Thought Catalog


16 Things To Say ‘F*ck It’ About In 2016

Posted: 30 Dec 2015 08:00 PM PST

sweet bitch
sweet bitch

1. Whether or not you're using your college degree.

You went to college; you have the PTSD surrounding finals and the dings in your liver to prove it. The fact that you went and graduated is an accomplishment in and of itself. Most people aren't doing something that is 100% in line with what they spent Monday, Wednesday, and Friday studying for four or more years. Be proud of yourself and eventually take Sallie Mae's call; she's unfortunately a relentless bitch and you gotta face her some time. But don't let the title underneath BA or BFA or B-whatever hang over your head forever. It's fine.

2. Your relationship, or lack thereof, status.

It's not 1975. You're not old and destined to die alone because you're 27 and flying solo to the company retreat this year. If you've been in a relationship for five years but there's no ring or wedding in sight for the new future, that's chill. If you are comfortable without labels you do not owe an explanation or an apology to anyone. You have to move at a pace that's right for you and stop comparing yourself to fictional characters and Pinterest boards.

3. Your weight.

If your resolution or whatever form you're making is about your actual health or setting some sort of fitness goal that's awesome, and more power to you. I will not run said marathon with you, but I will happily make a witty sign and grab beers with you after your 26.2 miles of hell. But know that weight distributes so differently on everyone. Weight is relative and not something to stress out about. The number on the scale should never be a part of your goal because it is a goal that will almost always leave you feeling disappointed.

4. If you're "too old" for something.

I am a 26 year old, tax paying, job holding lady and you bet your ass I bought a t-shirt with cartoon cats all over it last week. The only thing you may be "too old" for is if you find yourself on the Tyga end of a Kylie Jenner situation. But really…that's just being gross and teasing the law more than anything else. Moving on.

5. Panicking about not being "where you thought" you'd be.

If you're anything like me you probably spent a heavy chunk of 2015 freaking out because you felt eons behind where you'd anticipated being when you were in high school thinking about the future. You probably cried a lot, stress ate stuff you shouldn't have, and annoyed your friends to the point where a couple took a break from you. But you know what? Things have a funny way of working themselves out if you stay driven and just put your nose to the grind and go for it. So don't panic about the where you "should" be, and know that you'll get there when you're meant to.

6. Society's standards about beauty.

Everyone is saying we should have big butts and lips but you kind of dig your skinny ass and Clara Bow mouth? You tell society to STFU and rock it. Let's all ban together and hope that 2016 is the year where we all start to feel hot as hell and stop trying to attempt to all look like one specifically trendy celeb. They are gorgeous, of course, but so are you.

7. People who make you feel like shit.

I spent a stupid amount of time in 2015 trying to impress some people who I know now, were never really interested in me as a human being. I wasted months trying to weasel my way into their little club and for what? To feel awful about myself and remember how shitty it felt as a middle schooler to not be a cool girl? Yeah, no thanks. Life got so much better when I said, "You know what? I AM cool as hell and if they can't see it then I'll move on." Friends should make you feel and want to BE better; not make you feel like you're on the outside looking in with FOMO. Cut those jag off's out of your life this year and never look back.

8. Being proud about being a couch potato.

Listen. We all have our days where all that is going to happen is 13 hours of Jessica Jones and Postmates. It's chill; it happens. But there is a glamorization lately of the person who is one with their couch and frankly, it's kind of gross. You should want to feel good and like the best version of yourself and part of that is getting out and doing things. Maybe it's as simple as taking your dog for a 40 minute walk instead of just letting her out in the backyard, or maybe you start doing yoga classes. Maybe it's as simple as working from a cafe instead of your bed; I don't know! But do something. Your heart and your mind will thank you for it.

9. Any and all judgement about someone's sexuality.

Guess what? You don't have to fuck them! So why do you care who they're doing the horizontal shuffle with? It is 16 freaking years after we were all so sure we were going to die, or at least all elevators would cease to function, from Y2K. Let's accept that sexuality is fluid and can change as easily as someone's hair color and just not give a damn if someone is healthy and happy. It not your business. K? K.

10. The stigma surround mental health.

We applaud people for going to gym, we encourage people to go to the doctor when they get a rash, we need to have the same mentality surrounding when someone takes the reins on their psychological well being. No one should feel like they need to go to their therapy session in secret. No one should be unpacking a suitcase at their friend's and hoping that the orange bottle with their Xanax wasn't spotted. Something like a quarter of adults in America have been treated for mental illness. So you're not alone and it's time we all stopped making anyone feel that way.

11. When someone ghosts on you.

Yes, ideally 2016 would be the year where this fucking terrible trend dies, but reality is with technology being our primary form of communication, it probably will not. So if someone isn't texting you back or is ignoring you on social media, don't waste your time stressing about them. Go live your best life without them and don't lose any sleep over someone who is enough of a coward to hide behind not even sending a, "Not interested" text.

12. How many likes or favorites something gets on social media.

The fact that any of us have deleted a Tweet or an Instagram because it didn't get the level of attention we were hoping for is just plain sad. Sure, the validation is kind of nice, and the affirmation that you are funny or pretty or just pose against a brick wall in a really "candid" way is cool. But how long does that cool feeling actually last? A minute? Only until your next carefully crafted joke or close up shot of an artisanal donut? That's what I thought.

13. Not listening even when you know you're going to disagree with someone.

I am a big fan of a certain internet comedian and I noticed the other day that she has a really terrible habit of always yelling her views and opinions at people. And while 99.9% of the time I agree with her, I'm wondering how effective her method is. Maybe if we all stopped shouting and waving our arms and just trying to be the loudest we'd actually be able to have a conversation, find some common ground. Sure, your blood may boil while listening to the other side, but at least you're giving them a chance to state their opinions. Wouldn't you want them to do the same? It's an old saying but, "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," so even though those flies may be annoying and wrong AF, you should still treat them with the same kind of respect you in turn would want.

14. Being afraid of the unknown.

How will you find the things you love if you're not trying because you're afraid? No one changed the world by living vicariously through YouTube and Cheryl Strayed novels. If something scares you a little that probably means it's going to end up being a defining moment or experience for you. You'll never regret the things you tried, only the things you were to afraid to take swing at.

15. Sweating the small stuff.

Let's stop allowing our unfinished laundry and running ten minutes late in an Uber to ruin our entire days. There are so many other problems out there and crazy shit happening that is deserving of concern or your anxiety. Stop misplacing it to things that literally do not matter. The sweaters will eventually get folded and you'll arrive at your destination in one piece. It's not worth getting worked up over.

16. Trying to control 2016.

Reality is we will almost positively see a list just like this about 2017, so let's just agree do our best and hang on. Because it'll probably be a wild ride. TC mark

19 Hilarious Tinder Exchanges That Prove How Fucked Up Online Dating Really Is

Posted: 30 Dec 2015 07:00 PM PST

1.

This is actually pretty good

A photo posted by Unspirational (@tindernightmares) on

2.

Probably just start crying and call his mother?

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3.

This is the subtext of every tinder nightmare

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4.

When you match with too many people

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5.

2 more days until our book comes out!!!! Click the link in our bio and get someone the best Christmas gift of all time!!

A photo posted by Unspirational (@tindernightmares) on

6.

At least he is polite

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7.

Gobble gobble

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8.

πŸ•πŸ•πŸ•

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9.

YOUR***

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10.

This guy is actually great

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11.

Curtis gets it

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12.

Help is a good way to start. (Have you entered our contest yet? Click the link in our bio)

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13.

14.

Plusssssss

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15.

Aww he's old fashioned

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16.

Hey Dan thanks for the nice message this totally makes me want you !

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17.

This guy is smoooooth

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18.

NOOOOOOOOOOO

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19.

Best smart ass response on Nattr wins 35 Big Macs. Seriously. Click the link in our bio ;)

A photo posted by Unspirational (@tindernightmares) on

TC mark

7 Perfectly Good Reasons To Stay In This New Year’s Eve

Posted: 30 Dec 2015 06:07 PM PST

callienic
callienic

1. You’re not missing out on anything.

Holidays like New Year’s Eve are designed to make you feel like everyone is hanging out without you (*Mindy Kaling voice*). Social media may further emphasize that perception. But think about how many NYE’s you have lived through that were no different from any night out on the town (that you could have lived without). Only this time it is made more nightmarish by your inability to get back home quickly, thanks to the sheer number of people who are out celebrating the coming year.

2. Getting home is a nightmare.

Speaking of the number of people who are out celebrating and also trying to get home, you know as well as I do that if you live in a big city, getting home is going to be hell on earth. Getting a cab turns into a battle with humanity akin to the Hunger Games. Public transportation is not necessarily going to be any better. And if you use one of our lovely and usually helpful alternatives to cabs and public tran – Uber, Lyft, etc. – the surge pricing is going to leave you with tears and bitterness come January 1st.

3. The weather outside might be frightful.

If you live in or happen to be in a warm place this time of year, ignore this entirely. (Oh, and I despise you. Just kidding, I’m jealous.) But for the rest of us who live or find ourselves in cold or not-warm places, we know in our hearts that it’s not worth it. Sure you can wear a coat, but that might involve holding your coat like a bag all night so you don’t lose it. Or you might check in your coat if you’re getting fancy for NYE, but then you’ll probably be worried about trying not to lose the check-in tag. Or maybe you’ll make the unequivocally dumb decision not to wear a coat. (Why do people do this?!) Whatever you decide, if the weather outside is frightful, is it not better to ring in the new year with warm apple cider and a good book or movie?

4. Must we do this awkward midnight kiss thing every year?

If you’re in a relationship, it’s probably the least awkward thing in the world to kiss your significant other. Except for the fact that now you’re doing it as an expectation with a bunch of other people all doing it at the same time in the same vicinity as you. (And you will feel like all eyes are on you even if they aren’t.) If you’re single, then you might be tempted to hunt down someone to “secure” a midnight kiss with, which is right up there with the most cringeworthy things in the world. (It is also awkward being the one hunted down.) And if you’re single and just couldn’t care less, then it’s still awkward because now you have to watch a whole bunch of people around you making out while trying not to be/seem/feel awkward. Yes, one less awkward moment in life many of us could forego.

5. You can drink champagne at home.

Remember that almost everything that you can do at a bar, club, or your awesome friend’s condo, you can also do at home. This includes but is not limited to: drinking champagne, getting glitter everywhere, dancing, and making loud noises once the clock strikes midnight. Sure, you may not get to kiss anyone at midnight, but guess what? You can go straight to bed instead, while your kissing friends are paying the price of spending an hour trying to hail a cab home. Who’s the real winner here?

6. You’re saving money, time, and yourself from probable disappointment.

I know, I know, that later part sounds really sad on its face but hear me out. New Year’s Eve like other holidays, is also about high expectations. The problem with holidays and high expectations is that it is the perfect set up for disappointment. Now, I don’t think living without expectations is in general, a good way to live – if it’s even possible at all. But I do think that the social culture dictates the things that we “ought” to expect, and sometimes these things are superficial. Like what you should or shouldn’t be doing on New Year’s Eve.

[*Gets off soap box*]

Apart from saving yourself from disappointment, you will save time getting ready for the party, being at the party, and coming from the party. And you will also save money. Sounds like a good way to start the new year if you ask me!

7. There will be another one next year.

If you really want to go out on New Year’s Eve (as I am partially being forced to do – I know, I’m a hypocrite), go on ahead. But honestly if you are not being “forced” to go out, if you have no desire to go out, if it all just seems more trouble than it’s worth, stay at home this year. Tomorrow, like new year eves, never dies. And if it does, well, we’ll all have much bigger problems to worry about, won’t we? TC mark

Scrapbooks Are Not Chic: How To Remember The Important Things About Each Year Through Music

Posted: 30 Dec 2015 06:00 PM PST

Nostalgia serves an important purpose: it’s good to be able to look back on a year and remember what made you happy, what you learned, and what frustrations you overcame. But this it typically pursued through clutter like collectibles or scrapbooks. These are not chic or exciting or even utilitarian. Scrapbooks take up space in your home and have invariably gauche aesthetics. Thankfully technology has made this task infinitely more pleasing.

All the pictures I want to remember are neatly organized on Instagram. There’s no need to clutter my closets with boxes of photos or waste time to cut out kitchy designs to organize a scrapbook. I can look back on my Tumblr history (or my Thought Catalog articles) if I want to know what I was thinking or going through at any particular moment in the past.

Then there is the overarching proper way to scrapbook: through music.

Every year you should add a playlist to your streaming service that you will fill up with 12 songs, one that represents each month. For instance, my 2015 looks like this:

Yes, 1989 was *that* good.
Yes, 1989 was *that* good.

Sometimes the songs I pick are literal, like when it was ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ for the month I signed my first writing contract. Sometimes the songs are visceral, the ones you play on repeat until it is dead to you because you like it so much or because it’s bringing you through some kind of catharsis. Sometimes the songs are more like a talisman, there was a spring where every month was Britney Spears because I was going through a dark time and I thought if everything I listened to was happy and frivolous my life would go back to being that way too.

This is clearly the superior way to organize your memories. Look at how clean and organized this looks in Spotify:

Such a calming aesthetic.
Such a calming aesthetic.

I see the song ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ placed 9th in 2009 and I remember playing it in my car as I picked up my boyfriend to confront him because our mutual friend told me he was cheating on me. I look at Jay-Z’s ‘Young Forever’ up a few months later and I remember I made that the song for that month because one morning my friend and I were laying in my other friend’s bed getting cookie crumbs everywhere and talking about all the people we met while we were out drinking the night before and someone just exclaimed “don’t you fucking love being young?” and it was the pure moment of complete gratitude for things being exactly as they should be.

I remember the month I met one of the most important people of my life because I know I was listening to ‘Bastards of Young’ in my old car when I did. I remember that they used to always play Lil Jon & LMFAO’s ‘Outta Your Mind’ every night at the end of the night at my favorite bar in 2011. This is what it should feel like to revisit a memory. It’s not something you look at, it’s something you feel.

Make a 2016 playlist in your streaming service. Let it sit there for a few weeks. When you start to feel out the vibe of your January, when you fall in love with a new song, when you’re nursing a breakup by playing JoJo’s ‘Leave’ on repeat — whatever — add it in the first slot. Lather, rinse, repeat and surprise yourself in ten years when you remember every single feeling you’ll feel this year. TC mark

Why ‘Black Lives Matter’ Matters

Posted: 30 Dec 2015 05:45 PM PST

Annette Bernhardt
Annette Bernhardt

Black Lives Matter. #BlackLivesMatter. Black lives matter. It’s a phrase, a hashtag, a saying, a declaration, an affirmation of resistance, and above all, a call for change to an American society that is unjust in its treatment of black people.

Unfortunately, not everyone believes black lives matter. This may be a function of bigoted racism – the belief and insistence that black is less than, not equal to; seemingly inferior. But more than this blatantly racist belief, there is a certain ignorance that prevails in the mischaracterization of what black lives matter actually means.

There are those who believe that black lives matter translates to only black lives matter. There are those who believe that the phrase is “divisive” to the American culture as a whole. And yet still, there are those who feel the desperate need to diminish the attention that ought to be paid to black lives specifically, by insisting that all lives matter.

The notion that all lives matter, strikes me as more than anything else, a stance that is willfully ignorant to the context in which black lives matter is affirmed. This is also true for comprehending this phrase as divisive or deeming that a silent “only” exists before its utterance. Context is not only key, without it, the phrase becomes an empty pronouncement.

There is no romanticization of history when you live in a disenfranchised body.

As it has been uttered many times, the reality of this nation is that from its birth, all lives have not mattered. Some have had to endure struggle and time and change, in order to “earn” their significance as ordinary human beings under the law. From its inception, the United States declared black people three-fifths of a person in law. When the law was changed, black people then had to fight explicit laws of segregation and discrimination. And when some of those laws were changed, black people then had to fight covert laws of discrimination. That’s the fight that we’re in right now, and through all these fights, there has always been an ongoing one: to be treated fairly and equitably not just by the law, but by one’s fellow humans, as another human.

These are uncomfortable truths about the United States, but they are truths nonetheless; each generation inheriting the sins of the last – the sins of one’s forefathers. Some people like to declare that they are not responsible for past sins. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work like that. We are all tied to the history of each other, and the history of our cultures and our peoples. If you enjoy any privileges because of your history, then you must also endure responsibility for any pain.

The backstory of black lives matter is one of pain. Certainly, it is a response to specific situations that were brought to national attention – the specific response to the fatal interactions of black individuals with many times, police personnel. But it is a response, I believe, to the reality of blackness in a space that has enslaved it, segregated it, devastated it, stolen from it, appropriated it, hated it, and still demanded its silence. Black lives matter is a response to this history of not mattering at all; of not mattering by the very existence of one’s humanity.

Aside from the derailment to the affirmation of black lives matter discussed earlier, there exists a dangerous notion that black people do not treat each other’s lives as if they matter by the erroneous argument that is “black on black crime,” or classist and racist commentary of the black and poor. When these are made, I often find it confusing how people fail to also bring up the history of institutional racism that plague the black and poor. For example, that the ghetto is public policy, or that it is difficult for a community of people who were historically disenfranchised for hundreds of years, and only granted civil rights within baby boomers’ lifetime to “pick themselves up by their bootstraps” – that odious and deceitful cultural catchphrase.

The resistance to black lives matter is a token of the historical amnesia that penetrates a certain Western culture, a certain American culture, where the historically disenfranchised are asked to forget. But how can one forget when the present sometimes eerily mirrors the past? There is no romanticization of history when you live in a disenfranchised body. The pains of those who came before you live inside the very skin that contains your body.

Of the past, it is also easy to believe that during the time of slavery or segregation or civil rights, one would have done the right thing – the human thing. It is easy to think that you would have been an abolitionist or advocated integration, or protested and marched with Martin Luther King Jr., or been sympathetic to Malcolm X, or sat alongside Rose Parks, or at the very least understood, and did your own bit in your tiny part of the world. Some people did – many whose names are not mentioned in the history books. It is easy think you would have been one of these. To those I ask, what do you say of Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown? Do you know the stories of Freddy Gray or Walter Scott? Has Sandra Bland been on your mind? And what do you do for Tamir Rice? Because if you are silent now, you would have been silent then – do not tell yourselves otherwise.

So yes, black lives matter matters because thus far each generation of American history is littered with stories that it doesn’t; that we don’t – our generation is no different. Black lives matter matters because it is an acknowledgement of the truth that a nation, and perhaps a world, has sought to deny throughout time. Black lives matter matters because we know that we are human, and we know that our humanity matters, but we are in the unfortunate position of having to demand that we get treated accordingly. TC mark

7 Definite Perks To Being Single Over The Holidays

Posted: 30 Dec 2015 05:00 PM PST

Twenty20, yenformore
Twenty20, yenformore

1. You get to kiss whomever the hell you want come midnight on New Year’s.

You're single. You're not tied down. And you're not forced into the routine significant other smooch at the ball drop. So wander around. Scope out your high school sweetheart and kiss him. Kiss the bottle. Kiss your girlfriends. Kiss a cute stranger. (The opportunities are endless.)

2. You don’t have to waste precious energy hunting for the perfect present.

No more wasting hours at the mall trying to find the perfect gift for bae, only for him to return in three days later, or toss it as soon as you breakup. No more shelling out your hard-earned cash for Oakley shades and designer jeans because you want to impress him (and his family) with your gift-giving abilities. Go treat yourself to a mani and pedi. Boys are overrated anyways.

3. There’s no stressing about dividing time between his house and yours.

Christmas Eve at his house? Xmas Day with your rents? And what about NYE? The anxieties of overbearing parents and long distance commutes take a toll on your holiday fun. You can forget all that crap and spend time wherever you want when you're single. Plus you'll avoid plenty of family feuds. (Thank the Lord!)

4. You inevitably get closer to your rents.

First, because there's no family feuds. (They secretly hated your boyfriend anyways). And second, because you actually have time to do Mother-Daughter Spa Day, or to throw back some beers and just kick it with your dad.

5. But you have enough alone time to indulge in without feeling at all guilty.

Now that you've entered Singledom you can put your feet up, veg out in front of the T.V. and stuff your face with Aunt Mal's homemade fudge bars all day. Why do anything else?

6. You don’t have to touch base with anyone.

Ahh sweet freedom. No more heckling via text: 'Where are you?' 'What are you doing' 'Who's going to be there?' No more stressing about who he's with. (Let's face it. We all have a few nagging trust issues). And those guy friends you have that are actually guy friends? Now you can spend time with them without causing WWIII.

7. And you finally have time for your girlfriends.

Girlfriends. Remember those? Now you can freely (and non-guiltily) enjoy all of the Rumchata-And-Christmas-Movies Nights, the Drunk-On-Vodka-Sodas Nights, and any other long-overdue gal pal festivities. Remember: chicks over dicks, right? :P TC mark

9 Older Women Share Their Harrowing Back Alley Abortion Stories

Posted: 30 Dec 2015 04:34 PM PST

via Flickr - renee_mcgurk
via Flickr – renee_mcgurk

In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down the decision on Roe vs Wade which made abortions legal nationwide. Prior to that, abortions were illegal in most states. Only three states, Alaska, New York, and Washington state granted abortions on demand which meant women seeking abortions were left with difficult and dangerous choices to make. Below are the stories of nine such women.

1. Mary, 76 years old

I am 76 years old and had 4 illegal abortions in my twenties. I was and am intelligent and a fast learner. However, I was ignorant of how to protect myself from pregnancy, was convinced that a man had every right to call the shots in a sexual encounter (Who was I to tell him to stop? Hadn't I let him kiss me?), and was extremely fertile (I became pregnant using a diaphragm). That combination still exists even though abortion is legal and, if a young woman fits that description, she should contact Planned Parenthood and find out what the deal is.

I was extremely lucky that I was able to locate a nurse skilled in giving abortions in NJ for three of my abortions (she never told me about contraception but did take me to a doctor for a D&C) and a woman in Harlem who was also skilled. One abortion was done when I was 5 months pregnant. Another was done at the behest of my then-husband who informed me he didn't want children. I was so totally relieved after each abortion and abstained from sex for months after each one. It took a friend of mine to clue me about Planned Parenthood where I was fitted for a diaphragm.

I have never had a moment's remorse about any of these abortions. I had good reasons for each one. I still believe that raising children is an enormous responsibility that I am glad I postponed until I was mature and with a man I loved who also loved me. It was hard enough to raise children under these circumstances. I can't imagine what I would have done if I had been forced to have 4 children!

What I really suffered from was my ignorance, passivity (the inability to say "no") and my fertility. I think women still have that problem even though there is supposedly sex ed in school and abortion is legal. We are brought up to be obedient and to keep our sexuality repressed. It took me until I was 55 to truly enjoy intercourse with a male lover. I never thought of exploring my sexuality with a woman and only learned about oral sex with my boyfriend in my 60s.

It is so important to feel empowered in a sexual relationship and not be worried about one's performance and "what will he think?" I urge anyone who is in this boat to free yourself from the attitude because who you are sexually is a large part of your life. Explore your sexuality with someone you completely trust who loves you.

2. Mabel, 75 years old

In 1966 I was 31, married with 2 children (born 1964 and 1965) and 3 months pregnant with my third child in as many years. I had an IUD in place. I was also nursing!

I knew I could not have another child so soon. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I was working, doing family work, 13 hours a day, seven days a week. My husband was not one who pitched in, changing diapers, doing laundry etc. We were an "old fashioned" couple brought up in the ethos of the fifties that focused on being in service to your husband, whose needs trumped everyone's.

My doctor was sympathetic and with his aid I located an abortionist in Nevada. He, however, was "on vacation". The next step was Tijuana. I had the support of my husband and we went, leaving the other 2 kids with a baby sitter. The abortionist was kind. I sobbed uncontrollably as soon as we were back on U.S. soil. It was one of the most difficult and best decisions of my life.

It is difficult for me now to imagine what I was willing to put on the line: my life. I was risking everything. If I died, my two children would have been without me. My husband would have remarried. My parents would have blamed him. The entangled consequences are painful to picture.

Indeed, the Right is making up a syndrome, another desperate attempt to void Roe vs Wade. I would never want my daughters-in-law to have to face the balance that my husband and I faced. And why should they? In all cultures, in all history and pre-history women have had to make the decision whether they could provide for yet another being. They made it alone, they carried it out alone in the interest of the survival of those who were living. For the Right to reserve the right to massacre others in war and at the same time blithely accuse women of murder is beyond ludicrous.

3. Susan, 59 years old

It was 1970 and I was nineteen years old. It was a perfect Southern California night & I was hitchhiking with a male friend. The roadways were busy and soon a car stopped and my life was changed forever with that encounter. Raped, brutalized, beaten, and tortured by two men. I survived that ordeal only to be repeatedly victimized (and in the process shamed into silence) by the systems in place that were there to supposedly help me. The police whom I first reported the crime, and gave my underwear & other clothing to, I found out later, didn't file a report. The doctor in the emergency room, where I was taken, accused me of lying. Later when I learned I was pregnant, I started the process, (the only option at that time), to obtain a legal abortion by being declared "mentally ill" by a psychiatrist. I had to submit to psychiatric testing and session after session with an unsympathetic man who made it obvious that he had no respect or empathy for me or for what I had experienced.

The system moved slowly & the weeks of my pregnancy went by. I was panic stricken of being too far along in my pregnancy to be legally allowed to have an abortion. I was so emotionally wrecked I couldn't work so I quit my job, my car broke down alongside the road and I just walked away from it. I had no support system. I felt that what had happened to me (and the system confirmed this) was so despicable that I couldn't share it with anyone. I begged the male friend who was there not ever to speak of it to anyone…but of course he did.

My life stopped entirely. I just stayed at home curled up in a chair, too fearful to sleep during the night and too ashamed to connect with any of my friends. They all knew but pretended they didn't…it was painfully uncomfortable so I stopped seeing anyone. Finally, I received an appointment at the local hospital. I went alone…another horrible, isolating experience. The whispers, stares and insensitivity of the nursing staff was devastating. I have no recollection of meeting the doctor. I was completely and utterly alone through the whole ordeal and after it. But it got done.

I bled heavily for a month afterwards, I passed large pieces of tissue and was very scared. One night I passed out, I believe, from the loss of blood. The doctor who performed the abortion refused me a follow-up appointment. I was too ashamed to go to another doctor for help. Somehow I survived.

Over the years, I have remained committed to Pro-Choice objectives so that no other young woman would have to go through what I did to get an abortion. I have stood in solidarity with every woman, under any circumstances, to make that same choice. I am immensely grateful that Planned Parenthood exists & continues to offer women a supportive, empathetic, safe place to have an abortion.

Do I have any regrets? No. Am I sorry? Absolutely not! That abortion allowed me a second chance,(despite all the obstacles the system placed in my way) to get on with my life. I had three wonderful, blissful pregnancies which produced three incredible (now, young adult) children that I adore. I have a fabulous (still madly in love) marriage to the man of my dreams. I have never looked back on my decision to have an abortion as being anything but the right one. Be strong, my sisters, and have no fear or guilt in making the right choice for you.

4. Nan, 78 years old

The year was 1949 — I was just 17 years old and a college freshman. My mother had remarried in 1945 and I was resentful of my stepfather who was a professor at the local college. My parents were tired of the sulkiness and told me I would live in the college dorm, which suited me very well–freedom!

While there was liquor served at faculty parties in our home, I had never really enjoyed drinking. I did drink beer at the college hangout, and one–or possibly two–rendered me pretty silly and uninhibited. I had a friend who lived across the hall in the dorm and had a steady boyfriend. One night he came with a friend of his and we unfurled a blanket on the dorm lawn by the lake and began drinking a bottle of wine. Eventually, we drove to Bowers Mansion, a spot in the Carson Valley about 15 miles from Reno. I remember Ann and her boyfriend took a blanket and wandered off, and left me in the car with the date. He challenged me to a game of taking off our clothes, and I thought this was pretty funny. Eventually, of course, the sexual contact happened. It was painful, since it was my first time, and it seemed totally unreal and as though it were happening to someone else.

My period didn't come and I called my mother, scared to death. They contacted their family doctor/friend, who gave them a name of someone to take me to. There was no anesthesia, much pain and bleeding and a visit to the family doctor for penicillin and who knows what else afterward. I have never regretted this– I was totally unprepared for a child and did not even know the man involved. My only feelings were of gratitude that I didn't have to suffer the consequences of a foolish act on my part, and that my family made the decision for me. I have thought of it through the years, and only been mad that I wasn't involved in deciding, but I was pretty panicked, so maybe it was better. I would not have decided any differently after all. Raised by my mother, I was not a sentimental baby lover at that stage in my life.

5. Linda 

My story began 37 years ago when abortions were not legal. I was in college, and had met the man who would later become my husband.

To say "I found myself pregnant" sounds so foolish to me now, but I was frighteningly naΓ―ve back then. He felt that marriage was the logical next step, but I knew that graduating from college was my priority and was terrified of my parent's reaction. Names of "doctors" came from everyone, but no one I knew had ever really met them. After numerous phone calls where my request for "an abortion" was met with a hang up, I tried asking for "an appointment" instead and was successful.

We had to travel some distance, and the expense of $300 plus a hotel room, was far beyond our budget without help from friends.

The procedure was done without anesthesia, and there was no recovery period, however the doctor was very kind. In our youthful optimism, we hardly realized how dangerous this could have turned out. I was one of the "lucky ones". I had a wonderful partner, I found a "real" doctor, and had caring friends to help. Many women in those days were not as fortunate. I learned that the man I loved was indeed a man who would support me in a difficult situation.

We later married and had 3 children who were planned for and eagerly anticipated by all our extended family.

We have never regretted our decision.

Today I look back on that experience as the beginning of a life dedicated to a women's right to make safe and healthy choices for her future and her family. I serve on the Board of Directors at a Planned Parenthood, escort women past harassing protestors at a women's clinic, and oversee a volunteer fund which provides financial help to women who cannot afford an abortion. I have never been "sorry", I've been motivated!

6. Lily, 64 years old

It was 1962 and I was 16 years old. Abortion was not legal. I'd had a steady boyfriend since I was 14 and we didn't really know a lot about birth control. When I discovered I was pregnant my best friend told me that she had overheard a way to induce a miscarriage. It involved not eating or drinking for three days, then drinking a glass of castor oil, and taking an extremely hot bath, and douching with vinegar. Well, I tried all of it, with her help, but it didn't work. I went to my family doctor who had delivered me and my siblings, and he sadly explained that there was nothing he could do. So my boyfriend and I figured we'd have to get married. That meant I wouldn't go to college and he would drop out of school to get a job.

Fortunately, my boyfriend told my older sister who had had three kids by the time she was 20 and she said "No way!" She arranged for me to have an illegal abortion. It was performed by an older woman whom I was told was a nurse. She was sweet and motherly. I was relieved that she was not some greasy looking male doctor. She inserted a catheter into my uterus, and a large tampon-like object to hold it in place. My sister was with me the whole time and it took place in the backroom of neighborhood medical office. Within several days I began to bleed. She called me to see if I was OK, and then said, "I never want to see you again." It was only later that I found out that I could have had an embolism and died from that procedure.

I went on to go to college, to split up with that boyfriend, and to lead a very different life than I would have if I hadn't had that abortion. In the 1970's I became an abortion activist and also worked for several years as an abortion counselor.

I sometimes think of what my life would have been like – or what my child might have been like. But I have no regrets. I have one son, adopted. His birth mother considered having an abortion but changed her mind. That seems to close the circle somehow.

7. Serena, 59 years old

I was 19 in the spring of 1970. A freshman in college, the pill was brand new. I got pregnant the first time I had sex with my boyfriend. I had to go to an OB/GYN office in Scottsdale for a pregnancy test. Most of the women in the waiting room were quite pregnant. After the test, when I called the clinic, the doctor said "Congratulations! You're pregnant. Would you like to make an appointment for prenatal care?" There was no way I was going to have a baby. I always felt in control and it was my life so my boyfriend and I started asking questions.

A friend of my boyfriend had gotten his girlfriend pregnant. They had found a "guy" – a former medical student, supposedly. His girlfriend lived in an apartment by herself so they arranged for this guy to do her abortion. She said he showed up at her door one night, took her into the bedroom, inserted a catheter into her uterus and then left. She had a miscarriage the next day in the toilet in her apartment. Sounded awful to me so we looked for other options.

A fellow student at Arizona State told me that a sociology professor would give you information about abortion. I went to his office and he gave me an address. He said to send them $5 and that they would send you information on where you could get an abortion. I sent the $5 and they sent me a list of information, about 5 or 6 pages long via a new mail service – overnight delivery. I got it in a couple of days from somewhere in New York state. The organization that sent it later became NARAL and I've been a member ever since.

I didn't tell my parents. I didn't want to disappoint them or be pressured to get married and have a baby. I wanted to be in charge of my own life. I never considered that having a baby at that time was in any way a reasonable option.

As I recall, abortion was only legal in NY – pretty far from Arizona. But it was available in Mexico only a few hours away from Tempe. I called the clinic in Mexico and with my rudimentary Spanish made an appointment for that coming Saturday. A friend of my boyfriend was going to drive us down there, but he got drunk and was thrown in jail the night before. So my husband borrowed a car from his grandfather and drove me down there.

I had a D&C with general anesthetic in a clinic just over the border from Yuma, AZ. When I awoke and went to the toilet it was a beautiful place, very clean. It looked like a resort motel. They gave me some antibiotics and cautioned us to buy some souvenirs before we walked back over the border. At the time it was not legal for American women to have abortions in Mexico, but it was legal for Mexican women. We took another woman with us through the border checkpoint because she had come by herself. We then walked back to our car and drove home.

I started hemorrhaging about a week later and went to my family doctor. Stupid of me because he was quite Catholic and, I found out much later, very much against abortion. He examined me, told me I'd lost almost ½ my blood and sent the nurse out of the room. He then asked me if I were pregnant. I assured him I wasn't, laughing to myself. I had a transfusion and, I think, some drugs to stop the bleeding. After that I was fine.

I ended up marrying my boyfriend, though we divorced several years later. He and I remain friends to this day. When Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the US I rejoiced. It makes me crazy that men, who control so much of our legal system are the ones who have the power to decide women's reproductive rights. I was in a demonstration in Washington DC in 1988 (I think) for abortion rights and hundreds of thousands of women demonstrating for their right to have a safe, legal abortion. The best saying I heard and saw on posters was "Keep your laws off my body".

I have had a wonderful life and have never regretted having that abortion. The only regret is that I had to go to Mexico and could have died if the doctor had punctured my uterus or if I'd had an infection. D&C is riskier than the procedures developed later and I was forced to have one in Mexico. Women will always have abortions, whether it is legal or illegal. They always have. They always will. My decisions about my body and how I will live my life concern no one except myself. I have never had any children and don't regret that at all.

I now live in Denver, CO and volunteer at a clinic where protesters (mostly men) picket. We walk with the women who come for abortions from their cars to the clinic. At least I wasn't subjected to the fear and intimidation that is the stock in trade of those lunatics. I usually remind the women that 100% of those men will never get pregnant and really have little understanding of childbirth or child rearing.

8. Camille, 73 years old

When I was 21 and married to my first husband I became pregnant. I had always been adamant about not wanting children. Despite this, my husband at the time encouraged me to carry the baby to term. I had no intention of doing so and instead sought out what was, at the time, an illegal abortion. By the time I actually found someone to do the procedure, however, I was four months pregnant.

The procedure itself went very badly and I had to be hospitalized. At the hospital, the doctors somehow then managed to save the pregnancy which made me extremely angry but that was the law at the time and the doctors were required to do that. Desperate, I managed to speak to one particular nurse who was sympathetic and was willing to conduct the abortion properly in the middle of the night.

9. Keese

In 1971, I was raped and viciously beaten by an intruder in my apartment. I ended up in the nearest teaching hospital's emergency room. I had a fractured jaw, three broken ribs, I was black and blue from forehead to knees, and I had severe internal lacerations. The first 18 hours were a blur. My biggest worry was that the creep had impregnated me. I wasn't on birth control and he certainly didn't use a condom. The resident responsible for my care told me, "You are experiencing vaginal bleeding. We're going to perform a D&C which should stop the bleeding." I had the D&C. I wasn't bleeding.

The rapist was caught soon after and sent to prison for 9 years for six serial rapes. From jail his friends and family threatened all of his accusers. From prison he sued one of his accusers, who gave birth to the product of rape, for custody of that baby.

The rape occurred in 2 years before the Roe v. Wade decision. I don't know if I was pregnant — and neither did that doctor — but consider what would have happened to me HAD I been pregnant. I would have been denied an abortion.

That rape, like the Roe v. Wade case, happened in Dallas.

I'm not sorry. I'm not sorry at all. I never wanted to be a mother. I certainly would never have wanted the baby of a man who hated women so much he would rape them. TC mark

What Your Beverage Order On A Plane Says About You

Posted: 30 Dec 2015 04:00 PM PST

Michael Pham
Michael Pham

Bloody Mary Mix.

I know you bought that Michael Kors bag at T.J. Maxx but you lie to your friends and say you went to Nordstrom to treat yourself. You want it to look like you're enjoying your flight by getting sufficiently buzzed at a casual 30,000 feet, but you'd never pay $8 for a cocktail. You probably also attempted to shove a full sized suitcase packed to the brim with brand ambiguous jeans and blouses from the Gap into the overhead bin, before a stewardess begrudgingly offered to gate check it for you. I bet if I went through your junk drawer in your apartment I'd find several stacks of Bed Bath and Beyond coupons stashed away because, "They never expire!" Also…those rings are turning your fingers green and you need to love yourself.

Pina Colada.

You are either flying to Hawaii or you want everyone to know that you are here to party. I bet you're the kind of person that offers to buy all three people in your row shots after you guys get off the plane. You were definitely everyone's favorite in your sorority or frat and you still talk about the time that you talked your way out of an MIP or a DUI by just being charming. If you don't own at least one piece of total American flag print clothing I'm A) shocked and B) disappointed.

Ginger Ale.

You're classic and level headed. You probably actually have a savings account that you don’t dip into every time you pass a Lush in a mall. You're just here to keep inside your space, read whatever novel you found on the $4.99 table at Barnes and Noble, and not fight over the shared arm rest. Or you're going to puke in which case, get the hell away from me.

Coca Cola But Like…In The Can Not The Cup.

We get it. You know that these airlines just "rip you off!!!" and you're not going to stand for it. I'm so happy for you that you got an extra sip of that shit that they use to clean up blood from highways. You're probably also going to watch an in flight movie without headphones because you won't spring for the $2 pair they offer and you’re going to ask your seat-neighbor what's happening every five minutes because she was smart enough to not lose the free pair Apple provided her with. Basically you're a monster, and I bet your kids are really embarrassed of you.

Just A Cup For My Green Juice, Thanks.

Oh go fuck yourself.

Seriously do you have to make everyone feel inferior all the time? It’s a plane, not a planet fitness and you need to loosen up a little. Let me guess, if I look at your boarding pass I’m going to see a hot ‘LAX’ as your final destination? I bet I am. Someday it’s going to come out that Evolution Fresh used baby tears or something in those juices and I’m going to laugh at you.

Apple Juice.

You're five.

Sorry. Five and a half.

Three White Wines.

I like your style. You know that it's better to order in bulk rather than wait for Mindy to give out all of her free cookies and pretzels to make it back to your for round two. You're just here to sit back, get your tipsy on, and watch all of the episodes of Masters of Sex you preemptively downloaded in anticipation of this trip. You also are probably wearing Ugg slippers and leggings and honestly, I respect you.

A Sea Breeze.

Where the hell do you think you are? Dave and Busters? Olive Garden? Red Robin? She's a flight attendant, not a probably underage bartender who has to put up with your bullshit! There's no drink special and you're annoying. You're probably going to get too drunk on something else and end up sitting on the baggage carrier and hurting yourself when it starts moving. But don't worry, I will be there to Snapchat the whole thing.

Diet Coke. No Ice.

You're probably the person that dabs the grease off of your pizza and when that article came out proving that that was actually right you passive aggressively shared it on Facebook. You biggest accomplishment in life is a gym selfie that got 200 likes on Instagram. You think anyone with a BMI that's above 22 should have been forced to buy two tickets for the plane.

Just Tonic Water.

You are either the weirdest person ever or you read that Buzzfeed post about being legally able to bring your own mini bottles on a plane and you're about to get your G&T on. Fun fact: it's illegal to open a container on a plane without being a licensed flight attendant. So yeah…they're gonna bust you. And then I'm going to have to listen to you mutter obscenities while I'm just trying to watch Sleeping With Other People.

Michelob Lite.

If it were legal, you would have brought a keg onto this aircraft. You really want to challenge the pilot to a shotgun contest, don’t you? I'm right? I'm right.

Do You Guys Have Baja Blast?

No. This isn't Taco Bell and you need to stop kicking the seat in front of you every time you fuck up on that level of Digimon or whatever you're playing on that scratched as hell DS. You're clearly at least 22 it's time to grow up. TC mark

135 Ways To Reinvigorate Your Life Completely

Posted: 30 Dec 2015 03:00 PM PST

Twenty20 / ashjacks1
Twenty20 / ashjacks1

Routine and monotony are common features of modern existence. Most urbanites with steady jobs wake up at the same time every day, drink the same coffee, socialize with the same people in the same handful of places, eat mostly the same food, sit at the same desk at work, and live in the same neighborhood for several years. Many of these people could tell me, down to the minute, at what time every day they brush their teeth or pour their morning cup of joe. Are you one of them?

I think many of us are in a rut because, consciously or unconsciously, we want to keep ourselves from experiencing disappointment, getting hurt, feeling awkward, being rejected, or wasting time and money.

We continuously seek the safe, reliable option not because we don't like new people, new experiences, and new self-discoveries, but because the cost-benefit analysis of taking these types of risks is not straightforward: we don't know that the new thing will be better than simply what we've already tried, tested, and are content with.

With New Years right around the corner, now is a great time to start thinking about how you can trade in some of your usual comforts for new challenges, small (and big) thrills, and work out more than just your abs in 2016.

Actually, every part of us is a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to keep us happy and healthy: our minds, bodies, spirits, relationships, work, money, and, the thing that ties it all together: our sense of purpose.

If you've made the conscious decision to break your rut and place a new emphasis on the value of small, diverse experiences that will open you up to life's beautiful serendipity, then you're ready to start. Here are 135 creative ways to break anyone out of any kind of rut. I recommend choosing 3 from each category to start, and reverting back to the list for new inspiration once you've already accomplished those. Keeping a journal to document your new experiences and the impact they have on your life is also recommended.

Relationships

1. Eat lunch or dinner with one new person this week.

2. Go to a MeetUp event this month.

3. If you're brave, go alone.

4. Create your own MeetUp group and host an event.

5. Try online dating, even if you're happily single.

6. Send a note to 5 people you haven't seen in the past year.

7. Randomly introduce 2 people who don't know each other but should.

8. Try something new in bed.

9. Have a no-booze night with your friends.

10. Call someone you usually text.

11. Write a hand-written letter and mail it.

12. Give someone a (genuine) compliment.

13. Host a party and focus on being a great host.

14. Make one new friend this month.

15. For a week, don't "like" anything on Facebook. Comment and engage instead.

16. Deactive Facebook for a week.

17. Only call (no texting) for an entire day.

18. Send a sincere thank you note to someone who has changed your life.

19. Do a random act of kindness.

20. Apologize to someone you think deserves it.

21. Treat a friend to dinner or drinks (don't tell them beforehand, just pick up the check).

22. Bake a new goodie and give it away.

23. Ask a friend or colleague to set you up on a blind date (not facilitated by online dating in any way).

24. Hold a reunion for something.

25. Call a grandparent if you can.

Physical Health

26. Try playing a new sport.

27. Read a book about diet and wellness.

28. Go vegetarian for a week.

29. Start having a green smoothie every morning.

30. Give up alcohol for a month.

31. Give up coffee for a month.

32. Take a 30-minute walk day for a week.

33. Eat every meal at a table for a week. With no cell phone or computer. Focus on your food.

34. Eat every meal with company for a week. With no cell phone or computer. Focus on your company.

35. Go organic for a month and see how different you feel.

36. Give up sugar for a week.

37. Go on a bike ride.

38. If you normally go to the gym, exercise outside.

39. If you don't go to the gym, find a free trial and try it out for a week.

40. Take a dance class

41. Join a local sports league.

Self and Purpose

42. Take a "personal health" sick day from work. Explore what you want to do with this free time.

43. Find a place to volunteer once a month.

44. Come up with five solid answers to the "What would I do if time, money, and failure were not an issue?" question.

45. And post them in the comments section below.

46. Sit in a new place at work.

47. If you work from home, try a co-working space.

48. Browse the Craigslist services section to see how freelancers make money.

49. Put your own ad up for something you could do for others for a fee.

50. Free-write every morning for 20 minutes.

51. Search your university alumni network. Find 3 people doing something that interests you and write to them asking for a 30 minute informational interview.

52. Google (your passion) + (where you live) and see what comes up.

53. Make a "100 Things About Me" list. Choose whether or not to share it.

54. Make a "Things To Do Before I Die" list and agree to cross one item off in the next 3 months.

55. Look through old pictures. Write a journal entry about what you discover.

56. Spend an afternoon taking pictures of things in your immediate surroundings.

57. Update your LinkedIn profile and browse the site for people doing things that interest you.

58. Reach out to at least 3 of these people.

59. Google "adult beginner" + (something you've always wanted to do) + (your city). I once did this and found an adult beginner gymnastics class in New York — so fun!

60. Take the "Barnes and Noble Test." Wander through the store and take note of what sections draw your attention. What topics make you slump down on the floor and read half the book on the spot?

61. Interview someone you admire.

62. Cook every meal for yourself for a week.

Spirituality

63. Meditate. Sit quietly for a few minutes every morning with no distractions. Close your eyes and feel your breath and body.

64. Smile and make eye contact with strangers for a day.

65. Play with a child.

66. Go spend a day in nature and leave your cell phone at home.

67. Say good morning to a stranger.

68. Go sit at a local bar and have a drink by yourself – with no phone or book.

69. Make a list of 25 things you are thankful for.

70. Turn your phone off for a whole day.

71. Go get a massage.

72. Been meaning to get back to church? Go to a service this week.

73. Tap into your own meaning of spirituality.

74. Spend time with animals.

75. Write down what you dreamed about every night for 2 weeks.

76. Call the local nursing home to see when you could spend an hour with their residents.

77. Read a book or watch a documentary about a religion you're not familiar with.

Intellectual

78. Read one new book every month.

79. Start a journal. Write whenever you feel like it, but at least once a week.

80. Start a blog.

81. Engage in topics you care about on social media.

82. Download new music.

83. Set a timer for 60 minutes and write a creative short story. It doesn't have to be perfect.

84. Watch a foreign film.

85. See a live performance of some kind.

86. Start a coffee hour with friends who share your same interests.

87. Learn a new language or practice one you haven't spoken in awhile.

88. Take a class in something that interests you. Invest in yourself.

89. Get a library card.

90. Read a new blog.

91. Buy a box of crayons and spend an hour drawing.

92. Make a vision board.

93. Read a new magazine.

94. Write a poem. It's OK if it's not very good.

95. Read in another language (especially if you think you can't).

96. Teach yourself something new.

97. Ask a friend to teach you something they do well.

98. Brainstorm new business ideas and share with your friends – good, bad, or funny

Material Possessions

99. Donate or sell old clothes and other items

100. Clean your apartment.

101. Clean out your closet.

102. Clean out your hard drive.

103. Rearrange your furniture.

104. Take off your watch for a week.

105. Paint your room a new color.

106. Go thrift shopping.

107. Experiment with how little money you can live on for a week.

108. Use only cash for a week.

109. Visit a homeless shelter.

Miscellaneous Habits

110. Take a different route to work today.

111. Shop at a new grocery store.

112. Do Priya Parker's backwards-elevator trick.

113. Shop in a new store and try on clothes you ordinarily would never consider wearing.

114. Move out for a month. (Just Air Bnb a new place and rent yours out)

115. Or just move. Period. New apartment, new city, new country – your choice.

116. Take a spontaneous trip.

117. Take a spontaneous trip somewhere without internet.

118. Go for a walk and get lost in a new neighborhood.

119. Try one new recipe every week this month. Cook slowly, sip a nice wine.

120. Give up TV for a month.

121. Go apartment hunting even if you're not looking to move.

122. Do you normally shower? Take a bath instead.

123. Dye your hair a new color.

124. Wear an old article of clothing.

125. Get a new haircut.

126. Go to a new bar or club on Saturday night.

127. Go out to lunch at a new place.

128. Literally change your pace. If you normally power walk, walk slowly for a day. If you normally take it easy, kick your step up a few notches. Take note of how this makes you feel.

129. Stop in somewhere you usually walk by but have never "have time" to go in.

130. Ride the subway or hop in your car with no destination in mind.

131. Order a new drink at the bar.

132. Talk to a coworker who you don't know very well.

133. Plan a trip overseas (and go).

134. Buy a Groupon for a restaurant you normally would never try.

135. Share this list with your friends. TC mark

This post originally appeared at Life Before 30.

30 Fun Little Ways Every Woman Can Beat The Winter Blahs

Posted: 30 Dec 2015 02:00 PM PST

Tutes
Tutes

Even though certain states were experiencing very strange, tropical temperatures (for December, anyway), or seeing rain in lieu of their usual snow, it seems that Mother Nature has finally decided it's actually winter and she's about to unleash its unpredictable mood swings on us again.

Unless you live on the West Coast or in the deep South, you know what this means: cold, snow, persnickety winds, icy roads and parkas and boots. It's fun for awhile, isn't it? I don't mind the winter if it stays in the 30s, but you know it never will.

Winter usually lasts waaaay longer than the wonderful fall or the soppy spring, regardless of what that groundhog has to say, so don't let it get the best of you. Stay sane and chill during the winter months with tips from a born 'n bred cold-weather girl. Seriously, I grew up in almost-Canada North Dakota and now reside in Minnesota. I know my shit. Have you ever been unable to go to school for three weeks because of a blizzard, ice storm and flood in succession?

1. Make a list of projects, and work on completing them. Nothing feels better than crossing something off a list! Maybe you've been meaning to clean your closets or deep-clean your fridge, or organize your books by color. Do it!

2. Color. I was skeptical of the "adult coloring" phenomenon but guess what? It's fun and helps you chill and calm your brain down.

3. Throw a party. A theme party! Don't get too crazy with your theme, though, because you know you have that lame friend who won't participate. We threw a "hat" party one year and it was a smashing success because all you had to do was wear a hat. Our friends showed up in some pretty creative and hilarious headwear. You could also go the cheesy route and throw an island-inspired party; pick up some cheap leis and coconut bras from Party City, make boozy punch and pretend you're in a warmer climate.

4. Learn how to cook something semi-complicated. I like to visit the thrift store, get a cookbook and teach myself something new during the winter. Then have your friends over for dinner!

5. If you're not into cooking, throw a brunch potluck one Sunday morning. I did this last winter and each friend brought something breakfast-y, from mimosas to pancakes on the griddle to breakfast hash in a Crock-Pot. It was super fun and the party lasted all day.

6. Spend a day on YouTube learning how to contour your face or change your own oil. You can find tutorials for pretty much anything you can dream on YouTube.

7. Work out! If it's snowy outside and you don't want to drive to the gym, or if it's too cold to run outside or take a walk, slip your old Tae-Bo DVD in and go to work. (I'm kidding.) I like to do Blogilates videos, especially her POP series set to pop songs, or Ballet Beautiful, but there are tons of online workout series you can play around with until you find what works for you.

8. Read a book. Put your phone in a room far, far away and focus on reading pages, not Twitter. I suggest "Fates and Furies" by Lauren Groff; I read it in one day and immediately started it again.

9. Or dive into a great longread online. I just tore through this one about Anna Nicole Smith from NY Magazine 2011. Bless you, Internet.

10. Make a snow day makeout playlist, then invite your hookup du jour/BF/GF/whatever over to test it out.

11. Invite your friends over for an old-fashioned game night. I don't mean Catch Phrase + beer. I mean Monopoly. I mean Aggravation, or Royal Rummy, the kind of games you played for hours as kids.

12. Marathon "Sex and the City" or "Say Yes to the Dress" with your best girlfriends, a lot of fancy cheese, potato chips and bubbles.

13. Spend a few hours deep-cleaning your apartment.

14. Go out! I know it's cold, and I know it sounds way less fun to layer up and venture outside than it does to stay in your warm, cozy bed, but if you don't go outside, you're gonna go nuts. Make plans for dinners, nights out and winter activities. Just bite the bullet and do some winter karaoke.

15. When it's slightly above 30 degrees, go for a walk! Get out there and enjoy the chill and the way the snow glitters under the sun.

16. Have sex. A lot of it. Why not? You've got time, and it warms you up!

17. Remember when you were a little kid and loved to make forts with pieces of the sofa or blankets and chairs? Channel that energy and do something similar in your bed with lots of blankets, snacks and Netflix. If you're gonna be cuddled up for an entire day, it should definitely be in the winter.

18. Rearrange or redecorate a room. When you're finished, the room will feel brand new. This is one of my favorite things to do when the seasons change; even something as small as new rugs and swapped-out artwork make a huge difference.

19. Turn on your favorite pop music really loud and have a little solo dance party in your living room. Sometimes you just have to shake it off. (I'm sorry, I had to.)

20. Read a biography of a woman you admire, whether that's Marilyn Monroe or Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

21. Go out for a long, leisurely lunch with a friend and pop into any little shops that strike your fancy afterward. You don't have to buy anything, but being out and about with someone you love boosts your winter morale.

22. Buy a pair of cute snowboots. You're gonna be wearing them, so they ought to be cute.

23. Make a snowman in your yard. Who cares if your neighbors stare? They're just jealous.

24. Stock your car with winter survival necessities, like blankets, an extra hat and mittens, a good scraper and antifreeze. If something happens, you'll be glad you thought ahead.

25. Sneak into a few movies during a day at the theater so you don't have to go outside. (Or be a good person and pay for them, sure.)

26. GTFO out! Go stay with your uncle in Palm Springs or your aunt in Arizona. Pro tip: Set an alert for cheap tickets to the warm-weather locale of your choosing a few months before winter so you can snag the best deal for your getaway. I like to escape in February when it is cold as balls.

27. Do you live near a winter resort? Why not stay for a weekend with your significant other or a few friends? If you can't afford a warm getaway, doing a weekend at a cabin is a fun change of scenery. It's even better if they have a hot tub in the room!

28. Stay in and do all the girly beautifying stuff you've ever dreamed of: masks, bubble baths, hair masques, painting nails … you name it.

29. Play the Ouija board on a dark and cold winter night.

30. Get a few bundles of sage and cleanse your dwelling of any bad vibes. They're bound to happen in the winter, I know. TC mark