Parker Posey’s Offbeat Glamour

Ms. Posey has tried to follow her own unusual wavelength while navigating an industry that tends to ignore women over 40. She plays a college-town scientist in Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man,” opening later this month.

White People, If You’re Not Part of the Solution, You’re Part of the Problem

"First of all," he said, "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

-Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

June 17, 2015 started on a high note: Our first African-American woman Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, sworn in by our first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, in front of our first African-American President, Barack Obama, on Frederick Douglass' Bible. It ended with a new nadir: a hate crime in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine African-American men and women lost their lives to a racially motivated gunman whom they had welcomed into their beloved community. The terror, hurt and vulnerability this has provoked cannot be overstated, especially in the context of recent events that time and time again remind us that racism is alive and well in our country.

Racism thrives not only in these instances of extreme brutality that capture headlines and provoke our outrage; it's permeated in deep and sometimes subtle ways throughout our society, in ways that are often much harder to see. It's inscribed in our geography and culture and entrenched in our institutions and systems, including those that govern access to capital, education, employment, health care, philanthropy and justice. It exists among liberals as well as conservatives, in universities and corporations, in neighborhoods and houses of worship, in the North, South, East and West.

I ask my fellow white people, how much worse is it going to have to get before we take accountability for our racism and actively engage in dismantling it? As hard as this may be to hear, we, white people, are the originators of racism in America. While we do not have an exclusive monopoly on racism, we sit at the top of the racism food chain, and we are the ones with the power to end it.

Right about now, you might be saying to yourself, "Hey lady, wait a minute, what do you mean 'our racism'? I'm not racist, I've never called anyone a racial epithet, I believe in treating people the same regardless of skin color, I even have a couple of black friends. What have I got to do with any of this?" You might even think the solution is simply to say, "I see no color distinction, I see only humans."

But we live in a society that does see color distinction. And too often, saying, "I don't see race," means, "I don't see the role race plays in our society," or "I don't see racism." The first step to a solution is admitting we have a problem.

The vast majority of white people -- like people of every other race -- are well-intentioned and do not set out to harm anyone because of their race. But unfortunately, good intentions aren't enough. If we just stop at being nice and do not actively struggle to end it, racism will perpetuate and flourish. It's up to us -- all those white people who say, "Hey, I'm not racist" -- to step up and take a long deep look at the way racism and racial inequality continues to function in America and to ask the honest, humble question, "What can we do?"

It's time for us, white people, to face that racism and racial inequality in America is not other people's problem. It's our problem, it's our problem as white people and a problem we all share as Americans.

Guided by mentors, mentees, friends, colleagues and experts, I have been walking on the journey of reducing my biases my entire career. I have made many mistakes along the way and I am far from done. At the start, like many people, I considered myself a good person, and since good people are not racist, I was, ergo, not racist. By studying this topic extensively, having many conversations, and actively working against racism, I came to understand that in order to move forward, I would need to lose the "good person/bad person" binary and quiet the toxic storm of guilt, shame and fear that swirled in my brain each time I thought about myself in association with racism. I needed to get over myself and focus not on patting myself on the back for being such a good non-racist, but to start asking what more can I do.

To be clear, it's not my intent here to make anyone feel guilty or shameful about being white. I am proud of my heritage and the values that were instilled in me by my family: empathy, compassion, service, humility, community. It is precisely those values that have led me to where I am today. My intent is to help white people recognize that it's our responsibility to end racism. Because racism is a learned behavior, we can actually unlearn it. Ending racism is both doable and imperative. People of color have been working to end racism for a very long time, but they can't shoulder the responsibility alone. Until white people step up and do our share of the work, we are going to be mired in this mess indefinitely.

I am grateful for the many and growing number of white antiracism activists and educators who are leading the way to this conversation in the white community, including Tim Wise, Dr. Robin Diangelo, Ali Michael, Sally Kohn, Laci Green, Janet Helms, Peggy McIntosh and others. CNN journalist Brooke Baldwin is moving in this direction.

White people must understand our role in perpetuating racism and seek to form authentic caring relationships with people of color. We need to have honest open painful conversations about race. We need to request the feedback of people of color on how to improve the way we interact, listen deeply and humbly act on that feedback. And then work side by side with people of color to dismantle racist institutions and create new inclusive ones.

Racism will not end from on high; it will end when a grassroots movement of people like you and me committed to reflect on ourselves and our communities grows in size and influence until the culture shifts.

Which side are you on? Now is the time to decide and act.

Also on HuffPost:

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First Comes Sex Talk With These Renegades of Couples Therapy

Offering the radical notion that couples should fix issues in the bedroom before tackling other concerns like communication.

Donna Karan’s Fans and Friends Discuss Her Legacy

After the designer announced that she’s stepping down, Bernadette Peters, Ingrid Sischy and others reflected on her achievements.

We Are All Beautiful Because We Are Different

Beauty is everywhere. "It's not a matter of cosmetics, money, race or social status, but more about being yourself." I asked some of my friends to pose for the wear Pink Project Breast Cancer Awareness campaign on San Miguel de Allende. Anyone can suffer from this disease. I I asked them to please feel comfortable in their own skin, be yourselves and be comfortable.

I want all to stand against the mirror and enjoy our appearances, many women suffer low self-esteem by the disease who have lived or lived. Let us help to self explore ourselves to smile at life

"Global trends make us look and behave the same, but we are all beautiful because we are different. In the end, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder is always somebody else."
















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The Freedom to #SimplyBekini

The celebration of the birth of our nation is upon us, and we are all breaking out the red, white and blue to celebrate the fact that we're able to live free in this great country.

But how many of us are really feeling free this Fourth of July? And how many of us are feeling ashamed to get out there and be who we are because of the number on the scale? Shouldn't we all feel free to rock our stars-and-stripes bikini, even if we don't have the perfect "bikini body?"

Tess Holliday's new #simplybekini campaign is a great reminder to us all that there's no such thing as a perfect body and that we should start enjoying our lives to the fullest, no matter what kind of shape we're in.

"There is no such thing as a perfect body and the hardest barrier for women to overcome is themselves," said Holliday in a recent People Magazine article.

Why spend the best months of the year hiding and feeling ashamed of who you are, even if you're not in the best shape of your life?


I put this principle into practice on a recent tropical getaway, feeling more comfortable in my bikini than ever before, despite the fact that I'm heavier than the typical "bikini body" prototype.

Don't get me wrong, it's great to start a new diet or fitness routine in order to become more healthy. It's also totally amazing if you want to take a few weeks -- or months, or years -- off from the gym because that's not working for you right now. Each of us has a right to be the person we are in the body that we have, here and now. Feeling "bikini ready" is something that everyone has the ability to do, not just those who slave away at the gym (although there's nothing wrong with doing that!).

The definition of independence is "freedom from the control, influence, support, aid or the like, of others," according to

Being an independent citizen means that no one, not that bully from grade school, your disapproving family member, your pushy friend, that scary trainer from the gym, your rude coworker or anyone else has the right to make you feel like you aren't free to be who are and to flaunt that body loud and proud.

Every body is a bikini body, and every person has a right to feel beautiful, happy, and loved in their own skin. Whether you have a six pack or just downed six donuts -- we are who we are, in this moment. Nothing more than that is guaranteed.

We are so lucky to live in a country where we are free to be who we are, wear what we want, love who we want, and do what feels good for us.

Rather than getting caught up in body shaming yourself out of a good time this Independence Day, get out there and enjoy life. Soak up every second of it, and share it with the people in your life that you care about. Forget the haters and let freedom ring!

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Noted: Sid Gold’s Offers Piano Bar Karaoke, Sans Show Tunes

The bar gives a modern spin to New York’s piano karaoke scene and, for the co-owner and pianist Joe McGinty, fulfills a longtime dream.

There’s A Mental Health Reason To Avoid Added Sugar

When we think about the link between food and feelings, it usually goes something like this: We feel sad, and then we eat something -- usually a comforting gut bomb of sugar, salt and fat -- to feel better. But what if this relationship were actually reversed? What if the things we ate were actually causing us to become more depressed over time, creating a destructive loop of sadness, bingeing, and sadness again?

That's the premise of a recent study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that suggests sugary and starchy foods could contributing to depression. Previous long-term studies have shown that people who eat pastries, sugary drinks and other refined carbohydrates have a higher risk of depression, but didn't determine what is it, exactly, about those foods that ties them to depression risk.

The Setup

Columbia University psychiatry professor James Gangwisch wanted to find out, and to parse out the different effects that varying amounts of carbohydrates and added sugar have on mood. To do so, he looked back at data from nearly 70,000 postmenopausal women who participated in a research project in 1994 and then again in 1998.

Gangswisch and his team looked at both the quality and quantity of the carbs in the women's diets, applying glycemic index scores -- a scale from zero to 100 that measures how a food raises a person’s blood sugar level -- to what each woman was eating. (A food like steel-cut oatmeal, with a GI score of 55 or less, raises blood sugar levels less than instant oatmeal, which has a GI score of 70 or more.) They also calculated each woman's glycemic load, or the amount of carbs she was eating, to understand whether or not that had any link to her level of depression.

The Findings

Gangwisch found that women who ate more high GI foods had a higher risk of depression. He also found that women who ate more dairy, fiber, non-juiced fruit and vegetables had lower odds of depression than the group. In essence, it’s not the amount of carbohydrate-rich foods a person eats -- it’s the quality of the carbohydrate that matters.

Crucially, Gangwisch also took a look at women who had no depression at the start of the study, but had depression by the time they had checked in again in 1998. He found that those who ate a high GI diet full of added sugars and refined grains were more likely to become depressed later on.

Foods with high GI scores -- like white bread, soda, boxed cereal, white rice and potatoes -- could be causing or worsening depression symptoms, according to Gangwisch’s analysis. He says these foods touch off a cascade of hormonal reactions that bring blood sugar levels down, causing symptoms of depression like anxiety, irritability, fatigue, change in mood and behavior, and hunger. High GI diets are also associated with inflammation and cardiovascular disease, which also play a role in the development of depression.

"The fact that these are new cases of depression strengthens the argument that the diet contributed toward the depression, as opposed to the depression contributing toward the diet,” Gangwisch said.

What this all adds up to, said Gangwisch, is an even more compelling reason to stay away from added sugars and refined grains. Though randomized, controlled trials are needed to determine if low-GI diets could treat or even prevent depression in post-menopausal women, he says it can't hurt to adopt such a diet now.

"Most nutritionists would agree that people should try to keep to a minimum added sugars and refined grains and to eat whole, natural, seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans that are high in fiber,” said Gangwisch. "I think [a low-GI diet] would be well worth a try for anyone suffering from depression."

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A ‘Bachelor’ Casting Call Is Pretty Much Like Being In Vegas, And NOT In A Good Way

Last week, I attended one of ABC's open casting calls for "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette." Thanks to her recent visit to the HuffPost office, I received some pre-casting advice from current Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe: 1) Wear something comfortable, and 2) Tell a joke if you're funny. I wore the heels that give me blisters, and I did not tell a joke. Turns out being the Bachelorette is a LOT harder than it looks.

Arriving at a "Bachelor" casting is kind of like arriving at a Vegas club ... but without the flashing lights and money falling from the sky.

You show up, and a line of humans in semi-scandalous attire waits to get in the door. The line wraps around the block. You're not sure if you're gonna make it into the "club," aka ABC Studios. Unlike in Vegas, it is raining.

I'm not here to make friends, you think to yourself. Which is weird, 'cuz all these girls look nice enough to be your friends. But that's what they say on "The Bachelor," so you say it to get in the mood. You join the line and edit some Instagrams quietly. 'Cuz you're not here to make friends.

That's me in line. I'm flashing a peace sign, because I'm secretly here to make friends.

The line moves like a slow loris. If you're lucky, you have a friend who shows up to wait with you. If you're not lucky, you wait alone and try to make friends. But nobody's here to make friends, you remind yourself, 'cuz it's "The Bachelor." So you just ignore those peripheral humans.

After what seems like hours (and probably IS hours), you enter the studio and go through security. It's like airport security, only the guards compliment you on how pretty you are in a semi-uncomfortable manner. ("Heeey girl. You have a great face, girl.") The guards know you are weak. They know you are vulnerable. They know you are here to be judged. They are taking advantage of the situation, I think.

Then, The Girl At The Front Table gives you an application with the Sacred Questions. And you get a Sacred "Bachelor" Pen to fill them out with. (This pen will probably be the only thing you ever receive from the "Bachelor" franchise, so hold on to it.) You begin to answer the Sacred Questions with zest.

Those are the Sacred Questions, obviously.

Next, The Wee Intern Who Is Here For The Summer takes your picture. He tells you that you look like a celebrity, and he seems totally starstruck to see you. Acting all pose-y for his camera is easy, on account of this kid being the same age as the small child whom you babysit.

That's the photo station, along with a REALLY crowded room of potential Bachelorettes.

Then you have lots of sitting time to answer the Sacred Questions with your Sacred Pen. Questions include, but are not limited to, "What's your favorite drink?" (Um ... whiskey?), "Describe your dating history" (Um ... Tinder?) and "What's your greatest achievement?" (IDK, JUST MAKING IT PAST THIS CONFUSING QUESTIONNAIRE AND ONTO YOUR TELEVISION SHOW WOULD BE NICE, THANK YOU).

When you're done, the Questions Warden checks to make sure you answered all of the Sacred Questions and didn't leave any blanks. She staples your application with the Sacred Stapler.

Sadly, I did not steal the Sacred Stapler ... I think it could get you disqualified.

Next, there is Musical Chairs. Musical Chairs is when you sit in a bunch of chairs waiting to go in front of the cameras. Everyone in the chairs pretends to chat and be friends. But you are not here to make friends. 'Cuz this is "The Bachelor."

When it's time to go in front of the cameras, you get to wear a real microphone like a real "Bachelor" contestant. It will be hard to affix the microphone to your shirt. Do not panic. Just smile and say you're here for the right reasons. Bachelorettes are always here for the right reasons.

When the microphone is on, the Camera Person will ask you some of the same Sacred Questions that were on the application. Only this time, you will have to say them with your actual voice, which is apparently difficult to do after waiting for, like, three hours and getting all nervous. (Pro tip: If asked to describe your dating history, do NOT say "none." You will probably not become The Bachelorette. Not that I did that or anything.)

That's my friend Allison being LOVED by producers. She did great!

After that, you will leave the camera area. You will cry a little on the inside, on account of you will feel that you did not act bubbly enough, nor flirty enough, nor Bachelorette-y enough to be the next Bachelorette. If I only had one more chance, you will think, I would win America's heart.

But that would require making friends. And you are NOT here to make friends.

Correction: This article has been updated with the correct spelling of Kaitlyn Bristowe's name. It was previously spelled Katelyn Bristowe.

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Ruth Hogben, Fashion Filmmaker, Pushes the Envelope

Ms. Hogben, whose films are featured in the “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” exhibition in London, is comfortable in her place in the realm.

Unbuttoned: Reimagining Donna Karan

The influence of the women’s wear designer Donna Karan, who has left her job as chief designer at her company, goes far beyond the runway.

A Tribute to My First Boyfriend

Billy was my first boyfriend. We were children of a certain New York suburb with pink-brick shops, green parks, and a charm that persevered into the '90s, even as Manhattan's steely influence reached northward along the Hudson, shuttering the local video store and razor-sharpening a culture of competition, success. It was a town that saw the world as its oyster.

I was Billy's girlfriend for a few months in sixth grade, in the final dusk-colored days before online chatting and mobile phones. I still remember the seven digits of his home number, calling and saying, "Hi, is Billy there, please?"

He had freckles and a bowl-cut of black hair, which was often covered with a Yankees cap. I was dishwater blonde, with an awkward, pre-teen body and a reluctant smile. I'd just become aware of the baby fat I hadn't shed -- that I, in fact, wouldn't shed until college. But when he saw me, sitting on a chorus room riser, he told a friend, "That girl is beautiful."

Most of our courtship took place at the public library, in an alcove of unopened books with pages and words that had long since settled for starting at one another in the dark. We met there every day after school. We were too young for stolen kisses; our adoration was lustless. We only talked, laughed, squirmed at the thrilling proximity of our bodies.

It was springtime. We were surrounded with harbingers of summer. The stream was unthawed and running with cellophane-thin water. Our walks to the library smelled like athletic grass and school bus diesel. Our magic hour was between 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm, when Billy and I held hands on the outdoor curb, waiting for my mother's Volvo to turn the corner. Evening meant it was time to go home.

Billy was a budding athlete, already devoted to baseball. I went to his games, loving the way he looked for me, from beneath the visor of his batting helmet, while walking up to the plate.
On May 5th, his birthday, we went on our first date; a viewing of the Jurassic Park sequel at the multiplex. When I arrived, I saw that he was wearing a new blue polo. He bought my ticket and a shareable order of popcorn. In the darkened theater, amidst disemboweled dinosaurs and blood, he leaned over and whispered: "Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are?"

All these years later, it remains one of the best dates I've been on.

The safe space Billy and I created together, and for each other, served as insulation against the creeping onslaught of adolescence. Boys were starting to shed the odor of young men; hormones soured their breath and strangled their vocal cords. Girls were spending more time frowning in front of the gym mirror. Billy was a comfort to me. But our relationship still existed within middle school's Darwinian food chain, vulnerable to its volatility.

On the night of the sixth grade social, the gym was a wild suburban ecosystem; dim lighting, pulsing music, clusters of flared jeans. Billy and I circled each other in an artless sort of mating ritual, both nervous we might have to dance. Neither of us responded to rhythm yet. A friend shoved me into him to break the ice. I was mortified, but Billy smiled. We spent most of our time leaning together against the padded walls, smelling clay and chalk and watching the herds.

It was after we said goodnight that it happened. While heading outside, I saw Billy, already in the parking lot, talking with a group of boys. They were boys who scared me; they'd recently developed swaggers and foul mouths and a meanness I couldn't name or understand. And their leader was mocking me. As Billy pursed his lips and stared at cement, the boy contorted his voice and body as he listed all the reasons why Billy shouldn't be with me. "She's so quiet and weird. This is what she looks like when she walks down the hall. She's lame. She's not hot."

As I watched this wretched version of myself come to life -- in his eyes, his movements -- I realized that I was destined to navigate adolescence without the "cool" shield -- the indefinable quality that protects against teendom's fickle politics. For years following that moment, even after we all grew into ourselves and out of such nonsense, I would feel the residual grip of my failure to have been "cool" when it mattered most. I wondered how those other 12-year-olds beat such impossible odds, commanding approval and admiration when they were never more necessary and never again in such short supply.

As I stood there, aching, Billy looked at the boy and said, "Well, none of that matters, because she's really nice."

His devotion to me withstood adolescent condemnation, one of the cruelest barriers to love there is. He continued to adore me as my hips expanded and curved, and as the world began to feel too small and too big. He adored me as I came closer to that age where we keep losing reasons to adore ourselves.

This is why, years later -- after high school, college, careers -- I still talked about Billy. He never slipped through the cracks, a casualty of time and memory. While sipping happy hour cocktails with girlfriends, I'd discuss my middle school boyfriend. "He was important," I'd say. "It was such a sweet thing. It was special."

"And where is he now?" they'd ask.

But all I knew of him, I knew through the proverbial grapevine or social media bullet points. He continued to play baseball at his mid-Atlantic liberal arts college, he enrolled at Columbia Business School, he was engaged to his college sweetheart. I saw him two or three times over the years, at home or at reunions. But my thoughts never lingered on the man he'd become -- they were devoted to the boy he'd once been.

Until he died.

He was found in a frozen Boston stairwell on the morning of March 24, 2013. It was an accident, all the more tragic for its senselessness, its refusal to let anyone wring a lesson from it. He was there with friends -- the same friends from our little suburb, whose heads surrounded his and mine in the yearbooks.

In the days that followed, I watched numbly as Facebook paid tribute to a man I couldn't claim to know very well. I was usually white-knuckling my phone, fielding texts from people I hadn't spoken to in a long time, asking me if I knew anything, asking if it was true.

Yes, he's gone, I said.

On the day of his funeral, I pulled my sixth grade yearbook from the shelf and opened it to the page where, 16 years earlier, while hunched in our library nook, Billy had penned:

Dear Loren,

The past two months have been the highlight of the year for me. I had such a good time at the movies. I probably won't be able to stop thinking of you this summer. Don't forget to give me your address at camp so that I can write you. What will you do there? I mean, what kind of camp is it? Thanks again for coming to my baseball game. Have a good summer and don't forget me (ha, ha).

Yours Truly,

My heart was so heavy I felt nauseas. And then guilty, as I struggled to intellectualize my grief. I felt I had no right to it, with so many people mourning a far more immediate loss. Billy's death left no ripple in my routine, no void in my call log, no ghost in my recent photographs. His loved ones were honoring all 27 years of his life, and I was revering him as he was in the spring of 1997.

But, perhaps, that is a vital tribute to a life -- the worship of someone in a certain time, in a certain place. It validates that as Billy lived, he shed his skin and left prints. Within him, as within a nesting doll, there were several ever-shrinking layers, each deserving of its own memorial for the things it saw and did; the lives it touched.

Now that he was dead, I realized how much I wanted him to be alive. How, even if we never again crossed paths, it had enriched my existence just to know that he was out there, somewhere, all grown up, carrying the same memories with him. Memories I now carry alone.

But carry, I do. I carry us as we were on a late spring afternoon, filling a few hours with the ineffably beautiful things that transpire between children who are practicing how to be in love -- learning how do it for later, in the future, when evening no longer means that it's time to go home.

Click here to learn about The Billy Mac Fund, which provides annual college scholarships to deserving students.

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19 Fun-In-The-Sun Ideas For A Summer Wedding

Summer weddings and outdoor parties go hand-in-hand.

No matter where you choose to celebrate the big day, you want to make sure guests are happy, comfortable, well-fed having fun so they can keep the party going into the night. Below are 19 delightful ideas for a summertime soirée.

Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Weddings on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

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An Open Letter To The Woman I Was On My Wedding Day


Jennifer Ball was 26 when she married. Thirteen years later, she and her husband divorced. Below, Ball, who blogs at at Happy Hausfrau, writes a letter to the woman she was on her wedding day.

OOh hey there, 26-year-old pregnant bride: I see you there, in your black velvet dress from Banana Republic, with the tag tucked into the back so you can return it later. I remember the flutters you felt that day: some were caused by the baby but most were the result of nerves.

jennifer ball

I know all you want is a happy ending. Up until now life has been an unsure, scary ride with plenty of party pitstops along the way. When you and that handsome young man standing next to you found out the hard way that birth control pills are only 99 percent effective, both of you did what most people would do: you freaked out.

But together, you came up with a plan: You’d both grown up with divorced parents and had seen the good, the bad and the ugly that came with it. You had seen the outcome when a bad stepparent enters the picture, your betrothed had experienced being schlepped from school to school by his divorced parents.

That baby you're carrying? This marriage? It was a fresh start. A new beginning. A crisp, clean new chapter.

Oh, young me. I hate to break it to you, but despite the best intentions...there is no happy ending to this wedding tale. Don’t get me wrong! You do give that baby, and his three siblings-to-be, a really good life for a really good stretch of time.

You get to be a stay-at-home mom for a dozen years. Driving the minivan to Target and picnics at the park? That’s you (although your former party-girl self will struggle to believe it).

The busy days blend together and become years. You and your husband lose touch. You find out how long and deep the crevasse between two people can be, despite the fact that they’re sleeping right next to each other. Both of you may have had nothing but high hopes for this marriage, wanting so badly to create a life neither of you were able to experience, but it doesn’t happen.

You know what happens? Like Led Zeppelin said, communication breakdown happens. You focus on the kids and your husband focuses on work. Resentment builds up while your relationship falls apart. You’re exhausted at the end of the day. He’s frustrated. It almost seems comical, how stereotypical it is when he ends up falling for someone else.

Younger me, I’m not going to scare you with all of the gory details. But I will tell you this: It sucks, going through a divorce. You’re going to hurt more than you’ve ever hurt before. The sting of betrayal, the slashes of guilt and blame, the deep cuts of fear. You’re going to travel to hell and back and repeat that journey a few times before you’re done.

The key word in that last sentence is this: Done.

Everyone survives. Your kids not only survive, they grow up to be stable, well-adjusted, kind, happy people. There are scars, sure. But doesn’t everyone accumulate a few of those along the way?

What about you? Oh, girl. You do more than survive. You learn things about yourself and marriage and men and relationships. You discover unbelievable strength in yourself and those around you. You realize, a little late in the game, that we are all responsible for our own happy endings.

And guess what, 26-year-old me?

I don’t know for sure at this point if we get that picture-perfect happy ending, but I can tell you this: We’ve had an incredible start.

Now, go enjoy that cake.

end note

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Single Shaming at the Supreme Court

In American politics, the married heterosexual couple with children has been the gold standard of normalcy and virtue. They're the people politicians address in their speeches, the ones they vow to fight for. If you exist outside this model, the nearly exclusive focus on these particular citizens can be profoundly alienating.

So it was exciting last week to see the Supreme Court recognize marriage equality for all. It seems we're slowly moving past the one-size-fits-all model of family and adulthood.

But as The Washington Post's Lisa Bonos and New York Magazine's Rebecca Traister quickly noticed, the language Justice Kennedy used in the majority opinion also reveals that many old stereotypes persist:

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family," writes Kennedy.

Did you hear that single soldiers and veterans? The court thanks you for your service, but those tours in Afghanistan and Iraq don't quite measure up to the noble efforts of your neighbors who got hitched in Cancun last year. Unmarried schoolteachers, doctors, nurses, firefighters, ETMs and social workers should also take note. No matter how much devotion and sacrifice you exhibit in your work and personal life, you'll still fall short of your friends who put a ring on it.

"In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were."

You have to wonder how Kennedy's colleague Elena Kagan or former colleague David Souter took the news that while they and other prominent singles--such at Janet Reno, Condoleezza Rice, Janet Napolitano and Ralph Nader--may have accomplished great things, they could still be ... better. After all, have any of these people ever asked their friends to purchase them a $200 casserole dish or wear matching fuchsia dresses? Doubtful.

"[The petitioners'] hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions."

Yes, those are the choices. Get married or sentence yourself to a lifetime of wretchedness.

I'm sure Justice Kennedy didn't intend to insult singles in his praise of marriage.

His remarks reflect a knee-jerk bias that is so steeped in our culture most people don't even recognize it.

Frankly, it's exhausting. This attitude puts single people ever on the defensive, having to assure friends and family that they're happy and capable while their married peers are simply assumed to be. This bias is the reason Lindsey Graham, a man who has been a U.S. senator for more than a decade, must explain to reporters that his unmarried state does not affect his ability to be president.

"Shifts in hearts and minds are possible," President Obama said after the ruling. "Today we can say in no uncertain terms that we have made our union a little more perfect."

I agree, but Kennedy's remarks shows we still have a long way to go.

Sara Eckel is the author of It's Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You're Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Acne and Wrinkles: The Two-Stage Life Overlap That Just Doesn’t Seem Fair

I'd like to file a complaint, if possible. I guess it should go to the Department of Getting Older, should such a thing exist. See, it offends me deeply on a personal level that I have to buy products to stop both acne and wrinkles. It seems to me that if you have to go through the humiliation of one of these conditions, you should automatically be disqualified from dealing with the other for a while. The double stage overlap is just a slap in the face. Pun intended.

My skin and I have always been at odds. But after much trial and error and switching of birth control pills, I've finally managed to get a handle on my situation, with only the occasional breakout happening. In fact, I was feeling pretty confident lately. All seemed to be quiet on the acne front.

Then all of a sudden I was at Sephora playing with bronzers, fragrances, and other overpriced items. I started chatting with one of the ladies who worked there. She confidently mentioned that she's had her daughter using an anti-wrinkle cream since she was 18. I replied that I don't use such a cream, only sunscreen and moisturizer. I thought her head might fall off.

Later that night, I went home, hopped up on my bathroom counter, and studied my face for a while. Was I desperately out of touch in terms of how I should be caring for my skin? At rest, I saw no sign of wrinkles around my eyes or the corners of my mouth, and yet when I practiced smiling and laughing I actually did notice a little more crinkly action than I'd seen before. This was despite the ever-present baseball cap on my head when I'm in the sun and my fondness for big sunglasses.

The conversation at Sephora started replaying in my head. Was I imagining this? What was happening? At 27, I guess I'm officially at the age where it's time to worry about these kinds of things, right?

After much poking, prodding, and overanalyzing, I told myself that since it was almost 10:00 p.m. and there was nothing that could be done to stop wrinkles immediately in that moment, it was time to go to bed. I vowed that tomorrow I'd pick up something to begin the battle against wrinkles. Then I lay awake for a while, Googling the best anti-wrinkle creams and wondering how I was already at this life stage when sometimes it still feels like I'm in high school driving a Jetta with fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror.

The next morning I awoke, guns blazing, ready to embark on my new mission. As I was prepping myself to drop at least $100 at Target even though I was going there for one item (this happens every time I walk into that little red-themed paradise so I've just embraced it) I did a double take in the mirror.

Yes. There was no mistaking it. The beginnings of a zit. Right next to where I would soon be applying anti-wrinkle cream near the corners of my mouth.

The agony and the irony weren't lost on me. Here I was about to set off on my first anti-wrinkle cream buying journey. When it was complete, I would now have to come home and try to deal with the zit on my face, stopping it in its tracks before it was allowed to develop into a full-fledged monstrosity. Salicylic acid would be required. War would be waged.

It just seemed unfair. Rude, even. The great philosopher Britney Spears once proclaimed that she was not a girl, not yet a woman. In my case, I'm trapped in a weird twilight zone where I have the skin of both a young girl and a mature woman.

This is why I'd like to file a complaint. Zits or wrinkles, pick one. You shouldn't have to fight off both. Anyway, if you know where I could direct these thoughts or maybe get some kind of refund or voucher, I'd appreciate it.

This post originally appeared on Life with Lauren.

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How One ‘Mother Hen’ In Hawaii Cares For 63 Homeless People At A Time

Any minute now, John Bean’s medicine should start kicking in. But, as he sits in the back seat of an aging Subaru Forester, it’s apparent that it hasn’t yet: Bean’s still hallucinating and talking incessantly.

Behind the wheel, Carolina Jesus isn’t worried; she’s seen all this before.

In fact, as schizophrenic episodes go, Bean’s symptoms are mild, she explains: “He’s having some psychotic features. A little hallucinating. Seeing some things that aren’t there. But he’s coherent. Calm. Reasonable.”

So Jesus just makes sure her car’s child safety locks are engaged — in case Bean gets a sudden urge to jump out — and calmly drives on.

Just another day at the office for perhaps Honolulu’s most unusual effort to help the homeless.

Felix plays the guitar for Carolina Jesus at their residence in Kalihi.

Since 2006, Jesus has been running a small, faith-based nonprofit called Shelter of Wisdom, and taking care of otherwise-homeless people like Bean — some suffering from even more severe forms of mental illness or drug addiction — is a routine part of her job.

Jesus, a slender 56-year-old with wavy dark-brown hair flowing down her back, started out by taking people into her own home. That was back in 2003, and she owned only one property at the time — a three-unit house in Kailua.

But, with her nonprofit in place, Jesus has steadily expanded the scope of her work and now operates out of six houses — two that she owns, along with four that she rents — serving a total of 63 people.

To her residents, Jesus is like a mother hen, available 24/7 to meet their needs.

At times, she’s an ultimate case manager, connecting them to any public assistance they may qualify for or helping them find an apartment to move into when they’re ready.

At other times, she’s an emergency responder, ready to step in to head off any disputes among the residents or jump into a car to drive people to a hospital.

This way, Jesus has provided refuge to hundreds of homeless people over the years.

The approach is hailed by the homeless and their advocates alike.

Darrell Hart, a 55-year-old resident who spent more than 17 years living on the streets, says it’s a far cry from how traditional homeless shelters operate.

“I went over to a shelter one time, and the first lady I ran into was extremely hostile. She was acting with a real snotty attitude, like, ‘I’m doing you all the favor in the world, dude,'” Hart said. “But you don’t get that here. Caroline treats you with dignity.”

In the beginning, Jesus took in people like Hart directly off the streets, but she gets enough referrals from social services agencies and homeless shelters these days that, at any given time, she has about 20 people on a waiting list.

Scott Morishige, executive director of the homeless advocacy group PHOCUSED, says Jesus’ work plays a vital role in Honolulu’s homeless response system — especially now that the city’s “sit-lie” ban and other measures aimed at clearing the city’s sidewalks are in full effect.

“When you have homeless people being displaced because of the sit-lie enforcement, having an alternative option is something that’s really needed,” Morishige said. “And it’s critical that we keep looking at outside-the-box approaches, like what Carolina has been doing, and see what more can be done.”

car work
Whenever one of Shelter of Wisdom’s cars needs work, Carolina Jesus relies on the mechanical skills of Reginald Apo, a longtime resident.

Divine Instructions
The winding path that led Jesus to create Shelter of Wisdom began back in 2002, when her 20-year marriage ended in a divorce.

Two pivotal things happened then.

The first was her conversion to Catholicism. At the time, Jesus was trying to shake off a series of panic attacks she’d been having since her divorce, and she tried all kinds of potential remedies, from counseling and therapy to “new-age things.”

But none of them was working, so Jesus gave Catholicism a try. But, given her views on Christians at the time — “I thought they were hypocrites, bigots and narrow-minded” — she wasn’t counting much on it.

But the gambit worked. Jesus says her conversion has been so empowering that she kept her ex-husband’s surname and now pronounces it, “Jee-sus,” rather than “Hey-soos.” She reasons: “It’s important that people hear his name, whether they like it or not.”

The second was the purchase of her first house — a three-unit fixer-upper in Kailua, which Jesus and her then-teenage son began renovating on their own.

It was around this time that Jesus said she began receiving divine instructions — which she heard in her ears, as if through a special headphone, she says — telling her to start opening up her new house to the homeless.

Initially, Jesus was hesitant: “I didn’t want to do any of it because homeless people are scary and smelly and dirty, and I’m a single woman — it was so uncomfortable for me.”

But Jesus worked up her courage eventually and began inviting people to live in her two spare units.

Before long, Jesus was hooked — so much so that she began tapping into her own savings to keep the operation going for a few years until she launched Shelter of Wisdom and secured its nonprofit status in 2006.

Despite her initial fears, Jesus says she’s been able to keep her operation going without major incidents. But she does have to rely on her “mothering skills” occasionally to navigate through minor crises.

That’s how it went when a longtime resident named Reginald Apo, a former car mechanic with a history of a traumatic brain injury, was having psychotic fits last month and required a trip to an emergency room.

The ride to the hospital was tricky, Jesus recalls. “He was going nuts. He was trying to open the door. He was kicking legs up and down,” she said. “So I distracted him. I got him to talk about cars. I started asking him questions, like, ‘How does a carburetor work? Do you ever think about that?’ During the whole ride to the hospital, he just started talking about engines.”

Carolina Jesus keeps her office, which doubles as her bedroom, in one of the six houses she maintains in Kalihi Valley.

‘She’s One-of-a-Kind’
Today, Shelter of Wisdom operates out of six houses that Jesus maintains in Kalihi Valley.

Jesus chose the houses for their floor plan — it’s important, she says, to have a common room big enough to allow the residents to come out of their bedrooms — which hold two or three twin beds, depending on their size — and stretch out. “We don’t want them to feel overcrowded,” she said.

The expenses for their upkeep — as well as for general supplies and the maintenance of four cars — are paid for by the combination of a handful of small individual donations and “shelter fees” collected from the residents, who are asked to contribute $280 to $375 a month, depending on their financial situation.

The arrangement allows the whole operation to just about break even — without any government funding. “We don’t want to take any money from the government because that takes the resources away from other places that could use it,” she said.

But this doesn’t leave any money for a salary, so Jesus works as a “volunteer” and sleeps on a couch in her small office that’s set up inside one of the houses.

Jesus says she doesn’t mind the spartan arrangement. “I have a really low personal budget,” she said. “I buy all my clothes at second-hand stores. I wear the same clothes over and over. I hate shopping. I don’t wear any jewelry. I don’t eat out. I hardly spend any money.”

Bob Doeringer, who met Jesus when his church ran a donation drive for used furniture for her residents two years ago, says Jesus’ dedication to her work was so inspiring that he began volunteering for Shelter of Wisdom himself.

“To literally do as much as she does, and to be so dedicated to helping people, and not doing it for any monetary gain is mind-blowing to me,” said Doeringer, who’s now in charge of organizing a storage room for supplies. “She’s one-of-a-kind. It’s really hard to imagine somebody else doing this.”

Jesus shrugs off such compliments and insists that anyone can do what she does — all you need, she says, is a spare bedroom.

Still, she admits that her work can sometimes be overwhelming — and that’s when she turns to the other Jesus in her life.

“Maybe, without the encouragement from Jesus, it’s just too difficult to do. Sometimes it just looks hopeless,” she said. “I wanted so many times to give up, but I’m glad I didn’t because it’s so rewarding to see people come through and become an outstanding, clean and sober citizen contributing to the society.”

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Little Girl And Her Pregnant Mom Dance Their Way To Viral Stardom

One enthusiastic little girl dancing to a popular hip-hop song, with backup from her very pregnant mom, is the latest viral hit, garnering more than 20 million plays in less than a week.

The video, which was uploaded to Facebook on June 26, opens with 6-year-old Jaylyn Gregory excitedly introducing herself and her mom, Nikki Taylor.

"Me and my mom are going to dance," says Jaylyn. "I'm pretty good, and my mom is gonna rock, but don't laugh at her." Taylor then explains that she's "pregnant. Really pregnant."

Moments later, Jaylyn strikes a quick pose and the Illinois mother-daughter duo launch into a dance-off to "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)" by hip-hop artist Silento.

Taylor, who is eight months pregnant, told KFVS-TV that she originally made the video for her fiance, but later decided to share it with friends and family on Facebook. She said she never expected it to go viral -- something she finds a bit humorous, given the timing.

"It blew up and it had to blow up when I'm blown up," Taylor said.

But she may be on to something here. describes dancing as a "fantastic and fun exercise" during pregnancy that can help expectant moms stay flexible and maintain muscle tone. The website suggests:

For maximum benefit, dance for at least 20 minutes three times a week, whether it's in your living room or in class.

Taylor told KFVS that she plans to start a blog with more videos of her and her daughter dancing. But for now, she's just trying to keep up with their sudden Internet fame.

"My inbox ... is flooded by the minute," she wrote Monday on Facebook. "My laptop can't even keep up. For once in my life Facebook is drowning me. LOL."

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Unretouched Portraits Illustrate 19 Bare, Bold And Beautiful Women

Alyscia Cunningham was fed up with other photographers suggesting to her that she should photoshop the bodies and skin of her clients. So she created her own photo series featuring unretouched, makeup-free women of all ages to highlight just how stunning natural beauty can be.

In January 2012, Cunningham released her photography book Feminine Transitions which features hundreds of unaltered portraits of women with paired with empowering words of wisdom. "I yearned to create something that actually celebrated girls and women in their natural state," Cunningham told The Huffington Post.

The project includes women of all ethnicities and ages, with women ranging in age from seven weeks to 103 years old. Since the release of the book a few years ago, Cunningham has continued to photograph women and feature their portraits on the Feminine Transitions Facebook page.

Story continues below.

After taking each woman's photographs, Cunningham chooses a quote that she felt resonated with that woman's image. Every quote is an empowering message that celebrates each woman and her natural beauty.

"It is my hope that this series empowers little girls to know they are beautiful just as they are," Cunningham said. With a broader message that "liberates aging women from hiding behind their make-up and hair color (to cover up the grays) and reminds every senior woman who feels that her wrinkles are a negative reminder of growing older, that each line is a story map of her soul and her wisdom."

She added that she wants "every woman, young and old, all races and colors, to know that they are naturally beautiful. It's time to stop allowing society to dictate our beauty."

Check out the bare, bold and beautiful portraits from Cunningham below.

Head over to Cunningham's website to see more of her work.

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Pro Cheerleaders Would Make At Least Minimum Wage Under New California Bill

SUDHIN THANAWALA, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — They boost their teams from the sidelines and promote them by appearing in calendars and at fan events, but some sports cheerleaders say they are still not considered team employees and are paid what amounts to less than minimum wage.

California legislation believed to be the first of its kind in the nation is set to change that.

The bill approved by the state Senate on Monday and sent to the governor for his signature would require that cheerleaders be paid at least minimum wage and overtime and sick leave if they work for professional sports teams based in California.

california professional cheerleaders
San Diego Chargers' cheerleaders entertain in the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Seattle Seahawks Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

"Everyone who works hard to provide a great game-day experience deserves the same basic level of dignity and respect on the job, starting with simply being paid for their work," said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who authored California's legislation.

A similar bill was introduced in New York state this year.

The focus on cheerleader pay comes after a spate of recent lawsuits against NFL teams alleging they did not pay cheerleaders for hours they spent practicing and making public appearances. Attorneys for some of the cheerleaders say the legislation is good but existing law is already clear that cheerleaders are employees entitled to minimum wage.

"It's nice to have clarifying legislation, but I don't think it changes the state of the law at all," said attorney Sharon Vinick, who represented former Oakland Raiders cheerleaders in a lawsuit against the team.

Raiders cheerleaders were paid $125 per home game, or $1,250 per season, in a contract that included hours of unpaid rehearsals and charity and commercial appearances, Vinick said. That translated to less than $5 an hour.

Vinick reached a $1.25 million settlement last year on behalf of dozens of Raiderettes who worked for the team from 2010 to 2013. He rejected the team's classification of the cheerleaders as independent contractors, saying the team decided what dances they performed and music they used and set strict requirements for them.

The attorney also rejected arguments that the women were receiving exposure that could open up opportunities in modeling or other fields.

california professional cheerleaders
In this Oct. 6, 2013, file photo, Oakland Raiders cheerleaders hold pink pom-poms for breast cancer awareness before an NFL football game between the Raiders and the San Diego Chargers in Oakland, Calif. California lawmakers are sending Gov. Jerry Brown a bill making it clear that professional cheerleaders are sports team employees. The bill approved by the state Senate on Monday, June 29, 2015, would require that cheerleaders be paid at least minimum wage if they work for professional sports teams based in California. AB202 says they would have to be paid for overtime and sick leave, the same as other employees. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

"If you are a young starting quarterback, you get lot of notoriety for that, but you also get paid for that work," she said. "The fact that the women might get some opportunities doesn't justify not paying them."

Buffalo Bills' cheerleaders were not paid at all, even for game days, said Sean Cooney, a partner at the Dolce Panepinto law firm who is representing six cheerleaders in lawsuits filed last year that name the team. The cheerleaders also had to pay for their uniforms and hair and makeup.

"All because it was a job they like, that they were told was a privilege," Cooney said.

Calls to Bills and Raiders' representatives were not immediately returned. The Raiders in court documents said the cheerleaders' lawsuit should be handled by league arbitration.

The New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers also have been sued over cheerleader pay, with the Buccaneers reaching a settlement this year.

The NFL declined to comment on California's legislation. NFL teams are advised to follow state and federal employment laws, and team cheerleaders are not employed by the league.

Cooney said the Bills cheerleaders also are suing the NFL because it approved an agreement that classified them as independent contractors who would not be paid.


Associated Press Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report.

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