Monday, April 25, 2011

I'm Worth It!

On the first day of my IMPACT Core Program, in March-2010, I sat on the mat in a circle with the other women, feeling nervous, questioning my sanity, and seriously considering faking some kind of mysterious, instant onset illness, so I could just leave and never look back. What on earth was I doing there?! I felt chubby, out of shape, uncomfortable in my own skin, and—I now realize—entirely unworthy of standing up and fighting for myself.
One of the class assistants commented, “IMPACT really changed me. I learned I was capable of so much; I learned I was really strong. It’s amazing what that opened up in other areas of my life. I hope this program is part of opening something up in your lives, too.”
I smiled. I nodded. And I thought, “Yeah, riiiiiiiiiiight.” However, since completing the Core Program last March, something has opened up in me—big time.
It started slowly, this opening up, but gradually, I began to value and prioritize myself in new and different ways. Pre-IMPACT, I often thought things that amounted to: “Once I lose weight, I’ll start taking better care of myself because then I’ll deserve it.” Post-IMPACT, more and more, I found myself thinking, “Hey, I have the body I have, and I need to take good care of it because it takes such good care of me; it is strong and capable. Even if I’m carrying around extra weight, I’m worth defending, worth fighting for, and worth treating with dignity, kindness and respect.”
Baby steps—making a delicious, healthy dinner for myself (because my body deserved food that tasted good and nurtured it), taking a walk on my lunch hour to enjoy the sunshine (because my body deserved a break from hard work to take in the beauty around me)—added up, and I began uncovering a much happier, healthier, and more confident version of myself.
Since completing the Core Program, I’ve lost 80 pounds—80 pounds!—and I feel amazing. I feel amazing not just because I’ve lost the weight, but also because I have acknowledged myself as strong, as more in control of what happens to my body, and as capable. IMPACT was a huge part of this opening up, and I’m tremendously grateful. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

Mary Reynolds, LCSW
IMPACT Chicago Graduate Relations Committee

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ten Things Every Woman Should Know

Ever run across the book by Pearl Cleage What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day? In it, she makes a list of 10 things every women should know. Here's the list:
What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day
“Ten Things Every Woman Should Know”
1. How to grow food and flowers
2. How to prepare food nutritiously
3. Self-defense
4. Basic first aid/sex education and midwifery
5. Child care (prenatal/early childhood development )
6. Basic literacy/basic math/ basic computer skills
7. Defensive driving/map reading/ basic auto and home repairs
8. Household budget/money management
9. Spiritual practice
10.Physical fitness/health/hygiene
I like the list. I've got some significant work to do on a few items--#7, #1 in particular! But I want to bring your attention to #3, as one of the most important parts of my life is creating opportunities for women to develop self defense skills as a core part of what we need as women.
There are many things I do that bring me joy and balance that I like to talk about (Martial Arts, Bikram Yoga, watching bad romantic comedies, eating chocolate truffles). But I have no agenda in convincing others to do these things also--there are many paths to a happy, balanced life and chocolate is only one of them.
But self defense is something else altogether and I proselytize about it freely. Amidst all the beauty in life are parts that are dangerously unbalanced--and violence is one of those. As women, we can be targets for this violence and it happens to countless of us every day in every corner of our country, our cities and our suburbs. Our daughters and nieces and girls who live on our block face it too. There is no warning, there is no time to prepare when the threat is imminent. If a violent threat came into your life, you should have your preparation already done, your power already tapped into so that you can pull it out when you need it.
These are not ordinary times. If they were, learning how to fight wouldn't be on the list of things we need to know along with growing plants and children, fixing our cars, spiritual practice. But do not turn your head away from the world as it is--be your own example of power and strength, be the example for the girls growing up behind us.
Isn't it time for you to make time to promote self-defense for women and girls? Or take IMPACT if you haven’t already done so? Won't you join my cause and forward this to women and girls you know? Be part of our goal: to make attacking a women or girl a very dangerous thing to do.
Next Core Program is May 14, 15, 21, and 22 at Dominican University Gym, River Forest. For information and registration: Go to Or send an email to Or call 773 561 9000 begin_of_the_skype_highlightingend_of_the_skype_highlighting. Or do all three.

Margaret Vimont
Senior Instructor
IMPACT Chicago

Monday, April 11, 2011

Our Bodies Are Not the Scene of the Crime

Society is the Crime Scene When a woman or girl reports a sexual assault, her body becomes the scene of a crime. She not only experiences the trauma of sexual assault, but her body becomes a source of forensic evidence, a location to be scrutinized, and a focal point for the crime itself. A woman’s body is no longer her own, but a crime scene. Imagine if, instead, we mark the crime scene as the society where women and girls are held responsible for violence they experience and yet are discouraged from learning how to defend themselves against violence.
Self-Defense Training Makes a Difference Every two minutes someone is assaulted, almost half of sexual assault victims are under 18, the majority of rapes are committed by someone known to the person attacked, and only 1 out of 16 rapists spend time in jail. Women and girls who complete self-defense training report increased self-confidence and awareness as well as acquisition of a wide range of verbal and physical self-defense skills applicable to many real-life situations. A woman who fights back gains an 86% chance of avoiding the rape and incurs little chance of additional injury.
Our Bodies Are Worth Defending IMPACT Chicago Self-Defense for Women says NO to marking women’s bodies as crime scenes. While we work to change society so that it is no longer acceptable for rape to exist and perpetrators to walk free, we say YES to providing women and girls the tools to maximize their personal safety and assertiveness and to creating avenues for women’s and girls’ voices to become part of a comprehensive effort to prevent sexual assault and other acts of interpersonal violence and boundary violations. Cassandra of Chicago says: "After serving in the military for six years, deploying to Afghanistan, and surviving sexual assault, IMPACT gave me the tools to feel self-confident, in control of my body, and the self-assurance to say NO!"
In IMPACT participants learn self-defense tools in a space where the violence women and girls experience is acknowledged, where it is understood that each woman and girl has done the best she could with the tools she had, and where women and girls are encircled with compassion and support. For information about upcoming IMPACT programs, go to For reasons to take an IMPACT course, check out Amy Voege’s March 27 blog: “Four reasons to take an IMPACT course."
Martha Thompson Director and Instructor IMPACT Chicago