Change, Passion & Goodwill
Nominated by: Sandra Taylor
Share her story!
Maura, in her own words...
1. As a motivational speaker, consultant, and author of the book, “Unbreakable Woman,” you inspire women to live beyond their fear with self-defense beyond the physical realm. The core of “Unbreakable Woman” is compassionate self-defense and intuitive empowerment, what does this mean?
Our current self-defense model teaches women and girls that they need to fight like a man in order to be safe and powerful. It focuses on violence for self-protection (which is counterintuitive for most women) and negates all of the amazing and powerful tools women are born with.
Women are equipped with a powerful and effective danger detection system: INTUITION. Intuitive empowerment is all about listening to and trusting your intuition, which comes from a little structure in your brain called the amygdala. Intuition is one of your many superpowers. Distraction and denial are your kryptonite.
The COMPASSION piece is all about transforming fear into confidence. The kind of men who women fear the most, the kind that perpetrate monstrous crimes that make the news, all come from traumatic childhoods. By understanding why these men commit the violence they do, we lift the veil on the “monster” to see the wounded little boy within. Instead of fearing the monster, we can understand and successfully avoid the dangerous man using intuition.
2. What kind of change do you hope your work creates for women?
Physical abuse, sexual violence and harassment begins and ends with men. Our job is to do everything WE, as women, have control over to help move that cultural shift forward. I hope my work gives permission (for those women who need it) to model to their partners, kids, colleagues and themselves what a “powerful female” looks like so more people can make a space in their brains for us.
"Intuition is one of your many superpowers. Distraction and denial are your kryptonite."
3. You’ve shared, “Like many young girls, I grew up terrified that I would be attacked. My mindset was if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen to me.” Why do you believe this is a common fear? How long did it take you to move from this mindset to the Unbreakable Woman mindset that you currently teach?
Most women, myself included, share a mortal fear of being killed by a man because of all things on this planet that pose a threat, men are the greatest danger to women. That’s why it’s common.
Overcoming that fear was a process. By consistently TRUSTING my natural tools and consciously accessing them, they became habit and the world became a safer place. I systemized that process in my book and in even more detail in my 30-day Unbreakable Woman@ on-line training program so all women can do the same. Imagine how different the world would be if every woman understood and consciously harnessed her natural strengths and power…that’s where I’m living!
4. Your quest to prepare for an attack, led you to becoming a body builder that won two natural body titles, a fire fighter for seven years, and a skilled martial artist. Absolutely incredible! How did each of these experiences lead you to do the work you do now?
I bought into our self-defense model that promised safety if I was physically powerful, strong and skilled. After all of that training, I could kill you with a napkin but I was still terrified to walk alone at night--I had transformed my body, not my mind. All of those experiences showed me I was chasing “false” power and helped me understand the nature of my true power, which is all about projecting the strength and courage I carry in my heart.
5. Maura, your work is powerful and the fear you speak of is relatable. What is one of the most impactful testimonies you’ve ever received from someone who has read your book or attended one of your talks or workshops?
I did talk at Starbucks HQ in Seattle during which I presented a section from my book called, “Stop Saying These Words”. I talked about how disempowering the word “victim” is and to use the word “survivor” instead. I noticed a woman start to get emotional when I said it so I stopped making eye contact with her and gave her some space. After the presentation, she approached me and said, “I’ve been a victim of domestic abuse for the past 18 years, but today for the first time, I’m a survivor. That changed my life.” At a Lunch N’ Learn. Transformation is where you find it.
"I bought into our self-defense model that promised safety if I was physically powerful, strong and skilled. After all of that training, I could kill you with a napkin but I was still terrified to walk alone at night--I had transformed my body, not my mind."
The workplace is a jungle, fraught with territorial displays, tribal power struggles and the occasional ambush. Compassionate self-defense is the perfect way to navigate the corporate jungle with awareness, boundary setting and assertiveness.
The compassion piece is about judging the behavior but not the person when confronted with an issue. It helps women stay grounded and centered so they can respond from a place of power instead of reacting from a triggered, emotional place.
7. What nuggets of wisdom would you share with a woman that fears being attacked one day?
GUT CHECK: The surest way to prevent men’s violence against women is to change our culture or intervene in the circumstances that motivate boys/men to attack women. While we’re working on that, here’s some risk reduction strategies:
Nugget #1: Strangers only know what YOU tell them with your body language so move like a superhero—walk tall, chin up, calm. Treat every public space like it’s your house.
Nugget #2: Brace yourself, because the hard truth is the MOST LIKELY attack will come someone you already know. Make a pledge to yourself that you will trust and listen to your intuition. Don’t make excuses, deny or ignore what it’s telling you--no matter how disappointing, unexpected or downright sucky. When you ruin a man’s plan to use you without your permission, be prepared to be cast in the role of bitch. I prefer Ring Tailed Bitch myself--own it, Sisters.
"Women are equipped with a powerful and effective danger detection system: INTUITION."
8. I’m curious, Maura, what’s next for you?
I want to talk to groups of men and invite them to be the solution. Violence and intimidation begins and ends with men so I want to go to the root. I’ll be bringing a parka because those rooms might be pretty chilly…!
9. I Admire U, whom do you admire?
Terilynn Wyre is a hero of mine. The work she’s doing in the body positive arena is so needed and valuable. She’s an incredible model for self-awareness and self-acceptance. Community building is one of her superpowers! I heart her!