Self-Defense, Week Seven: Tranquility and Self-Preservation

I’m feeling calm.

This week, we worked on fighting off someone for a few minutes. We had drills.

And even when I struggled to break free, I didn’t panic. My instructor and my classmates encouraged me– watched what I was doing and gently corrected me. My voice got stronger, and I used it.

I always got away. It didn’t matter the size of the person I was fighting, or how aggressive they were.

I used the moves I learned and improvised a few of my own, too. And this time my instructor didn’t criticize me from deviating from the curriculum. He seemed impressed.

I learned a have a strong instinct for self-preservation. My best weapon is my intuition and my brain.

I’m good at avoiding trouble, and that’s not being weak.

On my way to class, I encountered my across-the-hall neighbor on the back porch. I told him where I was going and he jokingly offered to fight me. He had his hands up, defensively.

I stood my ground and said, “Dude, I’m not fighting you.”

Sometimes the strongest thing you can do is walk away from a fight.

On Being a Christian: Judgement, Boundaries and Respect

Although no one LIKES to judge, it’s necessary. Drawing boundaries is healthy and our decisions are the foundation of our lives.

If you don’t have good judgement, people don’t respect or trust  you. And why should they? People feel secure when they know you have a solid framework of morals and dignity. That way they know what to expect from you, and what is acceptable and especially unacceptable. If you don’t demonstrate that you value and trust yourself by your actions, you’re likely insecure and prone to doing whatever benefits you at the moment– including throwing others under the bus.

And who we surround ourselves with is what we become. And although I try to give most people a chance, I also use common sense.

There is a point when you’ve given people enough chances, and you need to remove them from your life.

That’s not being mean. It’s showing respect toward yourself, and giving that person a vital message: they need to change.

And being “Christian,” and forgiving others does not entail putting up with endless disrespectful or untruthful behavior. We have an obligation to ourselves to draw a line for protection. That’s loving to both ourselves and others. We are obligated to let others know our expectations, and stand firm. And also, if you respect someone the most loving thing to do is be honest and give them natural consequences for their actions. So if someone consistently disrespects you, acts in a deceptive manner, or disrespects others in your presence the consequences are losing friends, a relationship, a job or what have you.

We all make mistakes and occasionally have a bad day where we may snap at someone, let them down, or let ourselves down.

But it’s up to us to prove that it’s the exception, not the rule. To learn from our mistakes, and to move forward in growth.

Only then do we become the people we want to be, and that others cherish having in their lives. If we adhere to our values and treat ourselves and others with respect and loyalty, we are given the gift of benevolence.

If we defend ourselves, others will defend us as well. But we each have to fight our own battles, every day.

Common Sense: I’ll Always Love You, but Time to Move On!

After 18 months, I broke-up with my column: it ran TODAY.

I refer to it as a “break-up,” because for me this column was a commitment. And really, it was a relationship.

It was a relationship with my editor. It was a relationship with readers.

And this month, I just realized I have nothing left to say. And Valentine’s Day is coming up, so I used that in my angle to have some fun. Why not go out with a little humor and humility too?

I wrote it like a break-up letter.

I love the column– just not the spotlight. To be a columnist, you really need to have a bold personality. The point is to generate mail and stir up controversy. I did that a few times, and it was fun. But after awhile, I got tired of that. Right now, I just want to focus on my personal life without putting my opinion out there.

The column is called “Common Sense,” and I was one of several rotating columnists in The Herald-News. My hometown newspaper.

And it’s hilarious, because my friends reacted to this like they would a real break-up. I got calls and texts asking me, “Are you okay?” And “I just wanted to check on you…”

Thanks! 🙂 But yes, I’m okay. It was my decision, and it was amicable. My editor and I are on good terms. I even suggested a few replacements.

I want to make some changes in 2013, and my column takes a lot of my energy and time.

So while it was wonderful and I learned so much, right now I’m just happy and free. I don’t have another column lined up to replace it. I’m not sure about my next step– just takin’ a break for now.

Maybe I’ll try writing some features again– that’s what I love to do. Maybe I’ll blog more.

Maybe I’ll just back off writing and do something else! All delicious possibilities.

As Tom Petty would say,

“I wanna free fall, out into nothin’

Gonna leave this world for awhile.”

Sister’s light brought me back to my faith: Common Sense column #12

This is my most personal column yet.

I wrote it in tribute to my aunt, a nun who helped to build my faith. I believe it she who guided me to the opportunity, and praying to her gave me the strength to apply for the job at all.  And as the Year of Faith begins in my church, I declared mine via my column.

Here ya go! 

VICTORY!

I survived writing my column this month. Wow!

I had some anxiety because this marks the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of my first column!!

I never thought I’d last this long, honestly! I laughed when I got it, because the column is called “Common Sense.”  I’m the creative writer type with her head in the clouds– not known for logic.

But a funny thing happened. I decided to become what was needed for this column– and THAT drove me to find my own common sense.

I’ll post when it’s up, of course– next week. But right now, I’m just beaming.

I got the job last August when I applied with the The Joliet Herald News– with links from this very blog. It’s actually my eleventh column– we skipped December for some reason. Who knows what will inspire #12?

And my first column ran in September. It’s symmetrical that my first was political, and so is this one. Yet they are vastly different in tone in style. I didn’t quote anyone else in this one– just myself. And that makes me feel strong, that I have enough to stand alone. I even am about 20 words UNDER my word count this time, which is awesome too. My word economy has gotten better. I can be more succinct now.

I really wrestled with this one. It ended up being a complete 180 degrees from what I had planned to write. Both were political topics– by the original was inflammatory and divisive– and this is inclusive.

When I got stuck, I tried different things than I had previously. I took a walk. I wrote about my feelings, separate from the column topic. I called and talked to a few trusted friends who have become my first audience and love to give me feedback. Those conversations refreshed me, and finally I struck gold.

There were so many times I felt insecure and was tempted to quit and give the column up, because balancing it with this blog has been a hard transition  and choosing topics stresses me out. I don’t imagine the other columnists spend this much time fretting over theirs! But I’m just getting back in the game after a sabbatical.

And I’ve begun to blog much less– but I didn’t quit the column. That’s the win. I have’t shut down this blog either, which I also find surprising. I still haven’t assigned it an “identity” yet, other than to decide this blog is for me, not something I will stress about.

The most difficult challenge in writing these 500 word columns is to narrow down what start out as broad topic ideas into something meaningful and specific.  Boy, my high school English teacher would have a good laugh if she knew about this! I used to write three page papers with a three page tangent– when the assignment only called for TWO pages.

One of my best friends in high school had nicknamed me “Pierre,” because she said that surely a “French gay man,” inspired my florid writings. You’d never seen so much purple prose and adverbs. I had a lot of words, but no idea what I wanted to say.

This is year I learned to find my VOICE, and write through the uncertainty. And I didn’t give up. Hey, I’m not a quitter!

I’m glad for the journey I’ve undertaken through this column in the name of journalism. I’ve written about politics, pop culture, human relationships, and the memory of a departed friend.

It’s just a humble column in a mid-size newspaper. But it’s the world to me.

Getting past the shame of using the “v-word” : AKA VAGINA!!

Here it is.  Read it and say it with me, “vagina.”

C’mon, you can do it!

My column about- yup– vaginas:

http://heraldnews.suntimes.com/opinions/13402964-474/getting-past-the-shame-of-using-the-v-word.html

To add some context:

Here is what Reps. Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum actually SAID, according to CNN.

For more information, check out Vaginas Take Over the Capitol on fb,  see for yourself  the glory of the V-Day team’s performance in Michigan,  a video of the V-Day team’s performance, THIS.  Or sign a petition in support of Rep. Lisa Brown

Also, for word count I wasn’t able to get in our Big Three, the Chief Vaginas — but here they are:

Executive Creative Director, Dulcinea Hawkworth; Assistant Director, Michael Sansone; Assistant Producer, Nicole Rousonelos.