Thought Catalog

Presence, Not Presents: 10 Ways To Actually Enjoy The Holidays This Year

Posted: 20 Dec 2015 08:00 PM PST


1. Write thoughtful, handwritten, personalized cards. Attach them to gifts, send them to your grandmother, even write a personal note to your boss. It's the best way to not just let people know they are seen, but appreciated in your life.

2. Ask people what they got last year for the holidays. You will be shocked by how little they remember, and intrigued by what they do. It will show you how much stressing over gifts is a waste of the time you could be spending with those people.

3. Spend time with the people you see every day – not who you see once in awhile, out of obligation. Even if you still feel compelled to pop by the family party for your once-a-year visit, make sure more time, and more energy, and more physical things are given and exchanged with the people who are in your life every single day.

4. Stop assuming that it's your job to correct or "inform" your ignorant relatives – it is not. They are probably as ignorant and misinformed as you assume (and then some) but not only is it not your job to police or correct others, a family gathering is an even more inappropriate place for that conversation than Facebook.

5. Give something to yourself. Whether it's a few days off work, or a physical thing you've always wanted or needed, do something for yourself that is just as meaningful as you'd do for anybody else.

6. Make time to do what you most loved about the holidays as a kid. Whether it was baking cookies or sitting in the light of the tree/menorah/what-have-you, watching old movies… if there is any moment to relive your childhood, it's now.

7. Forget about getting the "perfect gift," it's not a day to prove yourself, it's a day to prove how much you care about someone. Often when we focus on getting the "perfect gift," it's not out of love but anxiety that we'll be seen as incompetent or inefficient. If you imagine focusing on how to prove you care about someone, the stress will dissolve, and you'll almost instantly know what you should do for them.

8. Make a meal for someone you love. Despite it being the season for freeloading, make a celebratory meal by yourself, and share it with people you may not otherwise see on the holidays themselves.

9. Start your own traditions. Paint ornaments, have the first annual gathering at your place, create a signature dish, decorate your home in a certain way, volunteer for the morning.

10. Be present with people you love for more time than you spend shopping for presents. Take mental snapshots more than you do iPhone pictures. Wrap people in hugs more often than you wrap things in paper. Spend more time talking and reconnecting and giving than you do walking and spending. Be present. TC mark

Mr. Right Won’t Have Half The Qualities On Your ‘List’

Posted: 20 Dec 2015 07:10 PM PST

Twenty20 / anelfuentesdemaria
Twenty20 / anelfuentesdemaria

There are a bunch of ways that women sabotage themselves when it comes to finding love. One of them revolves around "The List," or, the list of things required for a man to measure up.

Now, I'm a big supporter of knowing exactly what you want in a man— down to having a list of exactly which attributes you want him to have— but there's a catch.

The list is the roadmap, and without one, we cannot know where we are going— which is why every woman who is out there dating should take the time to actually sit down and think about exactly which traits she wants her dream man to have, i.e. "make the list."

But when I talk about "making your list" and having standards, sometimes I'm misunderstood— and it's time to clarify what should go on that list and the things that need to get cut.

Here's what often makes it onto our lists:

  • Tall or tall(er) than us
  • Handsome
  • Rich
  • Our "type" (hard to quantify)
  • Kind
  • Intelligent
  • Wants children or doesn't

So what's the problem with this list? The physical expectation portion.

Requiring your dream man to be handsome, rich, tall and exactly your type trips women up on the road to finding love.

When we try to dictate exactly what our soulmate will look like in the physical realm, usually we skip over all of the internal because the physical is what we see first. This is basic, but important when you're doing something like internet dating, where it's easy to meet men one after another.

If you expect that when Mr. Right shows up, he'll be exactly 3 inches taller than you and look exactly the way you imagined he would when you were seven years old and planning your Barbie dream wedding— you're probably going to be sorely disappointed.

And the choices that you'll make based on these external criteria will suck.

This "process, judge, discard" process based on physical appearance is does us no favors. It's how you get to go on 130 first dates but no second dates.

It's like judging the meal before tasting it. You can't know what a man is really like without getting to know him at least a little, just like plenty of amazing looking meals fall flat in the taste and satisfaction department.

I do not mean that sexual attraction isn't important— it sure is. But sexual attraction can turn on a DIME for women.

Sexual attraction isn't just something that someone else either has or doesn't have. Often women find themselves heavily attracted to a man after she gets to know him. It's like a switch flips and suddenly, he's the most attractive man in the world.

This is why sometimes we fall for "that weird guy at work" who looks nothing like we would imagine. Because we had time to get to know him better in a no pressure environment. Real love comes from the inside… so WHY are we so dang hung up on the physical at first?

It's easier. It's easier in SO MANY WAYS. We can discard, judge and move on without investment. We can judge that book by it's cover when we're afraid, too. Or hurt, or not ready, or… hung up on someone else. These kinds of list line items become just another way we sabotage ourselves in our search for love.

So what kinds of things should actually go on your list?

Things like:

  • Kindness
  • Intelligence
  • Drive
  • Sense of humor
  • Respect
  • Wonder
  • Excitement
  • Persistence
  • Tolerance
  • Slow to anger
  • Values
  • Goals
  • Similar life path
  • Tolerance
  • Optimism

It's reasonable to want a man who is kind, intelligent and in possession of a wicked sense of humor— for these are the things that will make your life together rich and wonderful. These are kinds of standards that will serve you well in the long run. Be slower to discard based on the physical.

"The One" will probably not look how you imagined him to look (he never does).

Keep an open mind when it comes to the physical, but hold the line when it comes to values, temperament and life path. If you don't leave yourself open to meeting a wonderful man who might not look the way you're hoping he will on the outside… you're missing out.

So make your list, but when you've gotten it all on paper, go through and remove the physical. Trust that it will all work out in the long run. TC mark

This post originally appeared at Attract The One.

26 Stoners Share Their Hilarious Stories Of Shit They Did While High As A Kite

Posted: 20 Dec 2015 06:40 PM PST

Here’s What I Learned From The Latest Star Wars Movie: May The Future Be With You

Posted: 20 Dec 2015 06:15 PM PST

 Amazon / Star Wars
Amazon / Star Wars

Fair warning: this article is inspired by Star Wars. But fear not – spoil the movie it won't. And fan of the Force you need not be.

For you see, whether or not you're a sci-fi nerd, there's wisdom in the Wars that can be relevant to everyone. I'll admit, I hadn't re-watched them as an adult, and therefore felt almost unqualified to occupy a seat at a prescreening event Thursday. But after two and a half hours of on-screen nostalgia, I left the overcrowded, costume-filled theater close to midnight feeling ironically enlightened Awakened.

While I've always been fascinated by the series for its unique characters, social critiques, and cultural significance, I didn't expect the film to feel like a wakeup call. And not just for myself, but for all uncertain little twenty somethings with an entire universe of opportunities before us.

Although it was fun seeing old faces back on the big screen, I couldn't help but feel drawn to this episode's new protagonist, Rey, introduced as a lost, lone "scavenger" toughened by her orphan upbringing.

No, I'm definitely not an orphan, although my family is far, far away. I rarely find time to be alone, and I live in the plush city of Seattle – probably the furthest thing on any planet from Jakku. So what on Earth did I have in common with this badass warrior woman?

While our settings and storylines differ, what really struck a chord with me was Rey's exchange with the little old orange woman in glasses (didn't catch her name, sorry, I'm a Wookie rookie). When posed with a decision about the future, Orange advised, "Rey, the belonging you seek is not behind you, it is in front of you."

That was it. The rest of the movie could have been told in grunts and growls Ewokese for all I cared – one line and I was sold. As I whipped out my phone to write it down (garnering glares from the Jedi junkies next to me), I realized the significance of this subplot for those of us twenty-somethings whose next 50 years are still just written in the Stars.

Sure, uncertainty is intimidating. But ultimately,  it’s also liberating, if you choose to look at it that way.

"Rey, the belonging you seek is not behind you, it is in front of you."

Yet, in recent conversations with friends, I've found that we, like Rey, tend to err on the side of familiarity when faced with decisions about our own futures. Whether we're stuck chasing something (or someone) we'll never get back or clinging to our college years as if our lives began and ended on a campus, sometimes we find ourselves trapped in our own little Jakkus.

Dreams we once had are deserted. We dwell in desert wastelands cubicles. Things within reach start to outshine the stars. And at some point, we stop reaching for them altogether.

But like Star Wars itself, our lives should be an ever-evolving series, not just one episode. And we're solely responsible for directing, producing, writing, and starring in our own adventures. At 25, I've found myself continually rewriting my story, editing my supposed "ending" and adding characters along the way.

While I'm not totally lost, I only have an outline of what I want my life to look like – a series of moving targets with a loose "destination" of sorts. But at this point, it's tough to tell where my journey will take me, or who will stick by me through the end of it. Someday, I'll join Forces with someone significant and we'll co-star in each other's adventures. Because that's important to me, too. Even Han didn't go Solo.

But so far, my yet-to-be-written tale has landed me in some pretty unexpected places, most recently the wild, wild (Pacific North)west. I'll never forget a conversation I had with a guy from my past after I first moved to Seattle, a solid 2,000 miles from my Midwest home base. "Seattle, why Seattle?" he inquired. "You LOVE Chicago. And it's so rainy. What are you doing out there?"

Fair question. I did move somewhat on a whim and at that point I didn't even know if I liked it or not – I had been here only four days. Yet I knew it wasn't just for a job. Or new friends. Or a fresh start. I adored what I had at home. So my reply was hesitant, "I don't know, just chasing a dream I guess."

Then I had to wonder, "Isn't that what we're all doing?"

If not, why not? And judging by his silence, apparently not. Maybe it sounded stupid, or too simple, or he just didn't have an answer himself, in which case I can't really fault him. Sometimes we're just so burned out from our past or bogged down by our day-to-day that we forget to focus on what's still in front of us, as Orange put it.

Sure, uncertainty is intimidating. But ultimately,  it’s also liberating, if you choose to look at it that way.

At some point, it feels like we stop "growing up" and start just…showing up. "Going through the motions" without realizing that is the slowest way to get anywhere. We settle for what we're already doing or capitalize our careers on what we already know, losing sight of our potential to do, see, and experience more.

But as Yoda put it, "much to learn you still have." Let that always be the case.

On that note, don't overlook the Yodas in your life. You never know where you'll meet them or how they'll help you, but their words of wisdom can be out of this world.

While traveling a few years ago, I stayed with a family whose house was headed by Yoda "Papa" – an older gentleman who most people would probably say peaked in his 30's, when he helped successfully introduce Apple to Italy. Their home was a tribute to his past, adorned with decades of tech relics, prestigious awards, and photos with famous people. He would have had Steve Jobs on speed dial, if they had that back then. But he didn't consider himself a businessman, an entrepreneur, a tech innovator – any of it (even though he was technically all of it). "My titles have changed a thousand times," he told me humbly. "And I don't care what they call me. I just know if I've had one for too long, it's time to do something new."

Here was a man with a loving family, villas all over Europe, and enough stories and experiences behind him to pen two entire trilogies. Yet, even he wasn't satisfied. And not in a stressful, disappointed way – he simply knew he still had more to offer. "I'll never retire," he said. "I just keep adding new goals."

That exchange stuck with me just as Orange's did with Rey. Someday, the stars will align for all of us, so long as we keep seeking them. Our eyes were put in the front for a reason, so resist the urge to look back. Be proud of your past, embrace your present, but never lose sight of your potential. As Rey had to realize, moving forward isn't always easy, but nothing worth having ever is.

So in the series that is your life, just plan to keep your head high, your work hard, your heart young, and your allies abundant. There's not much else you can control when you're working towards a goal. And realize you're not alone – there's an entire army of us still exploring our options. Because whether we're ready or not, pretty soon the Force future will be with us. TC mark

8 Fine Lines Between Creepy And Forward You Shouldn’t Cross When Hitting On A Woman

Posted: 20 Dec 2015 05:43 PM PST

Twenty20 / martymacflay
Twenty20 / martymacflay

1. Telling her you’d like to take her home upon first meeting her.

Take a little time to learn some information about her before you’re so quick to invite her back to your place. For example, her name, her age, and maybe even her profession. A little conversation before you ask if she wants to “get out of here” is very much appreciated. A girl will send subtle hints if she wants to go home with you, and if you’re not getting that vibe, don’t expect her to be racing back to your apartment.

2. Complimenting specific body parts rather than her overall appearance.

“You look beautiful,” is better than “You have a really nice rack.” Complimenting her breasts is creepy, complimenting the way she looks in general is flattering. There’s a distinction between being forward and being crude.

3. Talking about your sex life or hers.

Don’t tell her you like it rough or ask her if she likes handcuffs. If you two barely know one another she certainly doesn’t need to know such personal information about you so soon, and she probably doesn’t want to share it about herself either. Her sex life is her own business, and if she wants you to know she will tell you.

4. Buying her a drink with other motives.

Don’t jokingly tell her that if you buy her a drink she owes you a dance. She doesn’t owe you anything. No one forced you to buy that drink, and she most likely didn’t tell you she’d do something in exchange for it. If she doesn’t dance with you, kiss you, or give you her number after you buy her a drink, it’s because she doesn’t want to. Harsh, but true. You have every right to feel angry, but not to express it, especially not to her.

5. Telling her you’d love to buy her things.

This may work for some, but you shouldn’t need or want to buy her affection, and women who know this won’t find it attractive when you attempt to win her over with money. If you’re just meeting her, she doesn’t want to know your annual salary, so you don’t have to use this as a way to make her more interested.

6. Hitting on her when she’s clearly with another man.

Persistence is often times effective, but when she lives with another man who she is marrying in a few months, you’re going to have to forfeit. It’s one thing to hit on a woman when her partner isn’t around, but it’s unappealing and quite frankly disrespectful to do it when her future husband is standing right next to her.

7. Touching her in places she’d rather not be touched.

Don’t put your hand on her butt, and don’t “accidentally” graze her boob. If you’ve just met this woman, and are attempting to charm her, touching her lady bits is not the way to do it. A flirty touch of her waist or shoulder suggests you’re interested, a smack of the ass suggests you have no respect.

8. Continuing to hit on her after she says she’s not interested.

When she says she doesn’t want to give you her number, there’s no need to keep asking. She doesn’t like to repeat herself so don’t make her. It’s okay if you misinterpret her subtlety, but if she openly and directly says these words, “I’m not interested,” the message should be easily understood. There’s a fine line between forward and creepy, and it’s best for both of you if it isn’t crossed. TC mark

50 Quotes That Every INFP Will Instantly Relate To

Posted: 20 Dec 2015 05:28 PM PST


1. "I think too much. I think ahead. I think behind. I think sideways. I think it all. If it exists, I've fucking thought of it."

–Winona Ryder

2. "Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more."

–Erica Jong

3. "Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads."

–Erica Jong

4. "Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death."

–Anais Nin

5. "I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else."

–G.K. Chesterton

6. "There are many ways to be free. One of them is to transcend reality by imagination, as I try to do."

–Anais Nin

7. You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.

–Angela Davis

8. "Under the obsessive thoughts and plans, under the emotions, positive and negative, there is an ocean of peace."


9. "People will kill you over time and how they'll kill you is with tiny, harmless phrases like "be realistic."

–Dylan Moran

10. “People aren't always what you want them to be. Sometimes they disappoint you or let you down, but you have to give them a chance first. You can't just meet someone and expect them to be everything you're looking for and then be angry when they're not every hope and aspiration you projected onto them. It's foolish to believe that someone will be what you imagine them to be. And sometimes, when you give them a chance, they turn out to be better than you imagined. Different, but better.”

–Chloe Rattray

11. Romantic love is mental illness. But it's a pleasurable one. It's a drug. It distorts reality, and that's the point of it. It would be impossible to fall in love with someone that you really saw.

–Fran Lebowitz

12. “The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most.”

–Thomas Merton

13. “You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent.”

–Paulo Coelho

14. “Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.”

–Robert Holden

15. “Don't do what you know on a gut level to be the wrong thing to do. Don't stay when you know you should go or go when you know you should stay. Don't fight when you should hold steady or hold steady when you should fight. Don't focus on the short-term fun instead of the long-term fall out. Don't surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn't true anymore. Don't seek joy at all costs. I know it's hard to know what to do when you have a conflicting set of emotions and desires, but it's not as hard as we pretend it is. Saying it's hard is ultimately a justification to do whatever seems like the easiest thing to do—have the affair, stay at that horrible job, end a friendship over a slight, keep loving someone who treats you terribly. I don't think there's a single dumbass thing I've done in my adult life that I didn't know was a dumbass thing to do while I was doing it. Even when I justified it to myself—as I did every damn time—the truest part of me knew I was doing the wrong thing. Always. As the years pass, I'm learning how to better trust my gut and not do the wrong thing, but every so often I get a harsh reminder that I've still got work to do.”

–Cheryl Strayed

16. “You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.”

–Pearl Buck

17. “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”

–Carl Jung

18. “I think a lot of art is trying to make someone love you.”

–Keaton Henson

19. “Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren't a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.”

–Cheryl Strayed

20. “In general, people are not drawn to perfection in others. People are drawn to shared interests, shared problems, and an individual's life energy. Humans connect with humans. Hiding one's humanity and trying to project an image of perfection makes a person vague, slippery, lifeless, and uninteresting.”

–Robert Glover

21. “If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven’t loved enough.”

–Elif Safek

22. "I advise you to stop sharing your dreams with people who try to hold you back, even if they're your parents. Because, if you're the kind of person who senses there's something out there for you beyond whatever it is you're expected to do – if you want to be EXTRA-ordinary – you will not get there by hanging around a bunch of people who tell you you're not extraordinary. Instead, you will probably become as ordinary as they expect you to be."

–Kelly Cutrone

23. "Home is not where you were born; home is where all your attempts to escape cease."

–Naguib Mahfouz

24. “The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”

–M. Scott Peck

25. “I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.”

–Kurt Cobain

26. "Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring."

–Marilyn Monroe

27. "So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."

–Chris McCandless

28. "Never sacrifice who you could be in the future for who you think you are right now. Identity isn't found. It's made."

–Jan Angelique Maravilla

29. "I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me."

–Joshua Graham

30. "If you want to see the heroic, look at those who can love in return for hatred. If you want to see the brave, look for those who can forgive."

–Bhagavad Gita

31. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

–Martin Luther King Jr

32. "Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal."

–Cheryl Strayed

33. “I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it.”

–Audrey Hepburn

34. "It's funny how artistic we become when our hearts are broken."

–Hotel Books

35. "There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice."

–F. Scott Fitzgerald

36. "You have to accept that some people are not made for deep conversations, or for holding you together when you're about to fall apart, or for keeping you from unzipping your skin, or for talking you out of suicide, or to love you through the worst moments of your life. Some people are made for shallow exchanges, and ridiculous banter, and nothing more. And that's okay. That doesn't make them horrible people because they simply aren't able to handle a storm like you. It doesn't make you a bad person because you won't divulge all the gritty details of your horror show. It makes you smart. You have to accept that there will be people that cannot give you what you need. It doesn't mean they are not worth keeping in your life. You just have to figure out who these ones are before you're disappointed. And you have to keep them at arm's length. You cannot expect everyone in your life to understand, to be nonjudgmental, to get it. But that's okay, because not everyone was made to impart wisdom, or wax-poetic, or speak on politics and the depravity of society, or discuss how crucial it is that the stigma of mental illness be abolished. There are times when you have to get away from all that heaviness. You have to. And you will need superficial conversation about Kim Kardashian's arse, or a debate on the colour of The Dress. You will need those ones. So don't go round cutting people off and dropping your friends. You need people for all your seasons. You need people or you won't survive this."


37. “I've never been very good at leaving things behind. I tried, but I have always left fragments of myself there too, like seeds awaiting their chance to grow.”

–Joanne Harris

38. “There were many terrible things in my life and most of them never happened.”

–Michel de Montaigne

39. “The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.”

–Ernest Hemingway

40. “You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people, but until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed.”

–Iyanla Vanzant

41. “The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people's diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.”

–Cheryl Strayed

42. “Life is about change. Sometimes it's painful; sometimes it's beautiful. But most of the time it is both.”

–Lana Lang

43. “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”

–Buddhist Teaching

44. “I still love the people I’ve loved, even if I cross the street to avoid them.”

–Uma Thurman

45. “Love is so short, forgetting is so long.”

–Pablo Neruda

46. “Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don't see it yourself.”

–Edmund Lee

47. “Music, perfected, has no melody.
Love, perfected, has no climax.
Art, perfected, has no meaning.”

–Tao Te Ching

48. “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

–The Velveteen Rabbit

49. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

–Eleanor Roosevelt

50. “In the end, I want my heart to be covered in stretch marks.”

–Andrea Gibson

Maybe You Don’t Have A Man Because You Don’t Need One

Posted: 20 Dec 2015 04:37 PM PST

Tonglé Dakum
Tonglé Dakum

"I don't need a man."

I have always found this statement rather disheartening. It's a phrase that is often expelled from the lips of a spiteful woman.

Its roots are in the wake of a feminist movement that saw many women left abandoned. Wives and mothers who dedicated their lives to family, only to be left without a career, their own money, and their husbands often withholding child support in order to control and manipulate.

I get it, the "breadwinner" marriages of the mid-twentieth century had few winners. Patriarchal relationship structures communicated the role of women to be one of servitude. "Dedicate your life to your man and your family, and he'll take care of you, meanwhile you'll compromise everything, including your own identity." Sounds like a crap deal to me.

It is our responsibility to take control of our own hearts, and together, regardless of the combination of gender, we need to create relationships that work for us.

So, here we are, in the wake of a necessary feminist movement, with messages that swung the pendulum in a totally different direction. Men and women, who experienced and/or observed the devastation from relationships of the past, communicate to their daughters messages of strength:

"Never depend on a man."

"Be independent."

"Never need a man."

"Take care of yo'self."

It's important to honour that these messages are absolutely necessary and important. However, when these messages are not clarified, they are left to be interpreted by the receiver… unfortunately that receiver is often a child who lacks the intellectual maturity to ask questions and look for more direction.

Left unexplained, what we often hear are messages like:

"Never open up to a man."

"Never depend on anyone."

"If you ever feel like you 'need' someone, you're giving too much."

And of course, with these messages comes the conundrum:

We are all human, so, inevitably, we fall in love.

And, in turn, we want to give ourselves to the relationship, but there is just something holding us back and we begin to feel the devastating consequence of a message of strength gone wrong.

We live our relationships from the place of:

"Never let your man feel like you need him."

And that's where we are today, in a space where often (not always) women are taught to not need a man and when they're in relationships, they are incredibly scared to do or say anything that could communicate they are vulnerable and want to depend on their partner.

Although that fierce independence is brilliant and inspiring, taken to the extreme it has negative effects on an essential component for relationships:

If our partners don't feel like we need them, why would they stay? Why would they want to feel vulnerable and give themselves to the relationship?

Men are creatures of purpose. We want to provide and have a role in a woman's life. We want to be able to love our woman. And when that woman communicates either directly or indirectly that she doesn't need us, it hurts.

What we hear is that we don't fit. We have no purpose in her life.

In addition to that, a large percentage of women are out-earning their partners. The role of man's purpose as a provider in the relationship has shifted. A man's success and identity have been evolutionarily rooted in being the provider, and when that role is no longer available, men seek to find another role in the relationship and/or in other areas of life.

Let's be clear, it does not rest on the shoulders of a woman to create purpose for a man. However, it is important that each person create the space for their partner to find and experience purpose, even if that is within the relationship.

The challenge is that we need to develop the awareness to step past all of the messages and identities we've been taught of what it means to be a "man" and an "independent woman."

When we adopt these identities we often have an incredibly hard time gaining deep and connected long term relationships… because most men are still driven and rewarded based on archaic ideals, and most women have moved past old roles and into the role of the masculine… leaving no space for a man to love and appreciate his partner, because she's now the provider, the parent, and she doesn't need no man to take care of her.

There's no space for a man, because women are being that man.

So what do we do? Women are the new men, and men have no clue what the hell to do. Where does that leave relationships?

This isn't about just women. This is about what messages, identities and roles we're creating and subscribing to as humans. It is our responsibility to take control of our own hearts, and together, regardless of the combination of gender, we need to create relationships that work for us.

We need to step outside of what society, culture and religion have taught us, and create relationships and identities that align with who we are as individuals, and how we want show up to the relationship.

We need to stop trying to be so tough and actually let people in. Men and women need to create space in their lives for each other. And although it is so empowering and beautiful to observe women so rooted in their purpose and taking over the world, women can do that and still be loving and maternal. Falling and being in love doesn't give a woman's power away, it actually makes women more powerful.

We need to see our relationships in the same way we see businesses. Much like a corporate culture, we design our relationship environment, including how we want to feel and who we want to be within that partnership. Relationships today are partnerships, and partnerships require shared agreements and intentions. By discussing and coming up with these agreements and intentions together, we allow ourselves to create the relationship we want. We become the creators of our reality.

And at the end of the day, if we want great love and great relationships, we have to let people love us.

Again, we have to let people in. Till we do that we'll always be loving with half our hearts. And I don't know about you, but I'm too full of life and love to waste it settling for "safe" and "comfortable". I want to be able to depend on my partner, and her feel needed as well.

Let's get better, together. TC mark

Dear Future Daughter: You Can Be Both Beauty And The Beast

Posted: 20 Dec 2015 04:08 PM PST


I want my future daughter to know she should never fuck someone who only wants her with the lights off.

I want my future daughter to know that she is lights on. A thousand galaxies exist between her palms. She is lights on. Cracks and marks. I hope she wears badges in spotlights, her bruises never to be covered with makeup. Or, if she wants, to go ahead and paint an entire gallery across her cheeks. Because she can damn well be the beauty and the beast. Both can coexist. You do not have the sun without first waiting in the dark.

I want my future daughter to know her mother has clawed her way out of graves so that she could be here. So when everything feels like a torrential downpour, remember all rain must stop. That love is even more powerful than death. And at times, we all become the monsters under beds. Remember how misunderstood creatures can be, that even saints have skeletons hiding in closets.

I want my future daughter to know there isn’t a singular path I expect her to follow. I know she will lose herself again and again, and this is not a result of failure. This is a result of living. Of losing and trying and evolving.

I want my future daughter to know she is not just something to be seen. Men and women may gather to study her existence, and still, she shines for no audience.

She shines because it is what she does.
She shines because it is who she is. TC mark

7 Great Things About The Girl Who Understands The Meaning Of Girls’ Night

Posted: 20 Dec 2015 03:10 PM PST

Twenty20 / saraycasti
Twenty20 / saraycasti

1. She understands the meaning of boys’ night too.

Dating a girl who understands the meaning of girls’ night, means dating a girl who is completely supportive of boys’ night. She knows an occasional break from the opposite gender is much needed in regards to herself, and her partner.

2. She knows the balance between boyfriends and friends.

She won’t devote all of her time to one or the other. Her boyfriend and her friends do not place in first or second, they have the same rank on her list of priorities. She easily maintains the balance between romance and friendship, no questions asked.

3. She understands the value of friendship.

She realizes that while some boyfriends may come and go, her friends are forever. She will never take her friends for granted, and their love is as meaningful as any significant other.

4. She knows how to let loose.

When her girlfriends call her up for a spontaneous adventure, she won’t tell them that she is having a movie night with bae, she will put on a pair of skinny jeans and say, “What time?” She knows how to have fun, especially with her girlfriends, and she doesn’t allow a relationship to stop her from living.

5. She will never be a needy partner.

Needy is not an adjective used to describe her. She won’t cling to a partner who becomes distant, and she won’t ask for more than she knows is willing to be given. She’ll most likely complain about it to her girlfriends, but that’s exactly what they’re there for, and that’s exactly why she doesn’t need excess from her partner.

6. She doesn’t lose herself in a relationship.

She does not forget who she is, what she wants, or who her friends are. She had a life before her relationship, and while it has certainly changed because of it, she doesn’t compromise what makes her, her. Her friends can count on her to stay true to who she is, and not become something anyone else wants her to be.

7. She isn’t apologetic when it comes to making time for friends.

She won’t apologize for girls’ night because she doesn’t see it as an inconvenience. She doesn’t try to make time for those who matter, she just does. She understands there is a difference between making plans, and following through with them, and for her friends the follow-through is no issue. TC mark

My Grandfather Worked At An Insane Asylum And I Found His Personal Logs Dating Back To 1902 (Part Six)

Posted: 20 Dec 2015 02:48 PM PST

Boston Public Library
Boston Public Library

Read Part One Here.

Read Part Two Here.

Read Part Three Here.

Read Part Four Here.

Read Part Five Here.

Bear with me here. I know you’ve been waiting. Me, I’ve been sorting through Gramps’ personal logs to make sure I didn’t miss anything but there’s a big jump here. The last entry I shared was from May of 1904 and even though I’ve been through the rest of it two, three times, I can’t find any entries until March of 1906. That’s a gap of almost two years. It’s driving me nuts (pun not intended, ha-fucking-ha) that I don’t know what happened in that stretch but I’ll do my best to pull what I can from what I have.

The weird thing, the good thing, is that since I’ve been reviewing — you know, just looking at dates, not actually reading the logs — the tapping has stopped.

Maybe I should just burn the logs. Stop reading them altogether and send them up in a blaze of glory in the back yard. Wouldn’t take that long.

I’ll think about it. In the meantime, here’s what happened next, as far as I can figure out.

March 14, 1906

It is approaching the year mark of Esther’s disappearance. I have little to say on the matter.

At least the witch let me hold my daughter a bit longer that time.

March 18, 1906

Mary is growing sullen, testy, like a spoiled brat not getting her way. The nightly indiscretions that ebb and flow have become more frequent as of late, yet there are no signs that Mary is carrying a child. Clara herself watches from the window with a similar expression of frustration.

Perhaps this means I can be free. Free of her clutches. Free of the tapping, the sweet whispered words, the demon that used to be my wife bucking away with wild abandon as I lay beneath her, defeated.

At least work at the asylum is steady. Dr. Derry has things running like a well-oiled machine. I feel he has made some real progress with some of the patients.

April 2, 1906

I have worked at the asylum long enough to know when something is about to happen. When the electric shock-crackle sends my skin prickling, makes my eyes hot in my head.

Clara is angry, I think. Her plot is failing. She is growing weak without a fresh child, delivered straight into her arms like a gift on Christmas Day. This means she will reach out to someone new, the way she did when she ordered the dismemberment of Anne-Marie, the way she used Dr. Bowen to get what she needed.

She has become dependent on me and now I am no good to her and now something is about to happen.

April 4, 1906

The hospital is being put on a temporary lockdown. The state is in the process of selecting a new head doctor while the bars and restraints are reinstated.

Last night, on a routine round of the west wing, several formerly docile patients cornered Dr. Derry in their room and tore him to pieces. I heard his screams from halls away.

It is rumored the patients were consuming his flesh but that is yet to be proven.

All five of them have been dealt with. I will keep my head down and wait to be called back to work. It is all I know these days.

April 19, 1906

Mary seems to be returning to normal, to the sweet, kind woman I married. It is like watching one of the patients at the asylum recover from shock therapy. She began by sitting on her bed like a catatonic, not speaking, staring straight ahead. Then, slowly, she returned to the things she once enjoyed that I have been forced to take over from her: preparing meals in the evening, tidying the house, hanging the laundry on the line to dry.

Yesterday, I even heard her singing. It was not the wordless songs of the witch, but a hymn from church.

I am hopeful.

April 27, 1906

The new head doctor is a thin, severe man called Dr. Wickers. He took one look at the reinstated bars and restraints, sneered, then demanded that they be doubled in both number and strength.

He spent the first afternoon on the grounds by standing at the edge of the dining hall, eyes scanning every patient with an almost alarming sharpness. At the first sign of disobedience, he snapped his fingers and sent an orderly to seize a patient that had dared to slap another patient’s hands away from her food tray.

Said patient, a woman in her fifties who had succumbed to a crippling case of hysteria, was escorted from her seat to Dr. Wickers. The orderly forced her to her knees at the doctor’s feet. She had already begun to cry.

Dr. Wickers announced, above the lunchtime noise, that the patient was being cited for disorderly conduct. At the sound of his voice the other patients quieted (mostly) and he waited for the following silence to add the conditions: hydrotherapy. Cold. 30 minutes. The patient began to wail but she was taken away like a light bag of laundry.

It was hard to tell how many of the patients truly understood what had just happened but it was easy to see they were afraid.

May 3, 1906

Mary seems more herself than ever. Just a slight cough. If it progresses I will send her to a doctor but I think it’s merely a case of sickness brought on by the damp spring weather.

Dr. Wickers is as far from Dr. Derry as one could imagine. Yet he, too, has imposed a manner of peace at the asylum. This peace is one born of fear. Even I have had moments where I worried a slick spot in the hall from my mop may warrant an afternoon in the electroshock room.

May 7, 1906

Mary’s coughing woke me last night. The first thing my eyes caught on was Clara at the window.

She was smiling. Combing her hair with her fingers. When she saw me looking, her smile widened. She placed the pads of two fingers to her full lips, then to the windowpane. She waved.

I do not know if it was a hello or a goodbye.

May 21, 1906

A deadly cough has begun to spread through the patients in the asylum. Even some of the orderlies and nurses have picked it up. Dr. Wickers has brought on a physician who specializes in the disease called ‘tuberculosis.’

I feel… fine. No symptoms to speak of.

Mary coughs often. She tried to hide her handkerchief from me but as she slept I crept from bed to inspect the stash she keeps in her drawer. They are all spotted with blood.

June 17, 1906

It has taken me some time to return to these records.

Mary is dying. I begged Dr. Wickers to let his specialist examine my wife and he relented (at the cost of half a month’s pay) only for me to learn what I already suspected and feared: Mary is dying.

Tuberculosis. The disease that’s rampaging through our fair state. It’s taken out nearly a quarter of our patients already. It works fast and has no cure. It is obvious what this means for Mary.

I have spent what time I can by her side. I stroke her hand, wipe the sweat from her brow. She says she can see Ruth and Esther. She insists, between fever dreams, that they are happy and waiting for her.

I know she was not herself for a time but I cannot bear to be without her.

June 23, 1906

Mary is at peace at last. We buried her at the family plot. I made sure she had the swaddling from both Ruth and Esther with her when we put her in the ground.

Towards the end she made little sense. But, just before she died, Mary grasped my wrist with a surprising strength and squeezed. It felt as though she were cracking my very bones but she pulled me close, so close our noses touched. Through chapped, dry lips she whispered that this was no accident. No stroke of fate.

It was the clearest I’d seen her in a month. I asked her, begged her, what she meant.

The witch, she said, and then she was gone.

I am still mad with grief from the loss of my wife — the purest, most gentle woman I’ve ever known — but I am terrified for what this may mean. Was Clara responsible for this? For Mary’s death? For the infection of the hospital?

But why? For what reason would she do this, other than to simply cause chaos?

I fear it is a punishment.

September 1, 1906

It is beginning to make sense.

Not entirely. But somewhat. Because, in the wake of the tuberculosis epidemic that left almost half the asylum vacant, Dr. Wickers (who escaped the disease unscathed by not returning to the hospital until the sickness had been dealt with) has opened the doors of the asylum to an entirely new group of patients.

This week, the children’s wing was unveiled.

I have not seen Clara in some time, but I believe right now, she is smiling.

September 20, 1906

They are pouring in like lice at a poorhouse. Children whose parents cannot afford them, children without parents to speak of, children who have lost their functions (or perhaps never had them to begin with) and are simply unwanted.

It is like a trough from which Clara can feast.

None of them have gone missing. Yet.

I want to run, with Mary in the ground I want to leave this place and this asylum and this suffocating hopelessness. In fact, I was ready to go until yesterday, all but had my bags packed when I spotted the girl in the market. The one with the beautiful red hair.

Such lovely, vibrant red hair. The color of summer roses and rich wine. She saw me looking and she smiled and for the first time I felt the same tug at my heart that I have since only felt with Mary.

I want to run but I want to learn her name so I can say it, over and over.

I feel as though I am being bewitched in a different way. She is so beautiful and I have only glimpsed her for but a moment.

Perhaps I should stay… just long enough to learn her name.

I’m sure you know, just like I do (even without reading farther) that Gramps stayed.

Just like you know I can’t burn these papers.

So sit tight. I won’t be so long this time. I’ve sort of outlined the years in reviewing them, and I have an idea of what we’re in for, length-wise. I think I’ve been able to isolate the important parts.

And all I can say right now is I hope my theory is wrong. That I’ll go to bed without any tapping. Without any whispering. Because if I’m right?

Clara will be back tonight. TC mark

Part 7 Coming Soon.