Thought Catalog


Trying To Make Sense Of Your Life Is What’s Actually Holding You Back

Posted: 31 Jul 2015 11:21 AM PDT

hannahmcswain
hannahmcswain

You should try to make sense of your feelings. You should trace the lines of your thinking, find the genesis of your innermost beliefs and make sure they're really yours. You should make lists of the things you do and don't value, you should ask yourself what you most feel you are lacking, then look at how little you're giving them.

But you should stop trying to make sense of your life. Doing so is trying to make sense of the trajectory, as though it's something that controls you, not the opposite way around. Doing so is applying the life you have to the person you were.

Using logic and being mindful are not the same thing as "trying to make sense." The former is methodical, it uses a grounded awareness to enact your true desires, the latter is looking at the product of those actions and wondering how they got that way.

There are questions to which answers may not exist. There are answers that just create more questions, solutions that can only be made from having lived something out, saw it through, tried.

The best things will not make sense, not initially, at least.

Love is not logical. Grace and joy and beauty rarely are, either. That doesn't mean you cannot use logic to work with them, just that to fully see them, you need to use a different point of understanding.

All things in their purest state are confusingly, singularly standing. They are magical because they are mysterious. They have unknown origins and palpable endings and there is nothing to do but to live them and to see.

People who waste their lives search for reasons to love rather than ways to. They try to create avenues through which they can justify their happiness, rather than just letting themselves feel it for anything. They try to wield misguided logic to hold back from their happiness, rather than facilitate it.

There will be things you understand immediately, effects for which the causes are entirely, consciously yours. There will be things that happen in your life that you know you've chosen, and then others that seem to be the opposite of what you'd want. Those things are just as important, if not more so.

There are things that have reasons that will reveal themselves to you immediately. There are things that you won't understand for years and years to come. There are things you'll look back on and say: "I never understood why that was."

And yet that will not make it any less so.

Sometimes the point is to experience not-knowing, and confusion. What is born of your uncertainty is sometimes more important than not having been certain in the first place.

You may never know whether or not you're 'meant' to be in the city you live in, but you will live there anyway, because you have chosen to. You won't know whether or not you're meant to be with someone until you try to be. You will keep seeking comfort in the things that hurt you because you've yet to step into the discomfort of something new. Something better. Something unknown and foreign and not aligned with what you once thought you wanted.

That does not make it wrong, or bad, it just means you didn't anticipate it. You didn't know well enough to have chosen it.

Trying to make sense of your life is trying to see if the old story checks out, if the person you once were would be happy with the life they lead today. You're looking for answers in people that don't exist.

Clarity comes from doing, not thinking about doing.

A good life comes from choosing to work with what you have, accepting that you don't always choose what you work with; but you're always given what you need to use, especially when you don't realize you need to use it. TC mark

19 Signs You’re One Of Those Couples That Just Can’t Be Apart

Posted: 31 Jul 2015 10:21 AM PDT

BrigitteStanford
BrigitteStanford

1. You feel a little guilty having any fun whatsoever if your significant other—your other half, actually—isn’t around to share the laughs.

2. You’re also keenly aware that any memorable experience would be enhanced times ten if they’d been present.

3. You send each other adorably cheesy, emoji laced texts almost hourly when not in each other’s company.

4. You freak out a little if you can't reply to each other’s adorably cheesy, emoji laced texts in a timely fashion due to lack of service or other unexpected barriers to touching base constantly, like the meeting or lunch date that runs unbearably late.

5. Every day spent apart is a heartbreaking reminder that you'd so much rather do life together.

6. The most mundane activities—watching the news, making eggs for breakfast, or going for a run—become frustrating chores without your partner.

7. There are certain things you refuse to do, like watch the season premier of any interesting television program, until you’re back together again. The world just doesn’t feel right otherwise.

8. Because you know too well that at least half the fun of watching a compelling movie or TV show is seeing it through their eyes as well.

9. Whoever stays home while the other's away takes a tiny bit of comfort in sleeping on the absentee's side of the bed just to feel closer to them.

10. They also wear (or sniff) the absentee’s clothes just to get a whiff of his or her divine scent.

11. Whenever forced to spend time apart, you realize all over again just how positive an impact your boyfriend or girlfriend has on your quality of life. You wouldn’t have eaten that pint of Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream in one sitting if they were there to remind you, oh so gently, that it would make you feel sick and/or bad about yourself.

12. You miss them to an especially aching extent when tackling tasks that fall on their side of the unwritten division of duties. For instance, you feel totally helpless and upset when you drop your phone and crack the screen because technology's their department.

13. When separated, every single thing manages to remind you of them because you have so many fond memories to draw from, making it easy to draw totally convoluted connections. For example, it’s surprisingly easy to associate something like a wood burning pizza oven with your lover, even if they’ve never operated one. Because you did make urban s'mores that one time on your gas stove last winter, which is sort of the same thing if you think about it long enough through the blurry lens of loneliness.

14. You both take a ridiculous number of photos (some sexy, some not) whenever apart so you can relive each documented experience as a couple later on, when you’re finally free to bathe in the awesomeness of each other’s company once again.

15. The moment you reunite always involves a prolonged hug and one giant, shared sigh of relief.

16. You gaze at each other like you just fell in love all over again and in that moment, your partner is the hottest, awesomest, most essential human being on the planet. Obviously.

17. You won't separate again unless you absolutely have to, you agree.

18. Does that make you totally co-dependent, you both wonder. Probably. But what's wrong with needing someone you love so damn much? Absolutely nothing, you figure.

19. After embracing, you make love as soon as possible. And the sex is especially satisfying. Maybe even better than makeup nookie. TC mark

Here’s What You Should Do For A First Date Based On Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type

Posted: 30 Jul 2015 11:03 AM PDT

ISFP – Go to a flea market or bazaar.

Jirka Matousek
Jirka Matousek

You're all about discovering the new and unusual – and markets are the perfect place to do just that. You can hunt for undiscovered treasures with your date – you'll learn quickly whether you love or hate their taste and you can share your own unique flare with them. Plus the strange objects you inevitably come across make for great conversation starters.

ESTP – Go Geocaching.

Johan Larsson
Johan Larsson

You have an adventurous spirit and it's important to you that any potential partner can keep up. Geocaching offers a fun challenge that plays up your outdoorsy nature and gives your natural strengths the chance to shine through. It's a fun challenge that will set you apart from all the people they've been 'grabbing a coffee' with.

ENFP – Go To An Improv Comedy Show.

Tim Green
Tim Green

Having fun with your date is important to you – and nothing's more attractive than someone with a sharp mind. Visiting an improv comedy show will lighten both of you up and get you laughing – you'll be able to see whether your senses of humor line up and who knows – maybe they'll need a volunteer to go up on stage! You can impress your date with your own quick wit or better yet, give them a chance to showcase theirs.

INFJ – Visit A Used Bookstore Together.

Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon
Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon

You're looking for an intellectual partner and as far as you're concerned, there's no better judge of character than what someone likes to read. You can peruse the shelves together and swap literary suggestions – you'll walk away with a new appreciation of your date and a list of new things to read. It's simply win-win.

ESFP – Go To A Karaoke Bar.

Derek Gavey
Derek Gavey

They call you 'The Performer' for a reason – you aren't shy about getting up on stage and showing the audience what you've got! Karaoke gives you the chance to get silly with your date and lets both of you show off a little. If they're too inhibited to try it, chances are they aren't the partner for you – you need someone who knows how to have fun and who can keep up with your free-spirited nature.

ISFJ – Go Wine Tasting Together.

Leon Brocard
Leon Brocard

Quality is more important than quantity to you – this applies to both drinking and dating. Going wine tasting together gives you an opportunity to bond over a new experience – and it's classy as hell. You can scope out your date's etiquette and impress them with your pre-existing knowledge. Plus the drinks will help you both loosen up.

INTP – Go Star Gazing Together.

Ryan Wick
Ryan Wick

If there's anything you hate, it's small talk. You're most confident when you're discussing a topic you're highly knowledgeable about and with a little bit of research, the galaxy above us can be exactly that. Take your date out for a laid-back date where you check out the stars and ‘wow’ them with the science behind the sights. If the season is right, catch a meteor shower while you’re at it!

ESFJ – Visit A Local Farmer's Market And Cook A Meal Together.

Marco Arment
Marco Arment

You're deeply connected to your community and the ideal date for you starts at home – by checking out what's happening locally and welcoming your date into your world. You can chat in a natural setting as you prepare food together and then try it out – your culinary skills and your people skills will shine through with ease as you create and experiment together.

ISTJ – Visit A Museum Together.

PROVox Efx
PROVox Efx

You're an information sponge and once you learn something new you never forget it. Take your date to a local museum and impress them with your intricate knowledge of all that lies inside. They'll be impressed by your diligence and the artifacts will provide plenty of go-to conversation pieces.

ENTJ – Take A Class Together.

GotCredit
GotCredit

You're all about progressing and learning new skills – and you want a partner who shares those values. Try a cooking class, an improv class or even a language class – you can bond with your date over your developing skill and learn something new while you're at it! Best case scenario you find love – worst case scenario you've picked up one more skill that puts you ahead of the game. You can't lose!

ISTP – Try A New Sport Together.

Justin Jensen
Justin Jensen

Take your date kayaking, mountain biking or rock climbing to bring out their athletic side – you love new physical pursuits and you want a partner who feels the same way. There's nothing sexier to you than an adventurous date and what better a way to gage someone's spirit of adventure than by trying a new physical challenge together?

ESTJ – Attend Trivia Night At A Local Bar.

Chandler Collins
Chandler Collins

You're a natural when it comes to remembering facts – which is why Trivia night is your time to shine. You get to have fun with your date in a way that engages your competitive spirit and allows you to show off a little. The two of you can bond over your desire to win – and celebrate once you inevitably do.

INFP – Attend A Poetry Open Mic Night.

Jeremy Tenenbaum
Jeremy Tenenbaum

Your creativity is your most attractive trait – and what better a way to highlight that than at an event specifically geared toward artistic expression? You and your date can discuss your favorite readings, brainstorm new ideas and maybe even present your own work if one (or both) of you is feeling bold. It's a great way to get to know each other beyond the surface level – which is extremely important for INFPs.

ENFJ – Volunteer Together.

Whitney
Whitney

Your friendly, giving nature defines who you are – and what better a way to connect with a date than by giving back to the community that you care about together? You'll quickly see if your date shares your philanthropic nature and if they do, they'll only become that much more attractive in your eyes.

INTJ – Attend A Lecture Or TED Talk Together.

Steve Jurvetson
Steve Jurvetson

If this sounds boring to your date, they're probably not the date for you. You're all about learning new perspectives, which is why intellectual environments inspire you. You can fuel your minds and then discuss the topic after the fact. You'll learn more than the usual niceties about one another and even if the date goes badly, you'll have learned something from the evening – which means it wasn't a waste at all.

ENTP – Visit An Escape Room.

PROMicky**
PROMicky**

You're all about solving puzzles and your date shouldn't be the only thing you're picking apart for clues. By visiting a local escape room, you can showcase your ability to think under pressure and solve the seemingly unsolvable. You'll be energized by the challenge and can bond with your date over solving it. After all, there's nothing more attractive to you than a partner who can keep up with your fast-paced mind. TC mark

9 Assumptions Men Make About Women Who Like To Have Casual Sex That Are Totally Off

Posted: 30 Jul 2015 01:21 PM PDT

Flickr / Helga Weber
Flickr / Helga Weber

1. They will sleep with anyone. Women who like to have casual sex don’t have sex with anyone; they have sex with the people they want to have sex with. Wow, imagine that!

2. They will cheat on you. Just because they have casual sex when they are single, doesn’t mean they will when they are in a relationship. A woman who enjoys casual sex isn’t addicted to it, she just enjoys it when she can. The way she conducts her sex life on her own does not affect the way she will conduct her sex life when she’s committed to you. If she finds the right guy who makes her happy, she is most certainly capable of having satisfying sex with him, and only him.

3. They are into freaky, kinky sex and have weird fetishes. Casual sex is a matter of a woman seeing something she wants and not denying herself of going after it. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with her level of kinkiness or the creative moves she has in the bedroom. Just because she has sex often, with whoever she chooses, (because that’s her perogative and no one else’s) doesn’t mean she has whips, chains, and a sex swing hanging in her closet.

4. They have low self esteem. There’s no need to feel bad for the woman who sleeps around. She’s not having sex with random people to prove to herself that she can be the object of someone’s desire. She’s most likely doing it because she wants to. She does it because she’s human and has certain feelings that need to be satisfied, AKA her horniness. She doesn’t have sex to feel better about herself, she has sex to make herself feel better, both physically and emotionally.

5. They have no self-respect. Similar to low self-esteem, this is far from true. Self respect is a balance of courage and awareness. A woman can have the strength to stand up for herself when she feels uncomfortable, and how much sex she has, has nothing to do with this.

6. They have daddy issues. Not all women who have casual sex have daddy issues. Sure, there are plenty of psychological theories and oedipal complexes that ruminate on the basis of women subconsciously looking for their fathers in a partner, but that doesn’t mean ALL women’s sex lives are dependent on how their father’s raised them and/or the presence they had in their childhood and adolescence. Every woman has different daddy circumstances, and their sex lives are not ALWAYS affected by them.

7. They have mommy issues. Along with daddy issues, people often wonder what kind of a relationship a woman has with her mother when she is having sex with whoever she wants. Certainly a mother can set a good or bad example for her daughter in terms of love and relationships, but a woman who partakes in casual sex usually isn’t looking for either of those. If she sees a man she’s attracted to, enjoys his company, and wants to have sex with him, she will (if he’s willing), and she’s most likely not thinking about her mother when this happens.

8. They are incapable of settling down or wanting to. It is a common assumption that if a woman likes to sleep around she will never want to get married or start a family. People change. They grow and learn and mature. We are not the same people we were 10 years ago, and we won’t be the same people 10 years down the road. That’s the beauty of the mess we often find ourselves in, we’re either digging ourselves further into it, or finding our way out, but in the process we are constantly learning. Women who like to have casual sex may not want to do it for the rest of their lives, and are probably learning that along the way.

9. They don’t “need” to be respected. Just because she has casual sex doesn’t mean she wants you to ask her to leave your bed as soon as the dirty deed is done, especially if you’re making her find her own way home. Women aren’t demanding chivalry with cooked breakfast and a glass of OJ in the morning, but they do deserve respect, whether they are having casual sex or not. TC mark

You Should Fall In Love With The Wrong Person

Posted: 30 Jul 2015 09:19 AM PDT

charityhestead
charityhestead

Fall in love with your best friend. Promise each other that nothing will get in the way of what you have and know you're both lying. Decide it’s worth it anyway. Learn how comforting and easy love can be – both track pants on the couch at 3pm and passionate sex all through the night. Relax into the inexplicably perfect relationship with the person who's been there all along and wonder how you never thought of this before. Rejoice until the passion starts to wane. Until the tension starts to build. Until you realize that you fell in love out of convenience rather than genuine emotion and that now there is no turning back. Learn the difference between friendship and love and which lines you simply cannot blur in the future.

Fall in love with someone just like you. Admire their patience, their passion, their chaos and their depth. Love the way that their mind reels in time with yours and the way their laughter lilts around the rhythm of your voice. Worry that your fires may spark too brightly and that together you will burn down everything in your wake. Love them anyway. Burn with them anyway. Open yourself to the absolute madness of falling in lust with somebody who already knows the whole of you and get yourself in too deep, too fast. Let the intensity chew you up and spit you back out. Grow disenchanted with all the worst parts of yourself that you see reflected inside of them. Realize that you have some growing to do and that you may have to do it alone. Realize that in the future, one of you will always be enough.

Fall in love with an expiration date. Lose your mind and your heart and your footing to someone who can't stay and decide it doesn't matter. That your heart can handle the inevitable downfall in favor of the glorious upswing and give in to the temporary explosion. Let it be all brutal endings mixed in with beautiful beginnings and let the bittersweet overtones swallow you whole. Let the inevitable ending heighten and intensify each moment. Realize that you've fallen too fast and too carelessly and let it destroy you when it's done. Learn to moderate and mediate your heart, but never to halt it altogether. You don't need to live with regrets, so choose not to. Realize that sometimes love is allowed to be an end in itself, even if it was never meant to last. Realize that some of the best things simply can't last forever.

Fall in love with someone who's your opposite. Appreciate the contrast they bring to your complexity and learn to rely on them in ways you never thought were possible. Grow with this person – into a bigger, more comprehensive version of yourself that you didn't know could ever exist. Appreciate the ways in which they challenge and change you, until the changes start to rule over the familiar. Realize there are some ways in which you are always going to only be yourself and that you need someone who can appreciate that, too. Learn to balance the new and old within yourself moving forward. Learn that there's always room for improvement but it should never completely overtake what is already there.

Fall in love with someone taboo. Let your relationship be locked doors and white lies. Let your situation excite you, inspire you, entice you and inhibit you all in equal measure. Love your secret more than the person you're keeping it with. Let the idea of what you're doing become bigger than the actual act of it. Continue on the rush until your situation changes. Wait for it to become commonplace, known, accepted and average. Realize that you may have been more in love with the idea of what you had with someone than whatever was actually between you. Let the taboo fade and reality take over. Let yourself realize how easy it is to fall in love with a notion and forget about the person that supports it. Remember to be more clear-headed in the future, especially when it comes to other peoples hearts.

Fall in love with the wrong person. Fall in love with the loud one, the quiet one, the rash one or the responsible one. Fall in love with anyone who pushes you to change, challenge, grow and re-create yourself into a person you never knew you could become. Stop worrying so much about the fallout and start worrying about what you lose by never playing the game. Because maybe some of the most important relationships in our lives just aren't meant to last forever. Maybe they don't have to. Maybe they just get to be enough, in and of themselves.

And maybe every person who's wrong for us in retrospect was nonetheless exactly what we needed at the time. TC mark

37 Powerfully Affirming Quotes For Those Who’ve Fallen And Struggled To Get Up

Posted: 30 Jul 2015 04:36 PM PDT

via Flickr - Patrick McConahay
via Flickr – Patrick McConahay

1.

"Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you."
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

2.

"What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again."
― Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay

3.

"If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is."
― Charles Bukowski, Factotum

4.

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

5.

"You will lose someone you can't live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn't seal back up. And you come through. It's like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp."
― Anne Lamott

6.

"If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?"
― Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

7.

"From childhood’s hour I have not been. As others were, I have not seen. As others saw, I could not awaken. My heart to joy at the same tone. And all I loved, I loved alone."
― Edgar Allan Poe

8.

"The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind."
― Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss

9.

"Life seems sometimes like nothing more than a series of losses, from beginning to end. That’s the given. How you respond to those losses, what you make of what’s left, that’s the part you have to make up as you go."
― Katharine Weber, The Music Lesson

10.

"Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them."
― Paulo Coelho

11.

"The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost."
― G.K. Chesterton

12.

"Grief can destroy you –or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn’t allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it’s over and you’re alone, you begin to see that it wasn’t just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can’t get off your knees for a long time, you’re driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life."
― Dean Koontz, Odd Hours

13.

"Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break."
― William Shakespeare, Macbeth

14.

"The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one. "
― Goldie Hawn

15.

"Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand."
― W.B. Yeats

16.

"If you understand others you are smart.
If you understand yourself you are illuminated.
If you overcome others you are powerful.
If you overcome yourself you have strength.
If you know how to be satisfied you are rich.
If you can act with vigor, you have a will.
If you don’t lose your objectives you can be long-lasting.
If you die without loss, you are eternal."
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

17.

"The greatest hazard of all, losing one's self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed."
― Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

18.

"It’s easy to believe in something when you win all the time…The losses are what define a man’s faith."
― Brandon Sanderson, The Well of Ascension

19.

"the year of letting go, of understanding loss. grace. of the word 'no' and also being able to say 'you are not kind'. the year of humanity/humility. when the whole world couldn't get out of bed. everyone i've met this year, says the same thing 'you are so easy to be around, how do you do that?'. the year i broke open and dug out all the rot with own hands. the year i learnt small talk. and how to smile at strangers. the year i understood that i am my best when i reach out and ask 'do you want to be my friend?'. the year of sugar, everywhere. softness. sweetness. honey honey. the year of being alone, and learning how much i like it. the year of hugging people i don't know, because i want to know them. the year i made peace and love, right here."
― Warsan Shire

20.

"Relationships take up energy; letting go of them, psychiatrists theorize, entails mental work. When you lose someone you were close to, you have to reassess your picture of the world and your place in it. The more your identity was wrapped up with the deceased, the more difficult the loss."
― Meghan O’Rourke

21.

"Every widow wakes one morning, perhaps after years of pure and unwavering grieving, to realize she slept a good night’s sleep, and will be able to eat breakfast, and doesn’t hear her husband’s ghost all the time, but only some of the time. Her grief is replaced with a useful sadness. Every parent who loses a child finds a way to laugh again. The timbre begins to fade. The edge dulls. The hurt lessens. Every love is carved from loss. Mine was. Yours is. Your great-great-great-grandchildren’s will be. But we learn to live in that love."
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated

22.

"Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age. The child is grown, and puts away childish things. Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies."
― Edna St. Vincent Millay

23.

"True beauty, the kind that doesn’t fade or wash off, takes time. It takes incredible endurance. It is the slow drip that creates the stalactite, the shaking of the Earth that creates mountains, the constant pounding of the waves that breaks up the rocks and smooths the rough edges. And from the violence, the furor, the raging of the winds, the roaring of the waters, something better emerges, something that would have otherwise never existed.

And so we endure. We have faith that there is purpose. We hope for things we can’t see. We believe there are lessons in loss, power in love, and that we have within us the potential for a beauty so magnificent, our bodies can’t contain it."
― Amy Harmon, Making Faces

24.

"To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity."
― Søren Kierkegaard

25.

"The phoenix must burn to emerge."
― Janet Fitch, White Oleander

26.

"I give you this to take with you:
Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can
begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting."
― Judith Minty, Letters to My Daughters

27.

"Sometimes the one who is running from the Life/Death/Life nature insists on thinking of love as a boon only. Yet love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another. Passion dies and is brought back. Pain is chased away and surfaces another time. To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many endings, and many many beginnings- all in the same relationship."
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

28.

"The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism – and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But, if he's reasonably strong – and lucky – he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life's elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death – however mutable man may be able to make them – our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light."
― Stanley Kubrick

29.

"Hearts rebuilt from hope resurrect dreams killed by hate."
― Aberjhani, The River of Winged Dreams

30.

"In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again."
― Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never

31.

"If you live in the dark a long time and the sun comes out, you do not cross into it whistling. There’s an initial uprush of relief at first, then-for me, anyway- a profound dislocation. My old assumptions about how the world works are buried, yet my new ones aren’t yet operational.There’s been a death of sorts, but without a few days in hell, no resurrection is possible."
― Mary Karr, Lit

32.

"I am dead because I lack desire,
I lack desire because I think I possess.
I think I possess because I do not try to give.
In trying to give, you see that you have nothing;Seeing that you have nothing, you try to give of yourself;
Trying to give of yourself, you see that you are nothing:Seeing that you are nothing, you desire to become;
In desiring to become, you begin to live."
― René Daumal

33.

"Life rises out of death, death rises out of life; in being opposite they yearn to each other, they give birth to each other and are forever reborn. And with them, all is reborn, the flower of the apple tree, the light of the stars. In life is death. In death is rebirth. What then is life without death? Life unchanging, everlasting, eternal?-What is it but death-death without rebirth?"
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore

34.

"Remember,too,that all who succeed in life get off to a bad start,and pass through many heartbreaking struggles before they “arrive”. The turning point in the lives of those who succeed usually comes at some moment of crisis,through which they are introduced to their “other selves”."
― Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

35.

"The most delicious sensation of all is the re-birth of healthy human love. Spring coming back to Earth!"
― Aleister Crowley, Diary of a Drug Fiend

36.

"The Motto of Champions: If you are hurt, you can suck it up and press on. If injured, you can rebound and return bigger and better…and continue to inspire!"
― T.F. Hodge, From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with “The Divine Presence”

37.

"Perspective is as simple as answering this question: If I had 5 months to live would I experience this problem differently?"
― Shannon L. Alder TC mark

Everything You Think You Know About The Homeless Is Wrong

Posted: 30 Jul 2015 03:46 PM PDT

Homelessness is a broad term that is used to define several habitation situations. According to the U.S. Department of Health And Human Services, the definition of homelessness includes someone who lives in a public or private facility not meant for habitation, someone who lives in transitional housing, or in any situation where a person’s homestead is unstable or non-permanent. GreenDoors.org – an organization dedicated to ending homelessness and poverty in central Texas – reports that on any given night, there are 643, 067 people who are homeless in the United States. Of these, 238, 110 of those people are families, and 25 % suffer from mental illness.
Flickr / Marc Brüneke
Flickr / Marc Brüneke
The homeless are among us, especially if you live in a big city. But what do we really know about homelessness and individuals who are homeless? To find out, I dialogued with Kavita Das, who has 15 years of experience in social change, and is well-versed on the topic.

beetlejuice

Thought Catalog: Hello Kavita, can you tell us a little about yourself, and your background in urban planning and working with the homeless?

Kavita Das: Hi Kovie, I worked in the social change sector for about 15 years and I started out my career working on special needs housing for the City of Philadelphia. I've never struggled with homelessness personally and I mention that because I think the perspective of people who have struggled with or are struggling with homelessness is an important one. In my role, I helped support transitional housing programs for people with various special needs including those who had disabilities or had HIV/AIDS.

TC: We hear so many different statistics and narratives about homelessness, regarding causes and consequences, and how many stay homeless, its relationship with mental illness, etc. Now I have never worked with the homeless in any professional capacity. My experiences have been limited to volunteering, as well as my everyday interactions, and what I know from a few studies I have done and read. My question is what are the biggest misconceptions about homelessness that we come across every day?

KD: One common misconception is that there are only homeless individuals not homeless families. And similarly, people think that it's not possible for a middle class family to become homeless. However, families can become homeless and end up in the shelter system because of a lost job or a health care crisis. Another frustrating misconception is that homeless individuals want to be homeless or that they are too lazy to find employment. One of the biggest drivers to chronic homelessness is untreated mental health or substance abuse issues.

TC: I'm glad you mentioned mental health because that is the capacity in which I have most been familiar with homelessness. However, both homeless people I have interacted with, and recently when I saw a post on Humans of New York, one of the stereotypes that people who are homeless face, is that others think they are always suffering from mental illness. (Or substance abuse, as you said. But the stereotype that seems to get the most complaints is the former.) So, what do you know as fiction and what is fact, when it comes to how mental illness and homelessness are related?

KD: Well, as I understand it the link between mental health issues and homelessness is a strong but complex one. First, there is a distinction between those individuals who are chronically homeless and those who are temporarily homeless. Some individuals who are chronically homeless are dealing with serious mental health issues and may have been in and out of the mental health system and even the criminal justice system. They face the double stigma of having a mental health issue and being homeless. But it's also important to note that anyone and probably everyone can and will face mental health crises and if you have a strong support network, you tend to have better outcomes.

beetlejuice

TC: Stepping away from mental illness and homeless, can you speak to the relationship between LGBTQ youth and homelessness? I have heard and read limited information about the relationship but it does seem like a particular concern. What is known (and unknown) about how and why many LGBTQ youth are said to make up a large portion of the homeless communities across the United States?

KD: Yes, LGBTQ youth are a part of the homeless population, particularly in big cities. They are often underage and don't have support networks because they've either been kicked out of their home or run away from home because they don't feel accepted by their families because of their gender/sexual identity and they can be vulnerable to sexual abuse and prostitution. I'm happy to see that there is greater awareness and support for at-risk and homeless LGBTQ youth through initiatives like Ali Forney Center, Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Fund, Miley Cyrus's Happy Hippie Foundation, and organizations like F.I.E.R.C.E. that specifically do outreach to LGBTQ youth of color.

Flickr / Vlasta Juricek
Flickr / Vlasta Juricek

TC: Can you speak to some of the differences in homeless in the United States as opposed to in other places in the world? Some places, for example, have what is called a "begging culture" while other places seemingly have a true, authentic "homeless community" in their cities. How do different places in the United States compare to other parts of the world? Also, the United States is often seen as doing relatively poorly in comparison to other countries in the West. Is that solely a function of the way our social systems work, with regard to employment, and indeed to mental health?

KD: Well, broadly I do believe that the level of homelessness in a society or in a city is a barometer for how well or poorly it is doing in terms of providing accessible mental health services, job opportunities, job training, prison re-entry support, affordable housing … essentially it's a barometer of how well the safety net works for the most vulnerable. And although homelessness has decreased nationally, it is still high in many cities. Here in NYC, it has tripled from 1985 to today. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, there are close to 60,000 people sleeping in NYC shelters each night. And this doesn't include those who are sleeping on the streets of the city. So, New York City has not been able to effectively address homelessness in part because it hasn't addressed the issues above.

In terms of the United States versus other parts of the world, there are definitely some cities around the world where begging is more prevalent. I spent many childhood summers in Calcutta and begging by adults and children was heartbreakingly prevalent but then again, I remember living in Paris as a college student and seeing French individuals begging on the Metro. But as a lifelong New Yorker, the rise in homelessness is very troubling both in terms of the statistics as well as what is evident when you walk around the streets of the city.

beetlejuice

TC: One of the questions that people always ask – well, well-meaning, decent people is, "How can I help the homeless person in front of me?" I'm going to leave out the people who say things such as, "If homeless people wanted a job, they'd have one." But I'm talking about people who are somewhat aware of homelessness but who know the relationship between homelessness and substance abuse especially – how can people help the person in front of them, either monetarily or otherwise?

KD: All I'll say about the latter, uncharitable group of people is that many people were against food stamps until they themselves needed them during the recent recession. In terms of how to help the homeless, it's certainly something that I think about and there's no simple or one-size-fits-all answer. I have one friend who started an organization to throw birthday parties for children in homeless shelters and I know writers and artists who do art therapy for homeless children. But when confronted by a homeless individual, I think it's important to look at them and to see them and not briskly walk by because of what it communicates to them and to ourselves about their importance in this world. Personally, I don't typically give money but if I feel comfortable, I ask them if they would like a cup of coffee or some food.

Flickr / mark O'Rourke
Flickr / mark O’Rourke

TC: Lastly, what would you like people to always remember about homelessness? One of the things that is a reality, especially give American political and social systems, is that many people are "one paycheck," "one medical disaster," and "one failed support system" away from homelessness. Knowing this, I have always found it necessary to show compassion to the homeless. But I sometimes feel that this fear is what actually drives people to have such hardened attitudes towards the homeless. So, what is the parting advice for us all when we discuss homelessness and/or encounter homeless people?

KD: On a broad level, I think it's important to educate ourselves about the issue by turning to national organizations like National Alliance to End Homelessness as well as those who are working to fight homelessness on a local level, whether it's a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or an advocacy organization. But on a more personal level, I hope we can see ourselves in those who are homeless and vice versa rather than assume that they are somehow different or less than us. I hope we can pause from our hectic lives and look away from our screens and silence our headphones long enough to acknowledge and address their suffering. TC mark

12 Ways To Make The End Of Summer Infinitely Better Than Last Year

Posted: 30 Jul 2015 02:24 PM PDT

Eugenio Marongiu
Eugenio Marongiu

1. Stop worrying about that “perfect summer body.”

You want a bikini body? Babe, it’s simple. But a bikini on your body. Or a one piece. Or a giant T-shirt. Or hell, go straight up skinny dipping. I know this is easier said than done, but each time we jump out of comfort zones just a bit, we push ourselves to expand our own perceptions of the world, others, and often, ourselves. Summer is a bit of a shit show when body shame is at an all-time high. And. It. Sucks. You can’t go anywhere without a magazine headline blatantly screaming “TIPS TO GET THAT PERFECT SUMMER BOD” and it’s kind of the worst. And why a “summer” body? Do you lose corporeal form when winter hits and go all Patrick Swayze a la Ghost? December rolls around and it’s like, uh-oh, I guess I’m an ethereal spirit again. Here’s to summer when my actual body comes back! Ridiculous. Own that body of yours! It’s the only one you’ve got.

2. Call up the friend you’ve been flaking on.

We are all occasionally flakes. It happens. Some of us are flakier than others. This is my confessional — even though I’m allergic to gluten, I’m a goddamn buttery croissant. I could blame my introverted nature or the fact that being alone in my bed is just so appealing, but I gotta own it and say: “My name is Ari Eastman and I’m a flake. I’m sorry.” Comedian John Mulaney has a bit where he says, “In terms of like, instant relief, canceling plans is like heroin." And it’s so true. BUT you gotta push past it. Contact that friend. Make those plans. And when that little voice pops up that devilishly whispers: “Caaaancellll. You won’t have to put on paaaaants.” Tell it to kindly shut up. Put on pants. And go hang out with your friend. Because relationships are two-way streets. And you don’t want to realize summer is over and you barely saw the people you really love.

3. Host a nostalgia movie marathon.

Popcorn, Red Vines, and for the extra classy, wine in coffee mugs because the glasses are too far to reach in the cabinet. Invite the people you actually enjoy being around and dive into a serious trip down memory lane. Mary-Kate and Ashley VHS tapes or BUST.

4. Face one of your smaller fears.

I’m not suggesting you go head-to-head with your number one phobia because like, that doesn’t sound fun. And maybe something you want to consult a therapist about first? But damn right you can tackle one of the smaller ones. Clowns creep you out a little bit? I don’t know, go find a clown and grab a drink together. Learn about their childhood. Why are they a clown? Have they ever been in love? Eh, okay, maybe just leave clowns alone. But each time we do something that scares us the necessary amount, it’s a good reminder that life is here for living. Looking for ways to not let the small stuff hold us back is hugely important.

5. Pleasure yourself.

Take this however you want. Treat yo self. Maybe that means frozen yogurt. Maybe that means locking your bedroom door. YOU DECIDE.

6. Unplug for an entire day.

Put your phone away and actually leave it. Listen, you might feel itchy at first, but I believe you can do it. STEP AWAY FROM SOCIAL MEDIA. Honestly, some of my favorite summer days are those when I accidentally left my phone and just had to be totally present. Go for a walk! Go people watch at a local coffee shop. Write in a journal. Just whatever you do, put the internet on hold for 24 hours. It feels really refreshing.

7. Listen to the perfect playlist.

Here’s one my BFF Johanna Mort and I put together for ya. If you like it, you’re welcome. If you hate it, please don’t tell me. I’m a sensitive little lamb.

8. Apologize to someone you really hurt.

While sometimes it is too late to fix things, it’s never too late to try. Summer is all about being sweaty, having fun, and making a few mistakes. So why not add clearing your conscience to the list? Take a deep breathe and reach out. It does the soul some good.

9. On the flip side, forgive someone.

Holding onto a grudge, even if it’s an understandable one, can create a very toxic situation. The art of forgiveness is a tough one. I think the biggest misconception people have is that forgiving someone automatically means you forget. And obviously, that’s just not true. But reaching a place of moving forward, accepting an apology, and not letting it fester inside you is an incredibly liberating and freeing feeling. 2015 Summer, the summer you forgave that person who (almost) destroyed you. Seriously. Give it a shot. It helps.

10. Go to an open mic.

Poetry, comedy, music — open mics are awesome pockets of creativity and community. The best part? You could go up and vent to a group of strangers about your day for 2-3 minutes if you felt like it. Open mic. Open. Choice is yours.

11. Have a big ol’ classic barbecue.

Invite your buds, family, people you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe even throw your neighbors an invite, so long as they aren’t the annoying ones who complain EVERY DAMN TIME your dog barks. And if you don’t have a grill, bribe a friend who does. Someone will have one. I guarantee it. Let’s be real, barbecues are the perfect excuse to drink and gorge on summery foods with people you adore.

12. Construct a list of things you want to accomplish this fall.

It’s always nice to have things to look forward to. Especially if you are feeling a little sad at the thought of summer coming to a close. Don’t let that Lana Del Rey Summertime Sadness get you down, enjoy the present but also think of all you have coming. Life is best when we’ve got a nice combo of planning and spontaneity. TC mark

7 Ways Being A Secret Gay Male Escort Blows (From A Real Life Secret Gay Male Escort)

Posted: 31 Jul 2015 09:16 AM PDT

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"Generous" is a term used in the gay community to indicate that someone is willing to pay for sexual favors. If you're an opportunistic, ballsy, willfully-ignorant-of-legal-repercussions queer like moi, chances are you've asked guys if they would "throw you some roses," "help with some gas money" or, to put it bluntly, pay for a blowjob. I do enjoy "generosity," but truthfully, being an escort is a bitch.

After realizing I wasn't cut out for full-on, red-light prostitution, I sought a loophole. Surely, I thought, escorting would help me satisfy my dirty conscience while keeping my hands relatively clean. Not so. So fellas, read up, because being a paid "companion" is, usually, a lot less fun than it (kind of) seems.

1. It's totally illegal.

Ugh, this one really sucks. Nothing ruins a perfectly decent fake-date like the cops (or, worse still, your dad) finding out about it.

2. It's surprisingly time-consuming.

First off, you have to find someone who's willing to pay to watch you eat lunch while you sort out all the details of your arrangement. Guys like this are like Easter eggs—hidden in bushes, under rocks, and on the "Strictly Platonic" section of Craigslist. Once you read "White guy new to the area's" journal entry, you have to pen him one back detailing how you're also looking for someone to travel, go to the beach, and maybe workout naked with. Then you have to listen to the weird piano recordings he sends you. (Seeking Arrangements is probably more efficient, but I'm already using my one good photo on LinkedIn, and I'd rather not endorse "sex work" as a skill until I'm absolutely positive my psychology degree isn't going to pan out.)

3. The “clients” are all super paranoid.

After initial discussions, you have to spend yet more time reassuring your prospective client that you’ll be discreet and that no one will EVER find out about your as-yet-to-happen tryst. As if you’d actually want that yourself. At the point at which they agree to meet up, they’re still too scared to send a photo of themselves or any reliable contact info. So now you have to find someone in a crowded restaurant or bar without a fucking clue as to what they look like or how to reach them, which isn’t at all fun. These guys will call you on restricted numbers so their wives don't find out, and then you'll be stuck playing pervy Where's Waldo while you cruise from table to table in search of gay Mr. Warbucks.

4. They’re also generally unattractive and sexually frustrated.

When searching for your client at the designated meet-up spot, the safest bet is to mosey on over to the guy in the ill-fitted button-down with the greasy grey comb-over, mustache, and the anxious expression any sexually frustrated 65-year-old wears when he has a vicious half-chub. Basically, the guy who looks like he'll gladly respond to "daddy" is probably your guy. Wait until you make eye contact before you pull out your dainty wave and walk over. At that point, he'll stand up and quietly call out your bogus name while his hard-on goes full Kennedy and shoots through your head.

5. It's super fucking boring.

I'm not a professional. I'm not a 10. I'm not fortunate enough to be one of those boys who's always at the center of any Republican governor scandal. The guys I go out with are sad, lonely men who desperately want to impress me, and that means they're going to ramble. Listen to them explain their entire 30-year career while they simultaneously redact anything of substance because they want to keep their identity a secret. Oh, totally interesting! Madrid is really beautiful?? I HAVE to go??? No way! Who knows, maybe he'll even take you to the Prado if you can make it through a few more of these very exciting "dates." Do yourself a favor: stretch your neck and order the most expensive item on the menu, because you're going to be doing a lot of empty nodding over the next two-and-a-half hours.

6. Putting a pricetag on yourself is as awkward as you’d think.

*Financial conversations* are always the hardest ones for me to broach, so, naturally, it was extremely awkward for me to designate myself a starting value the first time around. What if I was undervaluing myself? Or, worse yet, what if he genuinely thought I was OVERvaluing myself? Throughout my time as a now-and-again escort, I haven't made much, and I attribute this to poor communication on my part. While the agenda surrounding our meal is never forgotten, I just don't like coming off as greedy and unappreciative by asking for a stipend once he pays the check for a meal I made sure was lavish.

7. He'll ask you to do weird shit.

Dinner? $100.

Rotterdam Philharmonic concert? $80.

Tie him up and tickle him? Priceless. TC mark

12 Reasons Why People Who Feel Connected To Nature Are Usually Better In Bed

Posted: 30 Jul 2015 10:03 AM PDT

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
Audrey Reid 

1. They feel a connection to themselves. The degree to which a person can be accepting of themselves is as much as they can be accepting – and appreciative – of other people. Self-acceptance is usually rooted in being able to see the immaterial part of you and to appreciate the body that houses it – as for other souls and bodies as well.

2. They see human bodies as extensions of nature, and recognize the 'oneness' that already exists between you. Even if they're not the Love Of Your Life, they can see and appreciate the (wonderfully non-attached) love you can share with one another in the moment.

3. They're generally happier, healthier and of clearer mind. Emerging and otherwise well-known research is beginning to paint a pretty clear picture: nature is almost essential to emotional and psychological well-being. (People who live in urban areas are more prone to anxiety and depression, people exposed to 'natural scenes' aren't just happier, the "building blocks of their physiological well-being also respond positively.") And happy people have better sex. Duh.

4. They're able to connect on a more genuine level. Recognizing the beauty and calmness of being outside requires tapping into a very genuine and core part of yourself – one that comes in handy when you're trying to connect in a way that's more encompassing than just physically.

5. You don't need to be performative for them to be turned on. They probably don't need, or maybe even like, the whole song and dance of the modern human mating ritual. You don't have to worry about impressing them, or crafting yourself into looking like someone you're not for them. The more au naturale, the better.

6. They can appreciate simplicity. And that's key when it comes to sex. The simplest, kindest gestures like a warm touch or steady eye contact are the building blocks of a profound sexual experience. In the words of Paulo Coelho, "the simple things are also the most extraordinary, but only the wise can see them."

7. They don't expect someone else to be flawless, they expect them to be human. They're comfortable enough with the complexity of their flawed and sacred human bodies to be able to accept and appreciate other people's – which is important, because people can usually sense when you're only interested in having a grinding race to orgasm that renders the other body the equivalent of a toy.

8. They're intuitive. They're connected to themselves – to their feelings and instincts – and so they're perceptive when it comes to being aware of other people, which is perhaps the hottest and most important aspect of being intimate with someone: responding to the little micro-cues they don't even know they're giving.

9. They're down for getting messy. They don't expect to be shielded from the fact that sex is gross. They are painfully aware of the fact that our sewage systems are also our pleasure centers. (What the hell, evolution?)

10. They're aware of themselves. They know what they want and what makes them uncomfortable, they can interpret whispers of enjoyment or discomfort before they grow into screams, and the ability to self-direct like that is crucial for enjoying sex, and actually enjoying what you're doing tends to often be the biggest turn on for people.

11. They're grateful. To feel connected with nature is to be aware of how small you are, how impermanent, and yet how integral. There's an inherent sense of gratitude that becomes present when you connect to your deepest, truest self, and it's the same one that's there when you gaze out at some stunning landscape, and it's the same one that makes sex truly tender and loving: to be grateful for every motion, and at the same time, grateful just to experience someone else with that much intimacy.

12. They're present. They see right through the current culture of connected disconnectedness. Their developed ability to disconnect from technology and focus on things that are less immediately gratifying (in exchange for things that are more meaningful) – without disruption – makes them incredible sex partners. They're down-to-Earth, they're attentive, aware and grateful. (What else could you ask for?) TC mark