This Man Has Been Saving Up For The Perfect Proposal Since He Was 12

For some guys, a low-key proposal on the beach or at the end of a fancy dinner would do just fine. But not for a romantic guy like Levy, who has been putting money into his proposal piggy bank since he was 12 years old.

When he popped the question to Tiffany -- his long-distance girlfriend of more than three years -- on October 14, videography company Candlelight Films was there to capture all the romance.

Levy spent the last 17 months planning a scavenger hunt proposal. And when we say he pulled out all the stops, we mean it. He got her parents and all of her best friends together for the occasion, which included manicures, a limo ride and a shopping trip for a special dress.

The scavenger hunt eventually led her to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California where the couple first met. See how the rest of the dreamy proposal unfolds in the video above.

H/T Elite Daily

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The Reactions To Oscar Pistorius’ Sentencing Say A Lot About How We Treat Abuse Victims

This past week, the media was set ablaze when South African runner Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Headlines questioned whether or not Pistorius would be able to rekindle his athletic career and weighed in on his sentencing -- but as Suzanne Moore mentioned in her column for The Guardian, some of the coverage conveniently sidestepped addressing the victim in the case.

In a HuffPost Live conversation on Thursday, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said she was "astounded" by the amount of attention that had been placed on the offender.

“The victim becomes the person put through the meat grinder,” she told host Caroline Modarressay-Tehrani. “We don’t look at why the offender did what they did or what the offender did in holding them accountable.”

Domestic violence survivors Kit Gruelle and Nicole Beverly also sounded off on the media coverage and Pistorius’ prison sentence, of which he will likely serve just 10 months.

“If there is an example of what the war on women looks like, this is it,” said Gruelle, who was profiled in the HBO’s new documentary “Private Violence.”

Beverly said that "short" prison sentences in cases of abuse are surprisingly common. She shared her own experience with her ex-husband, who was approved for parole after serving only 16 months. The decision was reversed before his release, but it took multiple testimonies from inmates who alleged that Beverly’s abuser was plotting to hire someone to kill her before parole was revoked.

“I’m not just angry for myself,” she said. “I’m angry for all the victims and survivors out there who know that in maybe 12 months the person is going to be out again, stalking them, threatening them and be living their lives in fear again, and it’s not fair.”

Check out the full HuffPost conversation on the legal implications of domestic abuse here.

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Motherlode Blog: Looking at Soccer’s Concussion Risk, and Asking It to Change

Talking to kids about personal safety is like talking about retirement planning. We can’t expect them not to play the game to win—so if heading the ball puts kids in danger, then soccer has to change the rules.

On the Runway Blog: Bonnie Cashin in the Spotlight at the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show

Bonnie Cashin is still in fashion—not that she ever really went away. Her long career is being spotlighted at the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show.

T Magazine: In the Kitchen With Andrew Carmellini at Little Park

The chef let T into his next TriBeCa restaurant and shares a recipe for Beetroot Tartar, which he’s testing for the space’s inaugural meal: a benefit dinner for The Lunchbox Fund next week.

Why Turning 31 Is More Meaningful Than I Thought

I turn 31 in a few weeks, and at first, I felt that I was gearing up for my most uneventful birthday yet. Thirty -- plus one. Who cares? As I inch closer to the not-so-big day, however, I am starting to realize that 31 has its place. It's a year-long step into the 30s. 52 more weeks away from the 20s, one more step into the rest of forever.

My 20s were for picking things up ("Let's see if I like this..."), and putting things down ("No, I do not!"). It was a decade of city-skipping, risky behavior, confident assertions, and five-year plans. It was the decade of This. is. how. my. life. is. going. to. be.

Not so much with my 30s.

Being just one year in, I can already tell that the 30s will be the decade of negotiation, the decade of surrender.

In my 30s, it's no longer a question of when my masterminded plans will pan out -- but whether I actually want the things I penned into my five-year plans, and if so, what I'm willing to give up to get them.

As a partnered-but-unmarried, child-free 30-something woman, the 30s can be a treacherous and beautiful borderland of self. Who have I grown into -- and is this who I want to continue to be?

The 30s is the decade of negotiating my most precious resource, my attention. It is the age of deciding what to ignore and what to peer into.

Questions like these are no longer hypothetical, but are answered by the very minutes of how I spend my life.

Do I aim for a bigger career -- or just a bigger paycheck?

Do I choose to be a mom -- and if so, helicopter parenting or à la française?

Do I identify as a writer who also runs a business -- or just a business owner who also writes? Does it matter?

The way 30 delightfully whizzed past me, I can tell that my entire 30s could end up as a breathless blur -- like the gap of white space between a before and after photo between the 20s and 40s: grow my business, write-write-write, get married, buy a house, have kids (or not), shovel money into retirement, consider selling house, and it goes on and on.

I've fully claimed my space among the joys of adulthood, but I also realize that being a full-fledged grownup requires the high price of my attention. The danger of the 30s is that I doze off as I get lulled into a rhythm of earning, expanding and acquiring. Sleepwalking through my 30s will give me that same bitter cocktail of chagrin and remorse I once felt when I soundly slept through the entirety of a first class flight: How did I let this happen?

Still early in my 30s, I feel loyal to the 20something firebrand who commandeered my 20s while also acknowledging the deliciousness of slowing down and turning inward. This next decade will be about which parts of me get refined and which get sacrificed among the embers.

My most sincere wish for my 30s is that, however I choose to spend my attention, I stay conscious of my choices and that I live my days -- maybe not every day, but most days -- with my eyes wide open.

T Magazine: Bespoke Knife Makers Carve Out a Niche

A crop of artisans are bringing an ancient art form into the modern-day kitchen.

My Bright Idea for J.J. Watt

J.J. Watt, I think the world of you, but I'd like to ask you to work on something. I thought long and hard about whether I should bring this up--you already work so hard. But this is important--and not just for me, but for all of us (including you).

Don't get me wrong, I think you're a great kid--I mean, man. At twenty-five years old, I can hardly call you a kid anymore. Your work ethic, generosity, and focus are all at levels that many folks live their whole lives without reaching. You come across as a man who is wise beyond his mid-twenties. I genuinely admire the person you have become.

You weren't always perceived as one who was destined for greatness; yet you have achieved it, both professionally and personally, thanks at least in part to your special combination of discipline and humility. On the field and off, you give for the sake of giving and when you are moved to do so, not with the expectation of good press or popularity points, and not in coordination with the media or an entourage. Because you never lost sight of your middle class values, you are mindful of the problems faced by average people and the obligation we all have to pitch in when and where we can.

Regarding your love life, in a recent interview with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, you said that you don't currently have a girlfriend because of your commitment to your job.

"I know that I have probably an eight- to 10-year window in this league, and if I want to be what I say I want to be, then I have to commit myself 100 percent. That's why I don't have a girlfriend, because I give my life to this game and I want to be the best in this game, and I know it takes an unbelievable commitment," you explained.

"I know I've probably missed out on some great parties and some fun at the bars, but to me getting sacks on Sunday and the opportunity to be an All Pro and the opportunity to get Defensive Player of the Year far outweighs any party I could go to."

I admire your maturity and levelheadedness--especially considering the world you live in. Let's be honest. You are not a 25-year old accountant studying for his CPA exam who is swearing off bars and parties until you reach your professional goals. There is a qualitative and quantitative difference between the temptations facing you and a would-be CPA. Your restraint is commendable.

All of this is to say it's almost impossible to find anything to criticize about you--and I'm not the type to go looking. But I have nonetheless identified an area where you have an opportunity to improve (and it may well be the only one). Your giving nature and commitment to excellence lead me to believe you would want to know if there's something simple you could do to be an even better person and role model than you already are.

When ESPN's Michelle Beisner asked you about not wanting to have a girlfriend, you replied, "I obviously would love to have a girlfriend but a girlfriend deserves so much of your time and energy," you said. "And she deserves to be treated like a princess because that's how you should treat your girls. And if I can't give them that time and that devotion because of my dedication to football, then I don't feel like I should almost waste their time."

At first blush this statement sounds admirable--and I'm certain you meant it in a good way. A hardworking, nice guy who thinks girls should be treated like princesses and is willing to wait to get into a relationship until he can do exactly that? It's hard to take issue with that.

And yet I do. The problem is that the princess paradigm doesn't result in women getting the royal treatment; it ends up giving them the shaft. It creates unrealistic expectations and denies them permission to use their full power. Dethroning the princess paradigm wouldn't just help women in general; there's something in it for you, too. Modernizing your thinking in this area would dramatically improve your chances at a healthy relationship in the future.

And you know who else it would help? The NFL. Given your high profile status, you are in a perfect position to help the league update its attitudes about women--and God knows it can use all the help it can get. When it comes to women, the NFL's dial only has three settings: punching bag, eye candy, and princess. The princess setting is often perceived as the evolved one, but beneath that fairy tale packaging is a dungeon that traps women in a world of limited possibilities and outdated roles.

What's missing from the NFL's dial is the equal partner setting, and that's the only truly respectful one. You've never been afraid to do what you think is right or hold yourself to a higher standard--even if that's different from what everyone else is doing. And that's why you're the perfect guy to recalibrate the NFL's dial.

All you have to do is this: First, stop referring to women as girls. Just as it's not cool for me to refer to you as a kid or a boy, it's likewise not cool for men to refer to grown women as girls. Then, when you are ready for a relationship, look for a partner, not a princess. A woman who is your partner has the ability to give support as well as receive it. She can be real rather than perfect, strong rather than weak, and multi-faceted rather than one-dimensional. Even if you end up in a relationship with actual princess (and you totally could), you should treat her as a partner. Both of you will be so much better off if you do. Trust me.

I know you already do a lot for others, J.J., but if you dedicated a little of your energy and star power (or should I say wattage?) to this issue, you could enlighten a lot of folks. That would really help move the ball in the right direction. So, think it over. And go, Texans!

Iggy Azalea Is Headlining A Special Performance With Victoria's Secret! Get The Delicious Deets HERE!

Iggy Azalea plus Victoria's Secret equals a whole lot of goooooood times, right? Totally! They're a match made in heaven! So, what's Iggy Iggs teaming up with the angelic company for? [ Related: Iggy Azalea Is Premiering Her New Single On SNL! ] She's headlining the 2014 Victoria's Secret PINK Nation Crazy for Campus Bash on October 29th! How exciting [...]

All ‘Bout That Bass

At least half of the time, I wake up in the morning and feel as though I probably gained five pounds overnight. It could be because it was a Monday and I had just completed a weekend of baseball field snacking, movie munching and Saturday night dinner out, or it could just be a random Thursday feeling bloated, or maybe that my nightly sundae had gone off the deep end of the bowl.

Whatever the case, it genuinely amazes me when I do get on that scale and it informs me I am basically the same weight, which these days is a solid five pounds under my skinny weight.


It's a weight I haven't maintained for any period of time since my crazy mid-twenties, when I ate zero fat and skipped happy hours and dinners with friends for gym class. Even then I could barely pull it off, which is why I'm so amazed that after some months on Weight Watchers and some months after, I am still living the skinny jean dream.

I really thought that losing this amount of weight would liberate me. "That's great," my friend said, "Now you've got a nice cushion." I totally agreed, thinking I could loosen the restraints a bit. I was already imagining the enormous ice cream I could eat later.

But it's a lie!

There is no relaxing when it comes to weight management. Now at my thinnest point in decades, I still feel the weight anxiety almost every day. Who am I kidding? It's every day. Am I eating too much? Can I maintain this? The funny thing is that I was happy with my weight being five pounds heavier. I was actually still OK 10 pounds heavier. But now that I'm low, I have a hard time seeing myself -- or that number on the scale -- going up. So while my pants size is down, my general anxiety over my weight has not decreased at all. I feel no cushion. And I'm still having fat days.

I was talking with a friend the other day about the craziness of it. She is trim and exceedingly fit, but still tells me she can't relax. She feels she must exercise every chance she gets and she's got to work it hard. She knows her body needs days off; that it's literally aching for them, but her brain won't let her. If you do, you'll get fat, it says. Trust me, she's far from the only friend caught up in this cycle.

It's ridiculous.

So when does this madness end? At 120 pounds? 110? What is the magic number?

The answer is... There is no magic number. It ends when we decide it ends.

I'm finally realizing that my body issues are not necessarily with my body, but with my brain. OK, stop laughing people who know me. Physically, I eat healthy and exercise regularly. It's obviously the mental aspect that needs work because it's become pretty apparent that self-image really is in your head.

So, I'm making a point to appreciate what I've got; to lighten up a bit mentally and indulge a bit more. I work hard to keep myself thin, so I'm also going to give myself the pleasure of enjoying my body.

And my ice cream.


This essay and others like can be found on my blog at Ice Scream Mama

How Being #3 on My Partner’s List Showed Me My Scars and Healed Them at the Same Time

It was a cold, winter night and I lay snuggled next to my now-fiancé, then-boyfriend. It was three months after I had set my New Year's resolution that would later be my saving grace and North Star.

He was struggling with making a huge a life decision. He was happy with his life, but wanted more. I could relate. I've always been a seeker and a visionary. I was excited to help him find clarity, a skill and strength I had as a coach.

He opened up a new Word document on his laptop. The cursor blinked at the top of the blank page. I could feel his anxiety and wanted to calm it in any way I could. I brought all of my focus and energy to this exercise, hoping to have him feel my support. Being with him made me want to give my all. I was touched by his openness to try this exercise. His receptivity strengthened my capacity to give.

I asked him to write about how he wanted to feel. I wasn't sure how he would respond to this kind of prompt. My heart skipped a beat as his fingers vigorously expressed his desired feelings. Next, I asked him to write what circumstances would make him feel that way. Again, he listed several ways he could shift his life to feel the way he wanted to feel.

From there, I asked him to write a list of action steps that he could take to make each of his desires a reality. He wrote three. I admired his ability to be succinct.

I smiled and nodded in understanding as the first two appeared, letter by letter over the screen... They made sense and were in alignment with his goals. I felt like a proud and inspired girlfriend.

As I registered what the third step read, I froze. The muscles of my neck tightened and my head lifted a noticeable half of an inch off of his shoulder. The open flow of my loving energy quickly become stagnated by my intense fear. he softness of my relaxed body against his was instantly transformed into a state of fight or flight.

His third action step read, "To love Lauren more and more everyday."

He wasn't trying to be cute. This was a serious exercise, despite my playful energy. The same serious energy that infused this man's future career goals infused this goal. He didn't make a cute face afterwards. He smiled a firm, matter-of-fact smile. The exercise was complete and I was a mess.

I felt like I couldn't breathe. My mind raced to a fearful place. It wasn't that I didn't love him. I had fallen in love after three dates. We had been sharing those three words with each other everyday for almost a year. But this was different. I realized that our relationship was naturally moving to another level.

I had learned to live for so long without this level of love. How would I learn to receive this? How could I learn to trust this?

I faced a choice: vulnerability or certainty.

A chord was struck in my heart and old wounds were activated in my psyche. I did what I had trained myself to do since I was younger, I pulled away. Old scars of worthlessness, shame and fear still oozed. They were struck and I was terrified. But, in the same moment that I was terrified, I prayed louder than the voice that was scared.

I immediately remembered my New Year's Resolution. That year I didn't set a goal to lose weight or be more productive at work. My resolution was an intention. It was to lean into life.

I wanted to stop pulling away out of fear. I wanted to spend less time in my head and more time in my heart. I wanted to take risks. Like a spider, I had carefully woven a web of fear around my body for the illusion of protection.

But that year, life was calling me to lean in.

Despite the blatant resistance that I felt in the moment, I chose to lean all of the way in. I comforted myself, "Feel a bit more sweet child. Trust. You want this more than you are afraid of this."

I let go. I let the weight of my head rest against his firm shoulder. I let my body soften. My eyes swelled up with tears and I let the tears stream down my face, hitting his shoulder on their descent. A few moments later, the sides of my lips turned upwards and my lungs expanded, allowing me to exhale for the first time in minutes.

He didn't ask me what was wrong. He embraced me and I fully allowed for his embrace. In his own way, he knew.

I want to hear from you.

Tell me about a time in your relationship that you've been faced with choosing between fear or love? What did you do? Does the mantra, "leaning in" resonate with you? If so, what would "leaning in" look like in your life and relationships?

Do you struggle with fear and anxiety? Download me complimentary audio guide: 3 Powerful Steps to Squash Fear and Stop Worrying.

Mom Bares Her Soul For ‘What’s Underneath Project’ About Pregnancy, Body Image, And Loss

For the past five months, video website StyleLikeU has been interviewing women while they slowly remove their clothes for its "What's Underneath Project." The project is meant to show that style isn't about the clothing you wear -- it's about your comfort in your skin, in what's underneath.

During her video interview, mom and personal stylist Karyn Starr opens up about her experiences with depression and body image -- from the constant catcalling she endured to her eventual breast reduction surgery. Nine-months-pregnant at the time of the interview, Starr then shares a powerful story about her experience with miscarriage.

"I lost two babies last year, so I feel very lucky that this one has cooked for so long," she says. "I had a pretty late miscarriage at 17 weeks." Starr's story is incredibly emotional, as she describes what it was like to miscarry, her husband and son's comforting support, and her trip to the hospital for a D&C.

The mom to 4-year-old Louis and now 1-month-old Arthur also shares a time she feels vulnerable as a parent. "When my son is upset and my consoling him isn’t making him feel better, I get insecure as a parent. But maybe he just needs to have that hard time and I just need to be there for him."

H/T Cosmopolitan

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The Strategy That Helped One Woman Put An End To Her Impulse Shopping

The world of "fast fashion" insists that we must buy the things we see and love today, because they will undoubtedly be gone tomorrow. But one woman in particular challenged such messaging by doing the exact opposite.

Canadian author and illustrator Sarah Lazarovic decided to join in the "slow shopping" counter-movement by not shopping at all for entire year. Instead, she painted the items she wanted to buy, and shared her stream-of-consciousness thoughts about each impulse in her upcoming book, A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy. While creative in nature, the project actually helped her learn how to control her desire for the instant gratification that comes along with impulse shopping, and gave an entirely new significance to the words "slow shopping" for her. Lazarovic joined HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani today to discuss how such behavior can transform one's way of thinking.

"Slow shopping is very much a vogue term these days, and there's a bit of a greenwashing element to it -- sure, buy slow but you're still buying stuff, and buy quality but you're still buying stuff -- but I do agree that it does come down to pace," said Lazarovic. "If you really do know yourself and there's something you really need, I think if you can get past those first few moments, then you really make a more objective decision -- go home, sit down and think about it."

Modarressy-Tehrani and Lazarovic also discussed how consumers often use shopping as a coping mechanism for the sense of emptiness they may feel, trying and failing to fill that inner void with material things. However, Lazarovic insists there are better ways to go about it.

"I find that if you just wait a bit longer, you're over it, and there's something new to covet," she said. "When I had idle hours to while away at the mall, I could go back and forth between the Gap and Wet Seal appraising boxer shorts, and now I don't have time for that kind of stuff and I honestly don't miss it... There are many other places to spend quality time than the mall -- places that involve sunlight and green things."

To hear more about how slow shopping helped Lazarovic control her desire to impulse buy, watch the full HuffPost Live clip in the video above.

10 Money Things You Must Know After 50

Birthdays that mark a new decade tend to prompt personal reassessment: In your 20s, starting your career may have been your focus. In your 30s and 40s, maybe it was the big goals you wanted to reach with your family.

But by 50, you may already feel like you've got it figured out. You make a good salary, you've reached many of your life goals and your kids are on their way to independence.

But there are still a lot of money truths left to learn, especially as you're approaching your retirement years. Plus, times are changing: What was a financial truism in your youth may not be the reality now.

So we asked several CFPs to reveal 10 crucial things that could affect your money once you enter your 50s, both the bright spots and the potential pitfalls. Read on to see where you might need to be better prepared.

1. The cost of long-term care insurance
While it may not be the most pleasant thing to think about, how you plan to cover potential eldercare costs like a nursing home or a home health aide should be on your radar, stat. Long-term care insurance can help pay for so-called "custodial care" services like those, which are often not covered by Medicare -- but the longer you wait to buy a policy, the more expensive it's likely to be.

"It's something to start thinking about even prior to age 50," says Chuck Roberts, CFP®, founder and C.E.O. of Financial Freedom Planners in Richmond, Virginia. "It becomes more expensive as you grow older."

According to 2012 data from the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, a couple taking out a policy at age 55 will pay an average of $2,466 a year, while a couple who waits until they're 60 will pay $3,381. But some health conditions -- a stroke or metastatic cancer, for example -- can make you ineligible to purchase such a policy in the first place. So it can be wise to look into a policy now, while you're in good health.

2. You're likely not going to stay an empty nester
Got grand plans to build a wet bar in your basement? Not so fast. "Unless [your child] is a shark on Wall Street, he may need some help from his parents," says Brian Mahany, CFP®, principal at Sustainable Financial Planning in Toledo, Ohio. "I am definitely seeing some parents converting their basements for their kids to live in."

Pew Research data reveals that the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds living in "multigenerational" households rose from 11 percent in 1980 to 21.6 percent in 2010. And only 48 percent of these so-called Boomerang kids pay rent to their parents. "A great many parents feel honor-bound to help their children," says Mahany. "They're not giving their kids any kind of lease."

3. And you may still have to pay for your children's health insurance
Recent grads are having a hard time in the job market: One study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimates that 44 percent of recent grads are underemployed, meaning that they work in jobs that don't require a college degree -- which also likely means they aren't getting the perks that a good job normally brings, like insurance.

On top of that, they are graduating with a lot of debt, which tends to leave little money left to cover their bills, let alone health care. "With the student debt load kids are carrying, I have seen more instances of parents bringing kids back into the family health plan," says Mahany.

According to, children under 26 may be eligible for coverage under their parents' health insurance plan even if they're married, not living at home and attending school. Keeping your kids on your insurance may only amount to a few extra dollars a month for you, but it's still an extra cost that you'll have to budget for -- on top of the fact that they've taken over the basement.

RELATED: Health Insurance 101

4. You should consider making credit card debt a thing of the past
"By the time you're 50, you should be out of revolving debt, such as credit card purchases," Roberts says. That money would probably be better off helping you prepare for retirement -- plus, when you're ready to enter your golden years, you don't want a debt burden during a time when you're no longer earning a salary.

Unfortunately, debt has been steadily rising amongst people of retirement age: According to recently released research by the National Center for Policy Analysis, in 1989 the average credit card balance for people ages 65 to 74 was $2,100, compared with $6,000 in 2010.

If paying down credit card debt is something you still need to work toward in your 50s, you can use our checklist to help you get started.

RELATED: How I Finally Paid Off a Lifetime of Credit Card Debt

5. It's a good time to start thinking about where you want retire
Especially if you don't plan on staying in your current home, you should ask yourself where you might want to settle down, whether it's a ranch house in Tucson or a condo in Miami Beach.

That's because where you eventually relocate will likely have an impact on how you're saving for retirement now. For example, you may need to ask yourself, "Do I really have enough to take on a new mortgage 15 years down the line? Does my current savings plan take into consideration a change in cost of living? How retiree-friendly -- or not -- is the state I'm thinking of moving to?"

And get as granular as you need to, even down to the type of home. "People should [even] think about what kind of house they want to live in: Is it a single story or multiple story?" Mahany says. All those details may help you determine what you'll end up paying for housing in your dream retirement locale.

6. Your life insurance needs may change
If your children are grown and independent, and if you have enough savings to provide for a spouse in the event of your death, you may decide that you no longer need as much term-life insurance coverage as you used to have, or you may need it only for a shorter period of time.

"In [your 50s], some of the heavy living expenses that life insurance provides for families in case of a premature death are lessened at that age," Roberts says, so it may be a good time to reassess what costs you'd need insurance to cover.

That's for term life insurance. Permanent life insurance -- like a whole life policy, for example -- has an added investment component that could potentially grow in value, and which you may be able to borrow against. Whether you decide to keep that type of policy will probably depend on whether you still see value in it as an investment vehicle, says William Bregman, a CFP® who practices in New York City.

For most people, however, term life insurance may be sufficient, and you can get coverage up until age 80. Whole life insurance generally is more often used if you're concerned about estate taxes or want to leave behind a legacy for your family. Because permanent life policies are often more difficult to understand -- and usually carry higher premiums -- it's important to consult with your insurance agent or a CFP® to determine whether a permanent life policy makes sense for you.

RELATED: 6 Signs You Should Re-evaluate Your Life Insurance Policy

7. You don't have to worry about Social Security collapsing
Yes, the Social Security Administration has stated that, by 2035, taxes will be able to cover only 75 percent of scheduled benefits. But older Americans have a brighter Social Security future than their younger counterparts. "Confidence that Social Security will continue to provide benefits that are at least equal to today's value is higher among workers ages 45 and older than among younger workers," according to EBRI's 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey.

Why? Because even small tweaks to Social Security [policies] could secure it well into the future, according to Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist with the Institute for Research on Labor & Employment at University of California, Berkeley. "Before the first Social Security check went out, people called for its demise, said it would fail," says Allegretto. "Yet not one person has ever had a missed Social Security check."

RELATED: Will Social Security Be Gone Before I Retire?

8. Retirement doesn't mark the end of your career
Even when you call it quits from your current job, your knowledge and experience could still be in demand -- and help earn you some additional money in your later years.

"I've had some nice good-news conversations with a client in his 60s, who found out he could retire right now if he wanted," says Roberts. "He's in the engineering profession and could easily do some additional consulting, which could add to savings."

Indeed if you've had a long career in the knowledge sector -- accounting, medicine, law, etc. -- you could very well extend your working years with a consulting side gig. According to 2013 data from the Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 82 percent of Americans over the age of 50 expect to work in some capacity after retirement.

RELATED: Reboot Your Career: How to Do Your Dream Job in Retirement

9. You can contribute more to retirement than you used to
Feel a little behind in your retirement savings? The good news is that turning 50 means you're eligible to make a "catch-up contribution" of $5,500 to your 401(k) plan. That's over and above the $17,500 that the IRS allows anyone younger than 50 to contribute to a 401(k) now.

You also get to play catch-up with your IRA too -- you can contribute an extra $1,000, for a total of $6,500.

10. It's never too late to save for retirement
"At 50 you can still take great advantage of compounding interest" in your retirement portfolio, says Roberts. He notes that while you may have a different asset allocation than you would have had at, say, 30, the fact is that compound returns take effect no matter when you start.

In fact, many financial planners complain about clients who don't seek help mapping out their retirement until they reach their 60s. "When anyone comes to me thinking about retirement by their 50s," says Mahany, "I'm very happy."

RELATED: How I Rebooted My Retirement Savings After 40

This post originally appeared on LearnVest.

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Young People Use Gorgeous Instagram Pics To Show There’s More To Haiti Than Poverty

If you ask Paola Mathé, Instagram isn't just for shameless selfies and pics of delicious foods -- it's a great way to change negative perceptions of a country, too.

With over 8,600 followers, Mathé's Instagram account is filled with images of pristine beaches, colorful street art and swaying palm trees set against blue skies -- photos some wouldn't associate with Haiti, the country Mathé grew up in and frequently visits.

Mathé, who owns Fanm Djanm, a headwrap line, is among a number of young entrepreneurs and activists utilizing the power of social media to change how the world sees Haiti, Fusion reported. On Tuesday, HuffPost Live spoke with Mathé about her efforts to shine a light on a side of the Caribbean nation many Americans rarely see.

"I have the opportunity and the voice to show what Haiti is also about," Mathé said. "It's not just about extreme poverty, which we're also trying to fight and help -- but at the same time, it's a beautiful place."

(Story continues below)

There's just something about a colorful scenery... #livingcolorfully #Jacmel #haiti

A photo posted by Paola Mathe (@findingpaola) on Sep 9, 2014 at 5:12pm PDT

I went to chase colors, but I realized the colors were chasing me. Living colorfully everywhere I go. No matter what. #fanmdjanm #haiti

A photo posted by Paola Mathe (@findingpaola) on Sep 9, 2014 at 11:02am PDT

Sunday funday. #haiti

A photo posted by Paola Mathe (@findingpaola) on Sep 9, 2014 at 2:58pm PDT

According to BBC News, Haiti was a tourist hotspot in the 1970s. But throughout the past three decades, a handful of misfortunes caused major setbacks in the country's progress. In 1983, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claimed Haitian entrants to the U.S. were at an increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, causing a "major blow" to the nation's tourism industry, pointed out. The devastating 2010 earthquake that left more than 300,000 dead and the ongoing cholera outbreak resulting in its aftermath further damaged Haiti's global appeal.

A household survey taken in 2012 found that 59 percent of Haitians lived under the national poverty line.

"I hope to see this country get back on its feet, because when I was a kid, Haiti used to be the most beautiful country in the whole Caribbean," one Haitian who immigrated to Canada told BBC News in 2013. "Things deteriorated -- just too bad. But Haiti would be the perfect place now for the tourist people to invest and come back, and [help] this nation get back [on] its feet."

Lucie Cincinatis is another small business owner in Haiti who spoke with HuffPost Live about her efforts to change the country's reputation. She first visited the country as part of a program that allowed her to teach in Haitian schools, and -- after finding creative inspiration in the local talent -- gave up her life as a financial analyst in New York City to build locally sourced handbags in the Caribbean nation.

"I met so many artists that were just so good at everything, but had no access to bigger markets," she told the outlet. Now she works with some of those talented artists at her company, Jacmel & Co, and frequently posts photos of Haiti's natural beauty -- as well as her co-workers' artwork -- to more than 2,400 Instagram followers.

She told Fusion that some of her friends from different countries are shocked to see her photos.

(Story continues below)

Don't we want all our Mondays to look like that? #happymonday #monday #haiti #beauty #Caribbean #turquoise #travels

A photo posted by Jacmel & Co (@jacmelandco) on Oct 10, 2014 at 5:22am PDT

Betty and her gorgeous smile working on assembling a new calabash bag today #smile #lady #love #happiness #work #women #empowerment #artisans #artist #jacmelandco #haitian #haiti

A photo posted by Jacmel & Co (@jacmelandco) on Oct 10, 2014 at 9:20am PDT

Finding some inspiration in the North of Haiti. Meeting with some local artists and artisans. This is the Palais Sans-Soucis, in Cap Haitien. How beautiful!? #haiti #thisishaiti #palace #luxury #history #jacmelandco #art #architecture #beauty

A photo posted by Jacmel & Co (@jacmelandco) on Oct 10, 2014 at 10:51am PDT

Thanks in part to people like Mathé and Cincinatis, Haiti's outlook is changing for the better. In April, Caribbean News Digital reported Haiti experienced a 20 percent increase in tourist arrivals from the previous year, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

"Haiti is the only truly emerging tourism destination in the region," Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie, the country's finance minister, told Fusion.

Although tourism may be improving in Haiti, the country still faces chronic social and public health challenges. Only one third of 14-year-old students are in the appropriate grade for their age, the World Bank reported, and waterborne diseases remain a leading cause of infant and child mortality.

Still, significant progress has been made since the 2010 earthquake, including a substantial growth in GDP, a drastic reduction in cholera cases and the opening of dozens of health centers across the county.

To Mathé, it's important to focus on how far Haiti has come in order to further improvements.

"I understand everything that is happening," she told HuffPost Live. "Obviously, I know that there is a lot to be done. But what I'm asking for everyone is -- we need to invest in the country, and to see the bright and positive side of it, and to strengthen that side, and then pull all of the negative stuff up with it."

Fannite, Loussie and Yvetta. Some of our artisans, cooking a wonderful organic lunch!! #smile #jacmelandco #artisans #haiti #handmade #organic #vegan #foodie #happiness

A photo posted by Jacmel & Co (@jacmelandco) on Sep 9, 2014 at 2:36pm PDT

This is Haiti. The side they never show you. Don't wait to visit and feel free to email us for any information. #haiti #diamond #caribbean #islands #beach #crystal #sea #haitian

A photo posted by Jacmel & Co (@jacmelandco) on Sep 9, 2014 at 12:36am PDT

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Paris Opera Cast Refuses To Perform Until Woman Wearing Full Veil Leaves Audience

The government said Monday that it would circulate guidelines for cultural institutions on France’s law against wearing full veils in public places after a woman at a performance of Verdi’s “La Traviata” was asked by an attendant to remove the covering over her face or leave the audience.

Jean-Philippe Thiellay, the associate director of the Paris National Opera, told Agence France-Presse that some performers had complained after spotting the woman, who was sitting close enough to the conductor to be visible on the television monitors at the Opéra Bastille, the French capital’s hulking, modernist opera house. The performers at the Oct. 3 production said they did not want to sing if the woman kept her face concealed, he said.

“I was alerted in the second act,” Mr. Thiellay was quoted as saying by the news agency. The Paris National Opera declined to elaborate, but the Culture Ministry confirmed the account.

Modern Love: Crossing a Threshold and Not Looking Back

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Shining Light on Violence Against Women

"Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." --Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, 1914

Domestic violence has been in the news a lot lately. Intimate partner violence (also known as IPV or domestic violence) is not new, but it is widespread. New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows how staggering the problem is: over 38 million women in the United States experience violence at the hand of a husband, boyfriend, or other partner during their lifetime. But what many people don't know is that the number declined significantly in the last 20 years, in part because of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA).

Prior to VAWA, in many states physical and sexual violence against a woman by someone she knew was not considered as serious a crime as was an attack by a stranger. Thinking about it now, it's hard to believe.

VAWA was a major national recognition of the severity of partner violence against women and the need for change. Renewed last year, the law provides funding for criminal investigation, prosecution, and harsher penalties for abusers. It also supports programs and services such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, rape crisis centers, violence prevention programs, legal aid for survivors, and protections for traditionally underserved populations such as Native Americans, undocumented individuals, women with disabilities, and lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women.

VAWA has had a big impact -- IPV declined by 67 percent between 1993 and 2010, due in part to changes like these:

All 50 states have updated their laws so that rape is now subject to the same punishment whether or not the victim knows the perpetrator.

Police, prosecutors, and judges now receive training on handling IPV cases.

If police officers have reason to suspect IPV, they may now arrest someone for committing the crime without an arrest warrant.

Victims no longer have to pay for their own rape exams or to have a protection order (also called a restraining order) served to their abuser.

Perhaps the most important change to come from VAWA was the acknowledgment that domestic violence exists. Historically, we avoided the topic, preferring to think of it as a "private" or "family" issue that only happens to other people, when it actually affects people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and educational and socioeconomic backgrounds. The more we talk openly about the reality of domestic violence -- the more we let sunlight shine on this issue -- the more progress we can make.

At a recent event celebrating the 20th anniversary of VAWA, Vice President Biden (the original author of the law) voiced a goal that I believe is necessary and attainable: "We are not going to succeed until America embraces the notion... that under no circumstance does a man ever have a right to raise a hand to a woman other than in self-defense." In order to reach this goal, we must start with open, honest discussion about the painful problem of domestic violence. Not only is this discussion good for society, it can help women caught in violent relationships and the children that live in these abusive homes. When we talk openly about the many forms abuse can take and deem these actions wrong and criminal, we help others identify abuse in their lives and show them a path to change.

How can you help? Start a dialogue. Share this simple, easy-to-read infographic with friends and family and post it on your social networks in whatever way feels right for you. Don't be surprised if your doctor asks questions about your relationships and home life. IPV screening is covered under all Marketplace and most other health coverage plans, at no additional cost. And don't forget the girls in your life; at least 1 in 10 teens experience physical violence in their relationships. Talk to them about healthy relationships, abuse, and what they should do if someone hurts them.

If we open up this problem to the sunlight, we can make a difference for millions of women.

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It’s About More Than Just Freezing Eggs…

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Competition to attract and retain women in the workplace is undeniably hot, so companies are resorting to some pretty cool additions to an already diverse armory of perks. As the talent wars rapidly escalate this modern-day benefits "arms race," Apple and Facebook ignited some additional spark by announcing they will now offer women a life-altering benefit: paying for employees to freeze their eggs.

News spread swiftly, and so did a myriad of negative reaction. The story, "Egg Freezing as a Work Benefit: Some Women See Darker Message" questions if by paying for women to delay pregnancy, are employers hindering them from achieving a work/life balance?

One Bloomberg journalist called it a, gulp, "PR stunt." Danielle Friedman at ABC News wrote that it is "a ploy to entice women to sell their souls to their employer, sacrificing childbearing years for the promise of promotion."

Mackenzie Dawson wrote in her opinion piece for the the New York Post, "This latest offering from Apple and Facebook is a devil's deal in the guise of a gender equity perk. What a truly terrible idea this is, and what a weird, cynical message it sends to women." She adds, "there's no point in encouraging women to delay having babies if you're just going to make it hell for them in the office once they actually have them."

Frankly, I'm a bit perplexed at the vortex of negativity, particularly in a world where uncommon and not-for-everyone perks are, well, fairly common. While clearly dissimilar, Patagonia employees are encouraged to catch a wave in the middle of the day with the receptionist posting daily surf reports. Facebook has a barbershop on-site to meet all hair care needs, presumably primarily male. The point is, every option is not for every individual.

Ironically, most perks are offered to help employees achieve work/life balance on a daily basis -- gym memberships, game rooms, free food. Why don't we think about work/life balance in a larger context? Over the continuum of a career? "By offering this benefit, companies are investing in women, and supporting them in carving out the lives they want," offers Brigitte Adams, an egg freezing advocate.

If well-meaning critics truly want to bring out the heavy artillery, then let's make it about the fight for paid maternity leave. As you can see in this map of Maternity Leave Policies Around the World published in The Atlantic, the U.S. is joined by Suriname and Papua New Guinea as one of three countries that does not require some form of paid time off for new mothers.

In fact, just 11 percent of Americans employed by private industry have access to some sort of paid family leave. For state and government employees, 16 percent can take paid family leave. The U.S. federal government provides no paid family leave to its employees, though they can use their sick days or vacation days that they've saved up.

Ensuring that employers foster an environment where parents can achieve career success without compromising the needs of their family should be all of our focuses. To that end, more companies are adding benefits such as adoption assistance and egg-freezing as options to help their employees navigate their long-term career and family plans. Much like other benefits in today's competitive marketplace, egg-freezing is merely a choice, available to those who want to take advantage of it.

Having babies looks far easier in the media than it is in real life. Getting pregnant can be difficult. Finding the right time can be even more so. Balancing work, life and parenthood still potentially more challenging yet. So if a company wants to challenge the status quo to do so, we should be encouraging them to do precisely that. Maybe, just maybe, in order to create a society that truly reconciles the choices we all make in the name of family and work, you really do need to break (and maybe even freeze) a few eggs.

Gay Guys Can Do Better Than the Word ‘Basic’ Too

I hear it all the time amongst my gay friends, "She's a basic bitch," or just, "Basic." The use of the insult has become borderline epidemic, and I am not really sure why. First of all, it's not really our word to use, and second, it's a pretty lazy insult to throw around, and you guys are way more creative than that.

It's doubtful that you are unfamiliar with that all this noise about "basic" is about, but just in case... New York Magazine's Noreen Malone summarized the root of the insult pretty well, coming to the conclusion that women calling each other basic is the result of, "...a male hierarchy of culture, and the belief that the self is an essentially surface-level formation."

Malone, summarizing countless posts defining the term, says "basic" is, "...someone who owns things like Uggs and North Face and leggings... likes yogurt and fears carbs (there is an exception for brunch), and loves her friends, unless and until she secretly hates them ... She bought the Us Weekly with Lauren Conrad's wedding on the cover. She Pins ... She doesn't, apparently, long for more."

Notice how each and every one of those things is an item or ephemeral, or just stuff that can be thrown away? It's because it's a way for someone to say, "You don't matter, and therefore you are disposable."

So why do we keep using that word even though it feels kind of icky? And why are my fellow gay brothers so into it?

Gay men have a history of appropriating culture from other communities. The recent uproar of gay men appropriating black female culture is a great example of this (full disclosure: I laid into that debate, resulting in CNN's Don Lemon saying, "... H. Alan Scott, you can act all gay and whatever"). Obviously there's debate over whether this is offensive or a means of promoting greater awareness, but regardless, the gay men I know often adopt sayings and mannerisms as a means to assimilate and gain confidence.

Take me, for example. I'm a gay man who likes Barbra Streisand ("like" is an understatement). It's not, nor has it ever been, "cool" to like Barbra Streisand. I fit the stereotype of "the gay queen that likes Babs." Yes, I genuinely like her, but part of my interest in her is probably because I embraced the stereotype so I could make some friends. If being gay meant liking Streisand, well then I'd rather be a stereotype than alone. Based on Malone's summary above, for the gay community, this makes me basic. And in a lot of ways, I am totally okay with that.

It's this obsession with categories, putting people into boxes, that has pits people against each other. Our patriarchal society has forced us to adopt labels, and because we've drank the patriarchal Kool-Aid, we can't get beyond this. And there is something about calling someone "basic" that just makes us feel better about ourselves. It's a way to disregard them, to say they are unworthy, to "other" them that is the signature move of a mean girl. Even though we say we are in this together, we are still, more often than not, clawing our way to the top, and ultimately, leaving each other behind.

But here's the thing, people need to look around and realize that we are all into pretty basic stuff. Very few of us are so creative, or out-of-the-box, or geez, confident enough, to really experiment with non-basic forms of expression, mainly because humans, at our core, are all just trying to fit in and belong.

But I don't think we need another word that strips people of their uniqueness and tosses them aside. What we need is a word for people who totally surprise the shit out of us.

Like instead of calling my love of Babs "basic," why not call it "courageous?" Or that girl who is obsessed with Pinterest, can't she just be a woman that likes to be inspired? The aesthetic of non-important things people are interested in shouldn't define them -- their actions and how they treat others should. Empowering one another through mutual respect and kindness, regardless of our differences or interests (no matter how mainstream they may be), is essential to the growth of all communities.

Basic is not a description of a type of person, but rather a reflection on the person using the term. By calling someone, "Basic," you're basically saying, "I am not good at understanding the depths of the human spirit." Which is basically just like saying you don't know why people like puppies, which is a whooole other problem, my friend.

This article was originally published on MTV Act.

How Climate Affects The Quality Of Wine, From Charles Smith

Why do the best wines come from mild grey climates? According to wine expert Charles Smith , wine is produced in these regions because it's the perfect environment to get the grapes right on the edge of fully ripening. When the grapes struggle to ripen, it produces wine with more intensity. These types of grapes produce the best wine, which is why wine is made in the areas that are conducive to these climates.

For more tips from Charles on all things wine, view the slideshow below:

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Unimaginatively Played, Olivia Munn

Olivia Munn

What Wine Goes With A Burger? From Charles Smith

If you love cheeseburgers and wine you're in luck -- wine expert Charles Smith has the perfect pairing for you. Merlot goes very well with burgers, because it's a softer wine. Merlot also tends to be smooth, which you want when you're paring a wine with a hearty meat. According to Charles, a simple meal like a hamburger can be so pleasantly enhanced with the right wine pairing!

For more tips from Charles on all things wine, view the slideshow below:

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Woman Arrested For Tweet Showing Red Stilettos On The Quran

A woman was arrested in Turkey this week after she posted a photo on Twitter of red-stilettoed feet standing on the Quran.

The unnamed woman in her mid-30s was taken into custody in Istanbul on Tuesday on suspicion of blasphemy and inciting religious hatred, Agence France Presse reported. She was released after questioning.

Police launched the investigation after the firebrand mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, filed a legal complaint against her, according to Turkey's Dogan News Agency.

"No one has a right to insult our religion," Gokcek wrote on Twitter, and posted the original photo. Standing or laying shoes on an image is often used as a sign of disrespect in the Middle East, where feet are considered unclean.


— İbrahim Melih Gökçek (@06melihgokcek) October 21, 2014

Turkey, a majority Muslim nation, has a long history of deep divisions between ardent secularists and religious conservatives.

Gokeck is a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) party, which has Islamist roots. Despite its largely moderate agenda, the AKP's dominance over Turkey's politics over the last decade has left some secularists uneasy.

The woman who posted the photo describes herself as an atheist on her Twitter profile, which is emblazoned with a quote from modern Turkey's secular founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The Ankara mayor in particular has a reputation for kicking up a storm in Turkey -- often on Twitter -- including goading anti-government protesters and branding a BBC reporter as a spy.

The mayor is also voraciously litigious. He recently told Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that he had sued around 3,000 people for Twitter posts.

Agence France Press said Gokcek is now suing the woman who posted the red-stiletto photo for insulting religion, inciting religious hatred and threatening public peace.

Standing Naked in Fear and the Question That Wouldn’t Go Away

There's a story I've been wanting to tell for quite some time now. And I keep putting it off. Thinking I'm not ready to share it. Today it feels right.

It started some time ago.

I went for a routine mammogram -- I'm at that age and the doc had done a check, and was well but he said, "just in case."

Everything about the day was ordinary. I didn't even have to wait in line for long.

And the test went smoothly. The technician had no expression, and gently but neutrally led me through the process. It wasn't my first time.

I finished up earlier than I had planned, grabbed a cup of coffee and went back to work. The next morning, I saw the kids off to school, tidied up the kitchen and settled down with a cup of tea in my office.

My mobile phone rang. It was the hospital. They asked if I would come back in, they needed to do an ultrasound, the next day. It was important that the doctor be there when I did the test. Yes, they had found something and they needed to check it further.

I was surprisingly calm. The next day I had an important workshop that had been confirmed for months with one of my corporate clients.

I told them I would need to come in the following week, the next available time. I put down the phone and the stories started.

You see, I'm a big believer in the mind-body connection, so the big question kept coming up.

Of course, I told myself, it's nothing. It couldn't possibly be anything serious, I'm so well, so healthy. I make all the right choices.

But that question just kept coming back. It would appear in my mind and I just kept shutting it out. And then it would re-appear. Finally I listened to the question, it made me literally shake.

I asked myself, "What have I done to manifest breast cancer; how is it possible?"

That night, I took off all my clothes and looked in the mirror.

I thought to myself, if this is cancer, well, the first thing is that I may lose my breasts. I looked at myself, really looked and the thought just jumped out at me.

"They're not that bad - quite nice actually!"

Then I realized, I could lose all my hair. And I felt sad, I've always loved my hair. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. The realization was so powerful it literally took my breathe away.

I looked at my naked body in the mirror and realized that I couldn't remember the last time I had had such positive thoughts about myself. I began to cry.

You see, usually I look in the mirror to see what's not right. To criticize and berate and judge myself. You know what I'm talking about, not thin enough, not beautiful enough, not young enough. I know that I'm not alone in this.

I can appreciate myself in so many ways, and yet, there always seems to be that shadow of criticism. That inner war.

And now, on the edge of a potential health crisis I realized that I badly I needed to be nicer to myself.

And that this could be the reason that I had manifested breast cancer.

Tears running down my face and trying to breathe deeply, in that moment, I made myself a promise. Whether or not this thing is cancer, I need to be so much nicer to me.

And I'm doing my best to keep that promise. It's not always easy. But it is a promise.

And thankfully, the ultrasound was fine. There was nothing to worry about after all.
It's been an incredible lesson and the start of an amazing journey. I had a feeling it might resonate for you too. Does it?

What Does The Year Mean On A Wine’s Label? From Charles Smith

What does the year on a wine mean? According to wine expert, Charles Smith most wines do improve with age. However, there's no rule of thumb to follow when choosing a wine year, since each region will be different in terms of how the climate was for the grapes during that time. Charles says that asking your wine salesman to help you pick a good year based on the type of wine you like is always a safe bet!

For more tips from Charles on all things wine, view the slideshow below:

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Iggy Azalea Will Headline the 2014 Victoria’s Secret PINK Nation …

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The Right Wine To Serve With Cheese, From Charles Smith

If you're looking for a wine to pair with cheese, wine expert Charles Smith recommends going with a Syrah, like one of the bottles from his K Syrah collection. This wine is fermented with the stems from the grapevine, which are very aromatic, and gives the wine a more flavorful, complex taste. Serve this wine to your guests with a hard, aged cheese, like Gouda!

For more tips from Charles on all things wine, view the slideshow below:

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Iggy Azalea Headlining the PINK Nation Crazy for Campus…

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A new, limited-edition watch from Ulysse Nardin comes equipped with a musical mechanism that plays the song “Strangers in the Night.”

The 4 Stages of Post-Loss Dating

I stood before a group of 30-40 widows and widowers in a brightly-lit Toronto hotel conference room, my PowerPoint presentation on a large screen behind me, not exactly the atmosphere you might choose to talk about post-loss dating. This was my first-ever dating workshop, and I was filling in for the woman who normally conducts the dating workshops at Camp Widow. I wasn't sure how it would be possible encapsulate my own 10 or so years of dating after my husband Arron's death, but several weeks of thinking about it helped me narrow my focus. I applied my mantra of "what would I have wanted to know?" as I started out in the dating world.

I wound up coming up with four stages of post-loss dating:

1. Curiosity
This is where the numbness of grief has begun to dissipate and we begin to get out into the world again. Perhaps we can't begin to imagine a day when we might ever be ready to date again, but we find ourselves curious about it. We hone our hearing to perk up at any conversation having to do with dating, we might "just browse" an online dating site, watch movies about relationships or dating and we begin to notice people not wearing wedding rings. Often, this stage ends with our very first date.

2. "Wild Thang"
Perhaps now there have been several dates with one person and you realize you can no longer buy your underwear at Safeway. You crave being touched. You long for intimacy. Going through this stage was disconcerting for me, as I felt like I was going crazy. I thought about sex all the time. One boyfriend gave me my first vibrator and it began to get a lot of use. I didn't know who this new me was, but I hoped it was normal. What I eventually concluded was that most people have a wild stage after the loss of a long and/or meaningful relationship. As it turns out, sex is a pretty good salve for grief. I described this in more detail in this post I wrote a while ago.

3. Settling In
Eventually, perhaps after a few short-term relationships, you begin to want more from a relationship than just sex. You begin to realize that all those people you dated were not your loved one, and you might even begin to realize that you were just a little bit guilty of trying to find your lost partner in a new mate. You take a step back, relish some alone time and begin to enjoy other aspects of your life. You might date, but you are no longer willing to say, "Oh, what the hell, life is short," in order to justify the relationship.

4. Putting Away the Photos
Once you have reached the "Setting In" stage, you begin to realize that you want more from a relationship: something real, something meaningful. You are no longer holding onto the past and have, in a variety of ways, mentally "divorced" yourself from your loved one. This can sometimes take a long time. It took me 10 years or so. For me, it culminated in a feng shui exercise of putting away many of the photos of my dead husband, creating a home where two people would be comfortable (particularly in the bedroom -- two nightstands, comfortable bedding, cleared closet space) as a way of psychologically inviting someone into my life. When you find yourself able to do these things, you are mentally ready to invite a new person into your life.

Of course, life doesn't always work in a nice, tidy pattern like this. You may fumble your way through these stages in a great relationship, they may all happen at once or in a different order. These aren't rules, but simply a way I found of explaining my progression through dating.

Of course, there was much more to my talk, and I saw heads nod, people smile, I saw sadness and resignation. I hoped I saved some people from the fear of dating, gave others hope that they would some day be ready to date, helped people to realize they were not going crazy, that dating and relationships are messy business, but worth working towards.

Having never done this particular workshop before, I wasn't sure if I would go over my allotted time, so of course I finished early and asked if anyone had questions. One woman asked about my own dating experience, if I had had success in the dating world.

I smiled and glanced at Jim, who was sitting in the audience next to Selena, Arron's mother, which was altogether a bizarre way to conduct a dating workshop where you mention the word "vibrator" several times. I pointed him out as "Exhibit A" and he blushed. It was an amazing moment, realizing a person in your life could actually embrace all of you, your past, your flaws, your successes and become "Exhibit A" with grace.

Perhaps this is the fifth stage of dating.

Mo’ne Davis’ Chevy Ad Will Leave You With A Lump In Your Throat

Is there anything Mo'ne Davis can't do?

After wowing the world with her arm and becoming the first female pitcher ever to win a game at the Little League World Series, the 13-year-old Philadelphian is now starring in an ad for Chevrolet.

She doesn't pitch the auto brand directly, but she hits our emotions right in the strike zone. In a verbal letter to America, Davis talks about her memorable summer and beyond. "Every day of the week, I'm playing soccer, basketball or baseball. I stand for girls who want to play sports with the boys and to be a role model for people, young and old," she says.

And of course she refers to her celebrated 70 mile an hour fastball, declaring, "That's throwing like a girl."

The Spike Lee-directed commercial premiered during Game 1 of the MLB World Series on Tuesday. The spot will not affect Davis' amateur status for college sports in the future, NCAA spokeswoman Emily James confirmed in a statement published by ESPN.

Prepare yourself now for a lump-in-the-throat ending.

H/T Jezebel

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