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Feminism, Race and Patricia Arquette

"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off." -- Gloria Steinem

Patricia Arquette's Oscar speech initially received applause. When she further commented backstage, the Twitter verse turned on her. Being a woman in a "man's world" is stressful enough. It becomes that much more complicated when other women "vag block" (a Ronda-isms) your path. True to Gloria Steinem's statement, Arquette's truth set some free, hence the applause. However, it also pissed some off -- the Twitter backlash.

As a child, my memory of feminism was man-haters. At the age of 8, I claimed my independence as a woman, but I wanted no parts of the feminists I saw on television. I recalled hearing my mother and others talk about their experience and impression of the women's rights movement. Some felt that the women's rights movement rode on the coattails of the Civil Rights Movement and then excluded women of color from the women's rights movement. My mom said there seemed to be a preference for business women and against stay-at-home mothers or women in clerical positions. My mom did not like being looked down upon because she chose to stay at home and raise her children. She also did not like that women in the movement assumed the dress and mannerisms of men. She was often asked why she was not part of the workforce. She did not see the benefit of leaving her children to get a job that would essentially go towards childcare costs. She was a married woman. Why was she being shunned for having a family? My mother, grandmother and aunts raised, nurtured and inspired me. If there was no place for the likes of my mother and grandmother among their ranks, then I surely would have no part of feminism or the women's rights movement.

As a young lawyer interviewing at law firms, I have experienced illegal questions about race and/or gender. It is worst when the offender is another woman or person of color. The Sony email leak highlights my point. There were negative comments about women actresses and actors of color. Ironically, the person at the center of the controversy was a woman. As if women did not have enough problems with the glass ceiling!

As a woman of color, on a daily basis the media and women's magazines make it clear that my body type is "not the standard of beauty." Recently, Giuliana Rancic made comments about Zendaya's braids on the red carpet referencing patchouli oil and marijuana. Ironically, when a Kardashian wore braids the media went crazy claiming it was the "latest hair trend." Women of color have been wearing French braids, corn rows and twists since the beginning of time. In the words of Sojourner Truth, "ain't I a woman?"

Women, why do we vag block and become "mean girls?" Why did Kristi Capel refer to Lady Gaga's music as "jiggaboo" and later claim, like Rancic, that she did not mean to offend anyone?

Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie. This is no simple reform. It really is a revolution. Sex and race because they are easy and visible differences have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labor on which this system still depends. We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned. We are really talking about humanism. -- Gloria Steinem

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I Was 29, Divorced, And A Virgin

By Kerry Robyn for YourTango

I was 29, single again after a five-year marriage, and a virgin. When I met my now ex-husband Mike, I had just turned 21. We met at small Catholic liberal arts college, and even though I no longer believed in Jesus, the Saints, the Bible, God, really any of that, I was a virgin then and I was a virgin when we divorced.

When I was younger, I wanted to stay pure and had managed to protect my virginity despite all the high school guys I'd went out with, and the ten or so guys I'd dated in college before going out with Mike, my future husband. My policy was to wear a Virgin Mary pendant on dates, just to be sure the guys I dated knew I was waiting.

Granted, I still almost lost it in the front seat of David Horowitz's car the summer before junior year of high school. I almost gave it up for him, and I let him put his hand down my pants, but I had to draw the line. I certainly wasn't going to do it with some guy who was going away to college in a few weeks, and I wasn't going to lose it in his dad's beat-up Ford Escort. That wasn't how I imagined my first time at all.

Every guy I went out with wanted to sleep with me by the third date, and every one of them lost interest when I wanted to wait.

By the time I met Mike, I was starting to wonder if date three might be good enough, even for me. But after our third date, he told me he wanted to wait until we were married. I couldn't have been more shocked but as I got to know him, it made sense. Mike was a Christian, I mean a real Christian: the kind that goes to Mass every Sunday, the kind that fears God, the Little House on the Prairie kind. Plus, he was a supportive friend, so much kinder than anyone I'd ever known. He volunteered at homeless shelters and sang in the church choir. He read all the right books, led several community groups and wanted to teach less fortunate children.

We got along great and naturally, I wanted to make out. I wanted a repeat of what happened with David Horowitz in the Ford, only I wanted it with a good guy, someone who loved me. But making out with Mike always felt so mechanical. Though I wasn't that experienced, the other guys I'd been with usually got me so excited and lost in the moment that all that stood between me and his penis inside of me was that Virgin Mary pendant. None of that ever happened with Mike. I was always able to concentrate, think clearly and keep my cool. It was so refreshing not to be the teary, hysterical mess I was with the other guys that I thought, maybe this friendship is better than sex. And how would I know? I had never done the deed.

During our make-out sessions, I always felt like I was directing a blind actor on a cluttered stage.

"Go to the right, no a little more, no back to the left, wait, too fast." It was always stressful, and over time, it became tedious. Mike had no creative ideas of his own. I'd never been with anyone so asexual. It seemed like if I hadn't climbed on top of him on our third date, nothing would have ever happened. But I kept thinking he was the best person I'd ever known, and maybe things would get better after we got married. And I just kept thinking: what was a great sexual relationship in comparison to all this? It seemed so shallow of me to dump someone who had become my best friend just because he couldn't get me off without a world atlas.

Finally, after two years of dating, our wedding night came. Of course by now, I'd sort of lost the anticipation. So that night, we tried and failed. While he was getting ready for bed, I put on a transparent white nightgown my mother bought me for my big night. As I waited on the bed, with a fireplace roaring in front of it, I felt like I was in a play, only all my stage directions were missing. What was I supposed to do? Lie down and wait for him to take me, missionary style?

The entire time we'd been dating, I had felt in charge of our sexual relationship, but I had no idea how to make sex happen. Apparently neither did he, because he simply started kissing me awkwardly as he positioned himself on top of me. It was not erotic; it was forced. He had not done anything seductive in the hours, let alone minutes, leading up to our big scene. I stopped him and told him I just couldn't do it. Michael didn't seem upset, only slightly disappointed that things didn't turn out differently.

We kept right on trying for weeks, for months, for years, and kept right on failing.

He could never stay hard long enough to get inside of me. And I could never get excited enough to let him in. I began thinking, in my obsessive way, maybe I was just too small. Maybe I had some impenetrable vagina that only the strongest, hardest penis could penetrate. Maybe my hymen was like a personal Great Wall of China. But really, between his giant penis, his premature ejaculation problem and my tight-as-a-virgin-because-I-was-a-virgin problem, well, the whole thing was pretty much doomed.

After five years of marriage, we broke it off. We had tried couples counseling and everything else: lingerie, candles, massage oil. Nothing worked. I would have thought I was hopelessly frigid, except right around the time we started counseling, I started spending time with an old friend, Sam.

Mike and I had recently moved to a new town and Sam happened to live a few blocks away. Ever since college, I had been attracted to Sam, but one of us was always attached when the other was single. Sam was flirtatious, sensual and confident. He was extremely open about sex and obviously experienced. My feelings for him became overwhelming and I worried I'd have an affair with him -- or at least try to. I stopped seeing him, but because of him, I knew that I was capable of feeling that way. And after so many tries with Michael, I knew we just weren't meant to be. He cried horribly when I told him it was over, but he also didn't seem surprised. Six months later, we sold our home and a month after that, our divorce was finalized. I was 28, divorced and -- worst of all -- still a virgin.

After the divorce, I couldn't wait to meet someone who would have sex with me.

But I was still worried about my dysfunctional, overly small vagina. I was absolutely certain that there was something wrong with me. I mean, how could a penis have never gotten in there? I had to be sure that when I found someone that sex would "work" and that I wouldn't find another premature ejaculator with an abnormally large penis.

I'm a teacher, so I made myself a syllabus. I might not be able to fix the vagina problem, but I could at least know what I was doing. I read the Kama Sutra and I bought several instructional DVDs and several vibrators. I figured I could start with the non-threatening pink one and work up to the more intimidating white one and then I'd be ready for the real thing, no matter how huge it might turn out to be. When I finished my self-imposed syllabus, I began looking for a man.

I went online and met Joshua. He seemed perfect on paper: part Native American, spiritual but not religious, and newly divorced. I knew I would never fall in love with him -- perfect. I wasn't ready to start loving again; I just wanted to have sex.

I invited him to my house for dinner, figuring it would take quite a few dates before we actually did anything. Of course I didn't mention the virgin problem or my possibly impenetrable vagina. We ended up talking on my couch in front of my fireplace. He asked if I'd like to hear him play some Native American flute music. Then he started showing me his tattoos, all very tribal. Before long, we were making out. I didn't stop him when he took his pants off, and I didn't care when he took mine off. It didn't occur to me that he wanted to have sex.

As he started pulling off my panties, I reasoned it would probably take several attempts to get inside of me, and I highly doubted he could penetrate the wall. I was certain he'd have to do something special, something that I hadn't learned or Mike didn't know to do. It didn't even dawn on me that he wasn't putting on a condom.

Within about two seconds, he was inside of me.

It was shockingly simple. Nothing could have prepared me for it. How could something that had evaded me for this long, something that had ruined my marriage to an otherwise great guy, something that I feared and longed for, something that had driven me to go on anti-depressants and take up hobbies like beading and dancing and learning Spanish -- turn out to be so simple?

And then it was over. He came within a minute. By the time I got used to how it felt having a man inside of me, he was out and lying on his side. It didn't hurt like I'd expected but it didn't last long enough to feel good. I wanted more. I wanted the positions I'd memorized; I wanted it to not be over. But all Joshua said was, "Wow, that was great. Wish I had a cigarette." I scanned his face for some look of recognition, something. But he didn't know he just had sex with a virgin.

The next day, I asked him to have breakfast with me, but he said he had to go. I felt rejected, but I also knew that having sex on a first date was not the greatest set-up for a relationship. I also knew that I had no real connection with Joshua. He called me a few days later but the conversation was awkward. We never saw each other again. Still, I felt relieved, and I looked at the entire incident as a rough draft attempt at the real thing.

At least I wasn't a freak of nature and at least I knew it wasn't me all those years.

Six years have past since then, and I've had a lot of sex with a few different men. But I still haven't managed to put love and sex together in the same person. I wish I could tell you that it doesn't matter, that I'm not waiting any more, that great sex is just, well, great. But I'm still hoping for something that doesn't resemble a poorly written romance novel.

Sometimes I still feel a pang of regret about Mike because we had a real friendship, and I loved him. He was someone I could laugh with, cry with and fight with, a true best friend. I want, more than anything, to combine something like that with a physical connection. I keep being drawn one or the other, but neither one is satisfying if you don't have both.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.

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As Milan Week Ends, a Buzz Gap

With collections from Giorgio Armani, Missoni and Salvatore Ferragamo, the difference between the runway and reality became increasingly clear.

These 4 Women Embraced A Look That Scared Them — And You Can, Too

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Everyone has a beauty fantasy, right? Yours may not be appearing spray tanned in the buff in a national magazine -- but maybe it's swapping long hair for a pixie or leaving your makeup comfort zone. Because we firmly believe there are some risks worth taking, we persuaded four women to embrace a look that scared them. For expert guidance (and hand-holding), we gathered an all-star team: hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins, makeup artist Troy Surratt and spray tanner Natalie Cupid-Riley. Let the adventures begin!



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John Fairchild, Who Made Women’s Wear Daily a Must-Read, Dies at 87

As publisher and editor, Mr. Fairchild transformed his family’s fusty trade publication into a must-read among fashion elites.

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Mothers, Daughters and Eating Disorders

I am concerned when I hear the media or the counseling psychology community blame mothers for causing daughters to suffer from an eating disorder. Yes, it is true that a mother can pass on to her daughter her own disordered eating behaviors and negative body image. But if that is all we focus on, the underlying causes of a daughter's eating disorder and how food and body image issues get passed on and processed between mothers and daughters will not be discovered.

Mother blaming is patriarchy's age-old way of taking the focus away from the harm that it causes women by making women responsible for harming themselves. Blaming mothers is a form of prejudice, as Paula Caplan writes in her book "The New Don't Blame Mother." It is highly detrimental to the mother-daughter relationship and to women's emotional and mental wellbeing.

I work with mothers whose daughters have been diagnosed with eating disorders, and these mothers tell me that mother blaming makes them feel isolated. The culture of mother blaming increases the guilt they feel about any harm they may have inadvertently passed on to their daughter. And it leaves them with few avenues in which to find emotional support. Mothers find that when they share their personal reactions to their daughters' problems, they are often treated as being selfish and self-obsessed. When a daughter has an eating disorder, the family tends to narrow its focus down to what is happening with the daughter, which again leaves the mother emotionally isolated and unsupported, as she takes on the responsibility of managing her daughter's illness, along with everything else she does.

This narrow, mother blaming lens does not uncover the root causes of a daughter's eating disorder. What is needed is a much wider multi-generational and socio-cultural lens that examines how the daughter, mother, and grandmother are treated by their family and community. We need to focus on the emotional landscape in which women live, namely, how women are heard, understood, and emotionally supported within the family and community.

In families where a daughter is struggling with an eating disorder, women are typically not heard, understood, or emotionally supported. The family tends to fit into traditional gender roles where the mother does most, if not all, of the care giving, with little inquiry or understanding about what kind of care she needs in return. In the mother-daughter history maps I draw, the arrows that reflect who does the caregiving, extend from the mother and grandmother to their husbands, children, and other family members, with few arrows pointing back to them. This is what emotional neglect looks like. It sets mothers up to be responsible for everyone's needs, with little understanding that they too have needs of their own.

Eating disorders are a multifaceted problem. The fashion industry, for example, has a responsibility for the way they glorify thinness as beauty and power that girls feel pressurized to emulate. But I get concerned when the emotional neglect piece of the eating disorder puzzle gets ignored or sidelined as a contributing factor to the epidemic of female eating disorders. Daughters today are starving themselves, over eating, and bulimic as a reaction to the lack of emotional feeding that they, their mother, and their grandmother receive in the family. Their eating disorders are a reaction to the lack of inquiry women receive to what they emotionally need. Even though young women today are achieving levels of public visibility their mother and grandmother could not, women's emotional empowerment is lagging behind. The conversation that inquires after what women need emotionally is not being asked to the degree women need for their emotional and mental wellbeing, their equality, and their visibility in their relationships.

If we are to solve the problem of why so many of our successful, capable, young women are struggling to feed themselves, we must look at women's history of emotional starvation. The self-less caregiving role has always been disastrous for women. It makes women starving hungry for attention, or unable to digest the attention they do get, and some daughters express this conflict through the way they relate to food.

---

If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

Two Years Into My Eating Disorder Recovery, I Still Struggle to Believe People Really Like Me

By Claire Trainor

On the first warm day of 7th grade, everyone wore shorts to school. All the girls couldn't wait to show off their new spring outfits, colored shorts and tank tops with cardigans to cover our shoulders, per dress code requirements.

Everything was going well throughout the day until my friend showed me the texts his friends had been sending during the day: "Did you see Claire's legs?" "Yeah, someone should tell her dimples are for your cheeks, not the backs of your thighs."

Every time I remember it, I can feel my cheeks flush, my smile fade and my eyes well up.

In seventh grade I wasn't fat, but I was developed. I had the body of a 19-year-old by the time I was 13 (and I can say that without a doubt because I still wear the same jeans, dresses, and T-shirts.) But to the eyes of 13-year-old boys, fat and developed are synonyms.

And so beginning in elementary school and for most of middle school, I was teased for my weight and my body. And because the popular boys in my grade were teasing me, the not-so-popular boys didn't want to talk to me, either. All of my friends, my tiny, barely-developed friends, had crushes, went on dates and flirted with boys. I did not.

But the thing is, middle school students often don't know where to draw the line between bullying for weight and bullying for character. Like so much of our society, they believe that how your body looks dictates who you are as a person. Fat girls are less attractive, less worthy, more obnoxious and more unwanted. Skinny girls are the opposite: pretty, worthy, smart and desirable. And because they thought I was fat... well, the rest fell into place, too. I became the girl no one, even the other girls in my grade, wanted to be friends with.

Although by the time I started high school, most people were more developed than they had been and although most of my friends were sophomores or juniors (whose bodies, I now realize, looked strikingly like mine), I couldn't shake the feeling that my body was something to be ashamed of. It was this feeling, combined with the swirl of anxiety, depression, self-doubt, family problems, and academics that caused me to start restricting in April of my freshman year. By May, it was a full-fledged eating disorder.

Luckily, my friends had the foresight to find a way to inform my parents. Then, I began the two-year process of therapy, re-feeding, treatment, recovery, relapses, treatment, re-feeding, more relapses, more treatment and finally recovery (which has lasted now for two years). No one has said anything negative about my body to me since middle school. I'm in an incredible place in my recovery; I eat what my body wants and exercise when it tells me I should. I'm happy.

Still, I spend 20 minutes in front of the mirror trying to make sure there's nothing in the way I look that would prompt teasing. In my early teen years, I integrated other people's beliefs into my own thought patterns. The parts of my body I'm most unhappy with are the ones that provoked the most teasing: my stomach, lower back, and legs (although that may be in part to the fact that those are the areas diets target, as well.) Rarely do I have problems with anywhere else.

Beyond the body image problems, I struggle with believing that people are honest about liking me. Throughout middle school, people pretended to be my friends and bullied me behind my back. Now, five years later, I still worry about what people think and say about me when I'm not there. I worry that my friends put on a front but dislike me when I leave. Learning to believe that people could truly like me has been one of the hardest journeys of my life, but I'm getting there.

What most people forget about bullying is that it echoes throughout a lifetime and that it can be very easy to absorb other's voices into one's own. And as a result, we have a generation of bullied kids who don't know how to love themselves in the way they should. I have since forgiven the people who made my life miserable for years by realizing that their assessments of who I am as a person are entirely wrong.

I've taught myself to rely on the voices of people I trust and adore: my parents, sister, friends, and boyfriend, who never fail to support me on days I feel down. But regardless of the fact that I'm in a great place in my life, bullying had an indelible impact on my self-esteem that has taken, and will continue to take, years to unravel.

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Originally published on Proud2BMe.Org

About this blogger: Claire Trainor is a freshman at DePaul University majoring in Creative Writing and Psychology. In steady recovery from an eating disorder, she wants to educate, support, and inspire those struggling in anyway. She likes her dogs, hot chocolate, and books. Claire currently runs a personal recovery blog.


Also by Claire:

Breaking the Skinny Mirror

NEDAwareness Week 2015!

What's Underneath?

A Recovery Post That Talks About Real Recovery


For more on Bullying and EDs:

Bullying Triggered my Eating Disorder

Is Plastic Surgery the Answer to Bullying?

Are you struggling with an eating disorder or do you know someone who is? Call the National Eating Disorders Association's toll-free helpline for support: (800)-931-2237.

Maggie Smith Plans To Leave ‘Downton Abbey’ After Season 6

The Dowager Countess may finally have some time off to discover the meaning of a weekend.

Amid rumors that "Downton Abbey" is winding down, Maggie Smith, 80, has revealed that Season 6 will likely be her last. "They say this is the last one, and I can’t see how it could go on,” she said in a recent interview with the Sunday Times. “I mean, I certainly can’t keep going. To my knowledge, I must be 110 by now. We’re into the late 1920s.”

As believable as it may be that the acerbic Lady Violet is a centenarian, Smith is a bit off. According to our calculations, Her Ladyship was born in 1842, and, at the time of the Season 5 finale, on Christmas Eve 1924, she'd be about 82 years old.

Though Smith's enjoyed an illustrious career, the actress says "Downton" has brought her the most attention. "One isn't safe after doing 'Downton,'" she said. "What's sad is I've gone through my whole life without any of that. I could go round galleries and things on my own and I just can't do it now," she said. Regardless, Smith says she will continue to act after "Downton Abbey."

Displeased with the impending departure? As the Dowager Countess would say:

tv show gifs
Image via Wikia

For the full interview, head to the Sunday Times.

4 Things I Want My Future Daughter to Know

Hello, sweetheart,

I hope you don't think it's odd that I'm writing this for you when you aren't even born yet. I was going through my website and came across the very first post I published, "Games that Men Play," and it made me think of you. It made me think about the future possibility that you might have your heart broken because of some guy, and how I'll have to hold you in my arms and tell you that everything will be OK. I started thinking of all the things I would say, and how it would make me feel... and how I would hope the guy moves far away so that I can't get to him.


Most importantly, it made me think about the things I can share with you now that might still be relevant once you actually get here. Sweetheart, you have to understand that the world we live in now is pretty broken. People don't normally treat each other like Mommy and Daddy treat each other. They don't place value in their relationships, trust each other or even treat each other with respect. And I'm afraid that you will experience this for yourself at some point in your life. Hopefully, these things I am about to share with you can help guide you towards more fulfilling relationships and steer you away from many crap experiences.


1. Your worth is NOT determined by what a man (or anyone else, for that matter) says about you.
If you learn nothing else, you have to understand that your worth is not determined by anyone but God. You are on this Earth for a purpose, and no person can tell you otherwise. I have seen many men who try to belittle the women they are with because of their own insecurities or because they want to have control over them. Be encouraged that you are a smart, beautiful and courageous young woman (just like your mother), and no one can take that away from you. You will come across people who will try, because there are people who will always try to tear down a person they see greatness in. They will say things, they will do things -- and they will hurt. The most important thing for you to know is that you will be stronger because of it, and they will only be more upset that you didn't entertain their opinions of you.


2. As long as you believe in yourself, no one can stop you.
There is only one person who can determine how far you can go in life -- you. Always remember that what you tell yourself and believe about yourself will be the truth. You might experience a setback (or a few), but that doesn't make you a failure. You might get scars, but that won't make you any less beautiful. You may have your heart broken, but that won't mean you aren't worthy of love. Always remind yourself of who you are and who you want to be, and no one will be able to keep you from being you.


3. You don't need to sacrifice your dreams and success for anyone.
You can be and achieve anything you put your mind to. If you want to be an astronaut, we'll send you to space camp. If you want to be a sports star, we'll help you practice. If you want to be a computer programming genius, well, we might have to call someone else to help you with that. What you need to know is that no matter what it is you want to do, make sure you don't sacrifice those dreams for anyone else. At some point, someone will probably try to convince you that a woman should give up her dreams in order to be with the man she wants. That is an outright lie. People will also say that they only took certain paths in order to please their parents, and I want you to know that you never have to do that for us. We will be proud of whatever you decide to become, because we know that you will be the best you can be at it, and that's what matters. You chase your dreams, and the right people will support your path to success, not block it.


4. You don't have to settle for less.
Your mom always likes to tell this story about a time from our first year of marriage. She really wanted an M & M ice cream sandwich one night, so I took her to the gas station near our house to find one. The price was about a dollar higher than she expected, and I know you see how frugal she is now, so she decided she would just get something different. As she reached for another option, I grabbed her hand and told her, "You never have to settle for less." For some reason, that really stuck with her, and I want it to stick with you. Relationships should be fulfilling; they should grow you and add value to your life. If there are people in your life who hold you back, belittle you, or make you feel like less than the angel you are -- get rid of them. Your mother has the art of cutting people off down to a science, and I have learned a great deal from her. There will always be opportunities for new friends, new boyfriends, etc. Never allow yourself to settle for bad relationships with people simply because they are there.


I don't know how old you will be when you first read this, but I want you to know that your mother and I love you very much, and we always will. We want you to have the best of what life has to offer, and we want to see you succeed at everything you do. We will share whatever advice we can with you to help you learn from our past mistakes, and hopefully you'll listen so that you don't have to experience them all for yourself.


With love forever,


Daddy.

This article originally appeared on DerrellJamison.com, a blog dedicated to providing unique insights on topics surrounding relationships, religion, and other real life issues. You can connect with Derrell on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter!

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Live (and Work!) Like You’re Always on Vacation

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A friend of mine said to me one random Thursday as we sat out on my deck overlooking the water, sipping champagne, "You always live like you're on vacation. And when I spend time with you, I feel like I'm on vacation."

I had never thought of my life that way, but he was right. I do live most of the time like I'm on vacation. In fact, right now I'm writing this article looking out at the sparkling Pacific Ocean at my favorite luxury hotel and in a few minutes I'll head out to an evening wine tasting reception followed by dinner with two of my favorite people in the world at one of my favorite restaurants. And it's only a Wednesday.

The truth is though, it wasn't always like this for me.

I was raised to believe that the only honor in life came from struggle and sacrifice which meant working hard and barely getting by. I thought doing a job you loathed was just how people lived, and that living paycheck to paycheck was simply par for the course.

Over time though I began to hate living focused on when my next vacation would be to get through the day, while sucking it up around bosses and co-workers I would never choose to be around full-time and working my ass off for meager wages.

So, I did something radical. Or a continuous series of radical acts, that is.

I stopped playing the work-life-money game I had been raised with and decided that since this was my one life, I was not going to spend it working or living for the future. And over the course of the last seven years, I have been able to create a life that truly feels like I'm on vacation every day.

The great news is everyone who desires this can have it too.

Below are my top tips for how to live and work like you're always on vacation:



1. Commit to it
. This is your life and you have the right to live it exactly as your heart and soul desire. Make a commitment to stop working to live and embrace that you get to live the life of your dreams and your work can work around that. Besides we should only ever be doing work that we love. It's a core soul desire as a human being.

2. Take inventory.
What forms of "work" do you love? What forms of work make the time fly by? What people in your life do you absolutely adore being around? Where are your favorite places to vacation? Where do you feel most at home in the world? Journal your responses to all of these questions. Next, look at how you can live in the city/town that most lights you up, doing what you most love, surrounded by people you adore. Let yourself think big and far outside of the box. You have the ability to create your new normal which means letting go of limiting thoughts, beliefs and fears.

3. Which brings us to... let go of those limiting beliefs and fears that say you can't live the life of your dreams and that make you stay in homes, relationships and work environments that don't serve you. Find a practitioner you have a deep soul resonance with who can permanently release those limiting beliefs, fears and bullshit stories with you. As you evolve into more and more versions of your dream life, new limitations will emerge and that's okay. At every new stage of my dream life, new limitations arise. I remind myself that this is an evolutionary journey and I won't stop, cuz I can't stop (there's some old-school P-Diddy/112 for you). That means I receive regular (two to three times a month) soul alignment sessions and my spiritual "work" is my first priority. This allows me to be clearly tuned in to my soul's desires (there's a difference between a soul and mind desire) so that I stay on track in living the life my soul is here to live.

4. Take inspired action.
You can stay languishing for years in what doesn't work for you or pull the plug and take immediate action to live your dreams. Want to be a successful entrepreneur? Get a fun part-time job, hire an incredible business coach and/or take a spiritual business course and begin to build your business. Want to leave your current relationship? Find a cute studio in a part of town you've always wanted to live in, get weekly sessions set up with your therapist and then leave the relationship. Be balanced about the actions you take so that you set yourself up for success. Make sure it's a full "yes" everywhere in your body and then go for it.

5. Stop doing things you don't want to do. You know that obligatory girls lunch or happy hour? Or time with that one person who shall go unnamed that sucks the life force from your very body? Stop hanging out with them. Say no. Only spend time with people who uplift you. And if you're anything like I was when I shifted my obligatory life into dream life mode -- it may not leave you with anyone. That's okay. Start attending events that do light you up and watch as you attract individuals who are more aligned to you.

6. Celebrate every moment that brings you joy. Every step along the way of crafting the life of your dreams should be honored and celebrated. Take yourself out for a mani/pedi, toast with a glass of champagne, go out to your favorite restaurant -- every time you release something or someone that no longer serves you and step into living the next chapter of the life of your dreams in a new way -- celebrate. What we focus on expands and when we place our focus on all of the good we are intentionally creating in our lives, more good will flow to us.

7. Create a dream team.
You know how athletes and celebrities have a team of people dedicated to their awesome-ness? Yeah, well, you need that too. Have a team of people committed to supporting you in creating your dream life -- your energy healer, your coach, your best friend, your lover -- all on board to hold you to and support you in taking your life to new heights.

Make your life about what it is truly about, YOU having the best life ever. Treat every day as though it were the only day like it (it is), and watch as every day begins to feel like you're on vacation. Soon, you won't be taking vacations, you'll be living one.

For more from Heather Strang, visit here.

To The People Who Think My Son Doesn’t Look Like He Has Autism

"He doesn't look like he has autism."

"But he seems so normal."

"Oh, my kid does that, too."

Trying to advocate for my son while also attempting to raise autism awareness can be a tricky business, because my personal experience with autism is limited to one person... Mareto. Yes, I know other children with autism (which wasn't the case a few years ago), but I don't know them or have experience with them in the same way I do with my son. So, when I share about autism and parenting a child with autism, it is from my perspective as Mareto's mommy. And sharing can be frustrating, because often, I get responses like the comments above.

What do you say to someone who doesn't think your child looks autistic? Does autism have a look? Yes, I suppose it does. It looks like beautiful brown eyes that sparkle in the light. It looks like a wide smile and a face that lights up with joy over the sight of a train. It also can look frightened and confused and bothered by loud noises. Autism can look like blue eyes or green eyes, blonde hair or black hair or brown hair or red hair. Autism can look like eyes that never quite meet your gaze, or eyes that have learned to make contact except when overwhelmed or frightened. Autism can look like diapers at 5 or potty trained by 3. Autism can look like flapping and spinning or sitting quietly with an iPad. Have you caught on yet? There is no one look to autism.

Did my son seem "normal" to you in the 10 minutes you spent with him? Well, that's nice, because he is normal... he's a sweet, normal, beautiful boy with autism. If you're trying to tell me that you didn't notice any signs of autism in your limited experience with him, that's OK, too. Please keep in mind that Mareto has good days and bad days, and sometimes he has good hours and bad hours. But if what you're really trying to tell me is that you don't think he has autism, then please consider how hurtful that might be to us, his parents. Please consider how that might invalidate all our efforts, all our battles and all our triumphs. What you are really implying is that we've wasted all of our time for the last 2 1/2 years because he's just "normal."

Or what about the little girl down the street? The one who doesn't look or act like my Mareto? Her parents are concerned and have been referred to a specialist to evaluate her for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). But she couldn't have autism, because she's so very different from my son, you say. She doesn't share the same struggles or act the same way. She eats just fine, and maybe she's even potty trained. She has her own list of "quirks," and maybe it's something... but surely, not autism. In comparing her to Mareto, we make a common mistake: We forget that autism is a spectrum -- a wide spectrum of incredible people with varying gifts, interests, looks, and struggles.

There is no one look to autism, and there is no one face of autism. My friend's son loves fruit, but my son is repelled by it. They both have autism. Her son is a blue-eyed, blonde-haired little boy, and mine is a brown-eyed, brown-skinned little boy. They both have autism. Sometimes my son makes eye contact, and other times he really struggles to meet my gaze. He still has autism in each moment. Sometimes, my son will play enthusiastically with other children, and other times, he hides in the pantry to escape all the noise and interaction. He still has autism in each scenario.

My son is not the face of autism... but he is one of the many beautiful faces of autism.

This post originally appeared on laurencasper.com. You also find Lauren on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Someone Tell Me That I’ll Live: On Murder, Media, And Being A Trans Woman In 2015

The article confirmed what I had already known for about a decade: I was doomed to a nasty, short, and miserable life.

Barbara Mikulski, Longest-Serving Woman In Congress, To Retire

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) announced on Monday she will retire from the U.S. Senate.

Mikulski has served in the U.S. Senate since 1987, and before that, was elected to the House of Representatives in 1976. She has been in Congress longer than any other woman, and was the first woman to head the Senate Appropriations Committee.

.@SenatorBarb Mikulski announces she will not seek a 6th term in the #Senate & will keep focused on her constituents. pic.twitter.com/GMQTCG4VKt

— Matt Jorgenson (@MJorgenson) March 2, 2015

Mikulski, 78, pledged to work until her last day in office. According to NBC4 reporter Tom Sherwood, the senator said she'd rather spend her time "raising hell" than raising money for another campaign.

Mikulski still has two years left in her current term in the Senate.

Is This The End Of Revenge Porn?

Revenge porn king Hunter Moore is headed for jail, and Reddit is cracking down on unconsented photos. Is it the end of an era, or too little too late?

Taylor Swift Is Going To Be The Godmother Of Jaime King’s Baby

There hasn't been a cooler godmother since "Cinderella."

Taylor Swift announced that she will be the godmother of actress Jaime King's second child. Swift shared the news with her 23 million Instagram followers on Monday, posting a sweet shot with the pregnant "Hart of Dixie" star:

Guess who just got named Godmother of this little one..... (ME) @jaime_king @kyle_newman

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Mar 1, 2015 at 9:39pm PST





King also shared a photo of the pair on her Instagram account:


And @taylorswift will forever be looking over our new baby @kyle_newman -we all love you!!!! Xx

A photo posted by Jaime King (@jaime_king) on Mar 1, 2015 at 9:40pm PST






King announced that she and husband Kyle Newman are expecting their second baby together in February. The couple is already parents to 1-year-old son, James.

Given all the great advice Taylor Swift gives to her young fans -- not to mention showering them with awesome, thoughtful gifts -- we can only imagine how much she'll enjoy watching over her godchild.

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Designer Clothes For Your Stylish Kids

Taking a page from the Instagram pics of lil' stars like North West, moms and dads across America are turning to high-fashion designers to dress their kiddos. And while some designers are customizing looks for celeb babies, others are launching full toddler, girls and boys collections available both online and in specialty stores. Even Gap has gotten in on the game with limited-edition lines by Stella McCartney, Kate Spade and Jack Spade over the past few years.

If your son or daughter would rather skim the pages of GQ and Vogue than the latest Dr. Seuss book, check out this gallery of where to buy designer fashions for your rising fashionista!

Additional reporting by Lindsay Owen

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‘How To Snog Without Getting Hogwarts’: Boston University Offers ‘Harry Potter’-Themed Sex-Ed Class

Boston University is teaching students about safe sex and sexual health with a little bit of help from none other than wizard extraordinaire Harry Potter.

Last week, as part of “Frisky February,” a monthlong series of sexual health-related events at the university, students were invited to participate in “Sex-Ed at Hogwarts,” an interactive, “Harry Potter”-themed class about safe sex, consent and sexual health.

“At this event, half-bloods, house-elves, and muggles alike will learn the proper way to get consent to enter one's chamber of secrets and how to snog without getting hogwarts,” said the event’s Facebook page. “We'll be casting some sensual spells in CAS room 313. Hope you can apparate there.”

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));Post by Boston University Student Health Services.




The class was the brainchild of Michelle Goode and Jamie Klufts, two graduate students who work as interns at the university’s Wellness and Prevention Services program. The duo, both avid Harry Potter fans, said that they hoped to use the magical world of the series as a launchpad to discuss important issues related to sex and sexuality.




“The goal is to use a creative lens to teach sexual health,” Klufts told the Daily Free Press. “Sexual health is often a topic that can provide a lot of discomfort, but by using Hogwarts and Harry Potter language, we hope to enlighten students and also make them more comfortable with learning about it. Additionally, it allows us to reach an audience that we may not have reached otherwise.”




According to the Boston Globe, Klufts and Goode came up with the idea for the Harry Potter-themed sex-ed class after realizing that author J.K. Rowling had missed a golden opportunity to educate her teen and young adult readers about sex when she chose to gloss over the topic in the series.




“[Sex education is] definitely a subject matter J.K. Rowling ignored in a major way,” Klufts told the Daily Free Press. “It’s highly unrealistic to believe that students of middle school and high school age aren’t thinking about sex or engaging in it, or at least coming to terms with their changing bodies and sexual health.”

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