Smile at Strangers: And Other Lessons in the Art of Living Fearlessly

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 28, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 304 pages
“Eat, pray . . . kick ass. Delivered with self-deprecating candor, Schorn's life lessons learned at the dojo will resonate with anyone who's ever tried to remodel a house, raise kids, cope with a health crisis, navigate office politics or hyperventilated—essentially anyone who's ever been slammed on the mat while testing for the black belt of life. Like the fighter herself, you can't put this one down.”—Mary Moore, author of The Unexpected When You're Expecting

Susan Schorn led an anxious life. For no clear reason, she had become progressively paralyzed by fear. Fed up with feeling powerless, she took up karate.

She learned how to say no and how to fight when you have to (even in the dark). Karate taught her how to persuade her husband to wear a helmet, best one bossy Girl Scout troop leader, and set boundaries with an over-sharing boss. Here this double black belt recounts a fighting, biting, laughing woman's journey on the road to living fearlessly—where enlightenment is as much about embracing absurdity and landing a punch as about finding that perfect method of meditation.

Full of hilarious hijinks and tactical wisdom, Schorn's quest for a more satisfying life features practical—and often counterintuitive—lessons about safety and self defense. Smile at strangers, she says. Question your habits, your fears, your self-criticism: Self-criticism is easy. Self-improvement is hard. And don’t forget this essential gem: Everybody wants to have adventures. Whether they know it or not. Join the adventure in these pages, and come through it poised to have more of your own.

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User Review  - Hellblazer - LibraryThing

I took a while to work my way through this not because it was a chore but because it is very easy to read in chunks. It was a light and enjoyable read. Read full review

SMILE AT STRANGERS: And Other Lessons in the Art of Living Fearlessly

User Review  - Kirkus

One woman's journey to overcome fear through martial arts.Two-time black belt Schorn didn't always feel confident in her surroundings. In fact, before she discovered karate, she was often immobilized ... Read full review


Fall down seven times get up eight
If you want to feel safe be prepared to feel uncomfortable
Smile at strangers
Paradise doesnt count if its compulsory
Youre doing it all wrong And thats perfect
To fight fear you must also fight ignorance And occasionally argumentative jerks
Dont be afraid of the dark grab darkness by the throat kick its ass push it down the stairs and laugh at its haircut
Push yourself past your limits then let your friends push you further
Parenthood is the most terrifying ordeal you will ever undergo Enjoy it
See yourself clearly and you wont dread the scrutiny of others
A warrior cultivates the virtues of loyalty courage and discretion Along with some light typing and filing
Selfcriticism is easy Selfimprovement is hard Youre here for the hard stuff
Survival is the bravest fight and the most beautiful victory
Believe it or not you are more than equal to the challenges you face
Behind each triumph are new peaks to be conquered
Japanese terms

We are connected by the distance between us
What youre good at is less important than what youre good for
Remain centered no matter how many building permits you have to obtain
Everybody wants to have adventures Whether they know it or not
Sometimes the only way forward is to go back and start over
Once a place becomes part of you you can leave it without regret
Martial arts styles mentioned
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About the author (2013)

SUSAN SCHORN holds black belts in Kyokushin and Seido karate and is currently working toward self-defense instructor certification. She has written for radio and online publications, including McSweeney's and The Rumpus.

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