""If you want to feel safe, be prepared to feel uncomfortable."" Such surprising lessons (and more) arise in Susan Schorn’s memoir of a quixotic, determined pursuit of a more balanced life, as expanded from her popular McSweeney's
column. Susan Schorn was paralyzed by fear. Fed up with feeling powerless, she took up karate. Over fifteen years, she learned how to say no and how to fight when you have to (even in the dark). Karate helped her persuade her husband to wear a helmet, best one bossy Girl Scout troop leader, and set boundaries with an oversharing boss. Now this double black belt gives us a fighting, biting, laughing woman's answer to Eat Pray Love—
where enlightenment is as much about embracing absurdity and landing a punch as about finding that perfect method of meditation.
Both hilarious and strategic, Schorn's quest for a more satisfying life also features practical 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. You're here for the hard stuff. And oh yeah, don’t forget this one: Everybody wants to have adventures. Whether they know it or not.
""Susan Schorn is a badass black belt with a huge heart and generous wit. This inspiring, often funny tale of her journey—from a cowering, self-confessed ""neurotic"" to a martial arts master—is not just about the kick. It’s about how the lessons of karate can be applied to women’s daily lives to make us stronger and less fearful—as friends, mothers, wives, and professionals—no matter how we dress or where we go. Smile at Strangers is a power tool indeed. It’s a swift chop to the myth that women need to live like victims in order to survive. It made me want to take up martial arts too—and keep reading.""
—Susan Jane Gilman, author of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress
""Hey readers! Time to put on your karate pants and crush some imaginary trachea! In Smile at Strangers Susan Schorn urges us to confront our fears in an increasingly scary world. Who knew that the highs and lows of the dojo held superb—and often funny— lessons for life? Schorn never suggests that karate is the only path, or even the best path. She is reminding us that we have a choice. We all experience fear, but we can choose our response to it. Overall, reading Smile at Strangers is sort of like watching samurai chanbara, only with more safety helmets and female bonding. You wince, but you can’t look away.""
—Rhoda Janzen, author of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress