The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker

Posted on October 20, 2011. Filed under: Books, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Every once in a while I find myself in a non-fiction kick. During those times I tend to go a bit overboard on biographies, memoirs and inspirational/self-help titles. An advice columnist that I really enjoy following, Carolyn Hax, recommends this book to many people for a variety of reasons. After hearing it time and time again I finally trekked to the library and put in the request to borrow it, and I am so glad that I did. I have recommended this to quite a few people since reading it, the impression it left on me is definitely a lasting one.

I personally feel that every young woman, going to college, in college, living on her own, moving to a new city or living in the same city she has lived in her entire life should read this book. This book teaches life lessons and life skills that many of us girls are lacking. This is not about self-defense and not meant to scare women about the dangers of the world but it is educational and excellent. There is no substitute for learning the information provided in this book – I wish I had read it years earlier.

Gavin De Becker is a pioneering advisor on navigating dangerous and risky situations involving assignation, stalking and basic survival fear. De Becker owns an agency that protects public figures including politicians and celebrities. Through reading his book you can tell that he is the leader in this type of knowledge. He is smart, he is confident and it shows throughout the book. Additionally, De Becker is confident that with this knowledge we can also be safer, which makes your confidence rise as well.

De Becker gives us some of his back-story on how he ended up in this field and goes through some difficult stories about his childhood. Hearing about his childhood helps us really understand how he was able to hone in and fully develop the heightened awareness he has for survival skills. We also get an excellent glimpse into the mind of someone whose sole profession is protecting others. Getting in on that thought-process is enlightening and helps us better understand how we can start to think that way and protect ourselves better.

The main topics in this book are female safety focused. While De Becker doesn’t want to stereotype, it is fact that many of the situations he describes in the book are female based problems. While men can be victims in the same scenarios, the truth is that women find themselves as the victims more often, focusing on what really is occurring is helpful to us to better prepare ourselves. Topics explored are stalking, trusting our instincts and learning to how to listen to the guidance our instincts are providing, public figure attacks, intimate violence, occupational violence, threats, and violence from children. There are many situations described in the book that we may never ever encounter, but having the knowledge in us ready in case we are in that situation is invaluable. We will never regret teaching ourselves what to do in the rare case we find ourselves there.

The best take-home message for me was learning how to trust our instincts. This book is not meant to make us more afraid or allow fear to take over our lives, it is rather about learning how not to be fearful because we have the ability and knowledge (after reading this) to safely navigate dangers that are presented to us. De Becker really focuses on what biology has given us and how we are ignoring it. Part of us ignoring these survival signals are culture – we are being taught to act in ways that go against this biology and are putting ourselves at risk. De Becker is helping women to break through that culture to put our personal safety first.

As I said before I think this is a book that every young woman should read, most likely more than once. It helped give me courage and strength and after reflecting on what I had read it also did make me feel less freightened and more in charge. I wouldn’t put myself in danger on purpose just to prove that I am in touch with my intuition but I did learn how to trust my intuition more and have thought of some ‘plans’ that I would carry out in a variety of situations, mentally preparing myself ahead of time should I find myself there. I also reflected back on previous encounters where I put many of these biological tools aside in an effort to just ‘be nice’ and I can recognize how I purposefully ignore bells and whistles and warnings and I’m ready to make different choices in those some situations in the future. Excellent read – don’t be scared, fear truly is a gift!

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Debreifing: He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt & Liz Tuccillo

Posted on January 14, 2009. Filed under: Books, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , |

This is a book that has been featured on Oprah and is from one of the Sex & The City masterminds. It was fun, humorous but I was a little bored of by the end of the book. The over arching message of this book is “You’re too good to put up with the crap men are dealing you“, and that is a VERY important message for every girl, no matter what age to hear.  Overall, even though I was a little tired of the message by the end, I don’t for one minute regret giving it my full attention and reading it all the way through. It was insightful, it was humorous and glorified women – just the messages I love to have piped into my head!

To start off, please understand that I’m not the typical demographic that the book is written for. I am not single, and I’m not in a terrible dead-end relationship that needs me to leave it. These may be some of the reasons that the book just missed me, but it is repetitive after a few chapters. The authors take letters that are written to Behrendt about relationships. All of the compiled letters are in the form of women defending their lame men. Some of them are hesnotintoyou.jpgactually dating, some of them just know this person, and some of them are in quasi-undefined relationships with these flunky men. At the end of each chapter an ah-ha letter is revealed that is from a reader who saw the silver lining that Behrendt encourages us all to see and tells us how much better her life is after following this guide.

The guide is practical and smart and ultimately it goes without say that most of the men described in these letters are ‘just not that into you’.  Some of the letters describe women who are just clinging for any form of relationship and any kind of love, it is a little sad to think that some of these women are just desperate and accept such terrible behavior as an excuse for a relationship from men. That makes me feel terrible for them. For the most part though the advice that the authors dish is practical and encourages women to be their best and expect nothing short of the best from men in return.

What is refreshing about this relationship book is that is is written by both a man and woman. While Behrendt reminds us that men will go the distance for women they care about and are serious about, Tuccillo explains why women have heard this before, don’t want to hear it now but why they should take this advice and do something about it. It is a refreshing voice that leads us through this book, both authors write from honesty and you want to do better for yourself after reading this through. Women are reminded every chapter to wake up and realize that “He’s Not that Into You”, and after hearing compelling arguments by both men and women for why you shouldn’t be in this relationship it’s hard to find an excuse to want to stay.

I took this a bit differently than the normal reader though. Since I am not single I enjoyed soaking up all the praise about women all over and how wonderful and worth it we are. What I really focused on was reflecting about past relationships that  may have been summed up into some of these sections, past flings that looking by it really makes you realize how blind one can be and I tried to see if anything in this books fits my new relationship (luckily not). It was good to look back on some past relationships though and be like , well yeah if I had read this then it would’ve saved me SO much time.

But is being in a relationship that is sour, but not abusive, really that terrible? I sure have learned a lot from those big mistakes and past relationships. I can say that part of the reason I think my current relationship is what it is can be attributed to my past and the lessons I have learned about love. I did find parts of this book to be a little demoralizing, I know that some women are stupid, and stay in loveless relationships for no practical reason other than ‘just because’ but at certain points I felt that if I were one of those women reading this it may actually make me feel worse than my dead-beat boyfriend. It would make me feel that I was stupid for holding onto something that doesn’t really exist and wanting something that just isn’t benefiting me at all. Reflecting on the past at certain chapters really made me think “Wow, were you dumb for getting into that and actually wanting to stay in that”, but in the end I learned.

This book tries to prevent some of the hurt and more of the lessons. It’s a good book and really tries to do it’s best to empower women. I am still a feminist at heart and think that women should be able to ask men out all they want, but yes Mr.Behrendt, you’re right: There are boundaries in relationships that no women should stoop to cross.

My Grade: B

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Getting in the Season of Giving

Posted on December 31, 2008. Filed under: Everyday Me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Tis the season to not only be jolly but to give, a lot. In this season I find that I give more just because, I treat the homeless people to coffee or breakfast foods, and just overall am a more pleasant and cheerful person. I should give like this all year round, and maybe that will be a good resolution tonight but up to this point my giving hits a high note during the Christmas season. Looking back on the recently passed Christmas I have noted quite a few things I am thankful for and really saw how much I’m given as well.

Thanks first to my family. What a crew but they put a smile on my face. Being the tender, caring family that they are my bedroom was quickly transformed into a workout room following my moving out. So now when I go home I don’t get to sleep in my childhood bedroom but I get to sleep in a pull-out draw at the bottom of my sister’s loft bed. But it is fun – kind of like a sleepover every night, and then we start to nag at each other and the thrill is over but it works. I’m grateful that I have a family that lets me come home, and a family that makes me smile when I think about getting to go home. Home is a nice feeling its nice to be apart of one.

I’m thankful for having a job. In this tough economy there are plenty of people that would do a wide array of things for this position. It’s not the bets position in the world, and I’ve never thought of it as something to be envious of but after talking to friends who either don’t have jobs or who watch people get ‘let go’ on a daily basis I’m thankful that I have a place to come and work every day, and they treat me really nice too!

Friends! ‘I get by with a little help from my friends’….The Beatles did not lie. It’s nice to have a large group of people to fall back on. I have my good dear sister-friend from college that lives nearby which is awesome. We’re close and its a good easy relationship: can’t go wrong! She is like the nice warm fuzzy slippers that you never forget about just don’t use daily, but you always look for them and miss them when they’re not around, and if someone even tried to take them away there would be hell to pay! That’s her 🙂 I also have some great new work friends that are great to hang out with – I have my gym friend who not only keeps me motivated but in shape and healthy : my motivation would be squat without her! There are many friends for all different reasons and some for no reason other than just because, and sometimes those are the best.

Life’s lemons. So now we’ve all had life throw us some lemons, and while I wish I could say that I’ve made lemonade everytime it would be a big fat lie. I haven’t. I’m a whiner and most of the lemons I’ve been thrown have sucked. As the year progresses I’ve started to look back onto some other the bigger lemons and given a smile. Not one of those just sucked on a lemon tart smiles either! A real nice smile, and I can actually start to admit that I appreciate some of the things I’ve learned from those mistakes and lemons. I’m much wiser because of them, still wish I could’ve just learned those lessons second-hand.

Speaking of lemons, I’m thankful that I can go to the grocery store and any other store and order what I need and want. Wants and needs are very different and its a luxury that I can fulfill both of those categories for myself and my loved ones. We had a truly blessed Christmas filled with love and too many gifts (but who ever complains about the gifts?!)

I’m thankful for my special relationship with a special guy. He’s truly wonderful, no matter how many times he makes me grumble under my breath or roll my eyes up to high heaven I couldn’t imagine my life without him. He does more for me than I can ever thank or repay him for, truly a wonderful person to have in my life. You should all be jealous because he really is just that great.  Thank you for everything you give to me on a daily basis – you are my rock!

There are SO many things to be grateful for, and as I look back I try to think of the ways that someone could’ve been grateful for me in their life. Let the season of giving last all year long, and you will receive remarkable gifts throughout the years in small but meaningful ways. It’s something that I am going to do my best to strive for in the new year – bring it on 2009 : I have a lot to give back!

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