The abandoned buildings of the Eastern bloc ~ BBC News

Christian Richter spent his teens exploring abandoned buildings in what was then Communist East Germany. As an adult he’s still doing it, but now he takes a camera to capture the advancing decay of their interiors. 

My childhood was surrounded by the industrial, crumbling buildings of the former German Democratic Republic – lots of ramshackle structures, and power stations. 

I was 14 years old when the Berlin Wall came down. It was a huge change for us. People didn’t know how it would all turn out. It was very exciting – the start of something new. At first we visited the West a lot just to see what it was like, and although quite a few people moved away, I stayed. 

Because so many people had left, everything began to fall into disrepair. That’s when I started visiting abandoned buildings, sometimes with friends and sometimes on my own. Then much later, when a friend gave me a digital camera, I was able to capture the beauty of these old places. 

Abandoned factoryImage copyrightChristian Richter
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Abandoned machineryImage copyrightChristian Richter
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Facade still standingImage copyrightChristian Richter
They are very peaceful places because no-one ever goes there. The way they deteriorate, when nature starts to take over, reminds me that everything is transient. There’s a feeling that it is the end of time and you don’t find that kind of atmosphere anywhere else. 

Over the past seven or eight years I must have visited about 1,000 buildings in Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and Poland. I have to go to a lot of places to get one good image or find something that excites me – many of them are just empty and not particularly beautiful.

Abandoned staircase with pianoImage copyrightChristian Richter
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Dusty piano keysImage copyrightChristian Richter
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It’s often hard to get inside – I’ve had to find tunnels or climb through windows. I’ve travelled long distances to see a building and then found it’s been torn down, or I simply couldn’t get in. 

Sometimes I can tell there might be something special inside, but it’s more like a game of chance – maybe I’ll find something, maybe I won’t. At some point I may hit the jackpot but there’s a lot of work behind it – it’s very hard to find this kind of beauty. 

I once got a tip-off about an old doctor’s surgery and I think I was the first person to go inside for 10 or 15 years. It was full of cobwebs and felt slightly mystical. It was like going back in time. The way the light was coming in gave it an amazing atmosphere.

Abandoned operating theatreImage copyrightChristian Richter
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Sagging shelves with files on themImage copyrightChristian Richter

Former industrial plants are also falling into ruin, and psychiatric hospitals have been closed down. No-one looks after them and there’s no money for their upkeep – it would be too expensive to preserve them.

When the roof is falling apart and water comes through the ceilings, moss and lichen grow. If the windows are closed it can get very warm in summer and plants start to take over. Often there’s a very mouldy smell, but I like it when nature starts taking the building back, and when things are blooming and growing inside. 

We used to have lots of inns in the east of Germany – every village had one, with a bar, a ballroom, a function room or a theatre. But as people have left the villages and moved to the towns, they’re just not used any more.

Mould and plants in abandoned bedroom - grass is growing on the bedImage copyrightChristian Richter 
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Abandoned cinema or theatreImage copyrightChristian Richter
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Colourful ceiling and stageImage copyrightChristian Richter

When I see an old building in this state I can imagine its former glory, but it’s always sad that it’s falling apart and not being used.

I keep the locations secret to stop vandals damaging them – some people don’t value them and when they get inside it’s not just the plants taking over, it’s people who are tearing down the banisters or spraying graffiti tags on the walls. 

If someone wanted to restore a building, they could write to me and if I thought they were actually the kind of person who might genuinely do something to help, then of course I would try put them in touch with the right people. That would be theoretically possible, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Looking up through a collapsed ceiling into a roomImage copyrightChristian Richter
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Dusty old chairImage copyrightChristian Richter

I never break in – I always try to find a way to get inside that doesn’t involve damaging anything. That might mean going through a hole in the cellar, over a fence, through cracks, through a window – there’s a lot of climbing involved. It’s hard work and I have to be quite fit. Some buildings are so tightly secured that you have to be a real climber in order to get in without breaking anything.

It is illegal to go into these places and I have been stopped by police – I’ve been escorted out of buildings two or three times and issued with a notice, but they’ve never pressed any charges. They seem to let it go because I’m just taking photos. 

Some of these places are very atmospheric, very moody. I once photographed a former crematorium where bodies had been burned. It made a deep impression on me. 

Empty coffin in large roomImage copyrightChristian Richter

Another time, I found a beautiful room with a skylight in an abandoned five-star hotel. I think it was a dining room – I could see the old columns and the dirt on the crumbling floor, and this enormous skylight was covered in curtains, and the light was spilling into the whole room. 

Then there was an old public bath, possibly built in the 19th Century, with the original changing rooms, magnificent columns and stucco on the ceiling, and of course a big pool in the middle, without water – but on the walls there were the beautiful colours they used back then, yellows and reds, big contrasts. It was really stunning.

The real beauty for me is discovering these places. The photos aren’t exactly secondary but they come alongside the discovery itself. I take the photo to give other people a sense of what it’s like.

I think people like them for the same reasons I do – this beauty and sadness mixed up. I think people can identify with the fact that even if you have a wonderful, big house right now, at some point everything will decay. Even palaces and villas are transient. 

abandoned kitchenImage copyrightChristian Richter

Interview with Christian Richter and translation by Jo Impey. 

Inside a gypsum mine.Image

Exploring the grandiose buildings and industrial infrastructure left over from the USSR is a popular pastime for some young people – but not the faint-hearted. Known as urban exploration, the hobby involves climbing high-rise buildings, towers and bridges, or going deep underground. Russia’s vast territory is dotted with industrial sites, some of which are unused and empty.

Dalai Lama: Humans Created Terrorism, So Stop Praying To God For A Solution ~ Michael McLaughlin


<span class='image-component__caption' itemprop="caption">Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama says humankind bears some responsibility for the emergence of terrorism.</span>ASHWINI BHATIA/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama says humankind bears some responsibility for the emergence of terrorism.

Prayer alone will not be enough to stem terrorist attacks like the shootings and bombings last week that devastated Paris and shocked the world, the Dalai Lama said.

The Buddhist spiritual leader from Tibet said in an interview with German media outlet Deutsche Welle on Monday that terrorism is a problem caused by humans and, thus, must be fixed by mankind without God’s intervention. 

“People want to lead peaceful lives. The terrorists are short-sighted, and this is one of the causes of rampant suicide bombings. We cannot solve this problem only through prayers,” the Dalai Lama said as part of a response to a question about how he viewed the attacks.

“I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it,” the Nobel Peace Prize winner said. “It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.”

Other religious leaders, like Pope Francis, have encouraged followers to join him in prayer after Friday’s series of shootings and bombings that killed at least 129 people and injured more than 300. 

It would also be unwise to expect politicians to devise solutions too, the Dalai Lama said.

“So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments,” he said. 

Though the conflict between Western secular countries and radicalized Islamist terrorists is often depicted as a clash of civilizations with irreconcilable differences, the Dalai Lama said the struggle is not nearly as stark.

“The problems that we are facing today are the result of superficial differences over religious faiths and nationalities. We are one people.”

The Dalai Lama’s comments echo remarks he made in New York on his first visit to the city after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

During that trip, The New York Times reported that he said “compassion, dialogue — peaceful means” are the “real antidote” to terrorism

“‘Terrorism comes out of hatred, and also short-sightedness,” he said.

The Daily Life Of Darth Vader Is My Latest 365-Day Photo Project ~ Paweł Kadysz

I finished my personal 365 project few weeks ago and almost immediately I decided to start another one. A daily life of Darth Vader portraying the Sith Lord as just a normal guy with everyday life problems.

This is an ongoing project, updated with one new photo every day. I plan to continue until the Episode VII premiere. And if I get really hooked up, for a whole year. That would be a hell of achievement.

As for the gear, I’m using a mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark I with few M.Zuiko lenses and a cheap, amateur strobe. I’m not a professional photographer. Just an amateur with a will to learn and improve. The photos below are all selfies.

More info:

Damn! Forgot half the stuff I was supposed to buy

My very first bathroom pic. It had to happen at some point

Some reading

What the hell?!

Big fan of Gordon Ramsay

Mrs. Doubtfire style

I might be dying. The Force is weak today

Quality time

Just a regular Monday morning


Getting back in shape

Just before an important meeting

The old days

Taking some notes. I know most of this stuff. But there’s always room for improvement

Pope Francis: Christmas a ‘Charade’ This Year Because ‘Whole World Is at War’ ~ Daniel White

Pope Francis gestures during his Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's square at the VaticanTony Gentile—ReutersPope Francis gestures during his Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican, on Nov. 15, 2015.

The Pope told churchgoers that “the whole world is at war”

Pope Francis told churchgoers that Christmas this year is going to be a “charade” because “the whole world is at war.”

The pontiff put this holiday season in perspective during mass at the Basilica di Santa Maria last week. His speech comes after a rash of notable violent incidents, including the now infamous terrorist attacks in Paris, as “we are close to Christmas. There will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war.

“It’s all a charade. The world has not understood the way of peace. The whole world is at war,” Pope Francis said. “A war can be justified, so to speak, with many, many reasons, but when all the world as it is today, at war, piecemeal though that war may be—a little here, a little there—there is no justification.”

Pope Francis also pointed to the “innocent victims” of war, calling for compassion for bystanders.

“What shall remain in the wake of this war, in the midst of which we are living now?” Pope Francis asked. “What shall remain? Ruins, thousands of children without education, so many innocent victims, and lots of money in the pockets of arms dealers.”


Neon Moon’s Lingerie Campaign Fights Body Shaming and Transphobia ~ Laura Mandanas

Feminist lingerie brand Neon Moon recently launched #IAmNeonMoon, an advertising campaign intended to fight body shaming and transphobia. The campaign was launched partially in response to online attacks against new Neon Moon model Kitty.


Kitty, Jilly, Hayat and Annie.

The whole reason I became a model is so that women who look like me don’t feel so bad and terrible about themselves,” said Kitty, who is an actress, TV presenter and ‘inbetweenie’ plus size model. “The message I have for all women out there is that there are always going to be body shamers. What’s important is that you’re an amazing beautiful entity and so what if people don’t like it! Please believe me, there is no reason to feel down about yourself because if you’re confident and love yourself, no-one can get to you. Fuck them body shamers!”

<p>Navy blue bamboo bra Non! Handmade in Great Britain by feminist lingerie brand, Neon Moon.</p>;

The campaign also features transgender model Jilly, a business owner and lingerie blogger. She volunteered as a model while chatting with Neon Moon’s owner on Twitter. “What motivated me? I guess it was a dream realized,” said Jilly. “I’ve been writing, reviewing and marketing lingerie for some years and it had been a dream to be a lingerie model. Maybe it was a pipe dream. What lingerie company wants to use a 49 year-old man as its face of the brand? Its unrealistic nature made it seem an ideal thing to strive for (bizarre, I know). So the motivation was a personal desire fulfilled.”

Jilly views her participation in the campaign as a continuation of her ongoing journey for acceptance and comfortability. Outside of her interests in the lingerie world, she also works with Transagenda, a trans rights and support organization.


Jilly in the non! bra and coucou! knicker.

Neon Moon founder Hayat Rachi shared, “I designed Neon Moon’s first collection, Mon Dieu, so that a woman creates the shape of the garment and not the other way around. It is body positive so if someone’s weight fluctuates for any reason their Neon Moon feminist lingerie adapts to them!” She related this to Neon Moon’s name, saying, “The moon goes through so many phases during a month, from crescent shaped to a full moon, whilst always remaining the same celestial being. I like to think women are similar. We can fluctuate in the shape and size of our boobs and bums, whilst always remaining the same person!”


Annie in the tactac! bra.

Neon Moon is a start-up that was created in 2014 with the help of London charity The Prince’s Trust and funding via Kickstarter. The brand has a 100% “No Photoshop” policy, and takes pride in showcasing natural attributes such as body hair, cellulite, stretch marks, scars and freckles. Neon Moon will be launching an exclusive limited collection for Christmas, so keep an eye out.

For more, check out #IAmNeonMoon and

5 Hard Truths for Every Black Woman Creative ~ Dee Rene

Being a creative is equal parts struggle and triumph. With a dash of doubt mixed between layers of relentless pursuit of your dreams. But although this is an incredible journey, it’s not one that you should enter into without understanding the realities to come.
It’s not all struggle and it’s for sure not all glamour. Go into this life prepared by embracing a few hard to swallow truths. 

There’s no such thing as an overnight success

Viola Davis and Regina King accepted their awards and it seemed to most of America that maybe they appeared out of no where. What most don’t realize is that “out of nowhere” was years and years of taking roles that no one else wanted, roles that no one else noticed, and working relentlessly to improve. Those “big breaks” are culminations of smaller breaks that opened up through persistence and many big loses too. As a creative, it will seem that you “should” be to the epitome of your success by now. Don’t get lost in the “shoulds” of life and beat yourself down for not reaching the bar yet. The secret to overnight success is tot keep going every day, every night. Get feedback. Improve. Adjust. But never stop. Just keep going. 

You don’t need to get a “real job” but struggle doesn’t have to be part of your story 

Broke is not a good color on you. There’s nothing noble about being a creative who can’t feed themselves. Most people avoid a “real job” not in their creative field because it might drain their soul or take hours away from their creative project. However, you don’t need to be a martyr to your art in order to prove how dedicated you really are to the project. Instead you need to turn off the tunnel vision and broaden the scope of your talent. A true creative can make a Monet out of a mud hill. Use your resources to make money, still using some of your talent, so that you can fuel and fund your main project. If you’re an artist who wants to sell paintings that’s great, but if that’s not paying the bills right now what else can you do? Can you design tattoos? Logos? Don’t take your eyes off your final goal but take a moment to look around and decide where there’s money you may be missing.

Plot twist: Your friends are often not your biggest supporters 

When I first started writing, I expected my friends to share my writing world-wide and to stand at the gates of my blog with pom-poms. Much to my surprise that wasn’t the case with some of my closest friends. As a creative, your work becomes part of your heart and it can hurt when friends don’t go hard for you. Friends support you as a person but some of your closest friends may not give two clicks about your work in the way that you THINK they should. Some of your friends may support the work quietly with congratulations and a thoughtful text. Other’s may not. Don’t hang your head and wonder if you work is all that great if your friends don’t turn into fans. Understand that close friends may not be your biggest fan and that is not indicative of your worth as a creative or even of your friendship. Friends play different roles and supporting you as a whole person may not always mean pouring 100% support in every area of your life. The same way that you have friends who are great supporting relationship issues but horrible at providing career advice. Be grateful for whatever way they do support and don’t get so focused on who isn’t supporting that you forget to be grateful for those that do. 

It starts and ends with you 

There’s no Superman to come rescue you Louise Lane. Along this path there will be mentors, peers, fans and supporters to help connect you to the right people to get to your big break. However, the thing that will get you to success – the work – starts and ends with you. People who succeed weren’t just born talented. Talent doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t willing to do the work. If you aren’t willing to write, work with an editor and accept feedback, how will you sell a book? If you aren’t willing to research other artist and learn technique, how will you create the best art possible? Masters are students first. 

The success of your creative venture rests in your willingness to work, edit, start again, and try. No one can do it for you. It starts and ends with you. 

Living your truth will change your life 

There are a million ways to be a singer other than being Beyonce. Find an outlet for your creative roles. You were born a creative for a reason and no matter what anyone says, if it makes your heart smile, then you keep creating. Too many artists are locked up in cubicle prisons doodling masterpieces on meeting notes. They gave up long ago because they never made it to a gallery. Don’t be that person. Even if you’re an artist for 3 hours a day in your living room or selling small paintings on Instagram, do not let the creative part of you die. Do not choke the life out of your creative spirit because someone or something told you that it was a silly dream. Living your truth – that you are a creative – will change your life. Set your soul free and feed it the art, music, writing and whatever else it needs to thrive. 

A creative is a life calling. Your moment will come if you keep going, keep improving, and don’t let the doubts take you over. Remember there’s no overnight success, you don’t have to go broke and it all starts and ends with the work you put into this life. This is your calling. Your moment will come. Rejoice with the people that support you and forget the rest. It’s time to let this change your life and live completely in your truth. 

Welcome to life as a creative.

16 Underrated Lingerie Brands That Aren’t Victoria’s Secret ~ Augusta Falletta

1. Nubian Skin

Nubian Skin

@Nubianskin / Via

Ade Hassan, the founder of Nubian Skin, was frustrated by the lack of skin-tone lingerie for women of color. Nubian Skin was born and has been making a diverse range of shades ever since. 

Pricing: $15–$50

Where to Buy:

2. Naja


Naja / Via Twitter: @naja

Two percent of every Naja purchase goes toward supporting their entrepreneurial sewing program for women through local foundations. They also employ single mothers through Underwear for Hope. 

Pricing: $9–$110

Where to Buy:

3. Harlow & Fox

Harlow &amp; Fox

@Harlowandfox / Via

Harlow & Fox’s gorgeous lingerie is designed exclusively for sizes 30–38 D–DG. 

Pricing: $144–$287

Where to Buy:

4. Wacoal


@wacoalamerica / Via

Wacoal’s all about making beautiful lingerie that actually fits and feels right. Plus, its Fit for a Cure program helps to raise awareness about breast cancer with complimentary fittings around the country. 

Pricing: $15–$98

Where to Buy:

5. ThirdLove


@Thirdlove / Via

ThirdLove is a genius brand because they have… wait for it…HALF-CUP SIZES. For every woman who’s had to settle for a bra that’s a little too snug or loose, this is the solution. 

Pricing: $45–$68

Where to Buy:

6. Chrysalis Lingerie

Chrysalis Lingerie

Chrysalis lingerie was created specifically for the women of the transgender community and it’s beautiful AF. 

Pricing: $75–$85

Where to Buy:

7. Dear Kate

Dear Kate

@Dearkates / Via

Dear Kate’s underwear is built to keep up with periods, sweat, stains, and anything else a woman’s body will throw at her on the reg. 

Pricing: $32–$48

Where to Buy:

8. Hips & Curves

Hips &amp; Curves

@hipsandcurves / Via

Hips & Curves makes lingerie and sleepwear for plus-size women that ranges from sweet AF to really, really ~sensual.~

Pricing: $6.95–$69.95

Where to Buy:

9. Thinx


@Shethinx / Via

Thinx is all about allowing — and encouraging — women to talk about their periods, and its underwear is meant to be worn during them. 

Pricing: $24–34

Where to Buy:

10. You! Lingerie

You! Lingerie

@You_Lingerie / Via

You! Lingerie makes maternity undergarments that convert into breastfeeding bras by unhooking the cup. Not to mention they’re frigging beautiful. 

Pricing: $13–$62

Where to Buy:

11. Brook There

Brook There

@brookthere / Via

Brook There’s undergarments are made of sustainable and organic fabrics made to last, and they’re all designed and constructed in America. 

Pricing: $32–$145

Where to Buy:

12. Adore Me

Adore Me

Once you fill take a quick ~preferences~ quiz on the kind of lingerie styles you love, Adore Me curates a collection based on your taste. You can sign up to be a VIP member to get perks (like $10 off any style, anytime and every sixth bra-and-panty set free) or just sign up as a non-member and order whatever you want. 

Pricing: $19.95–$49.95

Where to Buy:

13. Play Out Underwear

Play Out Underwear

@Playoutnyc / Via

Play Out underwear is gender neutral, designed with the idea of allowing people to break out of the constrictive gender binary. 

Pricing: $24–$28

Where to Buy:

14. Marie Yat

Marie Yat

@_marieyat_ / Via

The minimalist lingerie at Marie Yat is seamless, chic, and unisex. Its online store is coming soon. 

Pricing: Coming soon. 

Where to Buy: coming soon.

15. True & Co

True &amp; Co

@Trueandco / Via

True & Co is dedicated to finding every woman’s perfect-fitting bras. Once you take a quiz online, it determines which bras will fit your body type best so you don’t have to do any guessing. 

Pricing: $15–$95

Where to Buy:

16. Clare Bare

Clare Bare

@Clarebarexo / Via

Clare Bare produces handmade, eco-friendly lingerie that’s a mix of vintage and modern styles.

Pricing: $30–$182

Where to Buy:

10 Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship ~ Jennifer Twardowski


We all desire to have a relationship that is filled with happiness, joy, and — most importantly — love.

Unfortunately, for many of us, we’ve been exposed to so many unhealthy relationships in our lives that we don’t know what a truly healthy relationship even looks and feels like. So here are 10 characteristics of a healthy relationship:

1. Both partners know that they are responsible for their own individual happiness.

Many people unfortunately fall into the bad habit of believing and expecting that our partner is meant to be our source of all happiness, love and fulfillment in our lives. However, in a truly vibrant and healthy relationship, neither partner expects the other to be the source of all their happiness in life. Both people know and understand that they themselves are responsible for their own happiness and well-being. They each know that they are there to support and help one another, but they both know that they are ultimately responsible for themselves.


2. Neither person is really trying to control or “fix” the other person.

If one person is more of a procrastinator while the other always gets their work done early, the other person isn’t going to try to “fix” them by pushing them to get their work done early in a healthy relationship. Both people respect one another’s differences. One doesn’t try to force the other to change or be anything different then themselves.

The reality is that nobody wants to be changed or fixed — especially if it’s unsolicited! If the person really truly wants to change, then they will ask for help on their own terms and in their own way. Change isn’t going to happen through nagging or force.

3. The relationship is balanced.

No one person has any more power over decisions made as a couple than the other. Both people have an equal say and have equal control over decisions made and both equally respect each other as a different and unique human being.

Now, it may be that the decisions made are different for each person. Such as, one person is more focused on interior decorations while the other is more focused on finances because it better highlights each person’s strengths. But, aggregately, everything is 50-50.

4. Conflicts are dealt with head-on and then dropped.

In a heathy relationship, conflicts aren’t a deal breaker. Just because a conflict happens, it doesn’t signal that it’s time to just check out and move on to something else. Rather, the conflict is seen as an opportunity to learn and grow. Both sides openly share their feelings and views honestly and with respect.

Conflict is accepted as a natural part of life and any frustrations are dealt with early rather than repressed and brought back up time and time again.

5. Feelings are shared honestly and openly.

Both people share their genuine feelings with one another freely. Both partners respect and accept the other’s feelings. Expressing one another’s true feelings aren’t repressed because both partners know that by not sharing them and that by not accepting the other person’s feelings it will cause conflicts later on.

6. Each person makes time to take care of themselves.

Both people in the relationship understand and know that self-care is an absolutely vital component for a healthy relationship. They know that if they don’t take care of themselves and do things for themselves that they will be stressed, drained, and exhausted. They know that when they don’t take care of themselves, they have little love to give to their partner.

7. Both partners are willing to put the relationship before themselves.

In a healthy relationship, both partners are able and willing to consider their partner when making decisions. They don’t just go off and plan a trip for themselves without discussing it with the other person. They make room in their lives for the other person and are willing to work together as a unit.

8. Both people understand and accept that they’re not going to agree on everything.

In a healthy relationship, both partners know that it is perfectly okay to agree to disagree. They know that just because one partner has one viewpoint, it doesn’t mean that the other has to completely agree. They know that having differences in opinion and beliefs doesn’t have to be a deal breaker.

9. They both truly value the relationship.

Both partners are loyal to one another and willing to work through conflicts together. They both truly believe in the relationship and are committing to the lessons and growth that come while being together — despite the challenges that come up.

10. They want to be together simply for the sake of being together.

For some of us, we can find ourselves staying in a relationship because we want some kind of security. That can be emotional, physical, financial, or whatever. In a truly healthy relationship both people want to be together because they genuinely want to be together for the sake of living a life with the other person. Security isn’t a primary motivation to be in the relationship, as the motivation of genuine love runs so much deeper than the security that can be gained on a physical level.

Take action now!

Ask yourself: What characteristics on this list are you amazing at? What characteristics could you use some work on? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Jennifer is a self and relationship coach, writer, and spiritual teacher. She is the founder of and the creator of Ignite Love from Within: Meditations to Create Relationships and a Life Filled with Love, click here for a free meditation from the album. Her mission is to help women create loving relationships with both others and themselves. Click here for her Free Self and Relationship Healing Meditation and weekly blog updates. To learn about how you can work with her, click here.



How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body ~ Sarah Koppelkam

How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.

Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.

If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:

“You look so healthy!” is a great one.

Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.”

“I can see how happy you are — you’re glowing.”

Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.

Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.

Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.

Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say, “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.

Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.

Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Teach your daughter how to cook kale.

Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.

Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.

Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.

When Black Kids Aren’t Allowed To Be Kids ~ Zeba Blay

What happened at Spring Valley High School this week is, in one word: horrific. But for so many young black people across the country, the situation is also unsurprising.

In the clip that went viral online on Monday, Student Resources Officer Ben Fields is seen violently flinging a female student out of her desk, dragging her to the front of the classroom, and forcefully restraining her as he puts her in handcuffs. The scene is strikingly similar to the June incident in McKinney, TX, where an officer manhandled a teenaged girl at a pool party and threw her around like a rag doll. It’s a scene that parallels so many other instances of brutality across the nation. 

The clip is disturbing because of the officer’s violent and excessive force, but the real horror lies in the reality the scenario exposes about being a black child in America: you are never actually seen as a child

When black children are old enough to go to school, we are socialized to believe that we are criminals. School buildings are outfitted with metal detectors, and halls are teeming with police officers who, while there to protect, also instill a distinct, subtle fear and self-loathing.

The other students in the video remain silent and still as they watch the officer throw their classmate to the ground. But their perceived calmness is more likely fear, and also a tactic of survival — speaking up or stepping in could result in their own brutalization (one student who stood up for the girl was also arrested for “disturbing school,” according to WLTX). 

Statistically, black students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students, in a school-to-prison pipeline in which policies like “zero tolerance” and the use of law enforcement for school discipline create an atmosphere where nearly all classroom incidents from harmless to severe are treated with the same level of criminalization. 

As writer and educator Alexander Orphanides wrote in a blog for The Huffington Post: 

Teachers subjectively interpret misbehavior based on racial stereotypes and are more likely to “label Black students as troublemakers.” …These stereotypes endanger Black children in many settings, be it the classroom where they encounter harsh discipline, the judicial system where they are cruelly and unusually sentenced, as they play with toy guns in public parks, or as they attend suburban pool parties where they are aggressively mistreated by officers of the law and civilians alike.

In video below, CNN host Don Lemon suggests that we “need to know more before passing judgement” on officer Ben Fields. But he is wrong. There is nothing more we need to know.