As one chapter ends another one starts. Every day you write the story of your life. Your life is like a book, there is a beginning, a middle, an end and there are chapters that catapult you from one event to another. These past few weeks, or shall I say months have been very hectic for me and my family as we geared ourselves up to say farewell to South Korea which has been our home for many years.
The Land of the Morning Calm has been the greatest adventure we had as a family. Korea has been the land where my two daughters grew up with our dog and two cats in tow. The land where we met and made long-lasting friendships with wonderful people. The Land where we had many exciting adventures making the most of the amazing scenery, beauty, and delicious food.
The Land of the Morning Calm chapter has now ended, and new events have catapulted us across the globe. My husband has started a new job in Saudi Arabia building a brand-new futuristic city in the desert, 100% powered by renewable energy. My eldest daughter has settled well in Calgary, Canada where she is studying Bio-Med, and where she is having the time of her life. My youngest daughter and I just arrived in Réunion Island, where I was born and grew up and which is going to be our new base for now. As one chapter ends, another one begins, and so our story continues….
As one chapter ends, another starts
When one chapter ends, it’s just one chapter in the book of your life, don’t close the book the story is not finished, just turn the page and move on. Whether this chapter brought you grief or brought you joy, no other page is written like this. If you don’t like the way the previous chapter of your life happened, have a good cry, learn the lessons. Put your big girl’s or big boy’s pants on and move on.
“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
“Whenever an obstacle rises that seems to block the path forward, in reality, the obstacle has an essential function. And that is, it forces me, or it forces humanity to generate more – either more strength, more energy or more consciousness.”
If you really like the way the previous chapter of your life happened and wished that it never ended, rejoice in the memory of all the good times and the precious moments that made this chapter of your life so pleasant and beautiful. Human beings like comfort and order, and as I discussed in one of my previous articles, order is the place where the world’s behavior matches our expectations and our desires, the place where all things turn out the way we want them to.
We like to be in there. In order, we’re able to think about things in the long term. There, things work, and we are stable, calm, and competent. We seldom leave places we understand – geographical and conceptual – for that reason. But even the best things have to end. If you read a really good book and you come to the end of it, you don’t throw it away wishing you never read it, you put it on your shelves and rejoice in the knowledge that you were fortunate enough to have come across this book.
Changes are hard, but it’s OK. It is the beginning of a new chapter
There is no denying the fact that changes are hard, especially when you are facing life-changing events such as the end of a job, or the end of a relationship or moving across the world to relocate someplace new, with all the logistics that such a move requires. I have just been through this, it’s hard, definitely not a walk in the park, but more like an obstacle course where you need stamina, speed, dexterity, flexibility, and coordination.
The harsh reality of life is that everything moves on and for things to move on, first things have to end. People leave, they leave you and they leave places, and they leave things behind. Everyone finds their way, an end is just a new beginning. We are all made up of fragments of other people, places, and things, and each time this happens we write a new page in our book of life.
No matter where we are, some things are under our control and some things are not. The fundamental reality of chaos and order is true for everything alive, not only for us. Living things are always to be found in places they can master, surrounded by things and situations that make them vulnerable. Order is not enough. You can’t just be stable, and secure, and unchanging because there are vital and important new things to be learned.
Nonetheless, chaos can be too much. You can’t tolerate being swamped and overwhelmed beyond your capacity to cope while learning that you still need to know. Thus, you need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering. Then you have positioned yourself where the terror of existence is under control and you are secure, but where you are also curious, alert, and engaged.
As one chapter ends, another one starts. Keep writing the story of your life. To be continued…
Cardiovascular exercise, or cardio, i.e. swimming, running, cycling, etc., promotes weight loss, endurance, and is great for getting your heart rate up and making your blood pump faster. There are however downsides to cardio, including your decreasing your resting metabolism rate, constrained energy expenditure, and possible muscle loss. This post is about the effects cardio has for people looking to lose fat, gain muscle, or those just looking for a healthier lifestyle.
The benefits of cardio
Starting with the good news, there are 3 major benefits of cardio, weight loss, strengthening the heart, and being a great transitional workout. Those alone, or just the enjoyment of doing it, sway many into putting cardio into their exercise routine.
A cardio workout increases blood flow and acts as a filter system. It brings nutrients like oxygen, protein, and iron to the muscles that you’ve been training and helps them recover faster.
Harley Pasternak, personal trainer, motivational speaker, author and television host
Firstly, cardio does promote weight loss. According to Healthline.com, if you weigh around 160 pounds, a 30-minute jog would burn around 250 calories, with the calories increasing if you weighed more, or if you run faster. Compare this to weight training, where you would only burn between 130 to 220 calories in the same amount of time. A big chunk of losing weight is burning calories and in that sense, cardio does a great job in helping you achieve this.
Secondly, cardio is a great workout for your heart and lungs, your cardiovascular system. Cardio is a workout that speeds up your heart rate, so it’s not surprising that it would help your heart muscles grow stronger. In essence, cardio pushes more oxygen into your bloodstream without putting too much pressure on your body, making cardio great for people who want to maintain their current weight or add some exercise to their daily lives. It’s also one of the best options for people who have heart problems or are slightly injured.
Lastly, cardio is a great transitional workout. Unlike cardio, weight training puts a lot of stress on your body, this makes it a bit intimidating and unattractive to people who haven’t worked out for a while. Starting with cardio before doing a harder workout decreases the chance of injury, and trains your body to breathe properly. Cardio is not just a good transitional workout for weight training, but also as a warm-up for High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or endurance training.
How much cardio in a week? Recommendations suggest you get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Greater amounts of exercise will provide even greater health benefits.
The importance of muscle growth
While cardio is good for your heart and lungs, the bad news is that cardio doesn’t really help your metabolism, in fact, it can discourage muscle growth and leaves you with constrained energy expenditure. Scientifically, according to Gravity Transformation, “Cardio reduces the activity of mTOR, which is a crucial enzyme for muscle growth while also raising AMPK, which is an enzyme that impairs muscle growth,” More simply put, regular cardio exercise causes two key enzymes to work against your body to inhibit muscle growth.
Now, even if muscle growth (or looking like the next Arnold Schwarzenegger) is not your main goal, weight training has an advantage over cardio by maximizing the calories you burn when you are resting! This is known as the after-burn effect, or more formally the Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC.
After an intense cardio session, your EPOC duration lasts about 3-24 hours, and it makes up around 6-15% of the net total oxygen cost of the exercise. This means your body burns little to no calories more than it did during your workout. HIIT workouts also only burn around 30-60 more calories per day while resting, but weight training has the highest EPOC and burns about 150 calories while you are resting after your workout. Amazingly, you can burn as many calories resting as you did lifting weights in the gym. This high EPOC for weight training is due to the energy required to grow muscle, and because muscle as a tissue burns the most fat for fuel.
Whether you are doing both cardio and weight training, or just cardio, it is important to understand that cardio does not help your muscles grow, and in fact, that it slows the muscle growth. If you do both cardio and weight training it’s important you do the weights first or wait for a long period after your cardio workout before starting to lift weights. Cardio exercises prohibit you from reaching optimal stimulus or maximum potential which is key for repairing and building muscles. It also reduces your production of mTOR enzymes and obstructs hypertrophy or muscle growth exercises.
Finally, it’s worth understanding the relationship between cardio and constrained energy expenditure. Doing cardio before eating, or doing too much of it, can result in constrained energy expenditure. This is when your body wants to save as much energy as possible and stops doing simple tasks you would otherwise normally do. This could be small things like sitting down more, fidgeting less, or not wanting to walk your dog. This may not seem like a big problem but this ‘constrainment’ may actually prevent you from burning calories that you would otherwise normally burn, not only making your afterburn less effective but possibly even slowing down your metabolism as well.
So, who should do cardio?
In the end, there are both pros and cons to doing cardio. Cardio isn’t great for quickly gaining muscle, or for beginners to weight training. Cardio is also not the most effective for extreme weight loss, however, it’s great for maintaining shape and having healthy lungs and heart. Cardio is also good at removing visceral fat around your abdominal organs, and subcutaneous fat that’s stuck under the skin. However, while exercise will keep you fit, to keep your shape a healthy diet is the most effective! Cardio does not replace a good diet.
This article is about online university for international student, what it’s like and how to do well. My eldest daughter Maya is in her first year of college studying Bio -Med at the University of Calgary, Canada; but because of Covid she had to start her university life from the comfort of her bedroom confined to the family home for some extra time. Maya volunteered to write an article to share her experience and give some tips to fellow students; she hopes those tips could be useful to those facing the same struggles that she faced when studying online. So I will let Maya take over from here.
Last year I started my first year of college at the University of Calgary in Canada. However, in the spirit of 2020 being a strange and totally insane year, all of my classes were online and, since I live in Korea, I was working on a 14 hour time difference.
In all honesty, things were pretty awful. Hopefully, the world doesn’t reach a state where students will have to go through this ever again, but while we’re here, I figured I would share my experience, what I learned, and my tips for anyone just starting; but god forbid that this kind of information will be necessary in the future.
Online University, the hardest parts/things to look out for
Any year of university is going to involve late nights and irregular sleeping patterns, but working on a time difference made this so much more pronounced. I went into it thinking it would be as simple as working through the night and sleeping through the day, but that definitely wasn’t the case. Some days I would sleep right after my classes finished in the morning, others I would get to work after my classes finished and ended up sleeping late in the afternoon, and many days I had to resort to 2-3 hour naps wherever I could squeeze them in. I tried to create a regular sleeping habit, but things just never worked out that way, and deciding when exactly I would be sleeping became one of the most challenging parts of the whole ordeal.
An unexpected side effect of my irregular sleep patterns was the amount of time I slept. I’m not someone who has struggled with sleeping in the past, but during the semester and even for a week or so afterward, my body physically would not sleep for more than 5 hours. This was my personal response to the ever-changing sleeping patterns and someone else is likely to have different responses based on their own time difference, but it’s important to keep in mind that figuring out when to sleep will probably not be as simple as you originally make it out to be.
With all the sleeping struggles I’ve just mentioned, you’d probably think that I felt awful most of the time. Strangely, I actually didn’t feel incredibly sleep-deprived or sluggish most of the time I was in classes or doing homework assignments. There were definitely days where I did, but I actually went around telling people that the sleeping arrangements and effects weren’t as bad as I was expecting. However, upon reflection and a few bad grades, I realized that sleep deprivation and irregularities did actually have an effect on my ability to focus and do my work. It’s very common knowledge that sleep deprivation will decrease performance in almost anything, and I certainly found myself making mistakes that I don’t think I would be making if I had a more regular sleeping pattern.
Something else you might need to be prepared for is how the weekends work. My sleep schedule also made weekends complicated; all throughout the week I would be sleeping sporadically through the day and working through the night and basically operating on Canadian time. However, if I wanted to do anything with family or friends on the weekend, I would have to switch my sleep schedule back to Korean time so I could do things during the day. My options were basically to be tired most of the weekend or opt to recover and not see anyone.
Online university struggles: distraction, concentration, and sitting too long
While my time difference circumstance is one that may only be applicable to a small population, the struggles of working and learning online are ones that an entire generation of students and even workers can relate to.
I found that distraction became one of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome. Listening to a lecture over a zoom call from your bedroom just doesn’t compare to the environment of a classroom or workplace, and that definitely hindered my ability to focus. Regularly, and without even realizing, I would find myself picking up my phone, scrolling through other tabs, playing with my cat, fiddling with the things on my desk, or just zoning out.
Those bad habits may all sound like they’re just that: bad habits that I or you need to work to control, and although this is partly true, it’s unfair to put all the blame on oneself. Bedrooms are spaces of comfort that we strongly associate with relaxation, and suddenly having to shift that association to include learning new, complex material that we would usually hear in a classroom as well as working is bound to and does introduce difficulties.
Something else that is likely to affect your ability to concentrate is the amount of time you spend sitting in one place. Since all of my classes were online, I would end up sitting in my chair for hours and hours at a time, and after a couple of hours I would inevitably start to lose focus. A typical day in-person university would have you leaving your dorm to eat, move between classes, and more, and the difference between your typical day in online school is jarring.
Quite honestly, some of these struggles might not sound “legitimate” enough to complain about, and when they start to hinder your academic performance it’s easy to blame yourself and start to feel insecure about your academic ability or intelligence. However, as small or trivial as some of them might sound, they are valid struggles people have to deal with and it’s important to recognize them as such so they can be combated.
Online University, some of the good things
Despite all the challenges I’ve described, there are still some benefits to online school (even with a time difference) that students have to look forward to.
With my particular time difference (14 hours ahead), there was the illusion that I had an extra day to do things. For example, something due at midnight on a Monday in Calgary would be due at 4 pm on Tuesday for me. Of course, I actually had the same amount of time to complete work as everyone else did, but it felt like I had an extra day of work time and that made things just a bit more bearable. My weekends also felt longer since I would go through all my classes early Saturday morning, have time to do something that day after classes, and wouldn’t start classes again until Monday night, technically giving me a 3 day weekend every week.
Another benefit was the accommodations teachers made for the courses. Many of my assessments were made open-book, I was given a lot more time to complete tests, and a couple of my classes dropped grades they didn’t usually drop to help boost the class’ overall grades.
The most significant perk I saw was students being able to ask questions comfortably. I haven’t been to a large in-person university class, but I’m sure that people aren’t jumping up and down to ask their professor a question in front of everyone. However, over Zoom, students are much more eager and willing to ask questions, whether it was over the chat or speaking over the microphones. It’s simply much less anxiety-inducing to unmute yourself over a call where you can’t even see your classmates compared to speaking up in a quiet class of 200, and this was genuinely helpful. Students, myself included, were able to ask quick clarification questions that would probably not be asked in live lectures as well as feel more comfortable speaking up in the first place.
The benefits you might experience will be different depending on your time zone and professors, but there will surely be at least one aspect of online school that acts as a perk. I also know a good handful of people who found online school better than traditional schooling, citing the convenience of not having to commute to classes, the benefit of academic accommodations, and more.
Online University. How to be successful (time difference or not)
Sleeping habits are different for everyone and the best sleep schedule for online school will depend on someone’s normal sleep patterns, the exact time difference, and more. My most applicable piece of advice for sleeping would be to invest in black-out curtains or a sleeping mask, because trying to sleep in the brightness of the day is not always easy.
I do, however, have tips for improving the other aspects of doing online school with a time difference.
Create a study space: If possible, having a room separate from your bedroom designated for studying, working, and attending class would be ideal. For most, this will not be the case, but it’s still worth setting up your study space as a study place. I tried to keep my desk clear, facing away from my bed, and free from distractions. Doing this, or anything similar, will help combat the relaxed associations you are bound to have with your bedroom and hopefully help you maintain concentration.
Do not, under any circumstance, try to study in/on your bed: The bed is tempting, but anyone who has tried this knows that as soon as you make the decision to move you and your books to the bed, you’ve already lost the battle. This tip goes hand in hand with creating a study space. Don’t mix your comfort and your studying.
Keep your phone in a different room or where you cannot see it when you’re working/attending lectures: This was a difficult habit to enforce on myself, but I noticed a significant difference in my ability to concentrate when my phone was out of sight or not in the room. Phones and all our social media apps are designed to grab and hold our attention, and they do it extremely well. The only way to stop yourself from getting distracted from notifications or succumbing to the lure of doing literally anything other than listening to your professor is to remove the threat altogether.
Triple check all your due dates and timestamps: Even though I tried to be very conscious of this, there were a number of times where I forgot to think about time differences and missed or had to rush something. It’s likely that the school platform you use doesn’t change their due dates to match time zones, so it’s up to you to figure out when you have to complete them by. There was an international student in one of my classes last semester that miscalculated when her exam was and was not able to make it up. Always check.
Write down everything: Having a planner was probably one of the best decisions I made for last semester. One thing many other students and I hate about online school is the feeling that assignments pop up out of nowhere with no warning. After a few panicked submissions and a missed test, I started each day by checking all of my courses for assignments and due dates and writing them down in my notebook adjusted to my time. It’s a tedious step, but will definitely save you a lot of headaches.
Take walks: I mentioned earlier that sitting in the same spot at my desk for hours and hours at a time became draining and hindered my concentration. You’d be surprised at how much moving around for a little will wake you up. It doesn’t even have to be a walk outside, you could just go to your living room for a while to stretch your legs. Getting your blood flowing for just a couple of minutes will genuinely help reset your mental state.
Make time for yourself and to see other people: Throughout the semester I got a bit lonely. I would often not see my family for very long since I was awake while they slept and vice versa, and with school and my sleeping patterns, it was basically impossible to see any friends during the week. There is already so much that is difficult about online university, and loneliness is not a struggle you want to add. Go see your friends. Take breaks. Don’t forget about your mental health.
Go easy on yourself: I know for a fact that a lot of people have found online school during these times challenging and have seen those difficulties manifest through less-than-satisfactory grad performance or just the feeling of being burnt out and exhausted. It’s too easy to be hard on yourself and say that you should have done better because exams are open-book, or whatever other reason but don’t feel bad in admitting that what you’re doing is hard. It’s completely okay for you to not perform as well as you might have wanted or to give yourself some leeway about what you need to complete. I dropped my physics class this semester that’s usually completed in the first year and is a re-req for my major. After I dropped it, my school started approving students to mark specific classes as pass or failed and omitted from GPA calculations. I will have to retake the class and it will count towards my GPA, but I’m glad I decided to drop because I was burning out, the time I spent trying to figure out what was happening in that class was affecting my other class grades, and I realized that, with everything going on, I deserved to catch a break.
My semester was rough, but I actually finished with pretty decent grades, and I would genuinely attribute my late success to those exact tips I have just gone through. As soon as I dropped my physics class I had the time to put much more effort into doing well in my other classes. I made sure to see my friends every weekend, eat with my family, write down all my due dates, and even managed to keep my phone out of my way for the last few weeks of the semester.
If you’re a student, I hope this has prepared you for what you might encounter. If you’re a parent, I hope this has shed some light on what my generation is dealing with.
In conclusion, let’s just hope and pray none of this ever has to happen again.
Want a wheely good time? Embrace the skate aesthetic.
Sports like bicycling and roller-skating have been making a comeback after getting a boost from stay-at-home measures that took effect in spring 2020. While lots of bars, clubs, restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters were closed the itch to get outside drove a revival in roller skating and embracing the skate aesthetic!
If your first thought was one of dismissal because, after all, when was the last time you went roller skating, think again because as it turns out, the whole skate aesthetic is actually very trendy right now.
Thanks in part to a number of roller skating dancers who have gone viral on TikTok and Instagram, people have remembered that skating is a cool, fun activity to do. Sneakers with built-in roller skates actually just got back on the market as well.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that if I saw a person or a group of friends out and about on their roller skates having fun the only thing I would want to do is join. Part of the skate aesthetic is having fun and being cute and as long as you embrace that, no one can really make fun of you.
If like me just bringing this up hasn’t revived your need for speed, then here are a few more specific reasons why you should give roller skating a shot.
Roller skating is like ice skating but better
Ice skating is a fun winter activity, a classically cute date idea, and overall a nice outing. The thing about ice skating, though, is that you need ice, which also means being in the middle of a cold winter or going to a designated indoor facility. Because it’s cold you also need a full set of gloves and winter clothes.
With roller skating, you can have all the same nice things – a nice outing or a classically cute date – with fewer downsides and more perks. For starters, it’s basically the same motion and activity. Sure, you need the skates themselves and, if you want to go all out, protective gear, but you can roller skate anywhere you want, and it doesn’t have to be cold. Heck, you could roller skate in your own house if you wanted to.
You can go roller skating and get a cool tan, make your way to the local grocery store, or just take it easy and get some fresh air. You might have to watch out for hills, but rollers are undeniably a lot more versatile than ice skating.
You don’t need a lot of people to enjoy it, but it never hurts
As we all know by this point, we need to do our best to avoid large groups. Luckily enough, roller skating is an activity you can do alone or with one or two friends and still enjoy to the fullest.
Think about it. Instead of sitting at home alone binging a random Netflix show or endlessly scrolling for a decent Video to watch, picture yourself taking a leisurely roll down a riverside, shorefront, or park, headphones in, sunglasses on, sun coming down, and not a care in the world.
Conversely, think about a group of you and a few friends, laughing about how awful you all are at roller skating and having a good time trying to look good and skate at the same time. You guys take a few skate aesthetic pictures for the books, grab a drink, and roll away.
Unfortunately, roller rinks have to stay out of the picture for a while but either of those other scenarios can be done with social distancing rules in mind and with a mask.
I used to spend afternoons roller skating down river banks with my family and had a great time with lots of laughs. I also used to roller skate back and forth in my hallway or alone in front of my apartment and had just as much of a good time, albeit much calmer.
Roller skating is good exercise
Admittedly, you aren’t going to see any major muscle growth or pounds shed if you go roller skating every once in a while. Unless you really pump the gas, you also probably aren’t going to break out in a heavy sweat and need a recovery day. But, after your singular or small group session, you might realize that your legs actually got a good pump going and that your body is just a little tired.
I’ve always been somewhat athletic and even for me a couple of hours of roller-skating would leave me happy and the good kind of tired; it’s like exercising without exercising.
If you’re a parent and you want your child to get out of the house to get some exercise, skating is a great way to do just that. It’s way easier and a lot more humane than making them run, and if you join them it’s almost guaranteed to be a good chance for light-hearted family bonding. I have a sneaking suspicion roller skating was a tactic my parents used to get my young ice-cream addicted self out and about, but I honestly had so much fun that I can’t resent them for it. If you are a parent, there’s no shame in using the same tactic for yourself.
The skate aesthetic is really cute
I’ve mentioned the skate aesthetic a few times already and you might be wondering what exactly that is, and there isn’t a good way I can think of to describe it with words. However, there’s one TikToker and Instagrammer who’s become the staple of this skate aesthetic. Ana Coto is dubbed the TikTok Rollerblading Queen after a video of her rollerblading backward to a song went viral and her account blew up.
You can watch the videos yourself to see what everyone’s talking about, but I will say that I followed her account the second I saw her first video. Ana’s videos are cute, happy, light-hearted, and groovy. She’s exemplary of what the skate aesthetic is and it’s hard to deny that it’s alluring. I haven’t thought of or touched my roller skates in years, but seeing her videos made me want to pull them out as quickly as I could.
Ana’s video actually brought roller skating/rollerblading back to life. I’ve already mentioned that shoes with roller skates built in got back on the market and a quick google search will yield dozens of articles from companies like BuzzFeed and Vice about how Rollerblading is ‘back.’ However, Ana isn’t the only one who can pull off the skate aesthetic.
All in all, what’s to lose. We’re all bored and a little hopeless about the state of 2020. As long as you aren’t a leading scientist or leader of a country, all we can do is follow COVID regulations and live our lives as best we can. Nobody said we couldn’t have a bit of fun at the same time, so live a little and get your skates on.
Girls, want to feel empowered? Learn the Art of self-defense.
Wonder Woman is my favorite superhero movie. The main character is a kick-ass female demigod raised by a tribe of powerful female warriors. These women, or Amazons, display exceptional riding skills, courage, and excel in combat and in the art of self-defense. Their daily routine consists of martial arts training, which is a good routine to have because you never know when you will need to use those skills! When their Paradise Island came under attack, those beautiful and skillful Amazons rode onto the battlefield and fought fiercely and ferociously to defend their home.
Wonder Woman herself symbolizes strength, self-reliance, sisterhood and mutual support among women. As a woman and the mother of two teenage daughters I completely adhere to the principle that women should be self-reliant; that we can be feminine and strong at the same time. The old Barbie Girl stereotype that I grew up with when I was a child didn’t do it for me, it was too narrow, it portrayed women as one-dimensional character pretty and accessorized to impress boyfriend Ken. The Wonder Women Character on the other hand, is a much better role model who displays a multi-dimensional side to her, soft and hard, compassionate and ruthless when necessary.
“You are stronger than you believe, you have greater power than you know.”
Antiope to Dina, Wonder Woman
The portrayal of women warriors in literature and popular culture is not something that is purely fictional, there live among us women who are disguised as ordinary women but who are actually exceptional because they have a warrior-spirit inside of them. They are the hero of their own movie.
This article isn’t really about a superhero movie, though, it is about something very real that happens too often in our society: the harassment of women going about their daily life. Women don’t have to be victims of despicable behavior by some man (not all, thank goodness, there are a lot of good men out there) who think they have the right to a woman’s body.
How to be safe in an unsafe world? Learn the Art of self-defense
Walking home alone and feeling uneasy about being followed? Walking the streets going about your own business and being heckled by a group of men disguising demeaning comments as compliments? Getting a weird vibe from a stranger in a crowded bus who is getting too close? Sadly, those unpleasant encounters happen more often than you can imagine.
The termsexual harassmentincludes verbal sexual harassment (e.g. sexually explicit talk, homophobic slurs, repeated request for a date after a person has said no, cyber sexual harassment, (the use of text, phone and internet to sexually harass), and physically aggressive sexual harassment (flashing or indecent exposure, being physically followed and being touched or brushed up against in a sexual way without consent). Sexual assaultinvolves a sexual act that someone was forced to do against their will and without their consent.
A National Study on Sexual Harassment and Assault was commissioned in 2018 by several organizations including Stop Street Harassment (SSH) a volunteer run non-profit organization dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide, Raliance, an organization dedicated to ending sexual violence , Promundo, an organization who promote gender equality and whose mission is to create a world free from violence by engaging men and boys in partnership with women and girls .
The final report and findings from the study was written by Holly Kearl, a Community Manager at the Aspen Institute, founder of SSH, and author of three books about street harassment. The report presents the findings of a nationally representative survey of approximately 1000 women and 1000 men conducted online in the USA in January 2018.
The findings of this study demonstrate that from verbal to physical forms, millions of people in the US experience sexual harassment and/or assault. 81% of women and 41% of men reported experiencing sexual harassment and/or assault. 77% of women and 34% of men reported verbal sexual harassment. 62% of women and 26% of men reported physically aggressive forms of sexual harassment. 41% of women and 22% of men reported cyber sexual harassment. An Alarming 27% of women reported sexual assault compared to 7% for men. Most women (66%) reported experiencing sexual harassment in a public place, on the street, in the park, in a store. 38% reported sexual harassment in their workplace, and 35% in their home. One disturbing statistic shows that whilst the most frequent perpetrators of sexual harassment are strangers, perpetrators of sexual assaults are more likely to be from someone you know! You can read the full study by clicking here.
The good news is that more than 1 in 4 women (27% of the women who reported sexual assault) survived the experience by fighting back and refusing to become a victim. Finding your warrior-like spirit is great but it is even better if you can back it up with some real self-defense skills. So, ladies join the nearest martial art school near you and become your own hero.
How women are empowering themselves through the art of self-defense
Every human being has an inherent right to self-defense. Animals and plants use self-defense mechanisms to ensure their survival and there’s no reason we shouldn’t do the same. Learn martial arts, learn the art of self-defense. There are many benefits to learning martial arts other than enabling you to defend yourself; it helps build your confidence and self-esteem, it helps your body release endorphins making you happier, it helps achieve harmony and balance between your body, mind and spirit.
There are many types of martial arts you can choose from. I have been practising Krav Maga and Muay Thai for several years; I feel fitter and more empowered through it, knowing that I have the skills to defend myself, my family, and friends if need be.
Krav Maga means contact combat in Hebrew; it was developed for the Israel Defense Forces. The core of Krav Maga is learning skills for self-defense in real- life scenarios. It’s about neutralizing a threat as quickly as possible by any means necessary, first by defending and fending off an attack and eliminating the threat by a counterattack. This style of self-defense is extremely effective for women because there is less emphasis on pure strength. The moves taught are straightforward with a focus on using the natural reflexes of the body to respond in the most efficient way possible.
The beauty of Krav Maga is that it levels out the playing field between men and women so that it doesn’t matter how big, tall or strong you are. It is about getting out of the way, counter- attacking and using whatever you can to get the upper hand. An effective defense will target the most vulnerable parts of the body such as the eyes, the groin, the neck with the aim of neutralizing the predator as quickly as possible. Krav Maga also teaches you methods to defend yourself against multiple attackers while trying not to get overwhelmed.
Too often when people find themselves in a bad situation their first reaction is denial: ‘this can’t be happening to me?!’ However, being in a state of denial only makes your reaction time slower and your chance of escaping safely slimmer. Attackers are taken by surprise when you fight back, but if you remain in a state of denial for too long you are losing the surprise effect of an effective defense and counterattack. Krav Maga students are first taught to consider the possibility of a personal attack, accept it, then defend yourself vigorously and counterattack to eliminate the threat.
Muay Thaialso known as ‘the art of eight limbs’ uses the fists, elbows, knees and shins as weapons; it originates from Thailand. As a practitioner you train your body to use these weapons effectively on both offense and defense. Because of this you can expect an intense workout that will push you to your physical limit. One hour of Muay Thai session will burn up to 1000 calories! So, if you are looking to lose some weight, reach your physical prime, learn one of the most effective self-defense systems in the world, and have some good fun, Muay Thai is surely the way to go!
Learning those self-defense skills could come handy. Bad things happen every day. Better be prepared and not have to use it, then not be prepared and find yourself in a tricky situation. One of my Krav Maga girlfriends here in Seoul (Seyeong) went out clubbing one night with a friend. The two of them were just happy being out and about having a groove on the dance floor when they were approached by a man who was obviously drunk. At first, they gently rejected his approaches, but he persisted and started invading their personal space and getting touchy. This is when Seyeong in a swift, smooth and awesome move tackled the guy on the floor. She did not hit him, she did not kick him, she did not hurt him, she just eliminated the threat by immobilizing him on the floor. He wasn’t hurt physically, but his ego took a huge beating. He ran out of the club in shame! Till this day, I am so very proud of what Seyeong did that night. She showed us how you can be calm, assertive and effective.
Fight, flight, freeze; don’t be a victim, be a warrior
One question I would like to address in this article is the issue of why some women freeze up during an attack? There are many testimonies out there of women being unable to scream, demand that the attacker stop, and fight back the aggressor, not because they didn’t want to, but because their body didn’t respond. Dr Devon McDermott PhD confirms that neurobiology can explain why this occurs. The human nervous system has two modes, a safe mode and an unsafe mode. When you are calm and feel safe you are in a safe mode and your brain is able to perform your daily functions normally. When you are in an unsafe mode your brain reacts by shutting down its own non-essential parts, and you lose access to several essential brain structures. Your brain does this because in moments of danger it wants to channel all of its energy into keeping you alive. It takes blood flow and nutrients away from the ‘thinking part’ and puts it into the ‘safety part.’ When you are terrified or overwhelmed your brain automatically and, without you knowing that it happened puts everything into keeping you alive.
Most people have heard of fight or flight. It is a mechanism that has allowed mammals to survive for thousands of years; when something happens that scares you, you don’t think, you just react i.e. fight or flight, this is the situation where your brain is geared into safe mode. As well as these two mechanisms, you also have freeze, this is the situation where your brain is geared into unsafe mode. The brain uses freeze when there is no perceived way out. It is used as a method to reduce the likelihood or intensity of harm. Like a deer in headlights you tend to freeze when you are not sure what to do to escape danger.
Fight or flight works because you are actively doing something to face the situation. Freezing doesn’t work. So, how can women avoid the freezing-scenario? For an answer, look at the military. No one understands better than the military how intense fear could impair your movement; when bullets are flying and blood is flowing you’d better have some good reflexes or you will be dead. That is why combat training in the military is rigorous and repetitive. The army spends more time training for wars than fighting real wars. As an individual, we should do the same; if we rigorously and diligently practice the art of martial art, then we will be ready to defend ourselves, our friends and family if need be. Don’t be a victim, be a warrior.
When under attack, fight back with everything you’ve got. Women used to think that they should be submissive during an attack; those who resist thought they were more likely to get injured. This old school of thought to comply is wrong. Most of these crimes are crimes of control where the assailant is trying to control the victim. The victim needs to take control back. There are countless videos on the internet showing how aggressors run away from a potential victim as soon as she starts defending herself and counter-attacking.
The psychology of the aggressor
The next question I would like to address in this article is what drives some men to commit violent and oppressive actions against women. There are several types of aggressors. There is the aggressor who preys on vulnerable women because these types of men have very low self-esteem and directing violence towards someone is a way to compensate for their insecurities. You have the aggressor who has psychopathic and narcissistic tendencies. Those types are the most violent and serious types of aggressors; they are the type that premeditates an attack and those who are recidivists. Then you have the opportunistic aggressor who just happened to have a serious lack of judgment when an ‘opportunity’ arises.
In a pioneering study conducted in September-October 2016, Promundo explored young men’s views about manhood. The study included representatives’ samples of more than 1000 young men each in the US, UK & Mexico across rural and urban areas and all educational & income levels. Recently, much of the discussion about harassment has been about the behavior of men in power such as Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein. However, recent research from Promundo finds that harassing and abusive behavior start young and are pervasive among men of all backgrounds.
A majority of young men don’t harass, don’t bully, and don’t exercise violence towards women, but many do, 1 out of 5 in Mexico to 1 out of 3 in the US and in the UK, to give a couple of examples. What makes the harassers different from the non-harassers? What seems to drive young men’s violent behavior more than any other factor surveyed is how much they believe in or have internalized toxic ideas about masculinity. Parents, teachers, the media, colleagues often repeat and pass on the messages that real manhood is about domination, using violence and never taking No for an answer. The bottom line is that too much time and energy is spent raising boys into a toxic version of manhood.
The solution is to change young men’s view about manhood through discussion, education, using good male role models to show them the way. To read the full report, please click here.
To all the men out there with tendencies to disrespect women and exercise violence to compensate for their own deficiencies. Women are not rehabilitation centers for unstable and insecure men! Get your act together!
To all the gentlemen out there who respect and appreciate women and know the art of treating a woman like a lady, well done! Keep up the good work and continue being role model!
To all the mothers out there who are raising sons, teach your son to respect women and appreciate them. Teach your son that they can be masculine without being violent.
To all the girls and women out there, feel empowered, learn the art of self-defense, learn martial arts. You can be feminine and strong at the same time. Don’t be a victim, be a warrior!
Girls, it’s time to try cycling, you might just love it!
We all want to be healthy, and part of that means doing a bit of cardio here and there. However, thinking about doing cardio probably fills a lot of you with dread because if the first thing that comes to mind is running, you might want to try cycling instead.
Although running is one of the purest, simplest forms of cardio that you can do, the problem is that it can be awful. I ran cross country and track for three years of high school and although I loved my time on the teams, I probably enjoyed a total of two runs. Many other runners I knew would talk about getting into an enjoyable rhythm of running, and, as much as I ran, that never happened for me. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Running is great for some, but it’s definitely not for everyone, and that’s okay. You can still get a good cardio session by doing something much more enjoyable: cycling.
Why girls should ride try cycling
1. It’s easy on the body
Running, jumping, and other kinds of cardio can be hard on your joints, especially your knees. There were even a number of young highschoolers on my running teams who experienced joint pain. I had months of arch pains myself from all the running I was doing.
Cycling, on the other hand, is low-impact and barely puts any pressure on your joints. If you’re someone who has pre-existing joint problems or is slightly older, this is especially valuable.
If you’re big-breasted, the low-impact is also particularly helpful. I’ve known women who had to wear multiple sports bras to go on a run and experienced a great amount of discomfort from jumping exercises. Being able to stay seated while doing your cardio should do a lot to help alleviate these issues.
2. You get to be outside, but in a nice way
Part of the appeal of running outdoors is the outdoors. However, most people are not running all that fast and in the summer, this can mean you don’t have a breeze going and can end up suffocating in the heat and sweat. Even without the heat, you won’t get very far unless you plan on taking driving to different routes, running fast, or running far.
With cycling, you’re moving at speeds much faster than running which means you’ll get a nice breeze to keep you cool, will get to see a whole lot more, and travel much farther distances than on foot.
I’ll admit that taking a fall from a bike can be pretty painful, even dangerous, and that if you choose to take your bike on the road, you run the risk of getting hit by cars. However, one benefit that gets neglected is the protection from individual attackers.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of cases where women have been attacked while running or even just walking outdoors. The fact that women need to accommodate for the ill behaviour of predatory men isn’t fair, but unfortunately, often necessary. A woman cycling is much less of a target than one who’s running, and that could mean the difference between being attacked and brutalized or getting left alone to your exercise.
4. Effective exercise
Along with all of these perks and advantages over running and other forms of cardio, cycling is actually very effective exercise. The high calorie burn is good for weight loss and the emphasis on your legs can help grow your legs, glutes, and calves.
Many women nowadays are looking to build up their lower body. If you don’t have access to a gym or weights, cycling is a great way to do that. Even if you do regularly go to the gym to lift weights, having a day of your routine that focuses on cardio and pumper style exercises helps diversify your routine and give you better results.
At the same time, just as many women are worried about bulking up their legs. Like most forms of exercise, things come down to preference and application. Women who are looking to lose weight and slim down should be reflecting those goals in how they choose to cycle; their routine will look very different from a woman who wants to build her legs and glutes.
Although cycling requires a bicycle and potentially other gear if you want to take it more seriously, it is still hugely convenient.
One of the best low-impact cardio activities you can do is swimming. However, to swim, you need access to a pool and all the necessary swimming equipment. However, as long as you have a bike, a helmet, and somewhere to go, you’re all set. In today’s climate, where gyms are not always open, this is especially valuable.
Cycling also doubles as an effective means of transportation. You’d have to be a little crazy to run to work every day or attempt all your errands on foot, but you can go a long way in a short amount of time on a bike and even carry things with you. In some cases, taking a bike down a few blocks or to the other side of town might actually be better than taking a car because you can leave it almost anywhere you want, all while still getting a good leg pump in for the day.
6. General health benefits
Like any regular exercise, cycling on a regular basis will help boost your well-being and maintain good health.
Even the most basic google search will yield dozens of articles about the link between cycling and lower rates of cancer, heart disease, other illnesses as well as improved immune systems, better mental function, lung health, social life, and even sex life! Of course, these things are not directly causative, but the association is there and worthwhile.
Try cycling, conclusion
All in all, women who cycle are likely to see a multitude of benefits for their efforts. It’s convenient, effective, enjoyable, and, most importantly, way better than running. Cardio is important, but you shouldn’t feel like you need to stick to something as traditional as running if you don’t enjoy it.
Uncertainty is the Condition that impels man to unfold his powers
We are living in uncertain times, there hasn’t been a time like this in recent memory. The world has gone scary and crazy, there is an invisible threat, bearing the name COVID-19, that is lurking everywhere waiting for its next target. People are feeling worried, anxious, scared, and helpless. Human beings are fragile animals, but we are also resilient rational beings with foresight, discernment, and the ability to survive, and even thrive, when the going gets tough.
For an attitude to surviving uncertainty, power is in avoiding an emotional reaction, it is in restraint:
*Just for interest, someone once asked me what observing things with magic meant. I have no claim to know exactly what Buffett meant, but Joel Greenblatt called Buffett’s investment strategy the Magic Formula, an investing approach from a methodical and unemotional perspective. I believe it’s that type of magic.
The Corona Crisis
For the first time in recorded human history, the whole world is simultaneously living in a state of deep uncertainty. It is easier to live in a world of certainty where everything is working like clockwork, but the reality right now is that we are uncomfortably confined in our homes while the world falls apart around us. Nobody knows what is going to happen next, so we should get comfortable being uncomfortable while uncertainty reigns. We should also honor the present by paying attention to what we are doing right now because what happens today and over the coming weeks will definitely impact our future.
“Uncertainty is the very condition that impels man to unfold his powers. As we navigate our own uncertain times together, may a thousand flowers of sanity bloom, each valid so long as it is viable in anchoring the human spirit it animates. And may we remember the myriad terrors and uncertainties preceding our own, which have served as unexpected awakenings from some of our most perilous civilization slumbers.” – Erich Fromm
There are already numerous articles written about COVID-19 and it is not my intention to write specifically about that; that’s something I would rather leave for the experts. This article is a reflection on how to deal with uncertain times, because many people are having a hard time making sense of it all. I was feeling a bit uncertain myself as to how to best to deal with this tricky subject, so I consulted with the expert, Mr Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan and Antifragile.
Meaning of The Black Swan
The concept of a Black Swan Event originated from German philosopher Karl Popper. In his famous essay The problem of Induction, Popper said: “A scientific idea can never be proven true, just because no matter how many observations seem to agree with it, it may still be wrong.” Popper noted that many people believed all swans were white; millions of observations of white swans seemingly proved this theory. Yet, it was the discovery of a single black swan, living in Australia, which invalidated a theory based on millions of prior observations.
Nassim Taleb, a former options Trader, wrote his book, The Black Swan in 2007. The book focuses on the extreme impact of rare and unpredictable events, or Black Swan Events, which are events impossible to predict due to their extreme rarity. Taleb’s book popularized the term which is now commonly used to describe an unexpected event with dire consequences. As Black Swan Events may result in catastrophic consequences it is important for people to always assume, however unlikely, that they are possible, and plan accordingly.
According to Taleb there are three attributes necessary in order to call an event a Black Swan Event:
Rarity. It is a rarity, an outlier as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility.
Extremeness. Black Swan Events carry an extreme impact.
Retrospective predictability. In spite of its outlier status, humans will come up with explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.
Taleb also urges people to stop using the observable past as an indicator of the future, the don’t be a Turkey rule. The turkey is fed for 1000 days and thinks everything is all right and food will be coming. On day 1001, the day before Thanksgiving, everything changes.
A central idea in Taleb’s book is not to attempt to predict Black Swan Events but to build robustness to their negative impacts. The world is too complex for anyone to understand or predict exactly what is going to happen, and rather than naively try to predict Black Swan Events, we just need to be aware of the possibility and adjust to their existence
“Uncertainty is our discipline and understanding how to act under conditions of incomplete information is the highest and most urgent human pursuit”. – Karl Popper
Black Swan logic can make what you don’t know more relevant than what you do know, normal is often irrelevant. You can only find out about people’s true temperament when looking at how they react under the tests of severe circumstances, not under the regular rosy glow of daily life. Can you understand health without considering the impact of wild diseases and epidemics on your well-being?
Five Tips to the Art of Living in Uncertain Times
So, what have we learned so far? We have learned that it is pointless to try to predict Black Swan Events, and the best thing to do is to build robustness and preparedness, fortune favors the prepared mind.
How do we do that? I can suggest 5 things:
1. Plan for positive and negative contingencies
Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Planning is a form of rehearsal, it is is simply making decisions ahead of time based on all information you have available now. By making some of those decisions early, you will cut down or eliminate indecision or have all the things you need ready when it is time to act. Skydivers pack backup chutes and cars have spare tires.
2. Don’t be narrow-minded
No-one is perfectly open-minded all the time, but narrow-minded people cling desperately to their own way of thinking. Being open-minded is the willingness to search actively for evidence against one’s favored beliefs, plans, or goals. Don’t look for the precise or just look for evidence to back up your existing ideas. Don’t look for anything in particular but do be prepared for the unexpected. Don’t try to predict any specific black swan events because it will blind you to others that could occur.
3. Seize opportunities that come your way
Opportunities are much rarer than you think, they rarely knock at the door. Opportunity does not guarantee you a life without regrets, but if you have clarity of vision and higher aspirations in life, be it personal, academic, professional, then this could be the opening to lead you towards a more optimistic and purposeful life ahead.
4. Don’t waste your time arguing with forecasters
Prediction is possible only in a world in which events are preordained. Economists, analysts, or those who think they know better are often wrong; don’t just listen to the forecast, listen to the logic behind it. A forecaster must be able to articulate and defend their logic because that logic is what lifts forecasting out of the dark realm of the superstitious. The truth, particularly during a pandemic of a novel virus, is that nobody is certain what is going to happen.
5. Listen to a variety of opinions
Listen to a variety of opinions and then use your critical mind to come to your own conclusions. Exercise your own judgment and make decisions that fit your own situation and feel right for you and for the people around you.
[Feel free to add suggestions in the comments below.]
The Solution: Be Antifragile
We, as human beings, are aware of our staggering fragility on how physiologically vulnerable our bodies and minds can be. We are aware that terrible outcomes are always possible and often probable. Your Quest as a Human being is to protect yourself against the danger of losing your life but also against the danger of losing your mind.
This knowledge of our own vulnerability makes us go back and forth between ecstatic optimism and sheer despair. In order to cope with that awareness and to counterweigh the heavy sense of our own fragility we often rely on the hope that somehow, we will be strong enough to withstand the storm.
There are many ways to find a solution to the task of staying alive and of remaining sane; some are better than others. The better will lead you to greater strength, clarity, joy and independence. The worse will lead you in the opposite direction.
All systems can be categorized as fragile, robust or antifragile. Fragile things are exposed and destroyed by volatility, Robust things resist, and Anti-fragile things benefit from it. Nassim Taleb’s book Antifragile, published in 2012, is a continued reflection to TheBlack Swan written 5 years earlier.
“Some things benefit from shock; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, stressors and uncertainty. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shock and stay the same, the antifragile gets better” – Nassim Taleb
Mother Nature, thanks to her antifragility is an expert at rare events, and the best manager of Black Swans. Over billions of years Mother Nature has succeeded in getting where she is today without the help of technocrats in suits.
Five Tips to Become Antifragile
1. Become Antifragile by removal.
The solution to many problems in life is solved by removal not by addition. Living a healthy life is more about removing, sugar, processed food and unhealthy snacks from your diet. Similarly, people become wealthy by reducing their exposure to going bust. Professional athletes win games by removing mistakes.
2. Become antifragile by being healthy.
Treat your body as a temple, worship it every day. Being unhealthy makes our immune system weak, which makes us more prone to disease, which in return makes us fragile. Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. Hippocrates is known for saying: let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food. According to his doctrine, the body contains within itself the power to re-balance and heal itself. Hippocrates was reluctant to administer drugs; his favorite treatment was fasting and apple cider vinegar. He recognized when people ate mainly a fresh, plant-based diet, they developed fewer diseases. (I wrote a whole chapter on Hippocrates in my book This Is Your Quest, feel free to check it out.)
3. Become antifragile by optionality.
The more options you have, the more freedom you have to respond to unforeseen circumstances, thus reducing your fragility to Black Swans Events. If you have optionality you don’t need to be right that often. All you need is the wisdom not to do things that will hurt yourself and to be able to recognize favorable outcomes when they arise.
4. Become antifragile by Tinkering
In order to be antifragile, try new things and find out through a process of trial and error what works and what doesn’t. If an idea doesn’t work, make it fail quickly then move on to the next one.
5. The Barbell Strategy
In finance, a barbell strategy is formed when a trader invests in long- and short-duration bonds, but does not invest in intermediate-duration bonds.Play safe in some areas of your life and take a lot of small risks in others.
A Twist to the Black Swan Story
Nassim Taleb was interviewed on Bloomberg on 30 March 2020 about the COVID-19 outbreak. According to Taleb, COVID-19 is NOT a Black Swan, it is a White Swan, he claims that the pandemic was totally predictable and could have been avoided?!
If you disagree or think that is a sensational claim, think again. Taleb wrote in 2007,
“As we travel more on this planet, epidemics will be more acute, we will have a germ population dominated by a few numbers and the successful killer will spread vastly and more effectively. I see the risks of a very strange acute virus spreading throughout the planet.”
Rarity is the first criteria that is necessary for a Black Swan event to happen, i.e. an event that lies outside the realm of regular expectations because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. In the case of a pandemic with dire consequences, it has happened before. The first case of the Spanish Flu was identified in November 1918. Approximately 500 million people or 1/3 of the world population were infected with this virus and the number of deaths estimated at 50 million worldwide. The Spanish Flu killed more people than World War I.
Whether COVID-19 can be categorized as a Black Swan or not is a moot point, because the reality of the situation is that most of us didn’t see it coming, and what we have to do now is damage control.
When all is said and done, what we have to do now is to stay still and heal.
Time to Heal
And the people stayed at home, And read books and listened, And rested, and exercised and made art, And played games and learned new ways of being, And were still, and listened more deeply, Some meditated, some prayed, some danced, Some met their shadows ,
And the people began to think differently, And the people healed, And in the absence of people living in dangerous, mindless, And heartless ways, The earth began to heal,
And when the danger passed away, And the people joined together again, They grieved their losses , And made new choices , And dreamed new images, And created new ways to live, And heal the earth fully, As they had been healed. ,