than that. That was my first caution flag and my alertness went up a notch.

Fred walked up to my husband first and shook his hand to say hello. Then he turned to me and shook my hand and pulled me in for a one-armed hug. After we pulled apart, he said, “oh come here-what’s with the bro hug?” and proceeded to go in for another hug.

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.)

-Fred is someone my husband and I know on an acquaintance level. He’s local to our area and we’ve crossed paths with him over the last 10 years in a work environment. He’s loud and brash and seems to lack the basic social etiquette most people have.

-I had 1/10th of a second to decide whether I wanted to reluctantly accept another hug from Fred or put up my arm to physically stop him and risk his loudmouth causing a scene. I had to take in to account his altered state and how that would impact his reaction to whatever I did.

-Because everyone has access to a video camera and social media, public confrontations are quickly recorded and shared online. People who weren’t there and have no idea what happened suddenly become armchair experts and everything can get blown out of proportion.

-In that split second, I decided I would take the awkward second hug. Rest assured, I placed one of my feet between his two feet to give my knee a clear path to his groin. I always keep my offensive moves ready to go as discreetly as possible.

Resume

The second hug ended in an acceptable amount of time, but not without a comment from Fred.

“Now that’s a real hug. None of that one-arm bullshit.” To which I replied, “You were the one to reach out for a handshake.”

The reason I mention this detail is because it was my way of vocally calling out his actions and being clear that I was fully present and aware of his movements.

I had zero interest in continuing a conversation with Fred and I could tell my husband felt the same way. As a segue, I mentioned out loud that something smelled good which cued my husband to say, “let’s get inside and find something to eat”.

Pause

-Removing yourself from a conversation with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t have to be rude. In fact, I recommend keeping it as nonchalant as possible. There’s no reason to escalate a situation to make your point.

-Ladies, an easy go-to is saying you need to use the restroom. The creep will not be able to follow you there without A LOT of people noticing and asking questions. *Disclaimer* Before you use this line, make sure the situation is favorable to you. You don’t want to be going to a bathroom that is secluded and away from the public eye.

-Because Fred was standing right there, I couldn’t out right say, “he’s making me uncomfortable, let’s get out of here.”

Resume

My husband and I turned and walked into the establishment. As I mentioned earlier, it was the last car show for the year, so the place was packed. Once we got through the entrance, we were met with a wall of people.

Much to my dismay, when my husband and I stopped and turned to stand shoulder-to-shoulder facing the crowd, Fred walked up right beside us. In my head, I groaned. Great, he followed us inside.

Pause

-My husband was on my left, there was a wall of people in front of me and Fred was on my right.

-I was positioned so I could keep an eye on Fred. If someone is making you uncomfortable, DO NOT let them get behind you and out of your sight.

-I gently put my hand on the inside of my husband’s elbow which caused him to look towards me and he noticed Fred standing there.

Resume

All of a sudden, Fred pulled his keys out of his pocket and held up his keychain. He looked at me and said, “want to pet my lucky rabbit’s foot?”

I’m not joking. You can’t make this shit up.

Pause

-Because of the crowd, I could not physical remove myself from the area. I needed to be firm and direct with my answer to Fred.

-My husband was watching, so I knew he was aware of what was taking place.

-Pet your rabbit’s foot keychain? Uhm, that would be a hard no.

Resume

I looked at Fred and said, “No”.

Fred looked at me and said, “Why not? It doesn’t stink!”, and then proceeded to lift the keychain to his nose and inhaled deeply.

My husband grabbed my hand and said, “let’s go, I see a spot for the two of us” and while he said this, he pulled me in front of him, positioning himself between me and Fred.

I had no idea which direction we were going but I knew to keep walking to get lost in the sea of people and away from Fred. We stopped at a table of friends and both of us did a quick scan to see if Fred was following (he wasn’t).

After chatting for a few minutes with our friends, we realized it was way too crowded to try and find a place to sit and order food, so we decided to leave.  We left the establishment without crossing paths with Fred and the topic wasn’t brought up the rest of the night.

Let’s Discuss

The next night at home, I asked my husband for his opinion on the interactions with Fred. We had a great discussion on our observations of Fred’s mental state, the point at which my husband knew I was uncomfortable, and if we would have done anything differently. I was able to share all the different thoughts that went through my head and why sometimes telling a guy “no” is not so simple. Context matters.

I wanted to share all of this because I think it’s important to have real conversations about how and why women look at situations differently than men.

There is no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to self-defense for women. Every situation will have many nuances and each woman will orientate herself differently in the situation.

So Remember…

Ladies-if you’re looking for the perfect way to handle every situation, there isn’t one. You need to decide the best option for you in that moment and take action.

Gentleman-if you are telling the women in your life exactly what they need to do in different situations, you are doing them a disservice. They will see things differently than you and the actions they feel comfortable taking will probably be different too.

Let’s Be Real

I’m not going to stop doing things I love because I worry about being in uncomfortable situations. I’m going to continue learning techniques to spot potentially threatening situations before they happen and mentally practice how I would respond in different scenarios.

And I’m going to continuing sharing everything I learn with you.

You’ll see me at the car shows next summer. 😉

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

-President Theodore Roosevelt