Can’t bring yourself to meditate? Mini-meditate!

YES4-Movement

Author’s Note: I originally published the following article in 2015.

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Chicago Ideas Week presented what everybody needs — especially anyone who exists in a noisy environment: A class on how to meditate amidst distractions. It was held outdoors so participants could truly practice this concept. The class was billed thusly: “…learn how to use your surroundings – even the bustling Michigan Ave. – to become grounded and meditative.” And that is exactly what we did – even more so than expected, actually, because it was surprisingly chilly with a cruel wind that just wouldn’t stop. Talk about learning how to meditate in challenging conditions!

For those of us who dwell in the city, the distractions of traffic and people passing by are so common anyhow, we barely notice them. But sitting in an open plaza exposed to a wind that rumbled between the buildings with the sound of rolling thunder, trying to keep our hoods from blowing off and our noses from running — now that was distracting.

But part of a meditative philosophy is to accept what is – embrace it even – and not just cope but make the best of it. And so if we could meditate and do our minds and bodies some good in this setting, we could probably succeed at this just about anywhere.

Our meditative lecture and exercises were led by Jacquelyn Brennan and Kelly Moore of MindFuel Wellness, a company that organizations hire to come in and counsel their employees on all things wellness. We managed to do three meditative sessions throughout the event: A two-minute meditation for openers, a five-minute mid-class meditation and ended with a full ten-minute meditation.

We also did some light stretching; it felt good to move around a bit and get the blood circulating in hopes of generating some body heat. We learned about breathing, anatomy and posture and how these interrelate to meditation and affect our well-being in day-to-day living. Despite the cold weather, concentrating on one’s breathing took us inside our bodies, where it was warm; and as long as we continued to focus inward, this was ideal.

Kelly opened with mention of just a few of the benefits of meditation: A decreases stress and high blood pressure as well as mental clarity, good immunity and whole-self well-being. Jacquelyn introduced the concept that breathing properly is key, not just while meditating but in our lives at every moment. Today’s civilization creates a fast-paced lifestyle and we tend to react to this with shallow and sometimes even rapid breathing. Breathing like this is not good for the body or ones hope for peace of mind. An interesting bit of trivia was mentioned: Navy Seals snipers slow down their breath for accuracy.

We may be cutting down on our capacity to breathe properly by 30 percent with poor posture. Ideally, we need 60 to 70 percent of our lung capacity to breathe deeply and all the way down to our core. Slouching can reduce your lunch capacity by 30 to 40 percent. When it comes to posture, how is your forward head position, also known as FHP? For every inch your head is forward, you add 10 extra pounds of stress on your neck joint and back and this stress spreads out to impact the whole body. Mind your posture!

Here are some tips to meditate well: Focus on breath so your mind won’t wander. Find a yoga pose you like and sit comfortably. Yoga poses are actually designed for comfortable sitting. You can create meditation at any point during your day. Try to put yourself in a position where you won’t be disturbed – but don’t make the lack of a quiet place an excuse not to meditate. Even five minutes of deep breathing, really concentrating solely on your breath as much as possible, is a form of meditation. Heck even a one-minute meditation can be helpful. And there are several ways to meditate. Do what works for you.

Now you know a bit more about meditation and that it is important and distinctly possible to incorporate at least mini-meditation – anytime and anywhere – into your life – you have no excuse: Just do it – every day!

And I highly recommend being present at Chicago Ideas Week, which happens every autumn, to enhance your life immeasurably.

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Better nutrition now can make you and your future generations healthier

Cover

Author’s Note: Below is a reprint of the article I did for Chicago Ideas in 2015.

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Among its many features, Chicago Ideas Week presented “Food as Medicine,” a panel discussion moderated by Monica Eng, producer at WBEZ and featuring Geeta Maker-Clark, M.D., clinical assistant professor & coordinator of Integrated Medicine at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine; Rebecca Katz, chef, author of several cookbooks and founder of the Healing Kitchens Institute and Michel Nischan, chef and founder & CEO of Wholesome Wave.

Author’s disclaimers:

  • Almost nothing in the article is verbatim, but rather, paraphrased per the author’s take on what was said.
  • Whereas each panelist responded to all the questions, what stood out most to the author is what was included in this article, although each participant contributed loads of fascinating nutritional information.
  • Ideas put forth in this article are not necessarily presented in the order in which they were discussed but were organized for cohesiveness.

Eng opened with a heavy statement: The #1 cause of death is the quality [or lack thereof] of ones diet.

Maker-Clark confirmed that food is a most powerful drug. We take it every day, several times a day. She added that a healthful diet can improve or even prevent any chronic disease.

There’s a science called nutrigenomics: Food alters the way our genes are expressed. We are born with a genetic map. Stress, toxins and food affect this. We don’t have much control over the toxins in the environment; we can learn to cope with stress, but it’s a constant part of life. Food is the variable over which we have the most control. You can change your gene expression by the way you eat and live your life.

Know yourself: What are you most prone to? How can you eat in a way to optimize who you are? She recommends if you want a doctor to help with this, turn to one who practices functional medicine or integrative medicine. Eng cited this is also known as “Oriental medicine.”

We all have a genetic predisposition toward certain diseases or ailments. Food can act like a switch that either flips on the DNA in our bodies that triggers those diseases or stops us from ever getting those diseases. If you don’t get a disease to which you are genetically vulnerable, you start to create a different gene pool for future generations in your family so that they will no longer vulnerable to those diseases anymore.

3Eng asked: How is it that we have medical schools that don’t teach nutrition?

Maker-Clark revealed that, having been through medical school herself, although doctors are taught very comprehensively about the human body and related topics, school curriculums only briefly touch on just the rudimentary basics of nutrition. In fact, nutrition has never really been considered part of a doctor’s business. But now, patients are asking doctors nutritional questions, and many doctors don’t know the answers and have to turn to “Dr. Google” themselves.

In the culture in which she was raised, even children grow up learning that foods can have medicinal properties. In her own practice, she started to realize at a certain point in her career that she was simply becoming a “medication manager” and wanted to share yoga, stress reduction and healthful eating. Thus, she has made it her mission to bring culinary medicine to medical schools where she teaches nutrition to a class by cooking and eating together.

Eng asked: How did we (the U.S.) get where we are today regarding food?

Nischan responded it likely started when we needed to move armies of stomachs; food technology strived for efficiency. For instance, convenience foods can travel farther better and withstand extreme conditions.

Also, modifications to foods were made with the greater good in mind: In an attempt to feed the world, there’s been a striving to make food more available and more affordable.

Hippies started the health food trend, partly as a rebellion against “the man” but also because they didn’t want any chemicals in their food. But this has gone too far with salt, sugar and other seasonings having been vilified.

The public school systems are now trying to feed children healthier diets, but they’re overcooking it and leaving out the herbs and spices that would make the food taste good. This is non-ideal, as children’s taste buds are very sensitive to bitter foods.

4Eng mentioned: “Bringing the yum.”

Katz cited she is all about “the power of yum” and for good reason: If it doesn’t taste good, you won’t eat it, simple as that. Some people see salt and sugar and fat as major bad guys to be eschewed entirely. But a pinch of sea salt, the use of olive oil and, yes, even a bit of natural sugar can make an otherwise bland and boring dish, that’s also good for you, palatable. She is also big on lemon as a flavoring and lemon zest. Herbs and spices can be used to build flavor. Food should not taste like “hippie gruel.”

Maker-Clark agreed it is key that food be fun and pleasurable. She says she has a cartoon in her office portraying someone who says, “I lost 30 pounds on the reduced joy diet.”

Eng asked what each of the panelists’ favorite recipes were. Maker-Clark said hers is roasted miso tahini cauliflower. Katz makes something she calls “the everything drizzle.” Nischan’s favorite is scrambled eggs with roasted garlic, chopped kale stems and shallots.

Eng posed: Which diet is the best, most healthful? There are so many out there right now.

The panel unanimously agreed diet is a very individual thing – there is no “one size fits all” – but one thing is for certain: Plants are where it’s at. Maker-Clark recommended lots of vegetables in all different colors. Nischan advised avoid highly processed carbs, especially high-fructose corn syrup and packets of “cheese powder” passed off as a dairy product.

One needs to listen to and be in touch with ones own body: What makes your body feel good – or not? Perhaps try the Aruvedic approach.

Audience Q: How we can overcome “food insecurity”? (This term applies to those who cannot afford healthful foods, which are often far more pricey than junk food). Maker-Clark said she feels there’s validity in frozen and canned goods, which are less expensive than fresh foods.

Audience Q: How to quit a sugar addiction? Maker-Clark answered it takes time, one step at a time. Try to replace refined sugar with a sweet vegetable — i.e., maple syrup on a sweet potato. Nischan said turn to your family, community and a support group for assistance for a sugar addiction or any type of addiction.

And that wrapped up another Chicago Ideas Week event packed with great information and inspiration for us to live better lives.

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Back to School with Chicago Ideas Week

I don’t know about you, but every autumn, a nostalgic back-to-school feeling takes hold of me. We’ve been trained most of our lives that fall is the time to return to our studies. The pain of leaving summer behind is modified for me by a driving desire to learn and get-things-done attitude that infuses me and adds a different dimension and even deeper meaning to life. I’m guessing we all feel this to varying degrees.

A change so drastic as warm weather turning chilly and darkness replacing light feels like a different world and calls for a change in attitude and lifestyle. It’s time to dress for the weather, donning fall fashions, and seek out something new to do. Don’t simply settle for a seasons-long period of hibernation, because that will soon pale after a scintillating summertime of outdoor enjoyment and will quickly grow old way before the really cold weather hits. Make October count and enrich your life with something different: Chicago Ideas Week!

Chicago Ideas Week starts October 16 and runs through October 26. In case you think Chicago Ideas Week is just sitting in an auditorium listening to speakers, yes, there is some of that — but there’s so much more including hands-on activities that you may not have ever done or ever thought you’d get the chance to try. See the list below, complete with links leading right to the Chicago Ideas Week site to learn more about these opportunities and sign up.

The presentations sometimes featuring one speaker, but more often, there’s a panel of experts. Lectures are sometimes interactive, followed by Q&A time, and some host post-talk networking opportunities.

Here’s just a smattering of the wide variety of what awaits you during Chicago Ideas Week:

ON STAGE

Political, successful entrepreneur, modern love (and friendship), Chicago activism, race topics, what’s it all about, protecting yourself from hackers, probing the unknown, the economy (of China).

HANDS-ON

See the Blue Man Group without their makeup; interact with them and they’ll teach you a few of their famous tricks.

A photographer will show you how to take phenomenal pictures from high places (meets atop the John Hancock Center).

Smart dating for the 21st century.

Heal with yoga.

Build a bike.

Cook up something at the Chopping Block.

If you’re a composer, learn how to make money on your songs.

Create a mural side by side with Matthew Hoffman, the guy who started “You are Beautiful.”

Doodling for improved note taking; hands-on learning.

Be a DJ; create content for on-air use; record a commercial that will be read on air and get feecdback from DJs.

FIELD TRIPS

Tour the new Wintrust arena, watch the Blue Demons practice and try your skills on the court.

Something novel for city slickers: Visit a farm and harvest some food, learn about using food as medicine and create a raw meal from food you’ve picked.

Shedd Aquarium: Learn about the special waters these creatures live in.

Field Museum: A behind-the-scenes look at the “Specimens” exhibit.

Argonne National Laboratory: Learn all about a new, ecologically useful innovation.

CIW sidewalk sign-cropt

With Chicago Ideas Week about a week out, get busy accessing those links so you can be a part of it all. Tickets go fast; fortunately, some new events are being added, but jump on this.

Events are reasonably priced: Most tickets are $15. Some sessions are sold out, some are for members only, but several fun and fascinating experiences remain available to anyone, thanks to Chicago Ideas Week’s members, partners and sponsors. Do consider becoming a member – The Curiosity Level is reasonably priced, and then you’ll get discounts on tickets, be privy to members-only events and enjoy other benefits.

You may notice that some of the events are during normal business hours. If feasible, consider requesting a long lunch break or taking a half day off. Not only is it stimulating and refreshing to break away from mundane existence, at Chicago Ideas Week, there’s also the opportunity to expand your mind and try new things: Make this your most interesting October ever!

Self-defense, part 2 – weapon of choice

This is the last in my eight-part series on personal safety. What makes me any kind of authority? My father, Ralph E. Clarke, Jr., was an authority who researched and authored books on this topic and drummed this information into the heads of his three teenage daughters in hopes of keeping us safe.

Different states have wildly varying laws when it comes to what you can carry to defend This Oneyourself. Obviously carrying a firearm comes with all sorts of rules and regulations and red tape, and this is a good thing. Too bad, though, that criminals and dangerously unstable people seem to be able to get a-hold of them so easily. If you want to carry a Taser, extenuating circumstances allowing special clearance and permitting needed. Certain types of knifes are also illegal. But a Swiss Army Knife, especially if it includes a corkscrew, could save your life in more than one type of situation.

We often hear that carrying pepper spray or mace is a smart thing for a woman to carry. In most parts of the country, it’s fine to be armed with these products to ward off a potential attack. But be aware of local regulations: In some areas (Illinois, Chicago included), one must be at least 18 years of age to legally carry pepper spray.

Carry other things on your person that you can get to in a jiffy (not by digging in the bottom of your purse) if necessary including tactical flashlights (that can be used not only to blind your opponent but use as a weapon on them as well if big enough), noise makers (air horns are great, but be aware: they’re painfully loud so make sure to aim it away from your own head) and police whistles (also illegal to use in some locations and certainly illegal in many places to use indiscriminately – that is, unless really needed at a time of danger).

Here’s an interesting tidbit: Only a very small number of captured rapists are armed. Rape generally carries a lesser sentence, but rape with a weapon can get someone thrown in the slammer for decades. This works in our favor

If you look like you’re going to be a force to be reckoned with, you stand a better chance of averting attack. Attackers have admitted when interviewed that they will usually avoid women carrying long pointed umbrellas or other similar objects that can be seen clearly from a ways off. They are out scoping for easy prey and if that doesn’t look like you, it’s likely they’ll keep their distance.

If you’re in a remote area, high-crime neighborhood or out after dark, it’s a good idea to have your weapon of choice (i.e., pepper spray) in hand and ready to use. Just remember that anything you can use as a weapon can also be turned against you, so stay out of arm’s reach and in control and don’t let that happen!

If someone is coming right at you, toward you, no matter how small and feminine you are, this is the time to get tough. Hold up your hands and yell “Stop!” or “Stay back!” Many would-be attackers don’t want your kind of trouble. They’re looking for a quick and easy mark, not someone who is going to give them trouble.

Even better, hold out your pepper spray or weapon of choice and shout in a loud serious tone, “I have pepper spray and I will use it!” What if you find yourself out and about and don’t happen to have a self-defense product with you? Pretend! The aggressor will probably not know the difference. Even a squirt gun can look menacing, especially at a distance and in the dark. If possible, do not shake and moderate your voice likewise. Let the pest know you mean business and you will hurt him or her if he or she tries to hurt you.

  • Any of the following that you might have in your purse or briefcase at any given time can be used as a weapon:
    • Pencil or pen
    • Nail file (the metal ones with a sharp end)
    • Tweezers (especially the ones with a sharp end)
    • Cuticle clippers
    • Pin (the longer and bigger the better)
    • Hair spray (to be sprayed directly into your assailant’s eyes)
  • Poke your umbrella [point, although most of them don’t have points as they once did] as if it’s a sword into the midsection or any soft area of your opponent’s body
  • Some people used to say keys were a good deterrent, but you have to be way too close to an assailant to use them as a weapon. However, if that’s all you’ve got, use them if it comes to that. Hold them concealed in your hand enough so that the assailant might think you’re holding a gun; don’t let him see that they’re merely your set of keys.

Look at these pictures to ready yourself psychologically to get tough against victimization. And consider getting the book “100 Deadly Skills,” a book my father gave to me in which I learned how to disarm an armed attacker. If you’re the one brandishing a weapon for your own protection, you also must be aware of how your assailant might try to disarm you so you could prevent that. Whatever you do, don’t let an enemy get too close to you while you’re holding a weapon.

Remember this: If you protest like you’re mad and act like you’re ready to fight, this can scare off an assailant. It won’t take long to get your point across, and let’s hope they scat. Then call the police immediately while getting yourself quickly to the nearest safe location.

Coming up: Posts on fun summer stuff to do! Follow by Blog to stay informed on what’s happening, especially in Chicago, so you can make the most of summertime. In the box on the right, insert an email address then click on the Follow button. You’ll get an email from WordPress asking you to confirm your subscription. Click on the link they send – and that’s the only thing they’ll ever send you — no spam — only my articles, hot off the press. Life is exciting; let’s jump in with both feet!

Self-defense, part 1 – let’s get physical

Male or female, this post has vital information to ward off an attacker. For the sake of continuity after my previous two articles on how not to get raped, the following is addressed mainly to women coming up against a male attacker. But men could use these tactics too.

Women, we are stronger than we think; and we are also smart, agile and resourceful. We can run and hide, dodge and duck. And when fearful, our adrenalin flow makes us much stronger than usual, like three times as strong – but also, when fright kicks in, sometimes confusion does too.

That’s why mind rehearsal is a good idea. No, it will not be your favorite form of daydreaming, far from it! But it’s important. Police women are trained to call on their wits in a hairy situation and they practice mentally by inventing dangerous scenarios and thinking up ways to escape.

GET FIT AND STRONG! Work out regularly, doing both cardio and muscle strengthening exercises. Your own safety is yet another good reason to keep a regular exercise program. Women’s muscles are not weaker than men’s; they’re simply smaller, putting most men at an advantage over most women. Our large leg muscles can be our ally in defense, but that takes balance, skill and know-how — in a word: training.

Get MAD if someone tries to take advantage of you! Be willing to HURT THEM. If it came down to who would survive, you or them, you would want it to be YOU. React like you are fighting for you life; you may well be!

Just as a weapon can be turned against you, physical combat is not a sure thing. Better to stay out of reach, scream and run; but if someone has a-hold of you or tries to, you may need to use physical force. STRIKE FIRST. Get the first lick in! Catch him off-guard before he catches you off-guard! Surprise works in favor of whoever makes the first move.

Strike quickly and with all your might at an assailant’s weak spots with the intention of wounding. After all, if someone wants to hurt you, hurt them before they get the chance. MAKE IT COUNT so you’ll be able to break away and get to safety. Here are some ways to fend off an attacker:

  • Jab your knee into his groin or whack him there with something hard — just make sure you don’t miscalculate and that you do it forcefully. This move may be blocked if the assailant is wearing a heavy coat.
  • Gouge the eyes with your thumbs. This is a very vulnerable part of the body. Poke hard. Yes, it sounds disgusting, but DO IT. You want to LIVE.
  • Strike his Adam’s apple, nose, or temple; you can use your purse or any heavy object, even the force of your hand — just be careful to not hurt your hand.
  • Grab his neck, try to aim for his windpipe, squeeze real hard. Poke him right in the soft spot in the middle of the neck above the collar bone; aim!
  • Use your fingernails; scratch hard.
  • Bend his fingers back. When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible pushing down on them with as much pressure as possible.
  • Bite if you have to. Do whatever it takes.
  • Your elbows are strong and sharp. Use them if as weapons: for instance, gouge an attacker in the ribs with your elbows.
  • Kick him in the shin(s) so as to disable him.
  • Knees are very vulnerable; a good swift kick here can take down even a big guy.
  • If grabbed from behind, smash down hard on his instep with your heel.
  • Also if grabbed from behind, head butt him in the face by quickly and violently throwing back your head.
  • If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh real hard. These are sensitive areas.

Rapists interviewed behind bars concurred: they’re not looking for nor wanting any type of resistance; they’re hoping for easy prey. If you start causing trouble, making a real racket and fighting him off, chances are better he’ll flee.

Gals, some of these suggestions may turn your stomach. By nature, we are nurturers and don’t want to hurt anybody. But consider this: You don’t want to be hurt either! BE FORECEFUL when you fight off an attacker.

There is probably not a single person in the whole world who won’t benefit by taking a self-defense class or at least learning basic self-defense tactics — especially students, women, anyone living in the city, especially in a high-crime neighborhood, or anyone who is ever out after dark — that’s probably all of us. Don’t approach this half-heartedly, thinking that one class will enable you to street fight. Every bit helps, but it’s best to take a full complement of classes. A good school that teaches women basic self-defense and specializes in using the leg muscles is Impact – I was very impressed when I went to a girlfriend’s graduation to see how they teach women to use their thigh strength to ward off attackers. There are many self-defense methodologies out there. Choose a class and go.

My father, who wrote books on staying safe, gave me a book with a strange title — yet it contained great advice: “100 Deadly Skills,” available online. You can even learn how to disarm someone with a weapon – though such things take continuous practice.

DEVELOP AN ATTITUDE; see yourself as strong and capable; carry this vision of yourself wherever you go! Watch some inspirational movies about women who fight back and win. There are plenty of popular movies with athletic, superhero-type women. They are not squeamish; they fight when necessary! Hopefully this will become more of what the ideal woman will be like in coming generations. You can start to be this woman now!

James Bond is the ultimate survivor, as are many commonly revered movie heroes. Next time you watch such a movie, don’t just enjoy it, but let the survivor mentality rub off on you while taking note how to survive. You may find yourself in a life-or-death situation where you have to think fast. What would the James Bond character do, or Angelina Jolie in one of her tougher roles? YOU CAN SURVIVE!

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Avoiding rape — or worse (part 2) – your escape

Gals, read my previous articles on staying safe in the world. This is one of the scariest subject matters, one we don’t like to think about — but stuff like this happens out there in the world, so we must be vigilant plus know how to get away from someone who would cause harm. Following are simple, ingenious, tried-and-true suggestions, some from Ralph E. Clarke who researched this topic exhaustively and wrote a series of books on the subject of personal security.

Daddy's Book-Be Safe Girl-2nd Ed.

Make Noise

To scream or not to scream: This depends on how close you are to them and whether or not they have a weapon; if they have a gun, keep your voice low and soft and don’t make any sudden moves. If the intent is simply to get your goods, cooperate up to a point. The contents of your purse are not worth your life!

Screaming “Fire!” may actually be more help than screaming “Help!” especially in the city and these modern times – because people are sometimes wary to get involved. Yelling “Fire!” instead will draw people to the scene because most people are gapers.

As a last resort, break a window, possibly by throwing something through it; this will create noise and possibly set off an alarm system. Curious people in the vicinity will head your way for a look; it’s human nature. Just make sure to shield yourself and don’t hurt yourself when breaking glass.

Run!

If the predator has a gun and your intuition tells you he means to kidnap, hurt or do worse, as long as you are not in his firm grasp, it’s best to make a run for it. Even trained police only make four out of ten shots even at a short distance of three to nine feet. This is because shooting a gun at someone is stressful and affects aim. Chances are your foe would shoot and miss; and even if you do get hit, being further away could avoid him hitting a vital organ. Courage: Make a break for it if possible.

Run and keep running till you are safe!

Be careful where you run to: Don’t run into a dead-end alley and don’t run up; once you reach the top, there’s no place else to go. You see this common mistake in movies a lot, so keep your wits about you because blind fear can make you do stupid things you wouldn’t ordinarily do.

Hide, but leave yourself an escape route in case you are spotted – or be prepared to get the first strike in case you are found.

In most cases, don’t run in high heels, unless high heels are more natural to you than bare feet. If you find you have to run away from someone in your heels, if you have a second, kick them off and pick them up, depending on the pavement. You could use your shoes, especially spiked heels, as weapons.

Put obstacles between you and your chaser. Run around and around something, i.e., a parked car; there’s a chance the enemy will give up, especially if help arrives. This tactic has saved lives.

A rapist is hoping to get hold of a gal and quickly move her to another location where he can get what he wants and not have to worry about getting caught. So sometimes it’s not just an attack, it’s an abduction. Your objective is to get away and not be taken away. Women, stay on your guard and, if necessary, take action quickly.

Who’s your favorite female superhero? BE HER!

Avoiding rape — or worse! (part 1) – be a deterrent

Hopefully you have read my previous articles on personal safety and will not ever find yourself confronted by a scary attacker. If you haven’t yet, please, for your own sake, do so, so you can stay safe.

This post has vital information to ward off an assailant. I am addressing this article to women in the event of an encounter with a male aggressor. I don’t mean to leave the fellas out, as 10 percent of rapes per year happen to males. So, everyone, be careful out there!

Of course, this is not a pleasant subject, but given that every 98 seconds – basically a minute and a half – someone in America gets sexually assaulted, it’s important. Ladies, here are some statistics that can help you avoid being a victim:

The U.S. Department of Justice reports the most common time that rapists attack women is between 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. So be careful if you work late or go out after work. And strive to get your shopping done earlier during the day, like on your lunch breaks or weekends. Another time of day it’s said that rapists attack often is between 5:00 – 8:30 a.m. So be careful going to work too! In fact, whenever you are out, especially if you’re in a remote location or a more vulnerable setting, always be on your guard!

Women are more likely to be jumped and abducted from parking lots than any other locale, especially grocery store parking lots. Large indoor garages are the second most dangerous place for women to be alone. The third spot is public restrooms. Sometimes you need to be in these potentially perilous places. Be hyper-alert, listen to your intuition, be smart: use the buddy system, and if something seems suspicious, enlist the help of a security guard.

If you are the last one to leave your place of business and close it up, you could be targeted. A woman should not accept this duty if there’s a man who could do it instead. Of course, in some retail professions, it may be unavoidable. Be ultra-aware if you are in this position.

Rapists behind bars were interviewed and many similarities were found as to who they approach and how. Here’s what to watch out for:

Long-haired females are far more likely than their short-haired counterparts to grab their attention. It’s not just about a feminine appearance; it’s about the vulnerable aspect of the hair itself: Hair can be grabbed, especially in a ponytail or braid. Tuck in your hair if you’re in a high-risk situation.

Women who are dressed for easy-access make easier targets. Unfortunately, this includes skirts and dresses with no hose. Yes, that seems so unfair – we should be able to be as feminine as we want to be, especially on a hot summer day – but dress wisely. Clothing that’s easy to rip open is also something would-be creeps will notice.

Women who are otherwise preoccupied, like on the phone, digging through a purse or otherwise engaged in something distracting are all-too-easy to catch off guard and overpower.

When you walk, walk tall and with an aura of confidence: Mind your posture, hold your head up, swing your arms purposefully. Use eye contact to someone who is menacing; make it the evil eye.

Here’s something my father, Ralph E. Clarke, Jr., author of “Be Safe, Girl,” recommended: If you suspect someone is following you or even if they get way too close, be bold. Muster up your courage to face them dead-on and speak — not in a soft, small voice, but with a loud, clear tone. In fact, be mad; use a manly voice. Look directly at this person, ask a question (like the time) or  blurt out a comment about the weather – that’s a trick that could confound and throw a would-be rapist off kilter. He knows you’ve seen his face and could identify him in a line-up. This also humanizes you; you’re not just prey anymore, you’re a fellow human being. This tactic could cause him to go hunt down someone more susceptible and/or even deter him from attacking anyone.

Have your cell phone handy and always know your location; the very second you sense you may be in danger, immediately call 9-1-1 and loudly give the police your exact location! Even after an undesirable person saunters off, call 9-1-1 immediately and get to a safe place.