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Susan Schorn led an anxious life. For no clear reason, she had become progressively paralyzed by fear. Fed up with feeling powerless, she took up karate.
She learned how to say no and how to fight when you have to (even in the dark). Karate taught her how to persuade her husband to wear a helmet, best one bossy Girl Scout troop leader, and set boundaries with an over-sharing boss. Here this double black belt recounts a fighting, biting, laughing woman's journey on the road to living fearlessly—where enlightenment is as much about embracing absurdity and landing a punch as about finding that perfect method of meditation.
Full of hilarious hijinks and tactical wisdom, Schorn's quest for a more satisfying life features practical—and often counterintuitive—lessons about safety and self defense. Smile at strangers, she says. Question your habits, your fears, your self-criticism: Self-criticism is easy. Self-improvement is hard. And don’t forget this essential gem: Everybody wants to have adventures. Whether they know it or not. Join the adventure in these pages, and come through it poised to have more of your own.
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About the Author
SUSAN SCHORN has taught writing and literature at the University of Texas, St. Edward's University, and the University of Hawaii-Hilo. She holds black belts in Kyokushin and Seido karate and is a member of the National Women's Martial Arts Federation and former chair of the board of directors for Sun Dragon Martial Arts and Self Defense, NFP, in Austin, Texas. She earned her nidan (second degree) black belt in Seido karate in 2011. She has written for radio and online publications, including McSweeney's and The Rumpus.
Table of Contents
Fall down seven times, get up eight 1
If you want to feel safe, be prepared to feel uncomfortable 8
Smile at strangers 19
Paradise doesn't count if it's compulsory 30
You're doing it all wrong. And that's perfect 44
To fight fear, you must also fight ignorance. And occasionally, argumentative jerks 59
Don't be afraid of the dark - grab darkness by the throat, kick its ass, push it down the stairs, and laugh at its haircut 82
Push yourself past your limits; then let your friends push you further 94
We are connected by the distance between us 107
What you're good at is less important than what you're good for 123
Remain centered, no matter how many building permits you have to obtain 138
Everybody wants to have adventures. Whether they know it or not 157
Sometimes the only way forward is to go back and start over 170
Once a place becomes part of you, you can leave it without regret 187
Parenthood is the most terrifying ordeal you will ever undergo. Enjoy it 203
See yourself clearly, and you won't dread the scrutiny of others 213
A warrior cultivates the virtues of loyalty, courage, and discretion. Along with some light typing and filing 225
Self-criticism is easy. Self-improvement is hard. You're here for the hard stuff 240
Survival is the bravest fight, and the most beautiful victory 254
Believe it or not, you are more than equal to the challenges you face 265
Behind each triumph are new peaks to be conquered 281
Japanese terms 286
Martial arts styles mentioned 289