Updated: Apr 6, 2018

One of my pet peeves is the constant view of the top of people’s head. Everywhere I travel, all I see is that. No more eye contact. No friendly smile or thoughful “mornin” – lol, that is so yesterday. No, in the store, on the bus, even at a concert, people are so focused on their handheld device that they seem to be in another universe. They are so removed from the real-time moment that a nuclear bomb could land and they’d be clueless. Until they saw it on twitter, that is. #IthoughtIfeltsomethingmove.


Okay, so let’s start there. Now I completely understand the times and I, myself, spend more daily minutes on my phone than I care to admit. And I know how important it is to be current on the latest happenings: global crisis…tomorrow’s weather…who really bit Beyoncé?

But when I am more focused on the gadget than what is literally around me, I invite all kinds of drama to my day. I recall the time I was texting an extremely crucial message that just couldn’t wait, and I found myself heading into someone’s bushes. Yes, that’s right. I nearly fell right off by bicycle. Can you imagine? Yeah, I figured you could.

Or the time I was driving...

I will say this: Awareness Matters

Wherever your day takes you, it’s important to be aware of what is happening around you. You know, real life…or what I call non-virtual reality Having an awareness of your environment, your surroundings, can save you from falling into some serious predicaments, from some random bushes to some random strangers grip.

In my teen safety book, Taking Flight For Girls Going Places, I describe a time when my awareness paid off bigtime:

“After biking at the beach, I returned to my car just before dusk. There were only a few other cars in the parking lot. As I put my bike onto the rack, I noticed a man approaching me, his pace unusually forceful and serious, and my gut told me he was looking for trouble.

I scanned the area for assistance and then turned to face him square in the eyes. I wanted him to know I was not going to be his prey. My heart pounded, and I thought I was doomed, but I knew I needed to stand strong and defend myself. I became really angry. How dare he!

Suddenly, as if he realized how much trouble I would give him, he abruptly turned around and left! I will never know what this man’s intentions were that day, but I don’t think he was there for a swim. I do believe had I not handled it with confidence and determination to not be a victim, the story might have had an unfortunate ending.”

Taking Flight For Girls Going Places, page 97

So, here’s the scoop: stay alert and aware. It could save you from embarrassing predicaments, but it can also save your life.

From the 1600-plus safety tips in the book for girls and young women, Taking Flight For Girls Going Places (pages 18-19), here are a few suggestions you can take which will guide you to safer moments:

  • Always be aware of who is around you. Is someone watching you or following you?

  • Be aware of your environment; understand your surroundings.

  • Expand your vision to at least twenty to thirty feet around you. Always know the emergency (escape) exits. Use your environment to your advantage.

  • Use all your senses, especially your ears and eyes.

The next time you hear the ring or feel the vibe, decide for yourself: Is this a good time to answer the call? Can this request of me wait til I’m better positioned to answer it? Is focusing my attention to anything other than what is happening right in front of me worth the risks that it might bring?

We’re not talking here about using your phone in the middle of family dinner. That will be another blog, for sure. We’re talking about being present in the real-time moment so you can decide what will happen to you next, rather than something or someone else doing that for you.


Kathy Greene Lahey, LMSW, AC, is the author of Taking Flight For Girls Going Places, a preventive tool to help independence-bound girls stay safe, confident, and empowered. Check out the weekly safety blog for girls and monthly “for the moms” at https://www.girlsgoingplaces-us.com/

Daily safety and empowerment: https://www.facebook.com/girlsgoingplaces.us/

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