Review: Wu Ji Tao Martial Arts Studio

I recently had the pleasure of working with Wu Ji Tao Martial Arts Studio as part of a women’s self defense program which ran on February 17th from 7:00-8:00 PM.

I am the director of the Diversity and Inclusion Board for the Residence Hall Association (RHA) at the University of Utah. Part of my job is to plan programs in the Residence Halls that will benefit the students and help educate them on social justice-related topics.

One of the programs that my board and I planned for this Spring Semester was a Women’s Self Defense program. In today’s social climate, rape and sexual assault are a huge issue, especially on college campuses. The primary targets are typically women, and the primary perpetrators are typically men. To try and combat this, we wanted to bring in some self-defense instructors to teach a few basic skills that would help someone escape such a situation.

I was first attracted to Wu Ji Tao Martial Arts Studio during my initial research when I discovered that they hold a free class every month on women’s self defense. To me, this showed that Wu Ji Tao is a company that really cares about its work and about improving the lives of women.

I corresponded primarily with Joel and Jacob Black. They were easy to get hold of, returned calls and emails quickly, and were very friendly and personable. They seemed very excited to work with my group and to help with the class.

They brought six people to help with the workshop; Joel and Jacob, and four of their students. Two of the students were female and two were male. I appreciated that they brought both genders. I felt that having women there helped make students feel more comfortable. The men were able to help with demonstrations and assisted the students so that they could feel the weight and strength difference they might encounter.

The moves they taught us were easily mastered and, more importantly, very practical. They began with a quick talk on basic awareness of surroundings and made sure that students understood that they will have to use force if they encounter such a situation. They showed us three different moves to combat certain situations: a hair-grab, getting pulled along by the arm, and being grabbed from behind. Even practicing with the male tutors, the moves were easy to do despite the strength difference.

I thought that Wu Ji Tao Martial Arts Studio did a wonderful job on this workshop, and I will definitely be recommending them to others. Thank you!


For more information see:

An Encounter With Death

My friend and I were driving through Salt Lake on our way back home, singing loudly (and badly) along with the music. Some Disney song was on, blasting through the speakers at top volume. I was happy to have a break from school and work, if only for the short car ride.

Out of nowhere we were interrupted by a loud thud and a bump in the road. I looked in the rear view mirror.

A deer.

After a few minutes of adrenaline-induced shock, we turned the car around.

Two men had already dragged her off the road and onto the sidewalk. Someone before us hit her and left her carcass in the street. The police had arrived to investigate the road obstruction.

They stopped us leaving and asked us a few questions as witnesses. My friend did most of the talking. I stared at the deer.

I’d never seen anything this dead before. Perhaps a small bird or a mouse, but nothing so large and nothing so painfully real.

She was pristine. Her coat shone, and nothing seemed in disarray. The only sign of the incident was her hind leg, which had been torn open at the hip to reveal the flesh and muscle.

The police finished with their questions and dragged her onto the grass to wait for Wildlife Removal. She was limp like a wet rag. There was no resistance. She just slid along the sidewalk leaving a trail of smeared blood behind.

I can’t stop thinking of her eyes. Wide open, black as ebony and shining with the reflected light of the street lamp above.

A Little Bit About Heartbreak

A little over a year and a half ago the relationship I never thought was going to end ended. I won’t sugar-coat it. It crushed me completely. I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know where to go or what to do, and I couldn’t figure out where to start. After so much time planning a future together, I couldn’t see a life without him.

Yet, here I am. So, how do you recover from something like that?

You give yourself time. It’s cliche to say, but time really does heal. With some people, it won’t take very long. With others, it might take a year and a half and counting. The important part is remembering not to blame yourself for this. I spent so much time asking myself questions like “What is wrong with me? Why do I still feel this way after so long?” I didn’t take the time I really needed to accept it and recover.

You turn inwards. You examine yourself. You focus on improvement. You find spirituality, if that’s your thing. You work towards being a better person.

You accept the hurt. Everyone knows that breakups suck, yet somehow we still end up surprised. I blamed myself for crying, and I hated myself for it. These feelings are natural. We are programmed to fall in love because that helps with procreation. When love ends evolution makes it all the more painful because without love, we wouldn’t procreate as well. A key turning point for me was when I started to accept these feelings without blame. If you cry over the fact that you’re crying, that’s just double the hurt.

You find distractions, hobbies, things to do. I found art. I painted, and I let that consume me instead. If you concentrate that hard on something else, it’s like meditation. I fell in love with colors.

And slowly, the hurt will lessen. Some days, it will still hurt like a fresh wound. But most days?

You’ll be just fine.

Product Review: Burt’s Bees Lipstick

I recently received Burt’s Bees Lipstick in Brimming Berry as a gift. You can find it at Target for $8.99 + tax or at Walmart for $8.47 + tax.


I would probably classify Burt’s Bees Lipstick as more of a tinted chap stick than a lipstick.

Brimming Berry, as the name would suggest, is a berry-colored lipstick. The application is very smooth and the creamy texture of the lipstick is comfortable.

As I’ve mentioned in other product reviews, I am usually a person who prefers a very pigmented and opaque lipstick. Burt’s Bees Lipstick is nearly the opposite. It is a sheer color that allows the lips to show through. Despite my usual preferences, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this did not bother me. It made for a more subtle appearance while still adding some color to my smile.

It did not last very long, and I found that I had to reapply about every half hour. Again, I was surprised to find that this did not bother me. A pigmented lipstick is usually very noticeable when it begins to wear off. However, since Burt’s Bees Lipstick is a sheer lipstick, you couldn’t really tell when it began to fade. A huge fear of mine is forgetting to bring my lipstick with me for application. With Burt’s Bees Lipstick, this would not be a problem because it gracefully sinks into your lips instead of fading, flaking, or smearing.

Unlike almost any other lipstick I’ve tried, I noticed that Burt’s Bees Lipstick hydrated my lips instead of drying them out. This was a refreshing change.

Overall, I would recommend Burt’s Bees Lipstick. As I have mentioned, it is not as pigmented as I usually wear but it still had a pretty color with the added benefit of hydration. I thought that the product was quality and worth its price.

For more of my makeup reviews, see:
Product Review: E.L.F. Baked Highlighter
Product Review: Covergirl Katy Kat Matte
Product Review: Rimmel London Provocalips Liquid Lipstick

Happy First Birthday, Shaepable

As of today, I’ve been running Shaepable for one year.

I write about a lot of things; politics, poetry, makeup, stories, mental illness, travel, and so much more. More than anything, this blog tells my story.

I’d been thinking about starting a blog for a long time but held back because, frankly, it seemed like a lot of work. The push was that it would be something to add to my resume, and I did it with a groan. Little did I know how important to me Shaepable would become. It’s something I didn’t realize I needed until I had it.

In a strange way, this blog has been a sort of therapy for me. It’s given me a chance to get things off my mind, to share my feelings and opinions with the world. I’ve been able to release things I used to bottle up in a creative and positive outlet.

Of course, that’s been scary and incredibly nerve-wracking at times. While I have the chance to explore my feelings and put them out into the world, many of my posts have been incredibly personal and some very controversial. It’s not always easy to share things in such a public way, especially to so many people that I know in real life.

Most of my followers right now are my friends and family, and I wanted to thank you. You’ve been here to read my thoughts. You’ve offered me words of encouragement and tremendous support. You’ve watched me build this blog from the ground up, and you’ve stayed as it’s grown and changed. Thank you all.

Love, Shaepable

Thick Skin, Thin Skin

Today, I violated an unspoken rule… I abandoned my regular seat in a class to sit across the room.

First of all, I couldn’t see from my old seat. I’m short, and sitting behind tall people is not conducive to seeing the board.

I had a secondary goal, too: across the room was a group of people who would all chit-chat before class, laughing and smiling together. I wanted friends, and by sitting closer to them I was hoping I could slip into the group.

But when they came in and moved towards their corner of the room, there was a very different reaction than what I had hoped for. Apparently I sat a little too close and was in one of their seats. They grumbled, speaking loudly about where they should sit now. I sank in my chair and tried to find anything to do to make it seem like I hadn’t noticed.

Rejection sucks, and that’s the hard truth. I hadn’t felt this particular brand of humiliation since high school, and it stung.

I’ve developed a thick skin over the years, training myself not to care what others think of me. But something about this pierced right through.

I’m not sure this story has a moral, but if it does this is it: There will always be mean people, even in an adult world. You will feel humiliation, no matter how strong of a wall you build. Sometimes, even little things will hurt.


It’s okay to feel that. You’re not any less because of it.