2017, Failing Upward

Failing Upward: I almost got beaten to death by the first guy I ever liked. Here’s what I learned.

He punched me hard directly in the nose and all I could see were red, stars, and my own blood. When you get hit like that with no warning, especially as a beginner like I was, you will freeze up. By the time I regained control over my rational thought I realized that I’d sustained several punches to my face and torso and had robotically defended against them. (Go me?) I was cut, bleeding, and at one point slammed into a mirror with broken edges and elbowed directly in the torso until I fell over in a smear of my own blood. I remember thinking to myself “Gee, they really should have fixed that mirror last month. I’ll have to make a note later and remind the owner.”

I did a poor job at defense because none of this was supposed to happen. I was supposed to be in a safe, controlled space. I was facing off against an assistant instructor whom I not only trusted, but was the first guy I ever had feelings for. This was a true violation of epic proportion.

The rules of this match stated “no head contact”, so I wasn’t even wearing all of my gear. I found this incredibly hilarious as he grabbed my head and laid another several punches directly to my face. I’ve always had a sense of humor, guys. This was like the time that I decided that it was a good idea to pretend I was the Hamburglar at my High School’s Homecoming dance. The experience wasn’t exactly as described.

Anyhow, I knew why this was happening because he was telling me while slowly ripping as much of my body apart as he could in front of an audience. I’d just gotten my orange belt faster than anyone ever had before in my nearly all-male MMA/Police Training school. I needed to slow down and, to use his words, “know my place”.

My sparring partner was frozen in shock, as were the rest of the guys there.

Not a single person helped me.

I eventually was able to get enough distance between me and him to recover enough to return fire. I moved at a 45 degree angle and slammed his chest with an elbow, which is one of my standard “get the fuck out” moves to this day. It stunned him enough that I was able to grapple and deliver a series of way-too-hard-for-a-training-environment elbows and punches directly to his face and neck. Then I bent him over and uppercut the shit out of him for an amount of time that I can’t truly recall. I just kept doing uppercuts to his chest until I couldn’t anymore. He eventually backed off. I went into the locker room and vomited. I cleaned myself up, went home, and got medical attention. I was not going to let anyone see that.

I learned some important lessons that day. The first is that women are sometimes punished for succeeding where they aren’t supposed to. The second is that I was incredibly mistaken in having feelings for this guy. The third is that I would become the first female black belt at this school. The fourth is that I make a sexy Hamburglar.

His hatred gave me such a desire to outclass him even further – which I did. He was fired for this after people reported it to the owner of my school the next day. I feel like someone had to clean the blood up so it couldn’t be kept a secret.

3 months later I had his job. 6 months later I had so few fucks to give that I began on my quest to create accessible self defense training for women and taught 3 classes. 7 months later I taught my first self-defense class specifically for strippers and sex workers.

Bad shit happens, but how you respond to that shit is the most important thing. I nearly gave up that night. I didn’t because the owner of the school backed me and I am a tenacious son of a bitch. It’s important to walk away from toxic situations, but even more important to tease out the positive aspects of every situation so that you can use them as puzzle pieces to make things better.


That’s all we can do, isn’t it? So do that. Every day. You are not what happened to you. You are your response to it. I have always preferred my responses to be ones that piss people off because I’m living well. Anything less is cheap. I cost more than that. You cost more than that and anyone who tells you differently is full of shit.

This is an excerpt from Oni’s upcoming book, Failing Upward. Subscribe to this blog and sign up to her mailing list to learn more and get notifications when new content is released.

2017, General

Life with eyes = you can see every person who is trying to look at your ass which you never realized before

Yeah. I didn’t expect the last 2 years to be mostly me fixing all of the broken things on my body that I had to just ignore for most of my life. I am not sure you could pay me enough money to go through this again. I’ve been talking about this for awhile but this isn’t something you just get over quickly. I’m so happy that I am almost TOTALLY done!

I now have sight – and a lot of other things I’ve gotten fixed before, during, and after that debacle. Now I’m almost done with physical therapy. I’m stronger than I have ever been but I am still processing all of this. I work so much that I haven’t been outside all that much so I haven’t encountered absolutely everything in life post eye surgery yet. My last gig was so awesome that they let me work from home so I wouldn’t die in a car accident while recovering.

You start to go a bit nuts when you have to stay indoors for long periods of time and heal – and it’s not like you can stop working if you are in my position. During all of this I still delivered that amazing quality I’m known for. It’s actually EASIER to work now.

But I still get confused occasionally and I am still wrestling with how insane it is to get sight for the first time in your 30s.

Completely new relationship with the world. Having eyesight kind of feels like being a low level psychic. It’s easier to discover who the shitheads are.

I can now read facial expressions and can tell if someone is asking me how I’m doing and really wants to know or is just asking that to take up conversation time.

Understand the law of attraction

Imagine being an alien and landing on planet earth for the first time. That’s maybe (sort of) a description of what this is like.

I’m not joking, guys. Something “better” can freak you out if you aren’t used to it. And you know what? It’s weird for my family and friends too – many of them try to help me “too much”. For example, Harknell keeps forgetting that I no longer need a “Seeing-Eye Husband” and sometimes goes back into the formation we’d walk in when I was blind – until I gently nudge him out of my way. :)

I love that almost no one realized that we had a defined system for moving me around. It had 3 parts:

1. He’d walk in front of me and I’d track to his shoulder.

2. I’d hold my phone and he or an assistant would text me or whisper into my ear who a person was so I could walk up and say hello seamlessly. It was like I was an airplane with air traffic control.

3. I’d use my iPhone to photograph and zoom things so I could see them.

Any sort of change – even a positive one – opens the door opens to fear – to questioning what’s real and what isn’t.

Also you can see every person who is trying to look at your ass which you never realized before. @_@;;

What I thought the world was before my surgeries wasn’t true. The world is actually easier to live in than what I thought it would be. I struggle daily with the idea that I spent my entire life thinking things were a certain way but it wasn’t. I can seamlessly drive anywhere now.

I’m still processing it and I plan to go outside and experience as much as possible to get used to Life After Sight. And I do apologize that I am not posting anything super deep today, but I wanted to share one thing with you.

The older I get the more I realize that life is a weird cycle of gains and loss tied to if you are a positive or negative person. If you are positive, you’ll attract positive people and things to you. If you are negative – the reverse. The biggest thing to remember is that everything is temporary, everything changes, and the only thing that matters is that you keep going and seek out positive things because it’s the incremental contributions that add up to amazing things.


(Re)Generation Who Custom Name Badge Art – orders for my art cut off on Mar 1; other amazing artists finishing the set

Hi all –

I’ve finished several of the Custom Name Badges for (Re)Generation Who: Baltimore’s Doctor Who Convention. Because I have the job of actually being the Showrunner for the con (plus 2 other cons that we do) I have to recruit some other amazing artists to finish the set.

My commission rates usually start at $250, but for only a $150 donation to the operating costs of the con you get a unique commissioned badge. I will never offer this again. Everything has gotten too big and I have to step into a true directorial role. let my staff do their jobs, and can’t moonlight doing detailed tasks like this anymore. I wish I could, but I am not actually an octopus.

You can request any character, including yourself – as long as there’s photo references prior to Mar 1.

If you want a badge specifically done by me you need to buy it and request me before March 1st at midnight. After that you’ll get some amazing artwork but it may not be by me.

Here’s the one-of-a-kind badges I’ve completed so far. Only 1 will be sold ever. Check the list here to see which are available and to get yours! Do note that these aren’t good for admission on their own (otherwise I wouldn’t be showing you a preview) and must be combined with a general admission badge.


baltimore doctor who convention 2017

Donate to support our work and get a unique badge here.

2017, Real Talk

REAL TALK: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

When very successful people like Maya Angelou, Emma Watson, Seth Godin, and Michelle Pfeiffer have said in interviews that they still wrestle with the idea that they are frauds we have to understand that Imposter Syndrome knows now bounds. It affects everyone no matter who you are and won’t go away until you confront it head on.

In this episode I talk a little bit about where it comes from, some personal experiences, and what to do about it.

If you like stuff like this subscribe to my youtube channel and blog – and remember:

It’s not about where you are. It’s about how far you’ve come. Keep going, keep it positive, and keep it real.

<3 Oni