Fashion

Who Has it Harder: The Working or the Stay-at-Home Parent?

The playing field has changed. Mine's now Gymboree. His, still corporate insanity.

When we were both slaves to the man or, in my case, woman, there was common ground. We came home equally exhausted in proportionate ways and just got each other. With one look, one sigh, we'd know what the other was going through, commiserate and feel justified in knowing our partner understood and appreciated the sacrifice and effort we were going through to make our own little world better and brighter for the future.

Then, the future arrived. In a 6lb. 14 oz. package of perfection.

And, for awhile, we were so enamored and delirious in a new family fog which clouded our otherwise selfish thoughts. We're still madly in love with our girl and our life. In fact, it seems to intensify daily to a level I didn't think possible just the day before.

But the fog has lifted. Reality and months and months of sleep deprivation set in. It's not a sprint, it's a never-ending marathon, and we're showing signs of fatigue and PTSD at the 24-mile mark. We're no longer on an even playing field. We haven't been for some time now. The ground seems slanted, the court warped,the turf tainted. Whatever sports analogy you conjure, things are far from even. And the "call" is in the eye of the beaten-down beholder.

He wakes first every morning, spends about 30 minutes with our daughter, gets ready and leaves to travel through whatever inclement weather we're having, share the subway with other tortured New Yorkers and manage 50 or so people all over the country, all day long. There's personalities to negotiate, people to placate, unbelievably high goals to achieve...

There's also adult conversation, expensed business lunches with starters and a main course and sometimes wine; a bathroom stall to himself; a door to close and a computer to surf without little, sticky hands banging on it.

I "get up" when he does. Except I lie there. Lifeless. Praying I fall back to sleep. Praying they let me go for a few minutes longer. Wishing I'd gone to bed earlier. Dreaming I woke at a Four Seasons. I immediately put a load of laundry in, pick up toys I was too tired to the night before, get breakfast ready, try to answer a few emails all while reciting Peppa Pig's Muddy Puddles for the umpteenth time. We play, we struggle, we laugh, we negotiate. She wins, I sigh. I win, she cries. It's a daily tug-of=war with emotions so high it feels like a two-woman Broadway show. At the end of each day, I feel as if I've been through a 12-hour saga playing the cutup, the hero, the villain... In between each act, I'm pushing a stroller, shopping for groceries, going to classes and trying to conduct business through the tears, screams, laughs and babble. Nap time means official work time. I spend the fast-dwindling hour(s) -- it's like there's a large print, shot clock blasted on the wall, loudly ticking down -- writing, editing, pitching, dreaming, scheming, screaming, all the while that "Housewives" episode is looming over, taunting me and I probably should eat something. I don't. By the time I'm "done" (Are we ever really done?), she's up. And I immediately feel guilty for being disappointed or leaving her in the crib two minutes too long.

But... I can choose to remain in my PJ's all day. To go out or stay in. I'm showered with love. There's plenty of pleases and thank-you's (She's a polite diva.) and I can, technically, nap when she naps. (Ha! ) There's no time card or mandatory meeting, deadline or office drama. There's me and my girl and the endless options of how we choose to spend our day, snow or shine. We can botch our plans and on a whim go to the museum, have a picnic outdoors, a baking party indoors or, better yet, both.

I get her from her crib and we do the delicate dance all over again. Elation, exasperation. I watch the clock. Except this time it's in reverse. This clock moves painfully slow. In fact, it doesn't seem to be moving at all. I try not to text, definitely don't call. He's got stuff to do. He's earning a living for our family, wants to be home too. He'll come as soon as he can. Most days, I'm a good wife. Every third Thursday, I break. "When are you coming home? Have you left yet? How much longer? PLEASE COME HOME I'VE GOT NOTHING LEFT." Insert dramatic emojis here.

He comes home. We both ask how the other's day went and can still tell by one look but that's the only element that has remained from our previous, well-rested lives. After that, it's foreign. Sure, I can (painfully) recall what it was like in the work force and he's had a week off with us or a weekend of Daddy duty, but neither is the same. If you're not in it, you're not in it.

We say how much we'd love to be the other. Fantasize how great it'd be. "I'd kill for a reason to shower, water cooler chat, a meeting of the minds," I say. "I'd love to stay home, go for coffee, a nice, long walk," he hallucinates. We both have such idealized and naive versions of what life could be, sans reality.

After his day, he takes over. Bathes our beauty, changes her, gets her ready for bed. After my day, I clean up her mess and then delve into mine. More work time. She's all dewy and new, cuddly and warm, smelling of lavender and promise and we nestle in, as a family, for bedtime books. In that moment, everything is right. It's no longer about my day versus his, who pulled more of the proverbial or actual (30 pound baby!) weight. We're a family and, together or apart, tears or cheers, we survived and are here together, healthy, happy, in our home, living a life that we've always dreamed and it's pretty sweet. And absolutely even.

Once she's in bed, we try to make dinner, sit at the table and have conversation. Often we end up ordering in, sitting on the couch and watching TV in silence. Soon, he's snoring and I'm up until late into the night fighting the fight.

Morning comes and we start all over again. Different playing fields. The same team.

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Why It’s OK to Complain

Maybe it's because I've lived with health issues my whole life. Maybe it's because I'm a new mom. Maybe it's just me... or maybe it's not. But I've long felt the necessity to stay strong and never complain. Perhaps I felt as if I were betraying all the strong, fierce feminists that came before me. I've always thought that if I complained, asked for help, or took a break that it somehow meant I was giving in and letting my struggles get the best of me. Thankfully, I'm here to tell you that that's just not true. It really is OK to complain sometimes.

It wasn't easy to allow myself the freedom to complain. Honestly, it still isn't easy even now. I still hesitate sometimes when asking for help. And when I do ask for help, I'm convinced that the other person is secretly mad that I bothered them. Again, this could just be me dealing with my own issues, but from the other moms and women with chronic illnesses I've talked to, it doesn't seem like I'm the only one. So, here are five reasons why it's not only OK to complain, but it may just be the best thing you could do for yourself.

5. It Puts Your Pain into Words

So often, when I'm having a health issue or beyond exhausted, pain just becomes a part of this unspoken routine. Even before I had a child, I still couldn't just take a day off whenever I was in pain or sick. If that was the case, I would have been home more days than I worked. So, you learn to just "deal." But I did eventually get to my breaking point, as we all do. So I complained. And it was awesome! I got to put into words exactly what I was feeling which did two things: 1) it helped me articulate just how debilitating my health issues can be, emotionally and physically; and 2) it gave everyone around me a better picture of what I was going through and how to help. Contrary to popular belief, glaring at someone does not actually tell them what's wrong.

4. Better Out Than In!

That saying has stuck around for a reason. It really is better to let it out than to keep it all in. When you keep things in -- health issues, relationship problems, anger, sadness, etc. -- it can become toxic. And what's even scarier is, if you hold on to the problem long enough, it becomes a part of you. One day, I caught myself in the mirror and realized I looked miserable. Not sad, not unhappy, not even angry, just plain miserable. I was holding in all this frustration that it was physically manifesting on my face, and it wasn't cute. So I wrote down a list of all the things that were causing me stress or pain. Then I showed it to my husband when he got home. The conversation that followed wasn't exactly cute, either, but I caught myself smiling for no reason the next day :)

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3. Perspective

Not all the things I put on that list were really stress-worthy. Sure, some issues on the list were serious (like finances and health), but some were downright silly. I wrote "all out of Baked Lays." It's funny now, but at the time I'm sure it was a very legitimate thing to be stressed out about in my life. But reading it on that list not only let me see how small and easily fixable some of my problems were, but it also showed me (and my partner) that if you let things build up, it only takes one little thing to push it over the tipping point. That saying "the straw that broke the camel's back" definitely fits here. And not to worry, I finally got my Baked Lays and all was right in the world again.

2. Healthy Alternative

I'm not suggesting everyone who bottles up their issues immediately becomes destructive, but I have seen firsthand the negative consequences that can come of it. One of the most important things I should point out first, is that this can happen to women and men. I've seen both mothers and fathers who never complain, yet they are visibly unhappy and some are even resentful or bitter. I've also seen pain eat away at someone until they're just a shell of who they used to be. Partly because of what I had seen, I knew it was important to me, my partner, and my son that I never let myself become overwhelmed under the weight of chronic illness and motherhood. So if a little venting from time to time prevents you from a life of resentment or unhappiness, then I say it's worth it.

1. Forming Bonds Stronger than Denture Cream

Believe it or not, giving myself permission to complain didn't help just me. It was like a magic wand had been waved! Out of nowhere, all these friends and mothers were released from their guilt-ridden spell of silence. Suddenly I was getting texts and calls and Facebook comments and messages from both friends I'd known forever and people I'd just met saying things like, "Oh my God! I thought I was the only one!" or "Finally, someone is talking about it!" I began to forge new friendships and strengthen existing ones by simply "complaining" on social media about how real the struggle of balancing motherhood with chronic illness can be. So if you haven't already, be the first person to break the "Guilt and Silence Spell" and enjoy the deep sense of camaraderie that you will find among friends new and old.

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Remembering John Fairchild

Notables from the fashion and publishing worlds celebrated him at a memorial.

Hey Fat Girl: Why Are You So Confident?

How does someone as fat as you have so much confidence? Where do you get your great self-esteem?

Why wouldn't I be confident? I am a good person.Why is it so shocking to see a fat, confident person? I contribute to the greater good. I love my friends and family. My friends and family love me. I have a good job. I pay my bills. What else does a fat person have to do to "deserve" to have great confidence or great self-esteem?

I have gotten this question a lot in my lifetime. I have been fat since the third grade (well, according to the BMI chart anyway) and I am 47 now. So that is a lot of years in a fat body. I've had lots of time to become comfortable with taking up a lot more space than other women in my social circles. And, now I own a plus-size lingerie boutique and the topic of confidence and self-esteem in a fat body comes up at our boutique pretty much seven days a week. Every single day, without fail, this topic comes up. "Chrystal, how can I become confident in my fat body? What is the trick?"

When women who shop at my boutique or the women who are a part of my Curvy Girl Facebook community ask me this question, I find it very sweet in a way. I know they do not mean it in a disrespectful way. They mean it more in the "Where can I find some of that confidence?" kind of way. I relate to their struggles to fit in. I mean, we do get that "thin is beautiful" message crammed into our brains daily. And, thin is beautiful. But so is fat, old, young, athletic, fluffy, varying mobilities and abilities, thick, tall and short! We're all beautiful and we all deserve to feel beautiful.

So this does beg the question: Where do we get our self-esteem? How does a fat woman get to be so confident? Where did I get my own self-esteem? I have been asking myself and my community that very question a lot recently.

Personally, I feel like my family and the way I was brought up gave me a good base. Unconditional love can do that for a person. I was blessed to have family who did not shame me because of my body. I had a few random, far-removed family members say some mean things to me, when I was prepubescent, that stuck with me my whole life, but my immediate family (the people I give a sh*t about) always made me feel so smart, loved and beautiful. They did it through their words and their actions. So, I got off to a great start by having very loving and supportive parents and aunties, uncle and siblings.

This is going to sound trite, but stick with me. When I was a kid I was a voracious reader. Any magazine, book, newsletter that crossed my path I read. I read a ridiculous article in Cosmopolitan once about how women should find one thing about their body that they liked and focus on that. (It was next to an article about how to measure if your boobs are droopy by trying to hold a pencil underneath them. You have to love Cosmo in the '80s. I was 14.) But, internally, I started that discipline when I was about 14. I would focus on things like "wow, I have really cute toes." Yes, at 14. "I love how my skin gets so tan in the sun." "My green eyes are really pretty," I would repeat to myself.

Then, when my inner mean girl would occasionally rear her ugly head, I would remember these other things. I think I even made a list in my diary at some point. I got focused on the positive so I could tune out the a-holes in high school and so I could tune out the magazine covers and the commercials on t.v. that perpetuated the myth that we all have to be the same size. Size zero.

I talked with some of my fat friends in my community and asked them what helped them to have great self-esteem. I also polled my Curvy Girl Facebook community and asked them where they find their self-esteem.

Jen McLellan, founder of PlusSizeBirth.org and Plus Size Mommy Memoirs on Facebook shared with me that for her it started with her drama class in high school.

From drama class to years of being a camp counselor, I've always been outgoing. While I enjoyed taking center stage I never felt completely confident about my body. That was until, at the age of 30, I became pregnant with my son. As my belly began to grow, so did my love for my body.

The real transformation took place during 16 hours of natural childbirth. For the first time in my life I had to completely trust and believe in my body. I gave birth on my knees and had never felt so powerful in my entire life. My high level of self esteem comes from the knowledge that my fat body is truly magnificent. I only wish I wouldn't have waited 30 years to realize that.

Jen makes a beautiful point. Our bodies are small miracles and they are capable of so much pleasure and so many amazing things can happen with our bodies, even when we are fat.

My friend Saucye West is an aspiring plus-size model and she calls herself an "extended size" model. That means she is a size 26/28. Saucye is fierce and confident. I asked her where she finds her confidence to get on the catwalk and show off the fashions she is modeling.

As young girls we learn what is beautiful and sexy by the women in our families. They play a great role in how our ideals of beauty are shaped. All I knew was glamor. But with that came emphasis on size. After battling that at a young age I found that I really didn't have a problem with my body; it was everyone else that did! So from that moment (age 14) I vowed never to let anyone dictate how I was suppose to love myself. My confidence came from within. As a model I have to be convinced and love myself honestly in order for that to read in pictures. Being a plus model drives me to help other women find that unconditional love within themselves. It's there! You just have to start becoming blind to societal norms and create your own standard of beauty.

Everyone deserves to feel beautiful and to be able to value their own bodies whether they are a size two or a size 32. Knowing your value and your own worth does not need to correlate in any way with the number on the scale. We all are worthy of love and most importantly, loving ourselves.

I want to end with this comment from my friend Rachel Estapa of MoreToLove.com.

I've learned that confidence is contagious -- when I do something I'm happy about in my life, I make a point to recognize it for myself and then share it. Confidence is taking tiny steps in the direction of where you want to go. It builds and the little things I do get bigger, and more people feel my excitement and then find it easier to go for what they want. And then one day, you look around and realize you've got a whole bunch of great things you see in yourself and great people around who support you too.

If you're still struggling to find your own self-worth, be sure to surround yourself with positive people that lift you up. Get rid of the people who say little rude comments or who share their diet tips when you didn't ask for them. If you have toxic family members who say snarky things, it's time to cut way back on the amount of time you spend with them. You can even divorce family members if you have to. And, the one cool thing you can do right away is to remove any kind of negative crap from your social media feeds. Follow other body positive and sex positive people and cut out that other stuff that focuses on diets and get skinny quick pills and surgeries. Do what makes you feel good with the people that make you feel good. You can be 100lbs or 500lbs and have confidence bubbling out of you -- if you can just turn off that inner mean voice and tune out the shamers and haters.

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The Great Pen Name Debate: Women Authors in Fantasy

The name on my birth certificate pre-determined my future. With a name like Sally Slater, I could either be a news anchor, an actress, or an author. So when a friend asked me the other day if I'd ever considered writing under an androgynous or male pen name, like J.K. Rowling or Rob Thurman, I laughed.

"My name is awesome," I told her. (It is. Thanks, parents.) "Why would I ever do that?"

But there's a reason so many women authors have chosen to hide their genders. Though it's improved in recent years, the publishing world has long been dominated by men, and even in 2014 there is still evidence of sexism. Taking a look at how well women are represented in major literary review publications, women comprise only 33 percent of reviews in The New Yorker and 42 percent of the New York Times Book Review.

What really drives the publishing industry is selling books --- and at the end of the day the industry still thinks authors will sell more if they are (or at least are perceived as) a man. To be fair, publishers and marketers aren't basing this on pure speculation -- studies show that men are more likely to read books written by other men, whereas women will read books by either gender.

But I'm a woman, who wrote a book about a woman. And I'll be damned if I put a man's name on the cover.

In the fantasy genre -- the genre that I write -- the most famous names in this day and age are probably J.R.R. Tolkein, George R.R. Martin, and J.K. Rowling. Only J.K. Rowling is a woman, and her protagonist is a male.

Fantasy has been a tough nut to crack for the female author -- at least when it comes to appealing across gender lines. Stephanie Meyer of Twilight fame has been incredibly successful, but her fan base is primarily young women. Just browse through the Goodreads page for The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and you'll be hard-pressed to find a 3-star-plus review from a male. However, male authors that write stories with female protagonists as their leads -- like Brandon Sanderson or Garth Nix -- have had broad popularity.

Does that mean women fantasy authors just can't write books that appeal to boys and men? Or that we're doing something to "turn off" male readers? And if they aren't buying our books, what are they missing out on?

My personal philosophy on writing fiction is that the number one purpose of a story is to entertain. I don't care if a story has symbolism or political intention or pretty words -- if it fails to move the reader, it fails, period. And I'd like to believe that entertaining stories -- whether the author is a man or a woman -- will eventually find a broad audience.

But because I am a woman, I have a perspective on how female characters should be portrayed in fiction. That shapes the way I write my stories and build my characters. To be clear, not every female author shares that same perspective, but those differences in viewpoint are critical to providing readers of all genders a diverse portrayal of women. Women authors give real, authentic voices to female characters, even in fantastical settings.

That doesn't mean to say men can't or shouldn't write from a female point of view. I'm all in favor of more fantasy stories with female protagonists, preferably kicking butt. Some of my favorite characters in fantasy -- Lyra Belacqua of His Dark Materials and Lucy Pevensie of The Chronicles of Narnia -- were created by men. But the stories that inspired me, that made me think women could do or become anything, were written by women -- authors like Anne McCaffrey, Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley. I don't believe that's pure coincidence.

Women authors -- particularly those in fantasy -- are limited by the misperception that our novels boil down to stories about romance. It's an old-fashioned line of thinking, but what other agency could our female protagonist have beyond finding her prince and living happily ever after? Many "hardcore" fantasy fans think that without a long white beard, we're incapable of legitimate world building. And ugh, romance -- never mind that King Arthur had his Guinevere (and let's not forget about the adultery with Lancelot) and Rand al' Thor had his Elayne... and Min... and Aviendha.

But I'm a woman who likes to have her cake and eat it, too, and that's how I write my characters. Women can be strong and powerful, yet still vulnerable. They can be passionate about their dreams -- whether that means climbing the career ladder or slaying an evil demon -- while still wanting to find love and companionship.

I wonder, sometimes, if Harry Potter would have been as popular if Harry had been Harriet. We have no way of knowing, but if I had to hazard a guess, Harriet Potter and The Philosopher's Stone still would have been a blockbuster.

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Weighing in on Your Daughters and Scales

Dear Parents of Teenage Daughters,

I have been meaning to write this letter to you for some time. I am sorry that I have been horribly negligent. I have been working with teen girls for over three decades and I want to make sure that you are aware of the problematic relationship many of them have with the scales in your homes. Yes, I understand why you have scales in your homes. You want to make sure that everyone is staying healthy and managing their weight well. That makes sense. There is, however, a down side to having scales so readily available to your tween and teen daughters. In my experience, many of the tween and teen girls are using the scales and their body weight as a measure of something far greater than their body weight. They report equating their body weight with how good they are as a person and how they are functioning as a young woman. Let me put this another way: They may get on the scale feeling perfectly good and get off feeling dreadful if there has been any movement in an upward direction.

And, we all know that two pounds here or there should not be the measure of a woman and her self-esteem, right? Your daughters can assess how they feel by how comfortable they are in their clothing in their own skin and by what their body can do rather than simply on how much they weigh. It is time to evaluate how frequently your daughters are turning to scales for the measure of their worth.

My suggestions are to:

1. Remove the scale if your daughters are on it several times per week or even several times per day. Your girls are more than the sum of the weight of their body parts.

2. Take a look at your own relationship with the scale. What are you modeling for your kids? Are you on the scale frequently and making constant references to your weight? If so, then please for the sake of your entire family, re-evaluate this behavior.

3. If you have an impossible time separating your daughter and her self-esteem from the scale, than perhaps it is time to visit the pediatrician and maybe even a good therapist.

AND

4. Focus on all aspects of your daughter's well-being including her creativity, behavior as a friend, intelligence, athleticism and how well she takes care of all aspects of her being.

Remember that the scale can be your daughter's worst enemy. It may also be the enemy of both fathers and mothers and even your sons. I have focused on teen girls here because they are the ones who most frequently present with issues relating to where the scale needle points. I guess that my wish is that you and your kids can point your compass in a different direction and one that does not focus on social comparisons of body weight. I wish you good luck and I would love to hear about your experiences.

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What It Really Means to Have a Toddler

For those of you who are on the verge of having a toddler, get ready, because life is going to get very interesting. You may be excited right now about your little showing signs of walking and talking, but trust me, the mother of very lively toddler, you'll quickly miss having a quiet little happy baby who can't outrun you while screaming, NOOOOOOOOOOO!

While you may get "lucky," for most of us, having a toddler means...

Sticky fingers on every surface of the house, including all doorknobs and windows.

Having pee-covered pants laying in the middle of the hallway with a streaking toddler runny far and fast away from them.

Stepping on at least one toy a day... or four.

Hearing, 'MOMMY!' four million and one times a day. Usually grouped in lots of 50.

The backseat of your car has more unknown things growing than a university laboratory.

You cannot take your eyes off them for a second... Or they end up in the ball cage at Target.

Finding two socks that match is impossible, since the last time they were worn, one was removed in the backyard, the other in the kitchen.

Getting out of your house on time, with the toddler and everything you need, is harder than winning the lottery.

You know the words to your toddler's favorite books by heart, which is a good thing, since a few of the pages are destroyed.

You know why your mother didn't let you have sugar or caffeinated beverages until you were away at college.

You are TERRIFIED of silence.

You considered selling your soul to have the word "no" wiped out of your toddler's vocabulary.

You can set-up a train track or tea party like a BOSS.

Not one crayon in your house has the tip or label on it.

Your mind is blown daily by the audacity of a three-foot human. (I've considered buying a wheelbarrel for my toddler's balls.)

You do more laundry and dishes in a week than you did in six months pre-child.

You've been roundhouse kicked out of your own bed by a "sleeping" toddler.

NOTHING grosses you out anymore. Nothing.

You know every character on every Sprout TV show, and have spent hours pondering if Nina really does the sand art on "The Goodnight Show."

You've learned the hard way not to cut a toddler's food without explicit instructions first.

Every day, you have to face the fact that you gave birth to a little evil genius that never ceases to amaze you.

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This Infographic Proves Why We Need To Stop Believing Myths Related To Vaccinations

It's getting more and more difficult to justify the decision not to vaccinate a child.

In recognition of World Immunization Week from April 24-30, 2015, UNICEF created an infographic to point out how crucial vaccinations are in preventing diseases like polio, tetanus and measles.

Not only do they save lives, they save the world economy lots of money.

Every year, vaccines prevent about 2.5 million deaths, according to the organization, and -- if vaccines were given to every child in the 72 poorest countries -- roughly $6.2 billion would be saved throughout the next decade in treatment costs.

But a wide range of factors still prevent far too many children from accessing immunizations, according to Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

“Vaccines have been critical in reducing childhood deaths over the years," she said in a statement provided to The Huffington Post. "Still, today, one in five children worldwide is not being immunized because they’re living in a conflict zone, or extreme poverty, or because of misinformation and mistrust. Much more needs to be done to ensure that every child receives the life-saving vaccines he or she needs for a healthy life.”

In the U.S., myths related to vaccine safety can confuse parents trying to make the best decisions for their family, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

A recent measles outbreak in California -- which officially ended earlier this month, according to state officials -- can be linked to low immunization rates in certain schools, The Los Angeles Times reported. State epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez told the outlet the vaccination rate in some schools is below 50 percent -- a figure that's lower than in some developing countries, UNICEF noted in the infographic.

When Melinda Gates sat down with HuffPost Live in January, the philanthropist -- who has championed vaccination access in low-income nations -- told the outlet the perception of immunizations has been skewed in the U.S.

“We take vaccines so for granted in the United States,” she said. “[Women in the developing world] will walk 10 kilometers in the heat with their child and line up to get a vaccine because they have seen death. We’ve forgotten what measles deaths look like. We’ve forgotten ... the scourges they used to be. But in Africa, the women know death in their children and they want their children to survive."

Scroll below to learn more about the role immunizations play in saving lives and money around the world.


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Forget Divorce. Staying In A Bad Marriage Is The ‘True Tragedy’

"This Is Divorce At..." is a HuffPost Divorce series delving into divorce at every stage of life. Want to share your experience of divorcing at a certain age? Email us at divorce@huffingtonpost.com or tweet @HuffPost Divorce.

Marylou V. Raymat knows firsthand that getting a divorce is about as far as it gets from taking the easy way out.

"In fact, I'd say the divorce process is the emotional equivalent of scaling the highest mountain in the world. It's that hard," the 37-year-old mom of two told The Huffington Post.

Below, Raymat shares why she went forward with divorce after 17 years of marriage and what she tells those who worry about how the split will impact her kids.

“What about the kids?” I heard it again and again post-split. At the time, my two boys were at the tender ages of four and one. This was the typical, irking first question most people incredulously asked once I had told them I was filing for divorce. I, like most divorcés, never imagined I’d ever have to field this question. When I committed, I committed for life. “I don’t believe in divorce,” I’d stubbornly say to myself. I was naively oblivious to the experience of divorce. After all, my parents had been married for two decades and so had my husband's.

In my mind, there were only two ways out of a marriage: death or adultery. As time went on, however, I sadly realized I was not immune from either. My soul was dying, slowly, subtly in my dysfunctional marriage. He had betrayed me with his work addiction and his emotional absence from our lives. I struggled with the notion of divorce because I equated it with giving up. Then one day, I finally realized there's a big difference between giving up and letting go. I was holding onto something that no longer existed, except in my head.

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(Photo courtesy of Marylou Raymat)

I wasn’t seeking perfection but I was seeking happiness. My reality at that point was far from that. The unspoken tensions and constant conflicts had become the norm in our home yet I knew it wasn’t normal. I wanted my children to know relationships could be different but they would never have learned that if I had stayed. In fact, they were learning the wrong things about life and love.

Deciding whether to stay or leave was the most difficult choice I've ever made. I was in my 30s, everything appeared great on the surface. My husband and I had two healthy and gorgeous children, a beautiful home, financial comfort and a relationship we had invested 17 years into. In some ways, it would’ve been easier to stay and just go through the motions. In my heart, however, I knew that staying in an unhappy marriage was a tragic choice for everyone. I knew my young kids would grapple with the blows of divorce more easily at such a young age than if I waited until they were older.

After much reflection, I realized that staying in an unhappy marriage was the true tragedy. As difficult as it was, divorce created an opportunity for my family: an opportunity to teach my children the right things about life and love and relationships. And so I filed, not despite my children but because of my children.

I think of life like swinging from a trapeze: you can only grab the next bar if you let go of the last one. And so I, like a brave trapeze artist, let it go. For my kids, for me, and even for him. Although I don’t know what might come next, I do know that whatever it is, I’ll be just fine -- maybe even better than fine. And to those who delicately question the well-being of my children because of my choice, I say the same thing: They’ll be just fine….maybe even better than fine. I've learned that life gets better by change, not by chance.



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What’s It Like?

I saw her smile at me with that big old belly and I could tell she had 200 questions. Thumbing through Baby's First Year, she paused occasionally to study certain sections.

We both stood in the "Parenting" section of Barnes and Noble seeking answers. She with her pregnant belly and me with my grouchy toddler. I smiled back at her and returned my book to the shelf.

"So, what's it like?" she asked.

I had wondered that same question not so long ago. When my belly and heart were stretched to the brink with life and potential.

But in that moment, when she asked, we weren't at our best. Nugget had an ear infection. He was hungry and had skipped his morning nap. The Orajel wasn't helping too much.

What is it like? I tried to dodge the question.

"Huh? You mean...?"

"Being a mom." She closed her book and set it back on the shelf, looking at me expectantly.

Surely, she isn't looking to ME for that answer.

Me, with the frazzled hair. With the wrinkled sweatshirt and baggy-butt jeans. With a kid wearing mismatched socks and oh, no, is that cheese in his hair?

But she stood there waiting for a response. And my mind raced away from me.

What's it like!?

It's like... sore breasts and crusty eyes and not enough coffee in the world to clear the fog from your brain.

It's like the first night home alone. Those sleepless hours that you didn't think you'd make it through. But then the sun comes up, and you realize you did. And a tiny seed of confidence is planted.

It's like the first boo-boo and you can't believe how much you panicked over one drop of blood.

It's like a terror inside of you that harm could befall them. And the warrior who would destroy anyone who tried.

It's like the longest day ever and you can't wait for the kids to be in bed. But then they melt in your arms, asleep in the rocking chair... and you just can't put them down.

It's little feet and little meals and huge messes.

It's like dreams of college and careers and weddings that you pray to be a part of... and the untold sacrifices you will happily make to secure those futures.

It's too many feelings and not enough words.

Suddently, my heart was full. "You know," I said, "It's like nothing you can imagine or even prepare for. But you'll be ready."

It wasn't the best answer I had to give. But as she left, I hoped it was enough.

All I knew is that she didn't need a warning. She didn't want my story. What she needed was the assurance that she was ready. And I could tell by the joy on her face and the way she nervously clutched her stack of Parenting How-Tos that she was.

She 100% was.

This post originally appeared on Mom Babble. Follow Mom Babble on Facebook for updates.

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John Wayne, Muhammad Ali and Marty

Growing up, my tough-guy WWII vet dad -- who was perpetually digging under the hood of his Ford pickup, or hammering away at some home improvement -- was anything but a cuddly guy.

He had true grit like John Wayne and seemed as powerful as Mohammed Ali.

To me, at 7 years old, Marty was a man to reckon with.

My Yiddish mama, who force-fed us third helpings of dinner and clutched her children to her breast every time we got a bruise, was the doting hen. Dad was the disciplinarian.

At least it gave him a chance to talk.

You see, my father never got in more then a few words when Mom was alive. She chattered away his airtime. When he did speak, he mostly spoke in grunts, or what I call "Marty Talk."

"MMMM," meant he wanted more of whatever he was eating, which he almost always did.

"Shaaaaap," was his abbreviation for SHUT UP!, which later on dwindled down to "shaaaaa!"

"Shut up or I'll crack you one!" eroded to "Shaa orrrr!"

It astounds me that a softer man with the ability to speak entire sentences, sometimes two or three, has emerged in Dad's twilight years.

He is 88 years old and lights up like the 4th of July when I visit.

"There's my beautiful daughter who never forgets me!" he announces.

Granted, a lot of that joy revolves around the fact that I bring him his favorite treats when I visit: kosher hot dogs with sauerkraut and mustard, Chinese vegetable egg rolls with that sweet red sauce dip he loves, dairy-free apple turnovers from the kosher bakery and the piece de resistance, dairy-free ice cream for my ice-cream-loving, lactose-intolerant dad. "Thank you, Tofutti!"

Old friends can't believe how attentive I have become to my father in the last few years, the first years of his life that he let down his guard and invited me in.

"How can you be so nice to him, when he was anything but to you?" they ask.

I can only say that every time I make him laugh, it's like going back in time and giving a high five to the runaway teen I was.

The gift of these last few years with Dad are what a pal of mine calls "the long goodbye."

Oh, it's not all sunshine and butterflies with Dad. He is an old, cranky, demanding geezer. I accompanied him on a bus trip with some of his fellow residents from assisted living to see a photography exhibition of photos taken just after super storms like Hurricane Sandy, for which I had a first row seat.

Five minutes into the documentary that was captivating his neighbors and me (Hey, Brad Pitt was in it for his work rebuilding homes after Katrina), Marty yelled, "I'm bored with this! Get me out of here!"

Sigh.

"Dad. We're in a group, be patient."

"Borrreowwww!" Marty Talk for "bored and outta here, now!"

But I find that between Marty Talk and downing kosher hot dogs without chewing (by the way, yech), I am learning from him.

"Do you have any regrets?" I asked him recently.

"Yeah. I wish I had traveled more. Now I'm too old."

I thought of all the times my girlfriend asked if we could go to Italy. There never seemed to be a right time to get away. There was always some obligation that felt more time sensitive.

That night, I said, "Honey, we need to plan that trip!"

We went, and it was fabulous. Thanks, Dad. I just needed a little push.

Recently, Dad's beloved Timex broke and went missing.

It didn't take much -- $39.95 at Target -- and I was able to present to him that exact watch he missed so sorely. For five fantastic minutes, Dad was awestruck by me.

Then, of course, he started demanding egg rolls, but you know, those five minutes were sublime.

I think of J.K. Simmons' Oscar speech for Whiplash when he said, "Call your mom, call your dad. If you're lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call 'em. Don't text."

Thank you, J.K. I hope people listened.

If a former runaway teen with decades of anger and distance and thousands of miles between her and her father could find her way back to a lonely old man in a wheelchair finally ready to talk to anyone who wants to listen, anyone can bridge the gap.

Don't hold a grudge. Call your parents. Life is so short.

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Noteworthy Looks From the Tribeca Film Festival

Fashionable stars like Dianna Agron and Rebecca Hall appeared at events throughout the festival.

‘You Don’t Look Like a Mom’

Many times a week, mostly at work, I get the comment, "You don't look like a mom!!!"

There are different variations:

"You look like you're in high school!"

"You've got THREE BOYS!?!?!?!???"

"But you always look so together!"

"But you look so nice!???"

While I choose to take these comments as compliments, they make me wonder... What is it that a mom looks like, exactly?

Is she frazzled and haggard with bags the size of Texas under her eyes? Is she rushed and stressed, with spit-up running down her yoga pants and breast milk oozing through her hole-y T-shirt? Is she running around like a chicken with her head cut off, or dragging her exhausted body around like yesterday's trash?

What is it that a mom really looks like?

Is she disheveled and worn, with babies wrapped all over her body like little leeches? Is she un-showered and smelly, with dirt in her fingernails and boogers crusted in her hair? Is the only makeup on her face caked-on face paint from last week's crafts project?

What does a mom look like to the world?

Now, let me be the first to tell you that in my stay-at-home mom days and on the weekends, I precisely match that familiar image of what a mom looks like. And there are so many reasons why that's OK.

Come Friday night at 6 p.m., I'm rocking the mom look all weekend long, baby! The blouse is traded for a comfy T-shirt, the slacks are swapped for my old faithful yoga pants and the heels are tossed away for... wait for it... CROCS! Or tennis shoes. It depends on if I'm adding in a layer of sweat from a workout or not.

But by 4:30 a.m. Monday morning, I've got no choice but to bust out my real human being clothes. I have to shower and wash the grease from my hair. I have to find something to wear that doesn't have marks of motherhood all over it, though I wear them proudly. I have to put the Crocs away and get out my big girl shoes.

And I like it.

It's kind of cool to be forced into taking care of myself for the benefit of those who have to smell me.

I do take pride in the way I dress and present myself. Always have... mom or not. But sometimes, these "You don't look like a mom" statements throw me for a loop.

Some of the comments I get come with an expression of complimentary shock, awe and wonder, while others are dripping in an almost palpable disdain. I once had a woman look me up and down like Regina George and say, "Well, I know I didn't look like that when I had young kids! You look so put together!"

While it tried to be a compliment, it wasn't. It was a cutting, back-handed mommy war comment dressed in lace.

I pretended not to notice her expression and disgusted, mean-mom-soaked tone. I smiled at her and said, "Well, thank you, but trust me, I don't always look together and it's really just a ruse. I'm a mess under these clothes." I tried to level the playing field we apparently stood on, unbeknownst to me, and remind her that despite my real clothes, I'm still just a messy mom like everyone else.

But it's kind of sad, isn't it? This need to defend ourselves for looking decent, or not screaming to the world, "I'm a mom!" with our haphazard appearances and diaper-bag-laden bodies.

The thing is, the answer to all of those questions is a resounding Yes! Moms do look like that! Often! And for good reason!

But believe it or not, moms can also look like human beings. They can squeeze in a shower every now and then, change their yoga pants to dress pants and slap on a little lipstick over last night's spaghetti sauce before they dash into work or the PTA meeting. And trust me -- or don't -- moms can even look kinda sexy sometimes!

Here's the other thing: Moms are so much more than what they look like whatever day you happen to see them. And our babies couldn't care less!

Now, my boys do prefer my hair down rather than up, but that's just because they're quirky! And they pay attention to the fact that I do look a little better when I've showered and done my hair than when I'm running on day four of dry shampoo and yesterday's deodorant.

But I'm a mom no matter what I'm wearing, and it's a title I will proudly scream to the world -- whether in yoga pants or my business attire and a smile.

I'm a mom. And it's OK with me if I look like one. I'm also happy to know I can occasionally pull off not "looking like a mom," whatever that really means, while I'm in the public sphere.

But here's what I propose: How about we celebrate each other. How about we put down our swords of insecurity and our misguided views of what we are supposed to look like, and we flaunt our momness to the world.

How about when we see the struggling mom in the grocery store with flailing, tantrum-ing children, an overflowing grocery cart and thinning resolve, we support her. How about when we see a woman who clearly takes care of herself AND is also a mom, we say, "Well done!"

How about when we look like a mom and our badges of motherhood are all blazing through, we throw up our hands and say, "I'm a dang superhero!" How about when we look good, and dare I say sexy, we don't apologize for it?

Let's join our sticky, motherhood-soaked hands together and remember that we are all just trying our best. Giving our best. Looking our best -- whatever that is at each moment. We need each other, and all our babies need is us!

I do look like a mom. And so do you. And it's a beautiful thing!

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Noteworthy Looks From the Tribeca Film Festival

Fashionable stars like Dianna Agron and Rebecca Hall appeared at events throughout the festival.

Finding Worldly Wisdom in Cautionary Cliches

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

It has almost been a year now since my husband had a major back operation. I'll be frank -- it sucked. The weeks that followed, filled with more pain than my husband had ever experienced and more stress than I had ever handled, seemed to be an all-expense-paid trip to Hell that we never planned to take in our 30s. But it didn't kill us. As it turned out, it only made us stronger.

With each passing year, I become more aware that simple clichés -- the ones I never really paused to ponder before -- exist because of their timeless truth. And if you embrace and reflect on the words you once considered trite, you will be amazed at the guidance and hope they can offer.

When a door closes, a window opens.

I credit God -- you can credit the Universe or whatever is your bag. The bottom line is, "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end" (thank you, Semisonic.) Disregard that the immediate view from the proverbial window may not be what you think you want. Simply know that you can't possibly discern the full vision until you have safely evacuated that burning building.

We lived a comfortable life, in a house I adored, in a city I had dreamed of calling home since I was four years old. We had wonderful friends, and I had a job that the little girl I once was would have freaked to know she nabbed. However, it was a solid two-salary life we had built around a rat-race industry, and returning to his fast-paced profession wasn't going to be in the best interest for my husband's recovery for a long while. Holding the door to that life open for his return may have been was possible, but at what cost -- literally and figuratively? When you feel the heat, stop staring at the closed door, find your window and jump.

They grow up so fast.

Our Plan B took us to the other side of the country and a world away from the life we had known. In the year it took us to return to relative normalcy, I looked up and our daughters' baby faces had disappeared into chiseled cheeks and Peppa Pig no longer fully consumed our DVR. This journey our little family took timed succinctly with one chapter in their lives ending and a new one beginning.

I thought I had grasped it before, but it took a whirlwind year to fully realize the truth -- they really do grow up so fast.

What new moments will I capture if I "stop and smell the roses"? What priorities will you rearrange when you realize that "you can't take it with you"? What decision will I make differently knowing "what goes around comes around"? What will you gain when you embrace the notion that "you get out what you put in"? What comfort will I find believing that "every cloud has a silver lining"? What disappointment will you avoid when you "don't put all of your eggs in one basket"? What contentment will we all discover when we trust that "home is where the heart is"?

There was much that could have been gained if I had thought earlier about these cautionary clichés or marinated in the wisdom that can be found in age-old sayings. But I won't "cry over spilled milk" because you know what they say ... "hindsight is 20/20."

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Zosia Mamet Displays Her Dramatic Range In ‘Bleeding Heart’

Zosia Mamet is best known as the neurotic, speed-talking Shoshanna Shapiro on HBO's "Girls," as well as for her roles in "Parenthood" and "Mad Men." But the actress took some time away from the small screen to star alongside Jessica Biel in a new indie drama that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

"Bleeding Heart," from writer-director Diane Bell, follows May (Biel), a centered yoga instructor who's been searching for her biological sister. When May finally finds Shiva (Mamet), the two sisters have an immediate connection, despite the fact that they live drastically different lives: Shiva is a sex worker trapped in a violent relationship with boyfriend Cody (Joe Anderson) while May's romantic life is peaceful and spiritual.

Mamet sat down with The Huffington Post during the festival to discuss playing Shiva, one of her most impressive dramatic roles to date, and filming a disturbing rape scene in the film.

Shiva is really different from any of the characters you’ve played. She’s surrounded by so much darkness. What was the challenge in that for you?
With a character, I always find the biggest challenge is to make them real and keep them grounded. I think the whole superficial qualities that exist in her, like the fact that she’s a prostitute and that she’s abused by her boyfriend, it could be very easy to make her essentially like a soap opera character, someone who’s hiding her sadness. But I thought the most exciting thing about her, and what Diane [Bell] really wrote and tried to bring out, was how dynamic she is. She’s actually a super smart and interesting lady. That was really what I wanted to portray the most.

zosia mamet

How did you avoid playing into stereotypes with her?
A lot of it was in the writing, and a lot of it too was playing around with Jessie [Biel] and keeping Shiva quirky. We really found this kind of funny, quite childlike individual. I think all of those aspects combined really made her a little bit lighter.

Did you do any research to understand the life of a sex worker?
Not particularly. I feel like what was written on the surface was enough to play that. It’s very obvious that [Cody's] very abusive. It’s obvious what [Shiva] does for a living. I felt like what was more important was making her a colorful creature. The fact that she was a sex worker was just sort of circumstantial.

Your character also has a pretty intense rape scene in the film.
Yeah. It was tense. That was a really late night. It was a complicated scene in terms of the shots Diane wanted, figuring out how to get Jessie’s POV right. It was sort of a tedious thing to begin with and we were in this tiny apartment with our entire crew, no air conditioning. Everyone is sweating balls. It was sort of thrown in last minute that [Cody] would try and rape [Shiva] with a gun. So it was intense. But the great thing about moments like that on the set was that everyone was just so professional and couldn’t have been more accommodating and gentle. But yeah, it was heavy. I think Diane really wanted something like that to show the stakes, to show why it’s pretty much life or death for May to get this girl out of there.

Did you do anything to get out of that headspace and relax when you were off set?
At that point, you’re so tired you just want to go home and sleep it off. But I think it’s important especially when you’re shooting nights and you feel distant from the regular world, you just have to try and shake it off. Like yoga and running really helped me.

bleeding heart

Did you do yoga with Jessica Biel?
We did yoga a little bit when we were there together. But my best friend lives in L.A. [and] when we weren't shooting, we’d go hiking or we’d see a stupid movie.

And you also work with Harry Hamlin in this movie.
It was pretty wild. He was only there for a day, and he played [his character] so well that I was totally freaked out by him. He was such a sweet human, but I was like, "You’re so creepy!" But he was great.

It’s funny too since his “Mad Men” character, Jim Cutler, arrived on [the show] right after yours left.
That’s so funny.

Where do you imagine Joyce [Ramsay] is now within the show?
God, I don’t know. I did a little interview for that recently, they were asking a bunch of guest stars. I was like, "I don’t know, I guess she’d probably join the Peace Corps or something." With Joyce, you just never know. She’d probably be like, doing acid in a foreign country.

And “Girls” Season 4 left off with Shosh planning to move to Japan. What can we expect next season?
Yes. All I can say is more wild and crazy times will be had by all. I think it’s going to be fun.

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Every Father’s Daughter

"Foreword" from Every Father's Daughter: 24 Writers Remember Their Fathers by Margaret McMullan

After a prolonged illness, my father died on a chilly spring day when the lilacs had just started to bloom. In that last month of his life, when he could no longer talk, we learned to communicate in other ways. I cooked for him, fed him, clipped his nails. He thanked me by putting his hand on my head. What there was to say, we had already said. In those last days, I read essays, poems and stories to him. I read other people's words. What I read to my father and what I wanted to read after he died became the genesis of this anthology.

My father was born the eldest son of four in 1934 in Lake, Mississippi and raised in Newton, Mississippi. He broke his nose playing high school football and went on to attend the University of Mississippi in Oxford. As an undergraduate, my father once had drinks with William Faulkner at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. They were both waiting to catch a train that would take them back to Oxford. They got to talking about horse trading. Learned either from people or books my father knew about empathy. He never made fun of people. His narratives about people were underlined with dignity, grace, honor, and humor. I like to think that my father learned about character from the master that night at the Peabody. I often told him if he hadn't gone into finance, he'd have been a writer.

About a year after he graduated from college, he broke up with a girl from the Mississippi Delta, and, to recover, he visited his sister in Washington, D.C. She threw a party, served a vodka punch and my father met an exotic Ingrid Bergman beauty named Madeleine. That night, after the party, my father told his sister, that woman, Madeleine, was the woman he wanted to marry. Three days later, my father proposed marriage in a car he borrowed from Senator James Eastland, staring at Eastland's cigar stubbed out in the car's ashtray as he did so. He spoke no more than he needed to. When I think of my father in the time before he became my father, he seems marvelously determined and ready to get the hell started with his life. My father always appreciated a straightforward narrative.

It took a certain amount of imagination and courage to marry my mother, Madeleine, a woman who had escaped the Nazis in Vienna, Austria, and who worked for the C.I.A. in Washington. She was nothing like any woman he had ever known. She became the love of his life; he hers, and they stayed married for the next 54 years. Once, a man who knew my parents told me, when he heard the way my mother say my father's name -- Shimmy for Jimmy -- he knew how difficult it would be to find a woman who would say his own name in that in-love way.

After my sister and I were born, and after a short period selling farm equipment at his father's International Harvester tractor store in Newton, my father joined Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith in Jackson, Mississippi as an account executive in 1961.

One evening, my parents attended an outdoor Joan Baez concert in Jackson. It was about 1964 and my father loved Baez, and that night he laughed when he saw her stick her tongue out at Look and Life magazine photographers. People parked in a big, open field and afterwards, a young man from out of state couldn't start his station wagon. My father offered a jump-start. The two spoke briefly. Where was he headed? my father asked. Meridian. My father told the young man he grew up near there. The station wagon started and the two went their separate ways. Later, my father recognized both the station wagon and the young man in the newspapers. The young man my father recognized was Michael Schwerner, one of the Civil Rights workers murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The FBI found the burned-out station wagon before they found the bodies.

There were other factors beside the nightmarish racial conflicts that led my father away from Mississippi, a place he loved more than any other place. His decision to leave wasn't easy. But in the end, my father was ready to get us away from the violence, the hate, the confines, restrictions, and, some would say, advantages of growing up in a state amongst all his extended family.

My father survived and even thrived away from the south, in Chicago, despite the snowstorms and the impossible Dow-Jones industrial average of the 1970's. He found his footing in that perilous place, nicknamed The Windy City, the city where Binx felt "genie-souls perched on his shoulder" in Walker Percy's novel The Moviegoer. Maybe my father found his own genie-soul there, somewhere within Chicago's muscular skyline and market fluctuations.

In the 1980's, I moved from Chicago to New York to write the entertainment pages for Glamour magazine. One February, my father called to say he was coming to town on business, and I told him to pack his tux. I had special tickets to a CBS Records party. The invitation they sent was printed on a white glove. This was 1984.

Our cab let us out on the street because the road was blocked off to the Museum of Natural History. Behind police barricades, crowds of people stood outside in the sub-zero weather. My father put on the white glove with the invitation printed on the palm. When he held up his gloved hand, the police allowed us through, and the sea of people parted. Once inside, my father shook hands with Michael Jackson and Brooke Shields, who stood together inside a dinosaur skeleton. We were all there to celebrate the historic success of the album "Thriller." Years later, whenever my father told friends about that evening, what he stressed more than anything was how the NYPD let us through because of that one white glove. He laughed and said he never felt more powerful.

I knew my father in many ways -- in the south and in the north, through the stories he told me, the places we visited, the food we ate, and through the music we listened to -- anything by Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Emmy Lou Harris, and George Jones, way before they became hip. But I knew my father best when we talked about books. When we talked about a book, any book, he talked easily and about anything. When we talked about a book, we always talked about important things.

My father read more than any other non-writer I've known. His favorite authors were William Faulkner, William Shakespeare, James Lee Burke, Eudora Welty, and John Updike. He also loved Alice Munro, Gore Vidal, Henry Miller, Patti Smith, Bruce Chatwin, among countless others. Because I loved my father and because he introduced me to most of these authors and because they really are great writers, my father's favorite authors became mine; my favorite authors became his. Reading and talking about what we were reading was a way my father and I had of staying close, even when we weren't living nearby. Eventually, probably because of my father's love for the written word and talking about literature, I quit my job at Glamour to become a writer and a teacher.

My father and I became literary groupies together. We often attended The Oxford Conference for the Book in Oxford, Mississippi, where he had the opportunity to meet writers he admired, among them Lee Smith and Bliss Broyard. They were two of the first writers to respond to this project with such enthusiasm so that we could include their wonderful essays in these pages. One night after dinner at the conference, we were outside on the square, and my father got to telling a story about how Barry Hannah's uncle Snow Hannah shot Red Alexander during a card game in Forest, Mississippi. "Shot him," my father said. "But didn't shoot him dead. That took a while." One of the writers there, Mark Richard, turned to me and said, "Have you used this yet?"

Most of the young adult novels I wrote set in Mississippi (How I Found the Strong, When I Crossed No-Bob and Sources of Light) had everything to do with my father's stories and both of our growing-up years in the south. In so many ways, his memories became my memories.

When my father was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer in June of 2010, he told me he didn't want a lot of weeping and wailing. "Let's just take this as it comes," he said. "Let's not get all emotional. When I was 45 and I had my first heart bypass, I asked myself Why me? Well, now, I'm 75. Why NOT me?"

We were careful with words. We didn't use the C word. It was "mass" or "images" and sometimes "spots." We stayed positive. We thought of the next meal. We considered dessert. We talked about what we would read next.

"My balance is off." That was his only complaint and it was hardly a complaint; just a statement of fact. He even said it like, so what? I'm not 100%, but so what? For him the days were always "beautiful." I always looked great. My food tasted wonderful. People were so nice. What should we read today?

When he fell the third time, and he said in his bed at the hospital, "This room sucks the memory out of me," that was when he made the decision to go home and spend the rest of his time surrounded by family, camellias, good food, music, and the literature he loved.

His particular illness is known to change people. Patients can become mean, angry, even violent. But my father retained his calm, his graciousness, his dignified, gentlemanly manner friends still recall. He thanked every nurse, caregiver, and visitor. He said he hoped he wasn't a bother when I helped him walk. When he could no longer walk, he apologized to my husband, who lifted him into his wheelchair. As debilitating as his illness was, my father never disconnected with who he was, who he had been, and the stories that shaped him.

When my father began to forget, I stopped beginning sentences with, Remember when... He often spent a morning sitting up in bed, hand on chin, two fingers on his lips, thinking. Great literature helped my father make sense of his life and his feelings in a way that nothing else could. In this way, I think that my father was a very realized man. He lived his life and he considered it too.

During his last few weeks, my father and I both spoke less and less. Having little use for our own words, we found comfort and solace in the words of others. As he lay dying, all the talk of symptoms, ability and inability, therapists, caregivers, insurance, and healthcare gave way to other, preferable narratives as we read and read and read. I read out loud from all the authors he loved, until his last breath, letting the words and sentences hover in the room for as long as they would stay, like so many invited friends come to say goodbye.

After my father died, I couldn't read or write, perhaps because, in the end, my father was unable to read or write. I didn't know it then, but I was looking for a collection of intensely personal essays, written by great women writers telling me about their fathers and how they came to know their fathers, a collection which might help me make some kind of sense of my own very close relationship with my father. I wanted to know from women, replacement sisters, if they had similar relationships with their fathers as I had with mine. Or, if their relationships were altogether different, I wanted to know how exactly these relationships were different. I wanted to know if the fact that my father was southern had anything to do with anything. I suppose, more than anything, I just wanted to know that I wasn't alone in my love, my loss, my loneliness.

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Jada Pinkett Smith Explains Why She Is ‘Confused And Anxious’ About Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Bid

Earlier this month Hillary Clinton ended years of speculation by launching her second presidential bid. And while some were excited to hear Clinton’s announcement, Jada Pinkett Smith is a bit apprehensive about her 2016 aspirations.

The actress and philanthropist recently penned an open Facebook letter titled, “Race vs Gender,” in which she admitted to being more “confused and anxious” about a Clinton candidacy than excited due to “old hurts and scars” stemming from race relations.

In the past, I have been criticized for suggesting that black women extend our media platforms to white women in the way in which white women are making strides to extend their media platforms to us, but Hillary’s announcement reminded me that the relationship between black and white women on the political platform has been deeply complicated, disappointing and painful. The only question I have been asking myself is if I’m suppose to vote for Hillary because she is a woman; will she take us to the mountaintop with her or will women of color once again be left out and left behind?

The “Gotham” star went on to mention how black women were previously excluded from the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and how she has been personally affected by the feminist movement.

“I personally suffered the racism and classism of the feminist movement and now have had to watch my daughter battle even ageism as she journeys to participate in the feminist movement,” she added. “But she continues to fight the good fight referring to herself as a feminist while her mother refers to herself as a womanist who supports feminism and feminists.”

Can Hillary, whether she becomes President or not, heal the broken political ties of the women of this nation? I know it takes far more than the idea of being the first female President of the United States to run this country, but as a woman, it sure is an exciting idea. Women of color and white women have been taking on the majority of their fights on the political platform on separate lines; can Hillary Clinton change that legacy through her journey to become president?

Since posting on April 18, Pinkett Smith’s open letter has gotten over 53,600 likes from readers, including actress Zoe Saldana. Despite Pinkett Smith's thoughts, a number of black celebrities have shown their support for Clinton:

I feel @HillaryClinton will be a great President for the American people and she will make sure that everyone has a voice!

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 12, 2015

Hillary.

— Uzo Aduba (@UzoAduba) April 12, 2015

You betta work, @HillaryClinton!

— RuPaul's Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) April 12, 2015

Read more of Jada Pinkett Smith’s letter here.


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Women Who Sit Too Much May Have Higher Risk Of Breast And Endometrial Cancer

Trans Model Geena Rocero: We Need To Stop Looking At Bruce Jenner ‘From The Conversation Of This Victim Mentality’

Geena Rocero is eager for the conversation surrounding Bruce Jenner to evolve past a lamentation of the 65 years the former Olympian spent hiding his gender and into a celebration of the promising future he now has as an out and proud transgender woman.

"We have to move on from the conversation of this victim mentality," the trans model and activist told HuffPost Live on Monday. "We need to start from this conversation of healing and thriving."

Rocero, who publicly came out as trans while delivering a TED talk in 2014, affirmed that the process of declaring her true identity was a "healing moment," and she argues the same was likely true for Jenner.

"I freed myself," she said. "The moment you completely show your true authentic self, your world has changed. We all have our own little version of truth, so the more we live in our truth, it's a much healthier world."

Watch more from Geena Rocero's conversation with HuffPost Live here.

Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live’s morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

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Kansas She-roes

A famous line in the movie The Wizard of Oz has Dorothy saying to her dog, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." Recently, I was in Kansas and that got me thinking about women from the Sunflower State. As with every other state, there are women with ties to Kansas who made significant contributions throughout American history. Match the following women with her accomplishment:

____ 1. In 1932, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

____ 2. The first African-American to win an Academy Award for her performance as Mammy in the 1939 movie Gone with the Wind. Due to her race, she was not able to attend the premiere of the movie when it opened in Atlanta.

____ 3. The first black poet to win the Pulitzer Prize.

____ 4. The first American woman to earn a dental degree when she graduated from the Ohio College of Dentistry in 1866.

A. Lucy Hobbs Taylor
B. Gwendolyn Brooks
C. Amelia Earhart
D. Hattie McDaniel

The first American woman to graduate with a degree in dentistry, Lucy Hobbs Taylor was a school teacher before she went to dental school. Denied admission to two dental schools to which she applied, because of her gender, she initially opened a dental practice in Iowa after serving an apprenticeship with a degreed male dentist. After moving to Iowa in 1862, she reapplied and was accepted at the Ohio College of Dentistry - whose ideas about the suitability of dentistry as a profession for women had changed. She received her doctorate in dentistry in 1866. After marrying (and teaching her husband dentistry), the couple moved to Lawrence, Kansas where they created one of the most successful dentistry practices in the state. Today, the most prestigious award from the American Association of Women Dentists is the Lucy Hobbs Taylor Award, named in her honor.

Born in Topeka, Kansas, Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize in poetry (1950). The first black woman to serve as the poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, Brooks was also named the poet laureate for the state of Illinois. Her first poem was published when she was thirteen, and her work was frequently published by the time she was seventeen. Her work has political awareness and is said to have bridged the work of academic poets from her generation with the more militant black poets in 1960s. Brooks has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Born in Atchison, Kansas, Amelia Earhart had an unsettled childhood that led to her desire to become independent and not have anyone "take care" of her. The sixteenth women to be issued a pilot's license, Earhart decided to become a pilot during a 1920 plane ride in an air show. She worked odd jobs to pay for the flying lessons and earned her license in 1923. In 1928, she was the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean - but as a passenger in a plane. That steeled her determination to pilot it herself. In 1932, she successfully piloted solo across the Atlantic Ocean, the first woman to do so. Later, she was the first person to fly solo across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Earhart has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Oscar for her portrayal of Mammy in the classic 1939 movie Gone with the Wind. One of the first African-American women on radio, McDaniel began performing professionally when she was still in high school. In 1925, she became the first African-American woman to sing on the radio. Work in radio and musicals followed and she was cast as Mammy. In a sign of the racial tension of the time, none of the black actors from Gone with the Wind could attend the premiere of the movie in Atlanta. Posthumously recognized for her prodigious talent, McDaniel has received many honors and been inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women.
All of these she-roes with ties to Kansas are profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. We applaud their accomplishments and are proud to stand on their shoulders.

(answers: 1-C, 2-D, 3-B, 4-A)

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For Women, a Less Tragic Path to Power

Can you guess the historic milestones that these women have in common: Margaret Chase Smith of Maine; Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming; Isabel de Peron of Argentina; Catherine the First of Russia; and Wu Zetian of China?

Each of them managed to break through history's infamous glass ceiling.

Chase Smith became the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress with a career that began in 1940. Tayloe Ross became the first woman governor when she was elected in 1924. Peron was the first female president of Argentina in 1974. Catherine the First and Wu Zetian were the first women to rule as empresses of Russia and of China, respectively.

These women's service were separated by great oceans and centuries of time. But they all have another thing in common: they achieved their firsts by filling the seats, offices or thrones of their dead or dying husbands.

That common scenario has been a recurring theme throughout United States and world history. Thirty-eight widows have won their husband's seats in the United States House of Representatives. Eight did the same in the Senate.

"Widow succession" is by no means a unique phenomenon to the United States. Before becoming Guyana's first woman president, Janet Jagan had a long and noteworthy career in shaping Guyana's politics. She served as first lady and as Guyana's first woman prime minister, courageously championing non-white liberation in a society deeply rooted in white supremacy. But it was only after her husband -- Guyana's president -- died in 1997 that she was elected to that country's highest office. In 1998, Jagan was awarded UNESCO's prestigious Mahatma Gandhi Gold Medal for Women's Rights.

Sri Lanka's Shirimavo Bandaranaike filled her husband's position as prime minister when he was assassinated in 1959. Ridiculed by political opponents as the "weeping widow" for showing emotion when she spoke about her husband's death, no one could deny she too was tough on the big banks or that she had long-lasting impact on Sri Lanka's politics and government. Even Empress Catherine stayed true to her humble origins by cutting taxes on the peasants, an enlightened act in imperial Russia of the early 18th century.

These women were not alone in proving widows can be far more than placeholders for their deceased husbands. Today, my own Congresswoman Doris Matsui succeeded her late husband to represent Sacramento and is distinguishing herself as a champion of progressive tax reform, of Medicare and Medicaid, and of protecting all Americans from discrimination.

What's the lesson of "widow succession" leadership? It's not that widows can't make good leaders. To the contrary, many of these women were accomplished and beloved by their constituents and country people.

The lesson is that women can make good and great leaders, whether or not they are widowed, whether they are married to presidents or not married at all.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of such women who are winning more and more in their own right and disproving the "widow succession" rule. They are mayors, senators, governors, and secretaries of state. Abroad there is a growing list of women heads of state whose spouses we have never heard of. Angela Merkel's husband's name, anyone?

I hope America too has matured to the point where women can ascend to our highest office on their own merits, and certainly without having to do so in the wake of tragic loss. The names Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Elizabeth Warren and Carly Fiorina are names that we hear over and over.

I hope we are capable of evaluating a highly qualified woman candidate for president in her own right, and in the case of Hillary Clinton, independent of the good health and longevity we all wish for her husband and our former president.

Zingale was the first male to serve on the California Commission on the Status of Women.

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#WomenRunTheWorld

On Sunday, April 19, the sun spilled over the cracked clouds like yolk as 7,403 women scurried into their corrals for the annual MORE/FITNESS/SHAPE Women's Half Marathon. The energy and strong sense of community became apparent within seconds of stepping into Central Park at dawn. A pack of women from the TODAY show stood arm in arm sporting matching orange tank tops that read, "Run for TODAY." A mother and daughter giggled as they posed for a selfie while standing in line for the restroom. Another woman smiled, politely explaining the race bib protocol to me as we counted down the minutes until 8 a.m.

As I waited in my designated corral, I paced back and forth with my headphones tucked into my ears and my "Power to the She" playlist on shuffle. Every time self-doubt began to fog my head, I replaced it with empowering thoughts about strength and perseverance. "You can do anything 13 times" I reassured myself, channeling wisdom from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I recalled the pep talk I wrote in my journal the night before as well as one of my favorite quotes by Henry Ford: "The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can't are both right."

I would be lying to say I didn't doubt myself every day I trained over the past 12 weeks. I wasn't a runner. Sure, I was pretty fast at court-length sprints during high school basketball practice and I would run on the treadmill at the gym to stay in shape but the thought of running long distances -- repeating the same motion for hours at a time -- seemed tedious and grueling.

Two nights before a race I signed up for last year, I thought it would be a good idea to run a 10K on the treadmill immediately after eating dinner and found myself with my head bent over the toilet 6.2 miles later. I pulled out of the race at the 5K mark because I feared that I couldn't run 6.2 miles in what I deemed a respectable amount of time. I was disappointed in my readiness to throw in the towel as soon as I felt challenged and unprepared. What I had was an attitude problem and if I wanted to condition myself to run long distances, I needed an attitude makeover.

"I didn't know you were into running," my grandpa said over the phone as I recovered on the couch a few hours after the race. "I didn't either," I replied, laughing. Others expressed similar surprise that the "gym girl" had now turned into a runner and asked what inspired me to sign up for a half marathon. I never quite found an answer that I was satisfied with until now. So, what inspired me to run? Fear. Fear inspired me to run. I could no longer bare the feeling of regret that lingered over my head after I had given up during the 10K last year and, perhaps even more so, I was afraid that I was falling too comfortably into the arms of routine after having settled into my new life in Manhattan. Three months ago I found running, and on April 19 I finally outran fear.

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OpenMinded Helps Users Find Open, Polyamorous Or Non-Monogamous Relationships

If you're interested in open relationships, polyamory or swinging, a new website could be a valuable resource for your romantic endeavors.

OpenMinded is a new website that helps users connect with other individuals who are looking for relationships outside of a traditional, monogamous commitment to another person. Marketed as a website for "open relationships, swingers, polyamorous people, and everyone in between," OpenMinded is contributing to a larger conversation surrounding the sustainability of monogamous relationships among both queer and heterosexual couples alike.

"We invite everyone to join," a representative of OpenMinded told The Huffington Post. "We have a lot of features on the site to encourage LGBTQ folks to join. There are many different gender options, and we are working to get questionnaires that will help match LGBTQ users with others and those interested in them."

A press release for the site emphasized that OpenMinded is not for finding hook-up partners and it isn't intended to help cheaters. “There are sites and groups that encourage cheating and infidelity, and this is not one of them,” says Wade in the press release. “OpenMinded.com is like anti-cheating, creating an online arena fueled by honesty and acceptance, which is the foundation of open relationships.”

Interested users can join OpenMinded as either an individual or couple and navigate the members already signed up for the service.

Curious? Head over to the OpenMinded website to learn more.

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New Instagram Filters Are Here! So Are Emojis In Hashtags!

Instagram released three new filter options for iOS and Android on Monday. Even more exciting is that the photo editing and sharing app will now support emojis in hashtags. Huge news.

The changes are happening on Monday, according to Instagram's blog post. You'll just need to update your Instagram app.

Until now, you couldn't even press an emoji key while searching hashtags on Instagram. This change lets you create emoji hashtags and search for them. It's magical. Here's what it looks like:

instagram hashtag emojis


You still can't use emojis in hashtags on Facebook or Twitter. (Get it together, other social media sites! Emojis are the future.)

The new filters are called Lark, Reyes and Juno. Here's what they look like:

instagram hashtag emojis

As time goes on and Instagram's other features allow you to edit your photos more intensely with brightness, contrast, tone, saturation and more, filters seems less and less important. Still, Instagram plans to keep rolling out new ones "more regularly going forward," per the company blog post.

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Motherlode Blog: Want to Talk With Your Children About Bruce Jenner? Consider Letting Them Talk to You.

Our children may be less surprised or disturbed by Bruce Jenner than we are.

Why It’s OK to Let Go of Someone You Once Loved

Originally published on Unwritten

"But it's all you have ever wanted." The words that echo around our heads while we anxiously debate a decision that has the power to change everything. Maybe it was what you always wanted, or maybe it's what you thought you did; those are two very different things.

I fell head over heels in love with someone, or at least the closest thing to it, at the age of 16. It was one of those silly, messy, unreachable, long distance crushes that should have ended after we gave it a go and he broke my heart all those years ago. But, we never quite put it to bed.

Sometimes when you meet someone that special, they are a lot harder to let go of than you'd think. Even after all of the tears and heartache they caused you, weeks turned into years of not talking to each other, but you still find your way back to one another. That unbreakable connection surely means what you had was so special; it was just timing and the other trivial life factors that were getting in your way; that's why it didn't work out.

So what happens when after five years, you try and rekindle a flame as old as this one -- one with so much history and so many tears shed? In your head, you think you are still those same two people that fell for each other all those years ago.

You can imagine my confusion when we met up recently -- five years since we first met and one year since we last saw each other -- and the fact that those feelings that I expected simply didn't come flooding back. All I felt was a faint nostalgia for what we once had, and a deep sadness that for the first time, I'd realized it was gone. I could see my 16-year-old self-bouncing up and down, like 'go girl, you got the guy!' as I was in the process of fulfilling everything she had ever wished for, but the 20-year-old me wasn't so sure.

But why? I had convinced myself for years that he was it, that what we had was everything I wanted, but it wasn't. Sure, it was when I was 16, but since then I realized it had become a safety blanket. Sometimes we can let the fear of never finding something so special again stop us from moving on and trying, instead relying on what we have always known.

It's OK to question what you want in life. You may think you have it all mapped out and have an exact image in your head of that one person you want or even your dream career, but remember it's OK to change your mind.

When he asked me to essentially drop everything to commit to something that I realized I wasn't ready for, I realized that he still saw me as that 16-year-old girl who was so very smitten, naïve and would do anything he asked.

One of the hardest things in life is accepting that you have changed. The rug is pulled from beneath your feet when you suddenly realize that something must have changed since everything you thought you ever wanted is being offered on a plate, and there you are, turning it down.

You have grown, you have changed and you have the rest of your life ahead of you. You have no time to settle back into the bad habits that your 16-year-old self hadn't quite grown out of yet.

Sure it's sad to let something so special go, but how can we move on to bigger and better things if we are still clutching on to our past? After all, you can't start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.

Never ever apologize for realizing what you want, or perhaps what you don't want. That person can, and will always hold a special place in your heart, but as a memory from the past, not part of your future. No one can expect you to be the same person you were several years ago -- life is about growing, progressing and developing, not waiting around for that one person to finally tell you that they're ready. Sometimes that ship has sailed, and one day you'll look back and be thankful that you weren't on it.

Originally published on Unwritten by Georgia Farquharson.

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14 Years After Andrea Yates Killed Her Children, Her Ex-Husband Is ‘Hopeful’ For Her Release

Fourteen years ago, mother of five Andrea Yates drowned each of her children in the family bathtub before calmly calling husband, Rusty, and the police to confess her crime. Andrea, who suffered from postpartum psychosis, was initially convicted of capital murder but was later found not guilty by reason of insanity in a second trial. She was committed to a mental hospital, where she has now been for more than eight years. Though she and Rusty have since divorced, he supports his ex-wife and strongly believes she should someday be a free woman.

In speaking with Oprah on "Oprah: Where Are They Now?", Rusty explains how he has forgiven Andrea for taking their children's lives and why he believes she is not a danger to society.

"As long as she's taking anti-psychotic medicine, she's no danger to anyone," he says.

Andrea's age -- she's 50 -- should also be one of several factors in her release, Rusty adds, noting that she's "past child-bearing years." He also cites a long period of stability inside the hospital, a strong support system outside the hospital and a rise in public awareness of "what she's dealt with [and] what's happened to her mentally" as being other critical factors of Andrea's potential release.

"I'm hopeful," Rusty says. "Maybe in three to five years, maybe she'd have a chance of release."

In his own healing process, Rusty has been able to lean on his strong support system to cope with his grief and the complexity of emotions he's had since Andrea's first trial, when she was originally sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of capital murder. Andrea, however, doesn't have the same type of supportive circle.

"She has a handful of friends, but she doesn't have a whole host of people ready to receive her," he says. "In fact, I think she's pretty concerned about ever being released... worried about how she'd be received publicly."

Rusty speculates that this concern may make Andrea wary of being released, whether that were to happen sooner or later.

"It makes me kind of wonder [if] she may not pursue her freedom as aggressively as she might otherwise," he says.

"Oprah: Where Are They Now?" airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.

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Vacation Hot Spots To Explore, From Didi Gluck (VIDEO)

Summer is almost here and what a better way to prepare than to get your new getaway destination from Didi Gluck, Deputy Editor of MORE Magazine. During our interview for Mondays with Marlo, Didi suggested trying somewhere new: Berlin. She says it's a family-friendly destination with plenty of lush greenery to explore. I also added my own favorite summer vacation hot spots as well, so watch the video for more travel tips and don't forget to submit your questions on Facebook and Twitter to be featured on Mondays with Marlo!


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Didi Gluck’s Picks For Best Summertime Nail Colors (VIDEO)

Spring is here and with summer right around the corner, Didi Gluck, Deputy Editor of MORE Magazine, stopped by Mondays with Marlo to discuss the best colors that pair well the season. Didi suggests bright hues in shades of purple and yellow, on par with spring flowers like lilac or daffodil. For more of Didi's tips on health and beauty, watch our entire interview and don't forget to submit your questions on Facebook and Twitter to be featured on Mondays with Marlo!


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An Easy, Painless Beauty Regiment, From Didi Gluck (VIDEO)

When MORE Magazine's Deputy Editor Didi Gluck stopped by Mondays with Marlo, she was given a compliment by viewer Brooke, who asked how Didi stays looking flawless and what her own personal beauty regiment consists of. Didi's secret is simple and one that everyone can follow: cleanse your face twice a day, moisturize in the evening, and don't forget to remove your makeup, especially your eye makeup, before sleeping. For more of Didi's tips on health and beauty, watch our entire interview and don't forget to submit your questions on Facebook and Twitter to be featured on Mondays with Marlo!

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Didi Gluck’s Evening Eye Tips (VIDEO)

Didi Gluck, Deputy Editor of MORE Magazine, stopped by Mondays with Marlo with a simple eye tip to liven up your evening look. Colored mascara is in, according to Didi. First, apply your regular choice of mascara, but to make your eyes really stand out, Didi suggests adding hint of colored mascara to the tips of your lashes, leading a colorful, fun look for a night out. For more of Didi's tips on health and beauty, watch our entire interview and don't forget to submit your questions on Facebook and Twitter to be featured on Mondays with Marlo!

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How To Keep Makeup Lasting Longer, With Didi Gluck (VIDEO)

Didi Gluck, Deputy Editor of MORE Magazine, stopped by Mondays with Marlo with some great tips on how to keep your makeup lasting longer. Didi suggests a makeup artists' best kept secret: working in layers. Always outline your lips, but also fill in with a pencil before layering over lipstick and gloss to get the most out of your products. For more of Didi's tips on health and beauty, watch our entire interview and don't forget to submit your questions on Facebook and Twitter to be featured on Mondays with Marlo!


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Didi Gluck’s Tips On What To Eat To Improve Your Skin (VIDEO)

MORE Magazine's Deputy Editor Didi Gluck stopped by Mondays with Marlo to give us her tips on what to eat to improve your skin. Didi stressed an eight glass water regiment is not enough, but does help. Eating fresh is best and according to Didi, one should avoid foods that are high in sugar content, such as processed foods and sweet treats. For more of Didi's tips on health and beauty, watch our entire interview and don't forget to submit your questions on Facebook and Twitter to be featured on Mondays with Marlo!

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How To Organize And Find Peace, With Didi Gluck (VIDEO)

MORE Magazine's Deputy Editor Didi Gluck stopped by Mondays with Marlo to give us her expertise insight on how to stay organized during a hectic schedule. Her most important tip is to breathe, go through your list task-by-task, and of course, start with the biggest tasks first to eliminate lingering stress. For more of Didi's tips on health and beauty, watch our entire interview and don't forget to submit your questions on Facebook and Twitter to be featured on Mondays with Marlo!

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Easy Work Makeup Looks, From Didi Gluck (VIDEO)

Finding a quick, easy makeup look for the office doesn't have to be a pain, and that is why MORE Magazine's Deputy Editor Didi Gluck suggest keeping it simple. Using a bright colored lipstick, like a plum shade that Didi suggests, will dress up your office look and give it a little "pop" without having to put in too much effort. Watch the video above for more tips and don't forget to submit your questions to Mondays with Marlo for our future guests!

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9 Reasons Getting Dressed In Spring Is Kinda The Worst

Spring symbolizes a hopeful new beginning that's filled with warm weather, lighter clothing and flowers. But in reality, it's also pretty much the worst when it comes to looking and feeling fly.

The prospect of wearing fewer layers is exciting, but between humidity, fluctuating temperatures, rain and the dreaded "s" word (shaving), getting dressed often feels more stressful than anything else.

Here are nine reasons spring style, well, stinks.

1. You have to start caring about what your toes look like again.

christmas animated GIF

2. Not to mention your legs.

third-rock-from-the-sun-sally-solomon-kristen-jonston-legs-smooth

UGH.

3. Two words: Frizzy. Hair.



Nothing like some good old humidity, right? Check out some awesome anti-frizz products here.

4. Somehow your shoes need to be broken in again.

shoes animated GIF

No matter how long you've had those adorable flats, you're guaranteed to start every season covered in blisters.

5. Wearing makeup is nearly impossible.

single tear animated GIF

Pouring rain = runny makeup. Find the best melt-proof makeup here.

6. Temperatures change drastically by the hour.

snow animated GIF

"I swear it was warm enough for a dress when I left the house this morning."

7. You need a little bit of everything.

clothes animated GIF

One day you're in a denim jacket, the next day you're back in a down coat.

8. Your hair and makeup never work together.



That brisk spring day and your lip gloss are basically worst enemies.

9. And forget about that trendy haircut you've been contemplating.



Spring laughs in the name of bangs.

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Women Who Received The HPV Vaccine May Need Another Shot

Mom Stoops to Conquer

People are my greatest asset. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by people who genuinely love and trust me. My family overwhelmed me with love. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was loved by my mother, father, and grandparents. My mom is a nurturer. She seeks the best in people and serves others, sometimes to her own detriment. I always thought that my mother was not a strong woman. Only now I realize that her strength was exercised in her service to others. My dad and I could be ambitious and aggressive because she was the strength of stability.

I sent an email to my nieces and nephews. No one exists because of his own accomplishments. We all stand on the shoulders of someone that paved the path. In paving the way for a better tomorrow, they likely gave up comforts or personal benefits. As you honor your mother, you need to also honor the woman that enabled your mom to pursue her dreams -- Granny.

Granny sacrificed so her daughter could have opportunities she never had as a young woman. Granny never asked for anything in return. She may be worrisome at times, but if that is all we have to put up with after all she's done, I think we can bear it. Your mother could not be the woman she is without Granny. I could not be the woman I am without the foundation of love, family, and discipline that Granny laid. This Mother's Day, do not overlook the one person who sacrificed all so that your mother and aunts could provide you a loving and supportive family. Let her know you are grateful. It is not the size of the gift. It is the thought. Do not wait until she is gone to talk about how good she is.

"Who can find a good woman? Her husband has full confidence in her. She provides for her family. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not partake of idleness."

I am thankful for grandmothers that loved and indulged this middle child with the special attention I needed to blossom. They are no longer with me, but their love is ever present in my heart. I tell friends, that I am 95-97 percent my dad, the rest of me (good stuff) is my mom. To my mom, the 3% of me that represents you makes the rest of me whole. You are the still voice that reminds me to love and serve others. You have taught me that there is strength in meekness. I love you.

To every woman that has poured affection and nurtured the heart of a child or attended to the cries and wounds of his soul, regardless of whether you birth one: Happy Mother's Day!

This originally appeared on Ronda's blog, Ronda-isms: Good Bad Ugly.

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19 Essays For Your 30s

2015-04-09-1428620687-9600847-EssaysForYour30s.jpg 2015-04-09-1428620724-4925799-Jenn.jpg
2015-04-09-1428620783-6756067-TableOfContents.jpg


Chapter One

Spousal Chewing: A Survivor's Guide

Chapter Two

How To Live Tweet Your Nexplanon Removal Without Passing Out

Chapter Three

"I Accidentally Liked A Picture Of My Ex On Facebook From Seven Years Ago And Want To Die": Troubleshooting Your Social Media Disasters (A Manual)

Chapter Four

Your Friend's Baby: Perfecting The Art Of The Smile And Nod

Chapter Five

Pasta For Four! or How To Make Enough Pasta Without Making All The Pasta

Chapter Six

Childbirth, Postpartum Poo And Sex After Vaginal Massacre: A Love Story

Chapter Seven

Morning Face: Why It's Growing Worse And How To Disable Your Forward-Facing Camera

Chapter Eight

"I Think I Have A Hemorrhoid" (And Other Literal Dirty Talk In Marriage)

Chapter Nine

Pinning Things I Can't Afford: A Delusional Therapy We Are OK With

Chapter Ten

Excessive Vacuuming And Other Ways To Drown Out Children

Chapter Eleven

Ten DIY Excuses For Avoiding Whole 30, Essential Oils, Spin Class And Capsule Wardrobes.

Chapter Twelve

Young Adult Fiction: What To Read And What To Use For Kindling During An Actual Apocalypse

Chapter Thirteen

"I Substituted All The Ingredients And It Tasted Like Garbage. Zero Stars": A Simple Guide To Navigating The Comments Section Under Casserole Recipes

Chapter Fourteen

The Hot Dog Combo vs. The Slice Of Pizza At Costco: A Justification And Exhaustive Analysis

Chapter Fifteen

The Children Are Sleeping: How To Choose A Movie On Netflix In Less Than 12 Hours

Chapter Sixteen

Cleaning Before Unexpected Guests Without Murdering Your Spouse (A Handbook)

Chapter Seventeen

Baby You're A Firework! or How To Sing Katy Perry Songs Without Ruining Everyone Else's Day

Chapter Eighteen

Leggings As Pants: A Cultural Divide

Chapter Nineteen

Assuming Everything Is A Thinly-Veiled Act Of Aggression or "Enjoying The Holidays With Your Family" (A Self-Help Directory)

Epilogue

"You're Overthinking It" by Everyone's Grandma


***

This post was originally post on Kate Baer's blog. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Image by Candy Samuels.

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Tumblr ‘Of Sparrows’ Creates GIFs That Will Transport You To Another World

Can we please live in this woman's imagination forever?

An artist in Japan has drawn and brought to life a collection of warm, meditative scenes that perfectly complement the arrival of spring. The artist, who wishes to go by A. Sparrow, posts the art on her Tumblr page, Of Sparrows, after spending anywhere from 15 to 30 hours on a single GIF, she told The Huffington Post.

http://ofsparrows.tumblr.com/post/112752202697/it-never-works-with-the-roses-they-dont-like

"I started doodling in the margins of texts and forgot to stop and the doodles got bigger and bigger and now they’ve taken over my life and I don’t do anything but doodle," Sparrow told HuffPost in an email. "I’m waiting for the point at which they gain sentience and start complaining about how badly I am drawing them."

http://ofsparrows.tumblr.com/post/79523841045/happy-pi-e-day-dont-buy-your-pie-filling

Sparrow said she takes inspiration from everything around her, then gets to work meticulously drawing and animating her art.

"I do thumbnail sketches, then the background, followed by all the different bits of the drawing that need to be animated on separate layers," she told HuffPost.

http://ofsparrows.tumblr.com/post/112009929246/supersymmetry-for-loika-who-gave-me-a-rose

When asked how she's able to make her GIFs so fluid, Sparrow said it helps to have fewer frames.

"I’m more impressed at those Tumblr GIF blogs that manage to convert video footage into beautiful high-quality GIFs," she said. "That’s actual proper sorcery right there."

http://ofsparrows.tumblr.com/post/117475655888/never-underestimate-the-vocabulary-of-a-seabird

http://ofsparrows.tumblr.com/post/110126527212/its-a-bit-early-for-valentines-but-you-really

http://ofsparrows.tumblr.com/post/111526603419/breakfast-sorcery-the-only-superpower-i-want-to

http://ofsparrows.tumblr.com/post/79017003395/i-like-to-think-that-howl-and-calcifer-just-sat

Check out the full collection on the artist's Tumblr page.

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Mormon Activist Kate Kelly Says She Feels ‘Happier’ And ‘Invigorated’ After Excommunication

NEW YORK — Nearly a year removed from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly says she has found happiness living a more authentic life while continuing to push for equality in the Mormon faith.

Kelly, who was excommunicated in June 2014, now lives in Nairobi, Kenya, where she works on human-rights efforts. She was back here briefly on April 23 as part of an offshoot project of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City to explain how she was punished for speaking out for women’s rights in the LDS faith.

“The men who (excommunicated me) literally think they kicked me out of heaven,” Kelly said. “Luckily, I do not think that. … Out of this experience, I’ve realized that men don’t get to control my happiness. I’ve come out on the other end, (where) I think I’m much happier, much more authentic, a much more invigorated person.”

Still, on stage at the Gotham Comedy Club, a space usually filled by raucous laughter, Kelly broke down in tears talking about her ouster from the LDS faith and the repercussions for herself and her family.

“It’s like an execution, a spiritual death,” Kelly said of Mormon excommunication. “It’s very, very extreme.”

For their part, Kelly’s Mormon leaders have said the door always is open to her return.

“Excommunicants may later qualify for rebaptism after lengthy and full repentance,” according to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “and still later may apply for formal restoration of their original priesthood and temple blessings.”

Kelly led the effort to allow LDS women to enter the all-male priesthood, but she faced a church disciplinary council and was removed from the faith’s rolls in June. Top Mormon leaders declined to overturn that decision earlier this year, and Kelly’s husband, Neil Ransom, resigned from the Utah-based faith.

Kelly shared the stage here with MSNBC’s Abby Huntsman, who has also spoken out about her concerns with the LDS Church.

Huntsman, daughter of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, said that if all Mormon women were in the room for the discussion, she imagines plenty of them would feel the same but feared speaking out.

“It’s a balance and it’s tough, and that’s why I commend Kate for what she’s saying,” Huntsman said. “It’s not easy. … Kate has been an inspiration for me.”

Kelly said she still practices the LDS faith — “I don’t think Mormonism washes off,” she added — but added she no longer feels bound by some “arbitrary” church rules.

She pulled aside her yellow cardigan to show her sleeveless dress. Excommunicated Mormons are told to stop wearing LDS temple garments, which devout members wear.

One of her bigger worries, she told the small Manhattan crowd, was that her exit from the church would strike fear into the Ordain Women movement, hurting its chances at making any progress.

“I was afraid they would back down, afraid it would dissipate,” she said. “Much to my surprise and delight, the opposite has happened. It’s galvanized the movement.”

She said she knows of people who have lost their jobs and been disowned by their families for backing the equality effort for Mormon women. But, like any such push, she said, it’s worth it.

Kelly said her parents, who live in Provo, no longer can attend LDS temple services, have had their mailbox smashed and been shunned by fellow Mormons for supporting her.

“Whenever you get that kind of pushback,” she said, “you know you’re doing the right thing.”

Also On The Huffington Post

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At White House Correspondents’ Dinner, a Red Carpet Where Celebrities Are the Arm Candy

Instead of E!, viewers had to make do with C-Span and Bloomberg TV.

The Abercrombie & Fitch Makeover: A Review

The retailer, known for its images of frolicking, half-clad teenagers, has reformed its ways.

Seeking: A Bestie Who Loves Brunch, Netflix Binges and Going Down on Each Other

It can be lonely in Las Vegas -- so lonely, a single 23-year-old woman is looking for a new bestie on Craigslist.

"There are guys all over the place to have fun with," she laments in an anonymous post, "but I wish I had a friend to go shopping and to concerts with me or to get our nails done...someone I can talk to about my boy problems, maybe hear about hers."

Oh, and one more thing!

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On the Runway Blog: At White House Correspondents’ Dinner, A Red Carpet Where Celebrities Are the Arm Candy

Instead of E!, viewers had to make do with C-Span and Bloomberg TV.

4 Ways To Survive Your Darkest Days

He's been through the universal three D's -- death, divorce, disappointment -- and has found a path through. Here's what the author of Utmost Living has learned can help...

By Tim Storey

1. Recognize the season.

cope with disappointment

The Japanese poet, Kenji Miyazawa, wrote, "We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey." Unfortunately, many of us have had a lot of extra fuel for our journey. Disappointment, divorce and death are each gut-wrenching in their own way. But when you are feeling the sting of a setback, God is preparing you for your comeback. I promise, on the other side of that pain and grief you'll find yourself wiser and stronger.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 explains it best, "There are times and seasons for everything. Wherever life puts you, plow the ground, plant the seed, water the seed and wait for the harvest."

2. Look to your last hurdle.

hurdle

In Proverbs, it's written that, "unrelenting disappointment can leave you heartsick." Your heart is the center of your being; it's where joy, peace, generosity and faith reside. When you're continually disappointed, you risk not only becoming heartsick, but also bitter, angry and afraid.

Like many people, I went through a painful divorce. It left me feeling as if I were sleeping on a pile of ashes, like a house that had burned to the ground leaving nothing behind but remnants of something that once was so good. At the time, I was emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. Eventually, I realized that I had been through even more challenging experiences in my life and survived, and that I would overcome this experience, too. Remember that while you might not be able to change the circumstances, you can change your outlook about those circumstances.

3. Listen to the "first voice."

thinking woman water

Even in your darkest days, success leaves clues, and we find the answers we need are all around us. For evidence, look at other people's journeys.

A woman recently asked me for counsel. After 30 years of marriage, her husband had left her for another woman. Now, she's struggling to make peace with what happened. Sadly, many people face similar challenges. So the questions become, "What do you do after someone has left? How do you fill the void?" My advice was to get back to what I call the "first voice." This is the voice of innocence. When we were children, this voice spoke to us about our destiny. The woman started to cry; she admitted that she was always living for her husband and their relationship, but never really living for herself. A smile came to her face as she realized that her first voice was pointing her toward a life of her own making.

4. Dial in the right frequency.

friends

Who you surround yourself with during life's trials can make all the difference. Do your friends (and even family members) place blame and bring you down? Or do they help uplift you?

Back in college, I used to share my dreams with people who just didn't understand what it was to be a big dreamer. I remember hoping that they would finally get on the same frequency. After many exhausting conversations, I came to realize that you can't get an FM radio station on an AM dial. When you're going through challenges in life, make sure you have people in your life who have turned their test into a testimony. Your partners must be tuned into faith, hope and the knowledge that the best is yet to come.

Tim Storey is the author of Utmost Living.

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I’m Married To A Man. Does That Mean I’m Not Bisexual Anymore?

By Jen Simon

Once upon a time, I was a sexual being. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, sometimes like a million years ago, but there was a point in my life before I was married and before I was a mother when I was just me, a person.

And that person was bisexual.

I dated and slept with mostly men, but there was the occasional woman thrown into the mix. I wasn't in the middle of Kinsey's infamous scale, but since I was attracted to both men and women, I identified as bisexual.

I liked dating. I liked making out with people. I liked having sex. Sex was great. Sex was fun! But my days of dating and having sex (at least sex with anyone other than my husband) are behind me. I've been with my husband for about 10 years and we've been married for seven. It's been more than a decade since I've so much as flirted with a woman.

Does that mean my bisexuality has expired? And more so, is sexuality something you do or something you are?

I've always defined myself as a writer, even when I wasn't publishing my work. How long could I go without writing before I felt silly calling myself a writer? I went to art school, but haven't made anything more creative than the letter "A" crafted out of peas in many years. Am I still an artist? Would my husband still be a lawyer if he quit his job? Our labels help us define who we are. But at what point do labels become obsolete?

I was always afraid that becoming a parent would make me feel like a different person and unfortunately, the fear came true. When you become a parent, you give up lots of things: your time, your sleep, your ability to go to the bathroom by yourself -- but do you have to forfeit your sexuality? No, but it's really easy to do and it happened to me before I even realized it.

My body has radically changed since I became a parent. There are the physical changes (like my shrunken boobs and muffin top), but also internal and mental changes. My body chemistry changed during my first pregnancy. Medicines that used to work no longer do and drinking alcohol makes me sick now. More significantly, my anxiety blossomed and I spent over a year dealing with a debilitating case of postpartum depression. And let me tell you: When you're depressed, you don't feel like a normal human being, let alone a sexual one.

I'm (thankfully) no longer depressed, but being a stay-at-home mom to two young boys isn't conducive to feeling sexy.

I don't get enough sleep, exercise or showers. My priorities are elsewhere.

So, have I given up on my sexuality entirely? No; I still have sex with my husband. I suppose that act, by definition, makes me a sexual being. And it makes me at least heterosexual, right? I still find both men and women attractive. Does that mere fact give me the right to still call myself bisexual?

I'm sure there are plenty of women who've had sex with more women than I have, but consider themselves "sexually adventurous" or even straight. I have a friend who self-identifies as bisexual even though he hasn't so much as kissed another man. Does his inaction negate his label or his desire?

It comes down to how you see yourself. And how do I see myself? It's much more about my interpretation of the label and if I feel like I still meet the bisexual parameters. While society is quick to label us in nearly every way, the way we label ourselves is much more telling. I'm doing my best to feel more like me again, person me, instead of just wife me and mom me -- and maybe when I do, I'll start feeling like sexual me again, too.

This article originally appeared at YourTango.

More great content from YourTango:
Proud Parenting Moment: My Baby Answered My Vibrator
I Discovered I Loved Women (And Myself) At Girl Scout Camp
7 Reasons Being A Single Mom Is Freakin' Awesome

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Motherlode Blog: Getting In to College Doesn’t Mean Students Are Ready to Go

Sending a student to college who isn’t ready to go is expensive in more ways than one.

‘Avengers’ Star Scarlett Johansson Talks Motherhood In Parade

On May 1st, Scarlett Johansson returns to the big screen as the Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron. But until then, she'll be adjusting to another new role, that of mom to daughter Rose Dorothy, born in September.



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