Thought Catalog


When You’re The Person Who Never Quite Knows How To Let Go

Posted: 18 Aug 2015 09:10 AM PDT

lindsay94ferris
lindsay94ferris

He always has that smitten look on his face whenever he’s photographed with her, that one girl he calls ex-girlfriend. With me, it was more of a socially friendly smile even though we were dating at the time. He dated me and claimed he liked me, but he was never in love with me like I hoped he would eventually be. It was my choice and I got what I asked for. I had him, his time, his body. I became the girl who was in love with a guy who didn’t see me the same way, the girl who was too smart to lie to herself but did it anyway, and the girl who never quite knows how to let go.

Evidently, three months after the break up, I found myself crying at the glimpse of that smitten look on his face, once again, because of that same girl. I was startled by my own reaction because I was so sure I had gotten over him. Why would I not? We didn’t have a long history and weren’t exactly compatible. Plus, by the end of it, we had a calm, mature closure talk, followed up with texts, phone calls and a period of agreed no contact, which has been as healing as it could get. Most importantly, I wrote about him. I don’t usually have unresolved feelings after being completely honest to myself about the experience. But this time, strangely, I still felt hurt.

I guess you could say it’s a perfectly normal feeling upon seeing your ex with another girl, knowing she has what you never had. To be fair, the hurt didn’t last long and I remain to have no desire to involve him in my future. Nevertheless, it alarms me. Feelings are the window into one’s inner self and this might mean there is a hidden wound somewhere in me that could be easily torn open at the first sight of him, and that my being over him is simply a game of make-believe. Like, distance is the only thing that could ever stop me from thinking about him. Though it’s not because it stops my feeling for him, but simply because my mental processes temporarily inhibit what’s out of sight.

And so it makes me wonder if feelings could ever completely go away, whether sentiment would one day magically vanish. Or perhaps it has unknowingly nested somewhere. Frankly, I don’t know. I might move on but I don’t know if I have ever fully let go of the people who have once made me feel alive, showing me how to be human. If anything, I might stop missing the person and the desire to tie my path to theirs, but I doubt that I would ever forget how much I appreciated the time I spent with them, the way they looked at me, cared for me, handing me a piece of them to hold on to, or the part of me that loved them, treasured them, changed because of them.

The truth is, I can’t say for sure how I would feel if I met him now. If he stood there right in front of me, breathing, talking, gazing into my eyes like the first time he took my breath away. And it’s not even just him. There are other people who have gained a special place in my heart, whom I always have a soft spot for no matter how hard I tried not to. However, this doesn’t mean that I would run to them in a split second if they asked me so. Feelings might be powerful, unanticipated, but acting on it and nurturing it is a conscious choice. And that's the choice I wouldn't make on the sole basis of momentary feelings.

Perhaps, one day, I will come to feel neutral about him or any of those people, being genuinely happy for their happiness and keep in touch with them on good terms. Or maybe, I can never be sure about my feelings and my chest will again tighten at the sight of them with someone not me. But I guess it’s okay. It’s okay to never quite know how to let go, to carry with me the sentiments for the people who once crossed my path, to think of them now and then without having all the answers to why I feel what I feel. It’s okay as long as I don’t let it hold me back from enjoying my life and from the people who choose me and choose to make me happy.

After all, they had a part of me, for which they will always be here with me. And I will be with them too. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a gift for ever having found each other in this world of billions. TC mark

At 20 I Realized That If I Wanted To Orgasm I’d Have To Do It Myself

Posted: 18 Aug 2015 07:37 AM PDT

damerogue
damerogue

"Can you feel me inside you?" he screamed repeatedly, shortly after puncturing my hymen.

“Yes, I can!” I said more than once, wondering if I should answer every time he asked.

I liked having his dick inside me, but not because it felt good. I was just relieved to lose my virginity—finally, at 19—so I could join my girlfriends in gossiping about sex.

Since I went through puberty extremely late—as in, tormented-by-the-possibility-that-I-might-have-a-genetic-disorder late—I spent a solid portion of my high school years growing disconnected from my female peers. They were all genuinely obsessed with boys—namely, experimenting with boys in basements and the backseats of SUVs, and then chatting about it ad nauseum, before and after school and in between classes. With zero to contribute to the ongoing conversation, I felt like an outcast whenever the dialogue turned towards fingering or feeling or spitting versus swallowing.

For a long time, I folded into myself. I didn't date boys or hook up with boys or fantasize about them—until, at age 16-and-a-half, I discovered the bloody glob in my underwear that promised womanhood. Grateful to Mother Nature for the gift of the monthly curse and the accompanying hormones, I set out to do womanly things. At the time, what that meant to me was fooling around with boys.

With so much catching up to do, I embraced the task of getting naked with relative strangers as eagerly as an overachiever approaches studying for a big exam.

Hooking up was a carnival game I played relentlessly, in which I was always guaranteed to win a giant stuffed animal in the form of one precious nugget of sexual knowledge. Each new sex act—from making out at a concert to getting eaten out in a sauna to giving my first blowjob (and noting how much more sucking was involved than blowing)—provided a sense of accomplishment.

As the months passed, I racked up male conquests, checking off all the standard sexual bucket list items an adolescent must if she wants to talk honestly with friends about erect penises, oral, and, eventually, intercourse.

But at 19, a college sophomore and no longer a virgin, I had yet to orgasm. Not once. Not while any of my classmates slurped my vulva in search of my clitoris. Not while any of them fucked me doggy style or as I bounced up and down on them in the "reverse cowgirl" position atop a dilapidated couch in an abandoned common room. And certainly not while I dry humped the below-average looking RA to avoid getting written up for alcohol consumption.

I was aroused during most sexual encounters, but I was never ever fully satisfied.

Still, I was a determined young woman, and relatively open-minded. So I continued to try new things—anything that was asked of me or suggested, really. I massaged men's testicles methodically and rubbed their "taints." I mouthed the tips of cocks (some slightly curved, some short and stout, some long and thin), and stuck my finger in a few assholes. I gave way more blowjobs than someone who's never orgasmed ever should. I made a lot of men orgasm, and I learned how to fake an orgasm believably to spare the men who actually seemed to care about my sexual pleasure from feeling an ounce of guilt or shame.

But none of it led to climax—for me, that is.

Desperate to experience mind-blowing sex—the kind that inspires timeless songs and breathtaking art and brutal warfare—I grew more and more frustrated as time went on. The energy and effort I’d put into broadening my sexual horizons didn't seem to be paying off. Sure, my exploits afforded me plenty of fodder for story time with girlfriends, but I had yet to experience the kind of sensual pleasure I knew my mind and body were capable of.

I wanted more.

It was shortly after my twentieth birthday that it hit me: Men might not be the answer. No, I wasn't suddenly ready to lick pussy and identify as lesbian or bisexual. I was, however, prepared to take responsibility for my own sexual pleasure—to take matters into my own hands, literally, instead of relying on the opposite sex.

Mission Make Myself Orgasm required swearing off hookups with men temporarily. It also demanded commitment to a rigorous masturbation schedule.

Armed with a few packets of lubricant that had caught my eye at the checkout counter of the corner store, I felt good about my plan. For whatever reason, it didn't occur to me to buy a vibrator, but I had an electric toothbrush and a hairbrush with an awesomely phallic handle, both begging to be repurposed.

Three days into my very personal sexual journey, I was reclining on the top bunk in my dorm room around 3pm while my roommate was in Pscyh-101 across campus. After just a few minutes, an unmistakable sensation began brewing in my groin.

Keep doing what your doing, I coached myself.

Careful not to lose my finger's grip on my clitoris, I continued the tiny circular motion that seemed so effective. The toothbrush I'd recently discarded in favor of hand-on-clit stimulation buzzed next to me from within the folds of my duvet, but I refused to pause and turn it off. Instead, I welcomed the faint humming sound and listened to my body, granting the sensation within the room it needed to grow.

I let go.

My hips began gyrating, at first slowly, then maniacally. With my free hand, I massaged my breasts and pinched my nipples as I squirmed about, digging my heels into the mattress.

I could feel it coming: The tingling, the warmth, the overwhelming awareness that I was falling or floating or torpedoing through the air without a care, certain that I would land safely, enveloped in a moist, impossibly tender cloud that was all my own. There weren't any words to articulate what I felt, exactly.

Finally!

After mastering the art of solo sex, I approached random hookups with more confidence and enthusiasm about the potential payoff. Sure enough, messing around with men proved a hell of a lot more rewarding once I understood my body. It didn’t take long for me to orgasm through intercourse, and to figure out a bunch of other stuff that works (and doesn't work) for me in bed.

Now, when a man is inside me, I know what to do and I always orgasm at least once. But I certainly don't need a man to get there, and I take full credit for my own sexual awakening. TC mark 

Africa Doesn’t Need Your Pity (Or Your Condescension)

Posted: 18 Aug 2015 03:47 PM PDT

Twenty20 / Joshua Ambrose
Twenty20 / Joshua Ambrose

A few weeks ago, I made the mistake of replying to a stranger's comment on a friend's Instagram. The picture revealed an insecurity about a part of her body. But the caption emphasized the sincerity of confidence in her appearance, still combined with the desire to see changes to her body.

I liked the post and many others did too. But lo and behold, in the comments section, another woman gave her a sort-of-compliment and then told her the post was tantamount to #firstworldproblems.

Many people took the commenter to task on her insensitivity, as well as her constricted worldview where people who are not in the "first world" (a term I utterly despise), are the only ones who may struggle with their appearance.

I curtly told her that as a woman from one of those, "third world countries," her conceptions of what constitutes the "third world" is patronizing and inaccurate.

The commenter, completely absorbed in an all too familiar self-righteousness, as part of her responses, went on to essentialize people in marginalized identities, including people in “third world countries.” She included that women in the Congo – in relation to some brutal realities experienced by said women – did not experience body insecurities issues.

In all my convictions to avoid arguing with strangers on the Internet, I was moved to respond to her condescension. I curtly told her that as a woman from one of those, "third world countries," her conceptions of what constitutes the "third world" is patronizing and inaccurate.

She – presumably a White, American, middle-class woman – then tried to combat my viewpoint with what essentially came down to her checking my privilege. The irony of this interaction, completely lost on her.

I chose not to reply because firstly, this was not what the post was about. And secondly, my reaction would have gone from curt to something worse. I know myself well enough to know when to choose silence, and I try my damn hardest even in all my passions to keep debate, civil. This was neither the place nor the time.

From this minor interaction that had nothing to do with Africa and Africans, she had still chosen them as people to be pitied and condescended to. It is an interaction I have combated in all my time living in the United States. And it is an entirely exhausting experience.

beetlejuice

Africans, in the American imagination, are seen as connected to Black Americans. Or we are utterly forgotten about and made invisible insofar as the country's relationship to the continent. Or we exist in a space that is negative: A place of disease, war, and strife. In this global age, the single story being told of Africa and Africans is combated, but it still remains.

Now I do not wish to speak for all of Africa or for all Africans. But when you live in the United States, you often find yourself feeling like you have to. Mostly due to the ignorance of many Americans who cannot comprehend the continent is made up 54 countries. And within any one country itself, the ethnic groups are plentiful. Consider my home country Nigeria, where there are over 250 ethnic groups. Do remember: We did not choose our borders.

Poverty is not an accident.

Particularly in reference to the portrayal of Africans in a negative light, there is a white savior mentality that often accompanies it in this part of the world. Africans are seen as people in need of "saving." Nigerian-American author, Teju Cole so aptly referred to the manifestation of this mentality as The White Savior Industrial Complex.

I often have to remind people in the West, that Africa is not poor. But it has been robbed and pillaged and devastated for the gains of the West, who now look down on much of the continent and its people with contempt on one hand, and a frustrating paternalism, on the other.

Poverty is not an accident. And the poverty that exists, and is experienced by some Africans, is not an accident.

beetlejuice

Confronting and solving the diverse set of problems that exist on a large-scale in African countries will take a concerted effort, and is the work of many generations. And there is a way for the West to participate in doing so – not out of benevolence, because it was an initial "benevolence" that wreaked much havoc to begin with. But out of righting the wrongs of history, and the need for sensible global, economic, decisions that realize in greater equality for all human beings.

The problem with this of course is trying to shift attitudes in this part of the world from that of a zero-sum game to a more equitable perspective. But economic perspectives aside, a shift in socio-cultural perspectives is needed. To pity Africans, and to essentialize and constrict our stories, is to believe that we are inferior.

Many need support and solutions. But Africans will never need your pity.

Additionally, it has always struck me as perplexing, as well as made me both wary and vigilant – that many Americans who want to "save the Africans," are the same troupe that ignore Black and Brown bodies that are marginalized in this country every day. I am distrustful of such a perspective for many reasons, but mainly a simple one: Charity begins at home.

I write this of course as privileged African who can admit my privileges, and one who for all intents and purposes, does not like to play armchair philosopher to other marginalized people and their problems. Africans are engaging in their own survival – many are thriving in spite of history and the present. Many need support and solutions. But Africans will never need your pity.

So by all means, express dissatisfaction about your body if you must. Feel free to engage in criticism in how and why people choose to. Or whatever.

But do it without talking about the women in Congo, or any other part of Africa. They are people – some of whom experience the exact same things as you. They are not figments of your imagination, and they are not to be used for your pedantic condescension. TC mark

10 People Who Lost Over 20 Pounds Share The Little Habits That Helped Them Get Where They Wanted To Be

Posted: 18 Aug 2015 07:58 AM PDT

cherfil97
cherfil97

1.

“I lost weight after I made a vow to only allow myself to eat out twice a month. It seems to silly to act as if that’s some big challenge or compromise but seriously, it’s hard to limit how often you eat out! Between friends wanting to get dinner, catching up with old friends, family or friends in town, and just generally being lazy about cooking I was probably eating out at least 5 meals a week. Sometimes I’d stop at McDonalds on the way home and get a strawberry milkshake as a little treat for dealing with a shitty day. I didn’t realize how much I was eating out until I noticed my budget and how much eating out was costing me. So, I just told myself, no more fast food or dining out except for twice a month. I figured that enabled me one meal out on every paycheck. The results have been great. Not only have I been saving a ton of money but I’ve lost weight too. At least 25 lbs by now and it’s been 6 months. Basically, I just became proactive about my meals and cooking and what I’m eating. I realized one meal I make for myself for $8 can last 2-3 meals, depending on what it is. And now, when I go out, I make sure those meals are really worth it and they’re more special.” – Brian, 33. 


2.

“I gained weight when I took an office job 3 years ago. After work I’m so exhausted I don’t feel like working out and so I became an inactive person most of the time. Around the same time I noticed how sluggish I had become I had been thinking about taking on a part-time second job because my first job is, for the most part great, but doesn’t pay me that well. When I was job searching I found a waitress position at a bar where the ad said, “Don’t apply to this job unless you’re willing to be on your feet the entire shift and walking the entire time up and down a pool hall.” Honestly, that sounded great to me. It was just what I needed. I hate exercising because I get so bored with it but if I have a task I have to do while I’m exercising then I don’t even notice it. I started the job a few months ago and I’ve already noticed such a difference. It’s helped me lose weight and tone up my legs.” – Ashley, 27.


3.

“I noticed in the past year I had gained at least 20-30 lbs when I went from being a full-time college student to someone who works at home as a graphic designer for a company that lets me work remotely. When I was in school I was so busy all the time, always running around, and I was on a regular schedule of eating 2 or 3 times a day inbetween classes. Then, when I started working from home 12 hours a day, not only did my lack of activity go down, but I started eating crap. I’d order in a few times a week because I was too lazy to cook or I’d work all day, forget to eat, then binge eat whatever was in my fridge. It was really unhealthy. After I saw myself in some recent pics and noticed my clothes weren’t fitting, I knew I had to do something. I didn’t want to become diet and gym obsessed, mostly because I don’t have time for that. I decided to look at what I was eating and go back to eating a mostly raw, vegetarian diet, like the one I was on in college. The big thing for me wasn’t carbs, but sugar. If you start reading your ingredients in what you’re eating, sugar is in almost everything! It’s disgusting. So I cut out sugar and after a week, I immediately felt better and noticed I looked slimmer. I started making a habit of walking more and taking 2 breaks during my work day to go on a walk. Just by doing those 2 little things I’ve already seen a change in not only my weight but my mood and how I sleep.” – Lisa, 25.


4.

“My friend took me to check out a new gym that had opened up in our neighborhood. I didn’t think I would really like it because I’m not a fan of gym culture to begin with but they had a room where just women can work out in if they don’t want to be around guys, which I loved, and they offered me a 15-day free pass to “try out” the gym before committing to signing up. I knew I needed to do something after I had gained some weight in the past year and this was the perfect thing for me.” – Kelsey, 24.


5.

“I stopped drinking alcohol and eating food with a lot of sugar. Within 3 days I felt stronger, happier, and felt a noticeable difference in my body. It was the greatest thing I’ve ever done to lose weight.” – Chuck, 28.


6.

“I broke up with my boyfriend and became too depressed to eat. Great diet and lifestyle tip, right? Haha no, but seriously, after we broke up I started reevaluating a lot of things in my life. I was never obese or anything, but I was at a weight I was uncomfortable with and wanted to change. I started meditating, doing more yoga, and became more spiritually fulfilled. When this happened and I turned my mind into a positive space I started to think more positively about my life and ways I could make a difference. It was realizing everything I do and every thought I have is a choice I make. I remember this when I’m feeling tempted to binge eat. I still eat what I want in moderation and I still give in to my cravings, but I’m more mindful about it.” – Kailey, 34.


7.

“I quit my job. I worked at a brewery and they gave us unlimited free beer. I’d get drunk every night and it was great but I realized after a year I had really added on the pounds. I knew as long as I worked there I was enabling my alcoholism and it was starting to affect my relationships. So I quit. After a year I was in a better place, off the booze, and had lost almost all the weight I had gained.” – Craig, 26.


8.

“Last year I became friends with a new colleague at work from China who commented on American’s eating portions, specifically when it comes to meat. He said it surprised him to see Americans eating a piece of meat for themselves that would have fed his entire family back home. I knew our portion sizes were over the top but it really opened my eyes to what I was eating and how much of it I was eating. So, I cut back. I started replacing the part of my plate that would normally be filled with meat with more green vegetables. It sounds really simple and it is but it’s also hard. It’s a mental thing. We’ve been taught all our lives to eating nothing but basically a meat and potatoes diet.” – Eric, 29. 


9.

“I stopped eating pizza. It’s sad but true. I love pizza and I still eat it maybe once every 6 months but before, I was eating it probably once a week.” – Megan, 26. 


10.

“I fell in love. Seriously. That’s what did it for me. I fell in love with the most beautiful caring and loving person who was in a better place than I was mentally and physically. She taught me all these things about life I never knew before or had even thought about. We were two complete extremes when we met. I was a functioning alcoholic and really down on myself. I drank every night until I blacked out because I had nothing to really live for and I never thought I would have anything to live for. But then I met her and she made me want to change. She made me want to be a better man. She showed concern over my drinking and for awhile that was a hard battle but she made it clear she wanted our love to be a space that would help me, not make me into a person I didn’t want to be.

She helped me get on a regular eating schedule and she helped me eat a healthier diet and actually start exercising for once in my life. It was baby steps. And yes, it was all the basic things people tell you “eat healthier, exercise more” but it wasn’t all done at once and it was done with the help of someone who really loved me. That made all the difference. She has always been someone to take me through every step and let me know no matter what she loves me, even if I falter or fuck up, she’s there as my cheerleader. Love is no better motivation.” – Jimmy, 26. TC mark

This Is Why It’s So Hard To Be The Single One

Posted: 17 Aug 2015 09:49 AM PDT

Brittani Lepley
Brittani Lepley

I'm driving down a quiet country road in Central Minnesota just as dark begins to seep into the pink of the sunset and cover the sky with its thick blanket. A fog is spreading across the road and coating my windshield in mist. The radio is leaking George Jones.

If this were a horror movie, I think, my wipers would break and my windows would fog up so much I couldn't drive, forcing me to abandon my car and walk off into the night in search of help. My cell phone would be dying, of course.

I would walk into a house and there, in this perfect horror movie of my life, would be all the ghosts of the girls I used to be, and I'd be forced to confront them, explain my decisions, plead temporary insanity, until each one was placated and happy. The wall of Karas would be disappointed in me, question my choices, wonder what the fuck was going through my mind when I did this or that.

“You think of things in a pre-approved timeline. Find a man, get engaged, get married, have babies. Even if you think you're going to blaze your own path, refuse to shack up at 27 like your peers, you still think about it.”

I'd go crazy in there, trying to defend myself to my former selves. Wouldn't you?

Here's the thing about being a woman.

You put the eye cream on, the anti-aging cream on, because you're supposed to start it at such-and-such age. You do it because you're told with every page of that magazine that that's what you're supposed to do. You think about Botox. You color your roots.

You think of things in a pre-approved timeline. Find a man, get engaged, get married, have babies. Even if you think you're going to blaze your own path, refuse to shack up at 27 like your peers, you still think about it. You feel guilt that you're not doing what you should. You know it's OK to do your own thing for the rest of your life, but you watch college acquaintances get engaged, married and knocked up one after another through the weirdo portal we call Facebook and you compare yourself. You think, "Should that be me? What am I doing wrong?"

You do battle with tradition. You embrace it, then you push it away.

It's like the way they teach little girls to speak, every answer a question.

Do I want to be married right now? No. I like being by myself. In fact, I like it so much that it has led my mother to worry that I'm alone too much. I'm not, of course. "I think you're alone too much," she says to me, feigning concern. I just scoff at her, the way I do more and more as I get older. I'm fifteen years old in 27-year-old clothing, I guess. Do I want to be married, mama, happily ever after? Not at the moment. I'm more interested in booking tickets than picking out bridesmaids dresses and baby bedding.

But then again, I look at my peers and I wonder, "What's wrong with me?" How come I haven't donned the white dress? How come none of my lovers have stuck around more than six months? Is there something fundamentally wrong with me that I remain the only single one in my group of close friends, always the solo one at weddings and gatherings?

It's hard to be the single one. You relish your independence but then grow to hate it on Sunday afternoons when all your friends are cuddled up on their couches and you're home alone twiddling your thumbs, thinking "What ifs." They tell you they're jealous of your freedom; you tell them you're jealous of their predictability. You resent them for it. We grew up with Carrie Bradshaw and her friends, who remained single long into their thirties, but for some reason the idea of being single that long fills me with dread.

I can't Tinder. I can't test the waters of OKCupid. There's something in my genetic material that makes the idea of online dating seem impossible. I want more – I want the human connection, the kind that happens without a screen. I know that in the eyes of the general public – my family, my friends, the Midwest – I am approaching the age where they wonder why I haven't settled down. I just can't do what they've told me. I can't do it until it feels real. I know it will happen, sometime, but it hasn't happened yet. And that's mostly OK. My timeline is a little "off." My ideals are a bit different.

I'll go into that haunted house, full of judgmental peers and happy wedding photos of the girls I came of age with, and I'll tell all those past Karas that they did the right thing. I know something is waiting out there for us; we just haven't found it yet. TC mark

Love At First Sight Is Real And Here’s Why

Posted: 18 Aug 2015 09:07 AM PDT

jcvnha
jcvnha

Love. It is one of the first emotions that we experience, regardless of what your definition of love is. It could have been when your parents first held you in their arms, or it could have been experienced when you chased your playground crush and scraped your knees in the process. Love can be what you feel when you take a spoonful of Nutella right out of the jar after a long day, or the feeling you get when your significant other grabs your hand, pulls you aside, and gives you a quick kiss.

It doesn't matter who or what it happens to be with, but the understanding that it is there and that it is real is all a part of the human growth process. Regardless, the experience is something that everyone experiences, while keeping each unique experience sacred to each individuals' life. While love is the first emotion you experience, it is often a wonder of when exactly it happens with the people you meet.

Sometimes when you fall into a level of comfort with someone, you can ask yourself, "When did I fall in love with you? When did it happen?” It could have been sixth months or one year into a relationship with someone, or even the minute you met them. The idea that you can fall into love at first sight is something that should be embraced when it does happen.

Love grows over time; there's no question about that. It's not quite an emotion that can be felt automatically, or can it? Love at first sight can often be romanticized in various television shows and movies.

But there is that instant, gut emotion you get when you see someone for the first time, that can be ever so telling as to where your relationship with them will take off.

And while you can't quite say you love this person yet, or that you are in love with them, you want to be. You know this even if you don't want to admit it. Part of you just wants to know them, to learn who they are, and how you can be a part of their life.

Love at first sight is what weeds the rest of the world out from the person or people you are supposed to be with. Love at first sight is what brings you into someone's life, and you into theirs. Love at first sight is how you can see that there is something more to this life than trying to find someone to understand you, because at the end of the day, there is a possibility that person is there and understands you more than yourself. You might have met that person yesterday.

Sometimes you ask yourself “Is it real?”, and yet you are faced with a person right in front of you, beckoning your every inner desire to love and feel love for this one single person who you know absolutely nothing about it. You can't put your finger on what makes this person different from all of the rest. And while "love" can be a strong word, you know that in your heart that there is something that is making you like this person a whole lot more than all of the other people that have crossed your path. You question yourself on whether or not you are losing it, or perhaps you are just putting all of your eggs into one basket, but you know.

You know.

You know that that person has a spark. They have something that has the potential to make you and your life better than you could've ever imagined it to be. And you hope deep, deep inside that they see that potential, too. You like them. Simple as that. And whether or not something truly happens out of this, is really just up to compatibility and fate.

So what draws you in? What is it that makes you stop in your tracks, completely forget everything that is going on in your life, and focus on this person? Even if it is fleeting, the feeling of love at first sight is ever present in your mind. And you can read articles upon articles about how humans fall in love and the science of our emotions, but nothing quite rings more true to the theory of falling in love at first sight than having the experience happen for yourself. You can call it initial attraction, or perhaps just a gut reaction – nonetheless you are drawn in. You like them, and it’s just up to you to do something about it.

The thing is – love just happens. It just does. You can't quite explain it, but it exists and often times the potential of falling in love with someone happens within the first glance. TC mark

40 Simple Ways To Perk Up Your Day

Posted: 18 Aug 2015 08:42 AM PDT

phnx6
phnx6

1. Do something nice for someone anonymously. Pay for a stranger's coffee or leave someone a kind note.

2. Take an hour to get a little more dressed up than usual and feel an extra boost of confidence facing the day.

3. Take an hour out of your day to drink tea and read a good book or watch a movie.

4. Write someone you love a letter telling them how much you appreciate them.

5. Have a long, hard workout that leaves you feeling tired and satisfied.

6. Call a friend and ask them to tell you about something good that's happened to them recently.

7. Call your mom (or someone else you care for) just to say “I love you.”

8. Splurge on something you've been thinking about buying for a while. You probably deserve it.

9. Turn off your phone and computer for an hour to give yourself a break from the never-ending onslaught of communication.

10. Watch thirty minutes of something funny on Youtube or TV.

11. Make a list of all your greatest accomplishments so far.

12. Reach out to a friend whom you miss and make plans to meet up later in the week.

13. Take a half-hour walk in nature and reap the psychological benefits.

14. Plan a small trip or "staycation" within the next month so that you have something to look forward to.

15. Dedicate fifteen or twenty minutes to cleaning up your home or workspace. Less physical clutter often translates to less mental clutter.

16. Pick that one thing you've been putting off and just do it. You'll feel like a weight has been lifted off your chest.

17. Call a close loved one and unashamedly ask them to disclose what they love most about you.

18. Lock yourself in a room and have a fifteen-minute solo dance party in your underwear.

19. Look through pictures of happier times in your life as a reminder of how good things can be, even if they aren't great right now.

20. Read something intellectually stimulating.

21. Write a letter to your past self at a time when you were struggling, reminding yourself that things change and get better.

22. Write a letter to your future self to keep things in perspective and remind yourself that there's still time to figure things out.

23. Go for a swim or light some scented candles and take a bath – there's something inherently soothing about being in water.

24. Spend time around a friend who energizes you.

25. Research your dream vacation, apartment or job, to remind yourself what you have to look forward to in the long-term.

26. Hug or cuddle a loved one for that sweet oxytocin release.

27. Make yourself a good, healthy meal that your body will thank you for.

28. Compile or peruse through your favorite inspirational quotes to keep yourself motivated.

29. Write a list of twenty (or more) things that you're grateful for.

30. Lay out an action plan for dealing with upcoming challenges, to make them seem more manageable.

31. Have sex with someone else or yourself.

32. Go for a long drive with music playing and the windows rolled down.

33. Give yourself permission to cry if you need to.

34. Do something you enjoyed as a child – eat a huge bowl of Fruit Loops, watch a cartoon or go for a bike ride.

35. Try a guided meditation.

36. Go to a bar, introduce yourself to a stranger and tell them what you're most passionate about. Let it serve as a reminder of how attractive you become when you talk about what inspires you.

37. Take a nap under a pile of warm blankets and then have a coffee in bed when you wake up.

38. Journal out your feelings or thoughts.

39. Make a list of all you hope to accomplish in the next ten years, as a reminder that you're never done growing or changing.

40. Give yourself permission – just for one day – to not have it all figured out yet. TC mark

21 Surprising Facts About Abortion That Every Pro-Life Or Pro-Choice Person Should Know

Posted: 13 Aug 2015 02:46 PM PDT

Flickr, Daria Nepriakhina
Flickr, Daria Nepriakhina

1. The first recorded instance of induced abortion (on purpose and not a miscarriage) dates from 1550 BC and was recorded on what is today known as the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus. [Source]

2. Abortion has been treated differently in many different cultures. For instance, in ancient India it was perfectly acceptable for untouchables (the lowest caste) to have abortions whenever they wanted but for the top three castes it wasn’t allowed at all. Women who had abortions or priests who conducted them could be excommunicated.

This was all because “male seed” was considered important but only among the higher castes. Also, if you were an untouchable, good luck getting a priest to touch you in order to conduct the abortion. [Source]

3. Abortion was no more accepted nor rejected in the past than it is today for the most part. Many were against it and many weren’t. It’s basically impossible to appeal to the past in today’s abortion debate because of the variety of opinions and beliefs.

4. One common thread in the way abortion was viewed was that a husband’s rights were considered to be more important. In ancient Greece and Assyria, a woman could be punished for having an abortion performed without her husband’s knowledge. In Assyria around 1075 an abortion in this context could be punished by death. [Source]

5. At the same time, the same tension that some pro-life individuals point to today regarding what constitutes life was present even then. While a woman could have an abortion in ancient Assyria with her husband’s knowledge it was considered a crime to assault a woman in such a way that it caused her to miscarry. [Source]

6. The point at which an embryo was considered to be “alive” in ancient Greece is roughly the same time period which many today consider an embryo to become a live human, at least for females. Aristotle himself pegged this transition period at 40 days after conception for males saying “the line between lawful and unlawful abortion will be marked by the fact of having sensation and being alive.” Females, however, take a full 90 days to get a soul according to Aristotle. Regardless, it was the ability to feel pain that appears to be the intended distinction. [Source]

7. Abortion in ancient Greece was remarkably common, however.

via Wiki Commons
via Wiki Commons

The herb Silphium was used not only as an abortifacient but as a contraceptive as well. To give you an idea of how widely used the herb was used, a picture of the plant actually appeared on money of the city of Cyrene, a Greek city in Libya. Of course, the herb was used commonly for other things as well but it’s use in abortion was in no way a secret or considered a taboo subject.

In fact, the demand for the plant may have been what caused it to go extinct. [Source]

8. During periods of hardship and famine, abortion rates have historically always gone up because it represents another mouth to feed. However, today that general rules doesn’t hold true. During the U.S. economic recession beginning in 2008, abortions actually went down because of the availability of birth control. [Source]

9. There were lots of different methods for performing an abortion before modern science took hold. Some of them, like kicking yourself in your own butt or jumping up and down, don’t work at all. Most methods included using herbs like the above Silphium or like Pennroyal Tea which was used in medieval times. Manual massage was also used in Southeast Asia and New Zealanders used herbal drugs in combination with the binding of a woman’s stomach which sounds unbelievably awful. Surgery was rarely used.

By the way, don’t ever drink Pennroyal Tea in an attempt to perform an abortion. The chances are high that you have no idea what you’re doing and it will kill you. [Source 1, 2]

10. Even today, many Japanese Buddhists practice a ritual known as mizuko kuyo whenever a woman is unable to conceive, miscarries, or has an abortion. Mizuko kuyo is a memorial rite and, in the case of abortion, is intended to honor the aborted. [Source]

11. Like many in America today, the Romans didn’t believe abortion should be illegal but society still looked down on it from a moral standpoint. [Source]

12. The Catholic Church of the 7th century considered abortion to be less worthy of punishment than oral sex. [Source]

13. The modern Catholic Church believes abortion to be akin to murder but they didn’t always feel this way. In fact, the Catholic Church has only believed this for about 300 years. Previous to the 17th century, the Catholic Church had seen early abortion as a relatively minor offense for 1,100 years. People who claim the church has always been against abortion are wrong. [Source]

14. The modern belief among many Christians, Catholic and Protestant, that life (and a soul) begins at conception didn’t appear until the 17th century either. [Source]

15. Traditionally, Islam has viewed abortion in much the same way that modern America does. An abortion could be performed as long as it wasn’t after four months because Muslims believed that the fetus became a human life at that point. They also made clear that the life of the mother holds precedence over the life of the baby. While abortion was viewed as unfortunate and sometimes sinful, it wasn’t disallowed before four months.

On the other end of the spectrum, Islam has traditionally considered abortion to okay if the resulting child would be deformed. This includes mental retardation.

Abortion after four months is considered murder or infanticide. [Source 1, 2]

16. Some doctors in 1890 believed abortion was a rampant problem and claimed that 50% of all pregnancies in large cities like Chicago and New York resulted in abortions. More conservative rates claimed that 17 out of every 100 pregnancies resulted in abortion. However, these numbers are likely inflated or possibly made up completely. [Source]

17. The death rate of women seeking abortions from backstreet doctors in 1800s New York was 30%. Nearly one in three women seeking a surgical abortion died. [Source]

18. The abortion rate in Asia is nearly twice that of the United States. [Source 1, 2]

19. Abortion in Japan is believed to be more common than anywhere else in the world and while exact figures are hard to come by it’s generally believed that this is because abortion is legal and oral contraceptives are not which seems like a kind of bizarre and backwards arrangement in a highly advanced nation. [Source]

20. Abortion in early colonial America was fairly common however premarital sex was completely illegal. As a result, abortions were generally kept secret since pregnancy only happens one way. [Source]

21. England didn’t abandon the death penalty as punishment for abortion until 1837. [Source] TC mark

When You Have One Week Left With The Person You Love

Posted: 17 Aug 2015 02:44 PM PDT

cstephbarcenas
cstephbarcenas

We've only been together, for real, for three months—a little less, actually. The three months before that were far from perfect, but they were fun. Really fun. Way more fun than I anticipated those three months could be. Turns out, "they" were right—I wasn't expecting it, but a good thing came. A really good thing. Probably the best thing that's ever happened to me.

We've only been together, for real, for three months—and to be clear, at school, he was a fuckboy. He was damaged and unavailable and a pain in the ass. He fucked up. Several times. And I was too smitten to hold him accountable for all his shit—I fucked up, too. But I was hooked on him. I'm still hooked on him. Because fuckgirl recognize fuckboy, I guess. He's selfish and reckless, but so am I—and that's OK. At least we can admit it. At least my happiness is his happiness. At least his sadness is my sadness. At least we're really in love. At least we're fuckids together, you know? It works for us. It's kind of our thing.

We've only been together, for real, for three months—but if we've been together in some capacity for six—well, shit, that's kind of a while. For me, at least—for a fuckgirl who, prior to meeting her fuckboy, had never loved. Even a little. Fuck love—I'd never even really liked.

* * *

I spend every night with him. I write about him. I've taken blows to my friendships for him—I've had to ask for forgiveness from my best friends (and my family) who feel justifiably betrayed by my relationship with him. Because he's most of my life right now, and I don't see them as much as I should.

But that's because it's about to end. Because in two weeks, I go back to school. In one, he starts a 24-hour finance job—the kind that'll keep him in the office till 6 a.m. We can't be together now—it doesn't make sense. And part of me is totally rational about it. And optimistic—he loves me, after all. And I love him. And we talk about the future with vague certainty—we'll see each other whenever we can. We'll talk whenever we can. And one day, we'll be together, for real, again. Maybe in a year. Maybe in ten. In the meantime, we'll work—on our careers, on ourselves…on becoming everything we want to be, independent of one another. And we'll probably hook up with other people, but we'll keep our hearts on hold—mine for him, his for me.

The other part of me, though—hypersensitive, idealistically romantic part—objects. The other part of me wants to believe we're so in love that we'll find a way. That after being apart for one week without being able to call me his girlfriend, he'll panic, he'll need me, and I'll need him. And we'll stay together through his first year of work and my last year of school. And that it won't matter that we'll never see each other or barely talk—that we won't get jealous. That it won't drive us mad. But it will. So we have to say goodbye—for now.

I feel like I'm living the backstory of a Fitzgerald novel. Like he's about to get deployed for his first tour or some shit, and I don't know when I'm going to see him again. Like I've just lived the best moments of my life, and now I have to say goodbye to the thing that gave them to me. It's all very surreal. And I don't know what to expect. And I'm scared.

I've decided to lean into all of it, though. I can't tell myself not to cry—I can't tell myself not to miss him. It'll just make it worse. The more I try to push those emotions away, the more they'll consume me. So I'm going to sit with them. I'm going to sit with the sadness, with the fear, with the uncertainty. I'm going to embrace them. I'm going to let myself feel them, and then I'm going to do the same for my art—I'm going to let that sadness, that fear, and that uncertainty write itself.

* * *

A few nights ago, you reminded me of that conversation we had outside of Spring Street Market the day I was leaving for summer. The one we had after days of going back and forth about the conditions of our relationship—were we dating? Were you my boyfriend? You said no. I told you to get your shit together—I wasn't going to wait, and you'd regret it. You got it together. And then, a few nights ago, you looked right at me as you said something I'm sure I'll never forget:

"Anything short of this would've been failure."

You're the first boy I've ever loved, and better yet—you're the first boy who's ever loved me. You made me happy when I thought I'd be sad. Exhilarated when I thought I'd be bored. And I'm going to think about you. And I'm going to miss you. And I'm going to love you until we can be together, for real, again. Anything short of that would be failure—and neither of us are very good at losing. TC mark

What It’s Really Like To Study Yoga In India

Posted: 18 Aug 2015 02:54 AM PDT

adrien field
adrien field

I have been in India for two weeks now for a yoga teacher-training course and found it difficult to write anything. It is not for a lack of experiencing – I am completely out of my element, thrown into a world foreign to me in every way. Normally my mind would be active with analysis, but thoughts and words have generally eluded me – I have found myself in a sort of mindless witnessing.

It could be the constant cacophony of noise that makes it impossible to form a coherent thought. At 5 o'clock the morning, the Muslim prayers begin, all day the streets are a constant symphony of honking horns. There is rarely a quiet moment or comfortable place to sit and absorb.

I arrived in Mysore after a four-hour flight from Delhi to Bangalore and a six-hour taxi ride through barely moving traffic. It was dark and the monsoon rains were falling. When I was shown the accommodations that were to be my home for the following month I was too exhausted to cry. To say that our apartment would make a hostel in Sparta look like the Ritz doesn't seem an overstatement. There were iron bars on the curtain-less windows, a bucket for showering and our only other furniture, save for a set of twin beds, were plastic lawn chairs and a wooden table.

In the first few days we had neither hot water nor a refrigerator. If I wanted to shower after the 5AM yoga practice, I had to boil a pot of water on a hot plate then add it to the cold tap water. At night my body was a buffet for mosquitos – I would awake in the night to a buzzing sound in my ear and pull the cover over my head in misery, sweating and itchy.

I contemplated leaving every hour during those first days. I hadn't paid the balance due on my tuition and thought about checking into a beach hut in Sri Lanka to relax for the month. Why was I torturing myself with 5AM yoga practice and a day full of classes? This was supposed to be something of a vacation, after all. I thought about my feathertopped mattress at home, air conditioning, HBO, my dog, my coffee maker, my blender, my clean bathroom. All of that was 9,000 miles away, another reality completely.

I had three days to make a decision on whether I would stay or leave. I had no pride about being strong – I would rather be comfortable than strong. But in three days I had become attached to the fellow students in the program. There was my Greek friend with an infectious laugh, my Italian roommate who looked like a young, thin Fabio and spoke English like Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Indian friend who was quick to route out the best marijuana in Mysore.

Things started to improve slowly. Our hot water heaters were fixed so that our bucket showers no longer required running from the bathroom to the kitchen naked. I bought mosquito repellent and curtains for our windows so that we were no longer the entertainment for the construction workers below us. Even the 5AM practices became bearable when I realized I could skip the next block of classes to sleep afterwards.

Surrendering to the experience, I could appreciate the uniqueness of this place. I started to enjoy certain routines – walking back from an afternoon practice to pass the same cow herder with his slowly moving bovine troupe, the smile from the ladoo seller standing at his corner cart, the transfixed stares of the Indians when I wear a dhoti and mala beads to walk around.

India is materially poor, dirty, and polluted. In the auto rickshaw rides across town I suffocate on bus and truck exhaust. Walking on the street is a minefield of cow dung and potentially treacherous potholes. Food wrappers and other litter cover the ground like a post-apocalyptic garden. And this is the second cleanest city in all of India.

Still India has something that has eluded the West for all its material abundance and cleanliness. It has a deep commune with the soul. Instead of building upwards, for thousands of years India has built roads inwards. Even in this mess of a place there is so much beauty. It is a simplistic beauty – not a beauty of opulence but of the gentleness and kindness in people's faces. India is the sway of colorful sari in the wind, it is the giant smile of a child climbing a tree in an innocent bliss, it is the street dog that follows you lovingly after you show it affection.

This experience is challenging but in a way I have never felt so lucky to shower with a bucket. TC mark