Live Your Life Inspired

A Wholehearted Community

A New Program Is Using Yoga to Enhance Social Work ~ Tate Williams


Teresa Okokon

Rosie’s Place, the first women’s shelter in the United States, recently awarded Roslindale social worker Theresa Okokon the Kip Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship—a $40,000 grant. Through the grant, Okokon created, a new program that will bring yoga classes to local shelters.

Legit will use a method called trauma-sensitive yoga, which uses the practice to help people deal with traumatic stress.

“There’s all kinds of programs that teach you how to get a job. There’s all kinds of programs that will maybe support you in that job, but there’s not a lot besides one-on-one individual therapy that gets you to deal with your trauma,” Okokon says. 

Starting in September, Okokon, who has been a social worker since 2005 and a yogi since 2007, will teach free, weekly classes at four shelters—Rosie’s Place, Crittenton Women’s Union’s Hastings House, Pine Street Inn, and the Woods-Mullen Shelter—and at the Boston Public Health Commission’s MOM’s Project, a substance abuse recovery program.

“I’m coming to you,” Okokon says. “I am bringing the mats, I am bringing everything you need, all you need is to come into the room. Yoga makes you hit the pause button. It makes you take that pause so that you can think a little bit longer about what it is that you’re feeling and how you’re going to react to that feeling.”

While using yoga for therapy is not new, introducing it in a social work setting—and to people who sometimes don’t know where they’ll spend the next night—can be a tough sell. In fact, Rosie’s Place has received several yoga-related applications for the Kip Tiernan Fellowship, says Sandy Mariano, director of programs and planning for the organization. But the program has never funded any yoga applications prior to Okokon’s.

While the fellowship with Rosie’s Place lasts one year, Okokon says she intends to continue and expand the program. She’s seeking funding to add a men’s shelter component, and part of the current grant will fund training for one student to become a yoga teacher.

“It would be my dream if eventually there’s a team of teachers that taught for all over the Greater Boston area,” she says. will host a kickoff event Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. at Old Oak Dojo in Jamaica Plain.

17 Adorable Photos of Dads Doing Just About Anything for Their Daughters ~ Christen Grumstrup

1. This dancing duo 


2. So he was little red riding hood 



3. Twins! 



4. This trooper: 



5. This dad who got real creative 


He would most likely do anything for her

6. Tea Time, anyone? 



7. Or this dad who decided to brave a One Direction concert. 


Earplugs and all. 

8. Just playing princesses…of course. 



9. You can paint my nails while I play video games. 



10. This team… 



11. that can get through anything 



12. These two cuties getting their breakfast on. 



13. This dad who is just going with the flow. 



14. This guy taking one for the team 



15. More tea, anyone? 



16. Besties 

Acne Scar Treatments ~ Indie Lee

When doctors diagnosed Indie Lee, a happy-go-lucky New Yorker, with a rare brain tumor and only six months to live, Indie Lee did the unheard of: She turned her life sentence into a life calling. Upon discovering her tumor was likely the result of environmental factors, Indie found a new lease on life and decided to devote herself to crafting the Indie Lee Collection— an eco-friendly collection of all-natural skincare products that are sophisticated, stylish, safe and make a difference.

Acne scars and age spots are some of the biggest skin-care concerns people have. Although many of us have taken to finding the perfect concealer, there are actually a few natural remedies readily available. There are four main ingredients that will lighten these issues — so that you can be a little less reliant on that color-correcting tube, and focus on solving these problems long-term.
Squalene is a lipid found naturally in skin as part of our sebum (which is responsible for keeping our skin and hair healthy). At birth, 12% of our skin’s sebum is made up of squalene. By the time we’re in our mid-to-late 20s, the body’s squalene factory slows down. Fortunately, its botanical version — squalane — which can be derived from olives, can be applied topically to feed important processes in the skin, like helping cell turnover continue at a healthy rate, diminishing age spots and hyperpigmentation, guarding skin from premature aging, and stimulating blood flow for a rejuvenated and balanced complexion. 

Squalane also has amazing moisturizing properties and can be applied on its own or in a moisturizer containing the effective ingredient. I strongly recommend you know where the squalane you’re using is sourced from, since it can be derived from plants (as my 100% olive-derived Squalane Facial oil is) or animals — such as shark liver. It’s just as easy to get radiant skin with high-quality, plant-based products as it is with those that are tested on animals.

Apple-Cider Vinegar
Right now, apple-cider vinegar is like the newest celebrity of the skin-care community. It’s a star with major staying power. I’ve been committed to incorporating it into my skin-care regimen for several reasons: It’s an amazing natural ingredient made by fermenting pressed apple juice, it contains alpha-hydroxy acids to remove dead skin cells and reveal a more even skin tone, and you can buy it at the grocery store for less than $10. 

I recommend using organic ACV with the “mother” in it (that’s the murky sediment at the bottom of the bottle where the good nutrients come from). To create a wonderful natural toner, simply mix one part ACV with two parts distilled water, shake before using, and apply with a cotton pad. It balances the acid mantle, removes dead skin cells, helps fade brown spots, and smoothes skin. I use it once a day, in the morning. It is a bit smelly, but the benefits far outweigh its scent! 

Rosehip-Seed Oil
This wonder oil has both astringent properties and a high vitamin A (retinol) concentration. It is great at treating and healing acne, assisting in all-over skin-spot fading, and reducing the appearance of acne scars due to its high level of linoleic acid. Use it generously to combat stretch marks and burns on your hands and forearms, as well as scars from cuts and bug bites. It can even help heal brittle nails and ragged cuticles. 

Found in many natural cleansers, moisturizers, body washes, and body oils, rosehip oil may be listed on labels as rosa rubiginosa seed oil. Don’t get it confused with rose-flower oil, which has different benefits and may cause allergic reactions. And, if you need another reason to try it, it’s also a fan favorite of many supermodels

Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is packed full of vitamin C and citric acid, the ultimate duo when it comes to lightening and brightening. Squeeze a few drops of it directly onto dark marks as a daily spot treatment. If you want to lighten your elbows, cut a lemon in half and use your elbow as a juicer! Spray tan gone bad? Slice a few lemons and add them to your bath to help get rid of that orangey glow.

30 questions to ask your kid instead of how was your day ~ Sara Goldstein

When I picked my son up from his first day of 4th grade, my usual (enthusiastically delivered) question of “how was your day?” was met with his usual (indifferently delivered) “fine.”

Come on! It’s the first day, for crying out loud! Give me something to work with, would you, kid?

The second day, my same question was answered, “well, no one was a jerk.”

That’s good…I guess.

I suppose the problem is my own. That question actually sucks. Far from a conversation starter, it’s uninspired, overwhelmingly open ended, and frankly, completely boring. So as an alternative, I’ve compiled a list of questions that my kid will answer with more than a single word or grunt. In fact, he debated his response to question 8 for at least half an hour over the weekend. The jury’s out until he can organize a foot race.

Questions a kid will answer at the end of a long school day:

  1. What did you eat for lunch?
  2. Did you catch anyone picking their nose?
  3. What games did you play at recess?
  4. What was the funniest thing that happened today?
  5. Did anyone do anything super nice for you?
  6. What was the nicest thing you did for someone else?
  7. Who made you smile today?
  8. Which one of your teachers would survive a zombie apocalypse? Why?
  9. What new fact did you learn today?
  10. Who brought the best food in their lunch today? What was it?
  11. What challenged you today?
  12. If school were a ride at the fair, which ride would it be? Why?
  13. What would you rate your day on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?
  14. If one of your classmates could be the teacher for the day who would you want it to be? Why?
  15. If you had the chance to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you teach the class?
  16. Did anyone push your buttons today?
  17. Who do you want to make friends with but haven’t yet? Why not?
  18. What is your teacher’s most important rule?
  19. What is the most popular thing to do at recess?
  20. Does your teacher remind you of anyone else you know? How?
  21. Tell me something you learned about a friend today.
  22. If aliens came to school and beamed up 3 kids, who do you wish they would take? Why?
  23. What is one thing you did today that was helpful?
  24. When did you feel most proud of yourself today?
  25. What rule was the hardest to follow today?
  26. What is one thing you hope to learn before the school year is over?
  27. Which person in your class is your exact opposite?
  28. Which area of your school is the most fun?
  29. Which playground skill do you plan to master this year?
  30. Does anyone in your class have a hard time following the rules?

Woman Says She Endured 8 Days In Psych Ward Because Cops Didn’t Believe BMW Was Hers ~ Christopher Mathias



NEW YORK — Kamilah Brock says the New York City police sent her to a mental hospital for a hellish eight days, where she was forcefully injected with powerful drugs, essentially because they couldn’t believe a black woman owned a BMW. 

In her first on-camera interview about her ordeal, which aired Thursday, the 32-year-old told PIX11 that it was all a “nightmare.”

It’s a nightmare, Brock’s lawyer told The Huffington Post, that never would have happened if she weren’t African-American.  

Brock sued the city earlier this year in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She contends that her constitutional rights under the Fourth and 14th Amendments were violated and that she suffered “unwanted and unwarranted intrusion of her personal integrity, loss of liberty [and] mental anguish.” 

The suit details how Brock pulled up to a traffic light in Harlem on Sept. 12, 2014, the music on her car stereo playing loudly. An NYPD officer approached her and asked why she was driving without her hands on the steering wheel, according to the suit. 

“I said I was dancing, I am at a light,” Brock told PIX11. “He asked me to get out of the car.”

For unclear reason, Brock contends, she was taken into custody and transported to the NYPD’s 30th Precinct, where she was held for a few hours before being released without being charged with any crime. She said she was told to come back the next day to pick up her car, a 2003 BMW 325Ci.

When she showed up at a police substation to get the car the next day, Brock said, “I just felt like from the moment I said I owned a BMW, I was looked at as a liar. They put me in handcuffs and said they just need to put me in handcuffs to take me to my car. And I said OK, whatever it’s gonna take to get to my car.”

“Then EMS approached me,” she continued. “And they said we’re gonna take you to your car. And I’m like, in an ambulance? I’m going to my car in an ambulance? I’m going to my car in an ambulance? I was just so confused.”

Brock was taken instead to Harlem Hospital, where medical records obtained by her attorney, Michael Lamonsoff, show she was injected with powerful sedatives and forced to take doses of lithium.

“He held onto me and then the doctor stuck me in the arm and I was on a stretcher and I woke up to them taking my clothes off, specifically my underwear,” Brock tearfully recalled for PIX11’s Nicole Johnson. “Then I went back out again. When I woke up the next day, I felt like I was in a nightmare. I didn’t understand why that was happening to me.” 

Medical records also show that over the course of her eight-day stay, personnel at the hospital repeatedly tried to get Brock to deny three things before she could be released: that she owned the BMW, that she was a professional banker, and that President Barack Obama followed her on Twitter. 

The lawsuit says it was these three assertions that were the basis for the city determining that Brock was delusional and to diagnose her with bipolar disorder. 

But according to Lamonsoff, Brock had no history of mental illness. She did own the BMW. At the time, she was employed as a banker and had worked at Citibank, Chase and Astoria Bank. And Obama does follow Brock on Twitter, just as he follows 640,000 other people. 

When Brock was finally released from the hospital, the lawsuit states, she was slapped with a $13,000 medical bill.

A white woman would not have been treated like that, Lamonsoff argues.


“If a white woman was trying to reclaim her BMW impounded by police, would she have been made a victim?” he said to HuffPost. “Would she have been questioned? Would she have been subject to sarcastic comments? Would she be made to justify who she was in order to ask for help? I don’t think so. I do think race played a part in this.”

Institutional bias against African-Americans is well-documented and contributes to the racial disparities in how laws are enforced. Just this week, James Blake, formerly the fourth-ranked men’s tennis player in the world, was tackled and handcuffed at a midtown Manhattan hotel by police officers who confused him for a suspect in a crime. Blake, who is black, suffered cuts and bruises and was detained for about 15 minutes, until officers realized who he was. 

“In my mind, there’s probably a race factor involved, but no matter what, there’s no reason for anybody to do that to anybody,” Blake said after the incident.

Responding to Brock’s lawsuit earlier this summer, the city claimed in court filings that she had been “acting irrational, she spoke incoherently and inconsistently, and she ran into the middle of traffic on Eighth Ave” during her encounter with police.

Lamonsoff told HuffPost that “those allegations are without merit” and that “the true facts of what happened that day will be brought out” through the litigation. The lawsuit, which names the city of New York, unidentified police officers and Harlem Hospital as defendants, seeks unspecified damages.

Neither the NYPD nor the City Law Department, which handles lawsuits filed against the city, responded to a request for comment on Friday. Previously the police department has only confirmed that Brock was taken into custody.

5 Ways Taylor Swift Exemplifies White Feminism – And Why That’s a Problem ~ Melissa A. Fabello

Make no mistake: I love Taylor Swift.

“I Knew You Were Trouble” is one of my favorite shower songs, I’ve cried incessantly to “All Too Well” after a breakup (and, um, every time I hear it), and I could kick your ass at “We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together” karaoke.

By far, she’s my problematic fave.

But goddamn, is she ever problematic.

And as much as I appreciate a pop artist that I love donning the feminist label, I really hate when they do so in the name of the special brand of fucked-up anti-oppression work known as White Feminism.

Now, White Feminism, for those of you who may not be aware, is not a pejorative term coined to describe all feminists that happen to be white.

Rather, White Feminism refers to the practicing of a feminism that assumes white (cis, straight, able-bodied, thin, middle-to-upper class) women as the default, actively avoiding critical analysis on any axis other than gender, thereby leading to a cookie-cutter feminism that can only possibly be useful to those it’s intended for: white women.

And that’s a problem.

And as much as I’m a Swifty, I’m a feminist first (and a white one, at that), and I’m not here for any kind of feminism that would excuse, for instance, Taylor’s misunderstanding that race is irrelevant in pop culture politics (a la the feud with Nicki Minaj that never was).

So for those of you still confused about how Taylor’s version of feminism is too, um, white to be useful, here are five examples from each of the videos that she’s released in tandem with her singles off of her latest album, 1989.

1. Shake It Off

Also known as: “Women of Color Sure Can Shake It”

Taylor, people may argue you’ve got nothing in your brain (that’s what people say, mmm mmm), and I would debate with them for sure. You’re smart and savvy, and you know exactly what you’re doing — which is why the world was unsurprised by both your cultural appropriation and objectification of women of color in this video.

Sure, many people have argued that, perhaps, the video isn’t appropriative or objectifying, since the scenes in question (see: break dancing in a hoodie, fitted cap, and boom box; see also: twerking in short shorts and a load of jewelry) follow the same script as the rest of the video: Taylor not quite fitting in and finding herself in awe of the (more talented) dancers who surround her.

And I get that argument. Because the same joke runs throughout the video.

The question, really, is this: Taylor, is hip-hop really yours to joke about?

And when you present an image of your squeaky clean, desexualized-by-way-of-assumed-purity self literally crawling under the asses of women of color, and then laughing off how impossible it would be for you to emulate something so sexualized by the male gaze, who’s the joke on, really, when you still reign triumphant (albeit awkwardly) by the end of the video?

Because there’s a huge difference between appreciating and exchanging cultureand straight-up trying it on for size and then shedding it at the end of the day when that benefits you. The latter is appropriative, and it is always, always, always harmful.

2. Blank Space

Also known as: “Intimate Partner Violence Is Cute and Amusing in Some Contexts”

For the most part, I really enjoy “Blank Space” — both as a song and a video. While I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that in it, she’s “the woman we’ve been waiting for,” I most definitely do appreciate Taylor’s jab at media portrayals of herself.

About the inspiration for the song, Taylor explains that “there’s been a sort of sensational fictionalization of [her] personal life,” whereby the media paints her as “a serial dater” who “can’t keep [her love interests] because she’s too emotional and she’s needy.” And when the relationship ends? “She goes to her evil lair and writes songs about it for revenge.”

High five, Taylor Swift, for joking on that bullshit. And the song is catchy as hell. Right away, it was one of my favorites on the album.

But then the video dropped, and I was kinda like, “Um…”

Because although we can say plenty of great things about it, there’s one huge problem: It trivializes dating violence. In fact, it kinda makes it look sexy.

The entire video, with the lyrics set against it, is a story about entrapping men in a fantasy world with lavish gifts and activities, only to keep them by means of what can only be described as abuse.

She drops his phone into a pool when she assumes that he’s cheating. She goes on a rampage — “screaming, crying, perfect storms” — where she yells at and then pushes him. She falls apart crying, taking on the “This is all your fault,” victim-blaming role. And then she threatens him with a knife not to leave, sets his clothes on fire, possibly attempts to poison him, and smashes his car.

If the tables were turned and this was a video where a man was doing this to a woman — even under the guise of a joke — no one would call it feminist or progressive.

It’s scary as all hell.

But through the lens of a feminism where only straight, white women can experience intimate partner violence, it’s cute and amusing that Taylor might enact revenge on her on-screen boyfriend — and serially. After all, the video ends with her snagging another man.

3. Style

Also known as: “I Have No Idea What’s Happening in This Video, But It Makes Me Want to Go to the Beach”

Okay. I admit it: At first glance, I couldn’t see anything vehemently, inherently anti-feminist about this video. And even in preparation for writing this article, I rewatched it, scrutinizing it for something obviously racist, homophobic, or ableist. But nothing jumps out at me in particular.

So I’ll take this space to state the obvious: Every love interest that Taylor has ever had — to my knowledge, both in real life and in her videos — has been a straight, cis, able-bodied, fit, middle-to-upper class, white dude.

And while it’s in Taylor’s right to be attracted to and date whomever suits her fancy, her ivory tower fantasy worlds aren’t doing much to push back against systemic oppression — which, like, is what feminists are supposed to do.

4. Bad Blood

Also known as: “Squad Goals – If You’re Only Friends with White Women”

Look. The video has Lena Dunham in it. Need I say more?

Anyone who calls themselves a feminist after learning about the movement from, of all people, Lena Dunham, is not to be trusted. I mean, she actually had to be called out for not including any women of color in a TV show based in New York City. And I think she passed that same oversight to Tay, because I’m really not sure Taylor has any friends of color.

And if you watch the “Bad Blood” music video — which is supposed to be a miniature action movie about girl gangs — the evidence is clear.

Sure, Taylor includes both Selena Gomez and Zendaya in the video, as well as other women of color, but here’s the problem: Selena, admittedly one of Taylor’s best friends, herself has been known to perpetuate White Feminism via cultural appropriation. And while Zendaya consistently says on-pointfeminist things, I’m not buying the notion that her relationship with Taylor is really that close. Their relationship feels a little, well, “this is my black friend” to me.

The issue isn’t the video in and of itself (you could argue that considering his feature, Kendrick Lamar — a black man — gets plenty of screen time to offset the blizzard of whiteness). The problem is how the video highlights one of Taylor Swift’s biggest problems as a feminist IRL: She constantly surrounds herself with beautiful, thin, rich, famous, white women.

And personally, I don’t trust fellow white people when their only friends are other white people.

And has anyone else noticed that the more Taylor gets called out for her White Feminism, the more people of color are popping up as guests on her tour?

That’s not friendship. That’s not authenticity. That’s not intersectionality. That’s PR.

5. Wildest Dreams

Also known as: “The Colonization of Africa Was Très Romantic”

Um, okay.

Taylor’s latest video takes place on a 1950s-era movie set on desert plains in what is judged, based on the wildlife, to be an unnamed, overgeneralized “African” country – without a single person of color to be seen.

But there were plenty of zebras! And giraffes! And a really calm lion who just hangs out on set all day!

But as if the implication that all “Africa” (an entire continent, mind you, not a country) consists of is stunning landscape views and wildlife safaris isn’t bad enough, the video calls to mind European imperialism and the “Scramble for Africa” — but, like, romantically.

Zoé Samudzi (who is brilliant — please, please, please go follow her on Twitter) deconstructed this video perfectly as “[t]he romanticization of an era of white domination (through violent conquest [and] genocide) because of beautiful aesthestic” and “the literal use of black Africanness as a cultural aesthetic sans the employment of black bodies who created and deeply embody them.”

That is to say, the biggest problem with “Wildest Dreams” is that it isn’t. It isn’t a wild dream. It’s a direct representation of historical accuracy: the colonization of Africa, through the eyes of the colonizer.

And if you don’t think that — of all things — colonization is racist, then I fear that you’re suffering from White Feminism, too.

The video for “Wildest Dreams” perfectly demonstrates the ways in which Taylor continually misses the mark: By seeing life through only her experience (and that of those similarly sociopolitically positioned), she’s unable to notice — let alone prioritize — the needs of the most marginalized. So her feminism only helps herself.

That’s White Feminism.

3 Healthy Alternatives to Potato Chips (With Easy Recipes Too) ~ The Doctors

Before you grab a bag of potato chips to snack on – and then probably end up eating the entire bag – consider these healthier (and tasty!) alternatives that won’t pack on the pounds. 

Rose Petal Chips


They’re made from beets, a veggie rich in essential vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, iron and vitamins A, B and C. And, they are particularly beneficial for pregnant women. Additionally, this recipe spices things up with a sprinkle of rosemary, which has been shown to reduce inflammation, increase blood flow and stimulate the immune system.

Get the recipe! 

Source: Running to the Kitchen  

Brussels Sprout Chips


Brussels sprouts are not just your old-school stinky veggie. These chips are rich in vitamin C and because they’re high in fiber, they can aid in digestion as well as help to reduce cholesterol. 

Get the recipe here! 

Source: Epicurious  

Parsnip Chips


A relative of carrots, celery and parsley, parsnips are indeed a power veggie. It’s a naturally sweet root vegetable that can boost the immune system and help to promote nerve function, red blood cell growth and dental health.  Plus, parsnips are rich in dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin C, and may help prevent heart disease. 

Get the recipe here!

The Beauty & Health Benefits of an Alkaline Diet ~ Sara Bliss

The alkaline diet has health and beauty benefits. (Photo: Henry Leutwyler)

The alkaline diet has been earning raves from celebrities such as Kelly RipaKate Hudson, and Elle MacPherson. Ripa actually went so far as to say the diet “changed her life,” helping her heal physical pain. The idea is that by replacing foods that cause excess acidity like meat, dairy, alcohol, sugar, and flour — with more alkaline foods like vegetables, legumes, and nuts — your body will be less susceptible to disease and inflammation. “To achieve health, radiance, energy, and permanent weight loss, it is helpful to understand the underlying causes of diseases and obesity which are acids and inflammation,” explains Ripa’s nutritionist and chiropractor Dr. Daryl Gioffre.

If anyone is an ad for an alkaline diet it’s Gioffre. The high-energy, fit, 40-year-old (who looks about a decade younger) credits the lifestyle with helping him shed 42 pounds and a sugar addiction. He tried the eating plan 10 years ago, when despite trying dozens of diets he couldn’t break the cycle of weight gain and sugar cravings. An alkaline diet finally brought change (and a 12-pound weight loss within one week). He now eats alkaline 80% of the time and says it’s transformed his life. “I have more energy than I did in my 20s, I’m running triathlons and ultra-marathons, and I can’t remember the last time I was sick,” he tells Yahoo Beauty.

To provide a whole body approach to healing for his chiropractic clients, Gioffre made nutrition a major focus of his work. “I really started diving into nutrition, cleansing, and alkalinity as I realized that toxicity and nutritional deficiencies were at the core of everyone’s health and skin issues,” he says. The nutritionist believes that allergies, stress, fatigue, headaches, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, weak immune systems, poor sleep, and skin problems are all problems that can be healed with lifestyle changes. “These are your body’s cries for help!” he says. “Whenever I see someone with a skin condition, it is a sign that there is a lot of acidity in their body.”

To find out if going alkaline was indeed as transformative as promised, I decided to try Gioffre’s Get Off Your Acid 7-Day Cleanse. Note, that I am typically against fad diets. I don’t even bother trying any because the discipline required to cut out entire food groups seems like way too much work. I truly believe things like cheese and pie are some of the great joys of life. Plus, I have a major sweet tooth. I’ve tried juice cleanses which left me cranky, starving, and the same exact weight when I started. I was skeptical that an alkaline cleanse wouldn’t do anything more than give me major food cravings for a week, but I couldn’t report on it without experiencing it for myself.

While a visit with Gioffre is just under $300, his cleanse can be done online for a cost of $97. To begin, he preps his cleanse patients with pages and pages of information, but the gist is this: You have to cut out all dairy, alcohol, meat, coffee, sugar, and gluten. Unfortunately for me peanut butter, one of the staples of my diet, is apparently wildly acidic and inflammatory, so that was out, too. However, Gioffre doesn’t frame the cleanse in terms of what you are cutting out. Instead, he provides an entire meal plan with tons of recipes to choose from that he promises are delicious. He changes his recipes according to the seasons and recommends that clients do a cleanse four times a year.

Each morning starts with a smoothie. The first day, I blended coconut water, baby spinach, berries, bananas, and chia seeds. I’ve never put veggies in my morning smoothies before. Ditto on Omega 3 rich chia seeds. To be honest, I usually mix smoothies with orange juice or yogurt (both alkaline no no’s). However, I found that you really don’t notice the vegetables or the chia seeds at all. As the week progressed, I began to look forward to trying out a new smoothie each morning — the recipes were that good.


The food chart. (Photo: Dr. Daryl Gioffre)

If you follow the plan to the letter and do all the recipes, it requires a lot of shopping, cooking, and prep time. None of the recipes really take longer than 20 minutes to make, but for those who exist on takeout, it will be way more work than you are used to. However, the plan suggests taking the leftovers from dinner dishes like zucchini pasta with spinach lemon pesto or chilled avocado and cucumber soup, for lunch the next day. When I couldn’t cook or cart food to work, I just ordered make-your-own salads including as many of the most alkaline foods as I could (watercress, spinach, kale, cucumber, broccoli, avocado, celery, red bell pepper, and swiss chard).

One of the things that you’ll notice is that there aren’t a lot of fruits on the cleanse — it’s mainly vegetables. “To your body sugar is sugar,” explains Gioffre. “Sugar ferments when it goes into the body and that fermentation process is what makes it acidic.”  

The most surprising thing about the experience, however, is that I wasn’t ever hungry. Normally, I would grab several snacks in an afternoon–a sweetened yogurt here, a few M & M’s there. But I lost my cravings for snacks, and my biggest weakness of all — sugar. Apparently this is a common result of eating more alkaline foods. “Your body is working more efficiently and does not require as much energy to neutralize the acid because you are less acidic. So your body won’t need to ravish for food,” explains Gioffre. 

The recipes really are appealing, although I definitely preferred some over others.  However, part of the reason the cleanse wasn’t that difficult I am already pretty healthy. I have always loved vegetarian dishes. I think it would be more of a shock for someone who eats a lot of meat and drinks coffee and cocktails everyday. I tried to cheat one day and have a glass of wine, and I felt completely nauseous. For me the big downside was that I woke up most mornings with major headaches. Drinking a ton of water (you’re supposed to drink about half your body weight in water on the cleanse) would help ease the pain, but they were frequent and apparently a symptom of detoxing.

The cleanse isn’t all about food. To help encourage detoxing, you are also supposed to dry brush your skin in the morning, take hot baths in Epsom salts and baking soda at night, and do breath work.  You also need to take Gioffre’s Alkamind Daily Greens with and Alkamind Daily Minerals powders. The green powder mixed with water takes a little getting used to (it’s pretty unappealing tastewise).

Despite going in skeptical, the experience was surprisingly transformative. For starters, my skin —which I always cover up with foundation because of rosacea — looked more even than it has in years with the redness visibly diminished. The other day, I skipped the foundation altogether, something that hasn’t happened maybe ever. I did lose a little bit of weight — just two pounds, although Gioffre promises it will stay off.  He says the difference with this and a juice cleanse where you lose water weight is you are losing actual fat. “The best part is that you can continue to lose that weight as long as you keep your diet 80% alkaline.”  Unlike a juice cleanse, where I couldn’t wait to get back to real foods, I want to keep eating this way. Since the diet ended four days ago, I’ve added a little protein, but kept up the primarily vegan meals and morning smoothies.

A common misconception about the diet is that it will change your blood’s pH levels.  However, that’s not possible as your body tightly regulates your pH and your diet isn’t going to affect your blood’s pH. It’s an argument critics of the diet use, but Gioffre says that they aren’t understanding the point. “The purpose of eating alkaline isn’t to try and raise your pH. Your body is going to maintain that on its own,” explains Gioffre. “The problem is, if there a lot of acidity, your body will sacrifice other things including bone and cardiovascular health. To meet these acidic demands, the body starts to drain alkaline minerals from its own resources like magnesium from your muscles causing muscle cramps and fatigue, and calcium from your bones and cartilage leading to osteoporosis, joint pain and bad posture. Even sodium bicarbonate from you mouth causing tooth decay. The loss of these essential minerals accelerates the aging process.”

To maintain weight loss, glowing skin, increased energy, and healthy food cravings, Gioffre says that I have to follow a rule of eating alkaline at least 70% of the time, ideally 80%. To me, 70% sounds doable leaving room for the occasional slice of pie. “When your body is in that alkaline state, your body is armed to process those acidic things out when you want to indulge,” Gioffre promises. “People think that to live healthy you have to take away all the foods that you love and it’s not true. You have to enjoy the process to sustain health.”

What Happened When One Poet Embraced Radical ‘Self-Love’ ~ Taryn Finley

If time travel were possible, poet Caira Lee would visit her 15-year-old self. 

Lee would commend her on her courage and honesty. She would tell her to how remarkable she was, maybe even throwing a cheesy pick-up line or two to assure her that she knows her worth.  

“Did you read Dr. Suess as a kid? Because green eggs and DAYUM,” she would tell her adolescent self in recognition. 

 Because Lee realized what so many of us fail to recognize as teens: the importance of radical self-love. 

“When you do not act on your self-esteem, you aren’t loving yourself and when you aren’t loving yourself, you are failing at life,” she said in a recent TEDx Talk in Shaker Heights, Ohio. 

The 21-year-old  Baltimore-native stresses the importance of embracing your true self despite what negative things others have to say about body image, race or sexual orientation.

“It’s looking in the mirror and saying, ‘I am the most important person in the world to me. I accept that person. I admire that person and I will do everything in my power to see that person’s dreams come true,’” she says.

Reciting the words to the hook of Kendrick Lamar song “i” with the audience, in which the rapper declares “I love myself” several times, Lee explains that the outside forces of the world working against them are no match for their self-love. 

But how exactly does one practice radical self-love and how do its practitioners gain from it?

Lee offers four points of practicing and reaping the benefits of radical self-love. 

 1. “Find that thing that you can do for hours and lose yourself in that.”

Lee urges her audience to find the skill that makes them feel “cool, productive, important, challenged.” Come alive, she says, because that’s what the world needs.

2. “If you’re black, know your history.”

There is no one way of living in this world despite society’s expectations of black people, according to Lee, and knowing your history will reveal that. She says that one’s “blackness is at the top of the list of things that the United States has that will continue to use and misconstrue in order to get you to dislike yourself.” Don’t let it.

3. “Police the people in your head.”

Many of the negative things we think about ourselves come from other people, she says, and most of it isn’t true. “We let it infest us,” she says. Lee polices the doubtful people in her head by writing positive affirmations like “you are good enough” and posts them on the walls of her dorm room. 

4. “Give self-love to others.”  

The fourth step is hard to do but IS the most important, Lee says. She urges audience members to stop other’s self-deprecation when they hear or witness it. “Dedication to radical self-love is not just about ourselves, it’s about not letting weakness in your circle at any time.”

A Comic That Accurately Sums Up Depression And Anxiety ~ UpWorthy

Sarah Flanigan has been fighting depression since she was 10 years old and anxiety since she was 16. “I wish everyone knew that depression is not something that people can just ‘snap out of,'” she explains. “I mean, if I could ‘snap out of it,’ I would have by now.”

Depression and anxiety disorders are real illnesses. Mental illnesses are not “in someone’s head,” they’re not something a person can “just get over,” and they affect so many of us — over 40 million people in the U.S. alone.

Despite how common they are, it’s still really difficult to explain to people who may have never experienced a mental illness.

Enter: cute, clever illustrations that get the job done.

Nick Seluk, who creates the amazing comics at The Awkward Yeti, heard from reader Sarah Flanigan. She shared her story of depression and anxiety with him. If it could help even one person, she said, it would be worth it. 

Nick turned her story into a fantastic comic that perfectly captures the reality of living with depression and anxiety.

“I’ve been through and seen depression and anxiety in action, and thought Sarah’s story was so perfectly simple,” he told me. “We all get sick physically and mentally, but we need to be open to talking (and laughing) about [it].”

I couldn’t agree more, and I think this comic will resonate with a lot of people.

Simple yet powerful, right? 

“The hardest part of living with depression and anxiety for me is feeling like I have to hide it,” Sarah said. “I’ve always been known as the happy one in my group of friends. Everyone’s always so shocked when I tell them I have depression or they see the self-harm scars.”

“It’s much harder than it should be to say, ‘Hey, I have depression and I’ve been struggling with self-harm since I was 10 and I just really need your support to get me through tonight,'” Sarah explained. 

Let’s all keep working to make it easier for our friends, family members, and ourselves to get support. Let’s keep talking about it.

17 Foods That Can Help You Live Longer by Kate Bratskeir

The world’s oldest person, 116-year old Susannah Mushatt Jones, enjoys a hearty meal of bacon, eggs and grits most mornings. The breakfast sounds delicious, but unless Jones has upended decades of nutritional science, it is unlikely the secret to her long and healthy life. 

Eggs and grits aside, there are foods that, if eaten routinely enough, may help extend a person’s life. Science has found that antioxidants, for one, can combat age-related illnesses like heart disease and some cancers. Nature has supplied us with a galaxy’s worth of these molecules in the form of delicious, whole foods foods like berries, garlic and many others. Check out the list below to discover what foods researchers have associated with living long and prospering. Then get a huge bowl, whip up a few, dig in and #LiveYourBestLife.

Next Time Someone Tells You “All Lives Matter,” Show Them This Cartoon ~ German Lopez

One of the most common responses to “Black Lives Matter” is “all lives matter.” But that response misses the point, as this great cartoon from Kris Straub at Chainsawsuit demonstrates:

"All lives matter" is wrong.Kris Straub/Chainsawsuit

The point of Black Lives Matter isn’t to suggest that black lives should be or are more important than all other lives, but instead that black people’s lives are relatively undervalued in the US (and more likely to be ended by police), and the country needs to recognize that inequity to bring an end to it.

Reddit user GeekAesthete made this point in a thread explaining why the phrase “all lives matter” is offensive:

Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!

Straub’s cartoon echoes this point: If a house is burning down, you’re obviously going to focus on putting out the fire instead of watering a house that’s just fine. In this analogy, black lives are the burning house, and everyone else is living much more comfortably in the house that isn’t burning down. Clearly, one is a bigger problem.


It’s Time To Unwind, Sis: Activists Must Practice Self-Care ~ Najya Williams

 photo shutterstock_285334562.jpg

At the time of Trayvon Martin’s death, I was an eighth grader on my way to high school. I first heard the news of this horrific racial injustice on the radio, and to say I was shocked is an understatement. It was my first experience with racial injustice not only in my generation, but in this era. Four years and dozens of stolen lives later, I was as emotionally drained as I had ever been. The constant fear of becoming another hashtag or developing one for someone in my inner circle paralyzed my thoughts daily. Am I next? Will I become another hashtag? How am I supposed to want to bring children into this type of environment?

My journals of poetry are reflective of how consumed I had become with the events that continue to take over our nation. I have participated in discussion after discussion within my community, but I still live with the thought that I may have to say goodbye to the people in my life sooner than I desire. My thoughts often journey to the three women who were not only brave enough to initiate but also continue to grow the #BlackLivesMatter movement. When was the last time someone told them it was okay to take a day to breathe mentally?

Reflecting on my thoughts and emotions, I realize that I am not alone. As young, African-American women, we often do not give ourselves the opportunity to unplug from the world around us. We are expected to be an ever present source of strength no matter what is happening, and in turn, our overall health and wellness suffers. I am learning that I cannot help another soul unless I am well within, so I want to encourage you to take a day to gather yourself, too. The racial injustices that occur in our nation are traumatizing, and it is important that we make our health a priority so that we are able inspire change effectively.

I know you may be thinking: “Najya, where do I even begin? I don’t have that type of time.” I’m so glad that you asked! As activists, we know that political and social change does not happen overnight. Well, the same applies to us! We cannot expect to be happier, cheerier people after just one minute, hour or day. Making our emotional and mental health a priority is a commitment that we must make daily because the journey to becoming emotionally sound does not have an endgame.

After identifying where I had channeled all of my emotional energy, I decided to make some changes. Here are some of the activities and practices that I have started and continue to do as I move forward in my journey:

➢ Take a social media fast. I know that this is easier said than done, but the benefits make it worthwhile.

➢ Meditate/Pray. My faith has been my saving grace when I watch the news and follow cases of racial injustice. In moments of fear and sadness, I hold my faith and spirituality close to my mind, body, and soul.

➢ Journal/Keep a diary. An age-old technique, journaling and writing in a diary allows you to let go some of the thoughts and feelings you have saved in your memory bank. Let your notebook and pen carry some of that weight!

➢ Go on a “staycation.” If you are like me and your mind is always running a thousand miles per hour, try setting aside one or two personal days that you can take off from business/academics to completely pamper yourself with a new look, spa treatments, and great food! You can also dedicate a weekend to check into a local resort or hotel and unwind alone. Turn your phone and notifications off during the day and let your hair down. It is the perfect way to clear your mind and recharge emotionally while not venturing too far away from home!

I hope that these ideas encourage you to devote time to rejuvenating, recharging, and becoming stronger emotionally. As I grow, it is my prayer that we grow as a community. I send you positivity, love, and hope.

Photo: Shutterstock

Najya Williams is a social activist, spoken word artist and future pediatrician. She aspires to publish several books on her journey to self-discovery, healing, and faith. Najya hopes that her work encourages others to chase their dreams and reach beyond the celestial realm.

8 Impossible-to-Resist Veggie Dishes by Jennifer Segal


Every now and again, I come across a vegetable dish that makes me think I could be a very happy vegetarian. From a hearty summer white bean ragout to balsamic-glazed roasted beets, here are a few of my favorites.

1. Summer White Bean Ragout


This quick ragout of white beans and sweet summer tomatoes might just be my favorite recipe of the summer. The tomatoes — just barely cooked — burst in your mouth when you bite into them, while fresh herbs and a splash of balsamic vinegar liven the dish up. Serve with toasted garlic bread for sopping up the broth. GET THE RECIPE

2. Creamed Zucchini with Garlic & Basil


Imagine creamed spinach, only with zucchini. This delicate yet rich dish is easy to make — and it’s great for entertaining because you can make it ahead of time. GET THE RECIPE

3. Roasted Pepper Salad with Feta, Pine Nuts & Basil


Next time you’re asked to bring a veggie or salad to a get-together, try these sweet and smoky bell peppers topped with feta, toasted pine nuts, basil and olives. The salad looks gorgeous on a platter and is delicious with toasted pita bread. GET THE RECIPE

4. Roasted Broccoli with Chipotle Honey Butter


In this recipe, broccoli florets are tossed in a sweet, spicy and smoky chipotle-honey butter before roasting. It’s as delicious as it sounds, and the broccoli has enough flavor to carry an entire meal.

5. Sautéed Zucchini & Cherry Tomatoes


This summery dish of sautéed zucchini, burst cherry tomatoes and meltingly sweet red onions is one of those dishes where the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. Make it now before the season ends! GET THE RECIPE

6. Golden Roasted Cauliflower with Pecorino Romano Cheese


Want to get your family to love cauliflower? Try roasting it and tossing it with cheese. It worked for me. GET THE RECIPE

7. Sautéed Asparagus and Peas


Combining veggies in a side dish makes them so much more interesting. In this simple and elegant dish, sweet green peas and asparagus are quickly sautéed with butter, shallots, and a touch of honey.  GET THE RECIPE

8. Balsamic-Glazed Roasted Beets


If you’re a beet lover like I am, you are going to love (and maybe even obsess over) these simply prepared beets. They’re oven-roasted, which intensifies their natural sweetness, and then tossed in a tart and syrupy balsamic reduction.  GET THE RECIPE

Woman Runs London Marathon Without a Tampon, Bleeds Freely to Raise Awareness ~ Char Adams

Kiran Gandhi, who has played drums for singer M.I.A. and Thievery Corporation, decided to run the London Marathon without a tampon. Gandhi let her blood flow freely to raise awareness about women who have no access to feminine products and to encourage women to not be embarrassed about their periods. 

Kiran Gandhi

“I ran the whole marathon with my period blood running down my legs,” the 26-year-old wrote of the April race on her website

Gandhi, a Harvard Business School graduate, wrote that she got her period the night before the big race and thought that a tampon would be uncomfortable while she ran. But that isn’t the only reason she decided to let it flow. 

“I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn’t exist.”

She added: “I ran to say, it does exist, and we overcome it every day.” 

Woman Runs London Marathon Without a Tampon, Bleeds Freely to Raise Awareness| BodyWatch, M.I.A.

Kiran Gandhi (right)


Clad in all pink for breast cancer awareness, the 26-year-old finished the race in four hours, 49 minutes and 11 seconds. She told Cosmopolitan that she ran through the pain of cramps and the anxiety of the race (which she had spent a year preparing for) and felt empowered as she did so. 

“I felt kind of like, Yeah! F— you!,” she said. “I felt very empowered by that. I did.” 

Woman Runs London Marathon Without a Tampon, Bleeds Freely to Raise Awareness| BodyWatch, M.I.A.

Kiran Gandhi (center) and fellow runners


After the race, she took photos with her family and friends, wearing her period-stained running pants proudly. 

Gandhi tells PEOPLE that she decided to run without a tampon to highlight the sentiment of period-shaming and the language surrounding women’s menstrual cycles. She wrote on her site that “on the marathon course, sexism can be beaten.” 

Woman Runs London Marathon Without a Tampon, Bleeds Freely to Raise Awareness| BodyWatch, M.I.A.

Kiran Gandhi


“If there’s one way to transcend oppression, it’s to run a marathon in whatever way you want,” she wrote. “Where the stigma of a woman’s period is irrelevant, and we can re-write the rules as we choose.”

Why You Shouldn’t Skip a Workout by Laurice Rawls

Your favorite workout pants are dirty in the hamper, your iPod is on 3%, and your bestie just texted asking you to join her at happy hour. We all have those days where getting to your workout feels more difficult than the actual exercise. So we reached out to Franci Cohen, a board certified personal trainer, nutritionist, and the creator of a cardio resistance workout, to get the scoop on why you should listen to that little voice in your head telling you to get out there and sweat.

You Have A Cold

Running on the treadmill with a runny nose isn’t ideal but, it’s possible a good workout session could help you get rid of your cold. “Working out when you have a cold can actually be beneficial. It can boost immunity, and allow you to rid yourself of the invading bug a lot faster by flushing it out of the body by increased perspiration, respiration, and urination,” says Cohen.

You Missed Your Workout Class

Missing Zumba class may feel like grounds to head home and hop in bed early, but use this opportunity to try something new. Catch the late cycling class or try mixing up your own workout routine. Still sad you missed Zumba? Turn on Spotify’s Zumba playlist (yes, it exists) and create your own routine.

Your iPod Is Dead / You Forgot Your Headphones

Music can be a great exercise buddy, but forgetting your headphones isn’t a sign to go home. Try thinking of all the reasons why you started this journey and how far you’ve come. Instead of throwing in the towel (literally and figuratively), use this time to clear your mind and focus on each muscle you are working on.

You Can’t Find the Time

A wise person once said, “You and Beyoncé both have the same 24 hours. So no excuses.” Okay, so maybe you don’t have the access to trainers, dieticians, and specialty fitness routines like Beyoncé, but think of exercise as an investment in yourself. Some alone time to relieve stress and clear your head goes a long way.

Cohen suggests getting a buddy to help you fight through the days when you’re “just not feeling it.” Of course, be mindful and listen to your body. If you have a fever or your body feels achy, you may want to skip your workout and give your body time to rest. After all, it’s all about living and feeling better.

Andy Roddick On The Ugly Truth Behind How We Treat Serena Williams by Justin Block


Retired American tennis player Andy Roddick won’t be playing at the U.S. Open this year (despite the best wishes of some fans), but he is watching the matches closely, especially those of Serena Williams, the tournament’s defending champion — the only champion who’s been forced to deflect accusations of match-fixing and body-shaming takedowns, seemingly all at once.

At the U.S. Open, Williams is attempting to win her 22nd career Grand Slam title to tie Steffi Graf for second all-time, which would also give her a true calendar year Grand Slam — the first since Graf did it in 1988. With so much history on the line for Williams, Roddick voiced his support for her in an interview with The New York Observer published on Wednesday.

Roddick, who’s been best friends with Williams since they were 8 years old, reflected on their journey together, noting that he faced far less criticism over the years for his outlandish behavior compared to her (emphasis ours).

To see her come from the 10-year-old with beads in her hair — I mean [expletive], just to see her become just this complete icon and the best female athlete of all time. I love the respect she’s getting this week in the lead-up too. She has the support of an entire country. We threw lots of fits on the court. I was a [jerk] a lot of the time, and I didn’t get a quarter of the criticism that she ever got. To see her at this moment, and on the precipice of doing something great, and that will be remembered forever, it’s just so cool. I’m so happy for her, and I hope she does it.”

Throughout his professional tennis career, Roddick was poorly tempered and indignant to entire legions of tennis officials. He even tried to fight Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open locker room in 2013. In press conferences and at events, Roddick was known for brushing it all away with self-deprecating humor, escaping harsh media criticism while he racked up fines for his antics. Generally, any time Roddick had displayed disrespectful behavior, he’s been able to simply exit the moment by leveraging his privilege as a white male in a sport that’s long been dominated, culturally and in terms of record holders, by white males. 


Ultimately, Roddick’s bad-boy image isn’t anything that he can’t joke about. In fact, he did just that in February, reading a tongue-in-cheek apology note to tennis officials he’s abused over the years on Fox Sports Live. And it was funny, too! The ability to candidly joke about one’s multiple public meltdowns and takedowns of officials on the court is not something that’s ever been afforded to Williams, a vastly more accomplished professional than Roddick.

As Roddick pointed out to The New York Observer, Williams simply gets criticized more for doing less. Claudia Rankine dutifully explored why that is in her August New York Times Magazine piece on Williams, noting attacks on Williams and her body have often come in the form of blissfully wrapped and coded racist sentiments. 

Imagine that you’re the player John McEnroe recently described as ‘‘the greatest player, I think, that ever lived.’’ Imagine that, despite all this, there were so many bad calls against you, you were given as one reason video replay needed to be used on the courts. Imagine that you have to contend with critiques of your body that perpetuate racist notions that black women are hypermasculine and unattractive. Imagine being asked to comment at a news conference before a tournament because the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, Shamil Tarpischev, has described you and your sister as ‘‘brothers’’ who are ‘‘scary’’ to look at. Imagine.

What Rankine describes is not impossible to imagine, because, as Roddick inferred, this shit’s been happening. Time and time again.

It just took one black woman, a 21-time Grand Slam winner, and her imminent future as tennis’ G.O.A.T. for us to earnestly talk about it.


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