Last week, I came home from a lovely bike ride along Lake Michigan to find several news trucks lined up at the end of my block.  A woman had been grabbed and “assaulted” at 6 a.m. Tuesday August 8 on Howard, a very busy Rogers Park street which separates Evanston from Chicago.

My first reaction was to tell everyone in my neighborhood – knock on doors.  Instead, I told the woman walking down the street with her dog and posted the event as a HIGH ALERT on Facebook and Twitter.

My emotions were mixed: fear and anger.  Fear that now I couldn’t leave my home to go dance tango because I’d have walk through a dark backyard from my garage. So there I sat frozen on the couch texting my boyfriend who’s out of town and encouraging me to stay home because they didn’t catch the perpetrator.  Just a few weeks ago in a nearby neighborhood, a man had broken into a woman’s home, midday and assaulted her. Not the same guy.

Yes I live in a big city.  But this is all very too close to home. I close and lock my windows at night, lock my screen doors during the day, despite the fact that I have a Great Dane mix. Woof.

I also thought about what I could do: organize a self-defense class, check in Alderman Silverstein and the Ward’s police to see what could/should we do? Might be a good time to try Krav Maga.

I feel anger because I am controlled by an unknown brute. I think about how women have to jump through hoops to stay safe. We have to consider where we walk down a street, how we dress, take precautions in hotels. Things men don’t have to give a second thought to let alone a first. I just want to go dance and socialize!

Then I told a tango friend I was feeling spooked and didn’t want to go out. He offered to drive and I accepted his graciousness to shuttle me to the Milonga. I realized the best of human nature often arises during crisis big and small.  As an introverted and fiercely independent woman I want to fight it alone, rant at the injustice. And I do. Speaking up and altering neighbors is the right thing to do.

But I also discovered that the right thing for me to do is soften and allow the genuine kindnesses offered to me to dissolve the fear.

I opted out of Krav Maga for now and instead went to a meditation about becoming a Buddhist Warrior.  An amazing meditation by Heartwood Center’s President Nancy Floy.  A place of peace, a meditation in gently setting personal boundaries led by a woman with power, vulnerability and wisdom.


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