This Curvy Yogi Is The Most Inspiring Human You’ll See All Day ~ Alison Caporimo

Meet Valerie Sagun, a 28-year-old yogi from San Jose, California.

Meet Valerie Sagun, a 28-year-old yogi from San Jose, California.

Valerie Sagun / Via instagram.com

Sagun has been practicing hatha yoga for the past four years. Hatha is a set of physical exercises, known as asanas, that are designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones.

Sagun started her Instagram Big Gal Yoga a year and a half ago.

Sagun started her Instagram Big Gal Yoga a year and a half ago.

Valerie Sagun / Via instagram.com

“At first, I only did Tumblr,” Sagun tells BuzzFeed Life. “But when I got to 10,000 followers and people asked me to join Instagram, I decided to go for it.”

And her photos are fly AF.

And her photos are fly AF.

Valerie Sagun / Via instagram.com

Crow pose? More like queen pose.

To start, her yoga wardrobe is TO DIE FOR.

To start, her yoga wardrobe is TO DIE FOR.

Valerie Sagun / Via instagram.com

“It can be hard for bigger women to find good leggings,” she says. But, let’s face it, she looks flawless. Sagun swears by her favorite brands Rainbeau Curves and Fractal 9 for comfy, colorful athletic wear.

And her confidence is contagious.

And her confidence is contagious.

Valerie Sagun / Via instagram.com

“I’ve never really felt self-conscious about my body during yoga classes,” Sagun says. “For me, yoga is all about the mind and positive thinking. I get anxiety and depression, and practicing has helped me through that.”

She’s always down to try new things.

She's always down to try new things.

Valerie Sagun / Via instagram.com

Like using a yoga wheel. “It helps to open your back a lot more during stretches,” Sagun says.

And pushing herself is the only way she knows how.

And pushing herself is the only way she knows how.

Valerie Sagun / Via instagram.com

“Acro yoga was one thing, especially as a bigger-bodied person, that I was scared and doubtful to try,” Sagun writes on her Instagram. “But it was so fun to practice.”

Sagun loves yoga so much that she’s currently trying to become a teacher.

Sagun loves yoga so much that she's currently trying to become a teacher.

Valerie Sagun / Via instagram.com

She started a GoFundMe to help raise money for tuition at 7 Centers Yoga Arts in Sedona, Arizona.

“By being a curvy woman of color, I get to show a lot of underrepresented people that they are capable of anything,” she says.

"By being a curvy woman of color, I get to show a lot of underrepresented people that they are capable of anything," she says.

Valerie Sagun / Via instagram.com

“We need more diversity so that, one day, diversity just becomes something normal that happens everywhere.”

"We need more diversity so that, one day, diversity just becomes something normal that happens everywhere."

Valerie Sagun / Via instagram.com

“Everyone who is interested in yoga should feel comfortable practicing it,” she says.

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How to Make New Friends (and Keep the Old) as a Young Adult ~ Shana Lebowitz

If James Taylor ruled the world, all we’d have to do is call and a BFF would appear on our doorstep. In reality friendships are among the trickiest relationships out there. As hard as it may be to find romantic love, it’s arguably even more difficult to pick a new pal who we really connect with and to keep in touch with buddies from the past. But that’s no reason to resign ourselves to a lifetime of solitude, especially since having friends is tremendously important for our health and happiness.

What’s the Deal?

Twenty-somethings are among the “friendliest” people out there. Nearly everyone in this age group uses some form of social media, meaning they have the constant opportunity to share the minutia of their daily life with hundreds, or even thousands, of connections. At the same time, there’s good reason to believe American adults are getting lonelier. Surveys have found we have fewer friends than we did in the 1980s, and that all those virtual relationships aren’t nearly as satisfying as the in-the-flesh kind. Many people in their 20s and 30s complain they don’t know how to make new friends, or feel abandoned by old ones.

This trend is troubling, given that friendships are important—if not crucial—for our well-being. Some scientists argue that humans are inherently social creatures, wired to benefit from close relationships with family, romantic partners, and of course, friends. Other research suggests a network of close friends can reduce stress and promote good health and longevity. While it’s perfectly reasonable to desire some alone time (c’mon, does anyone really need to know we watched an entire season of House of Cards in one weekend?), nothing can replace the value of a close friendship.

Unfortunately making and retaining friends isn’t always easy. But it can be done. For anyone confused about how exactly to go about forging new friendships or strengthening old ones, here are some tips that are more creative and practical than the old “just put yourself out there.”

Your Action Plan: Make New Friends…

1. Do it blind.

Most of us have heard of the “blind date,” when we let a friend play matchmaker and set us up with someone we’ve never met before. If you’ve just moved to a new city, have a friend set you up on a totally platonic blind date with one of his or her friends who lives nearby. You’ll be less likely to call your friend angry if the potential match turns sour.

2. Be yourself.

When you pursue hobbies and activities you enjoy, you have a good chance of meeting people with similar interests. So check out that local lecture on modern literature and sign up for sushi-making lessons. Each event is a chance to make a whole new room full of like-minded buddies.

3. Get up close and personal.

When you’re just starting to get to know someone, foster intimacy by talking about something deeper than the sucky weather. Once you two have been talking for a while, try what researchers call the “Fast Friends” technique—basically each party gradually discloses something meaningful about him or herself. For example, each person could answer the question: “If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?”

4. Be persistent.

While not everyone has the courage to actually do it, most of us know how to pursue a crush. Send flowers to their office. Invite them to a concert featuring a band you know they love. Ask them to check “yes” or “no” under the question “will you go out with me?” (Oh wait, are we not in third grade anymore?). Apply similar (but less romantic) tactics when pursuing a potential friend. For example, send the person an email asking them to lunch or a coffee date next week, and follow up afterward to say you had a good time.

5. Set a goal.

It might sound superficial, but the next time you go to a party, tell yourself you want to leave with three new friends (or maybe even just one). That way, you’ll be more open to meeting people and starting in-depth conversations instead of just smiling at the person ahead of you in line for the bathroom.

6. Say cheese.

Seriously. We’re including smiling on this list because it’s a more powerful tactic for making connections than you might believe. For one thing, smiling takes us out of our own head and makes us think more about the image we’re projecting. Plus, people who smile (as opposed to folks with neutral faces) are perceived as more attractive, kinder, and happier, and therefore more approachable. 

7. Don’t take it personally.

We pretty much know what it means when a romantic partner tells us, “It’s not you, it’s me.” But when you invite a new pal to coffee or a movie and they turn you down, don’t freak out. Maybe they really are busy with work; maybe family relationships already take up too much time; maybe it actually isn’t you after all (and maybe you can schedule a rain check for next week).

8. Think outside the box.

It’s possible that, up until now, all your friends have been 20-something women who work in fashion. But why limit yourself to this particular crowd? You could just as easily hit it off with a 40-year-old who works in finance if you have enough in common. Be open to forming new relationships with coworkers, neighbors, and classmates, no matter who they appear to be.

But Keep the Old

They’ve seen us weep over the death of our goldfish and laugh so hard that our abs are sore the next day. But now that we’re all “professional,” it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of brand-new social circles and forget all about our old ones. The tips below will help you keep those old ties strong by being honest, forgiving, and supportive.

1. Loosen up.

So Sara forgot your last birthday and Mark never made it to your holiday party. As hurtful as their seeming lack of interest might be, try to cut your old pals some slack. Instead of assuming they’ve become mean or just don’t care about your relationship anymore, consider that they might just be overwhelmed with work or family responsibilities (and remember that you’ve probably been in the same boat at times too).

2. Speak the truth.

There’s nothing like a pal who can tell it to you straight, and a superficial relationship typically doesn’t last long. When a friend asks you a question about a new job or relationship, try to be as open as possible. You’ll build a sense of trust, and your friend will be likely to reciprocate with honesty about their own life.

3. Be virtually present.

Even though social media can’t substitute for real friendships, Facebook can actually be a great way to strengthen old ties. One study found that posting mass status updates (“Just ate breakfast! Delish”) doesn’t do much for close relationships, but posting on someone’s wall to congratulate them on admission to graduate school or the like can be really meaningful. 

4. Keep it brief.

Many of us have been in this situation: We receive an email from an old pal, then put off responding to it until we have the time and attention span to write a novel-length response (i.e. never). A better plan is to send frequent, short emails so you stay in the loop about each other’s lives and never go too long without an update.

5. Put it on paper.

By the time we come home from a long day of work and errands, we may have little energy left for a catch-up session. But if there’s already an “appointment” on the calendar, we can’t miss it. Schedule regular phone calls or Skype dates with pals who live far away—there’s a good chance you’ll be glad you didn’t skip the date!

6. Go with the flow.

When a friend experiences a big life change, such as moving to a new city, getting married, or having a baby, the relationship is bound to change as well. Instead of fretting that things will never be the way they used to (but why can’t we stay up all night drinking wine and discussing the meaning of life?), focus on what you guys have in common now. Be supportive of your friend’s new lifestyle, and remember that they are still the same person.

7. Bond with your buddy.

Say you two used to go bowling together every week, but haven’t been in touch for a year. Instead of setting up a potentially awkward coffee date to reconnect, suggest that you two hit the bowling alley like in the old days. It’ll give you a chance to rekindle your friendship while doing something you both enjoy (and removing some of the pressure to make small talk).

8. Get outta’ town.

Research suggests we value experiences over actual items, and what better experience is there than spending time with a group of best friends? When a friend moves somewhere far away, consider saving up for a little vacation to visit and hang out in their new ’hood. (Likewise, let the friend know that your couch is always available too!).

The Takeaway

Sometimes it just happens—we bond over a mutual love of Harry Potter or kittens and next thing we know we’re meeting for weekly brunches. But other times it’s harder, and we can’t help feeling like we’re the only person at the party without a wingman. Whatever the circumstance, it’s important not to get discouraged. With enough self-confidence, flexibility, and patience, it’s possible to find friends in almost any situation, and keep them for life.

http://greatist.com/happiness/how-to-make-keep-friends

How To Make Friends As An Adult In 4 Simple Steps ~ Margaret Manning

As many people in their 50s have discovered, making friends as an adult is difficult. Without the social bonds that connect us to others as parents, many of us feel isolated — or even a little lonely.

The truth is that it is possible to have an active social life at any age — but, first, we need to accept the fact that making friends after 50 is an active process. We can no longer afford to wait for other people to come to us. We need to take action.

This is the main reason that I decided to build Boomerly. I wanted to create a place where older adults could go to meet like-minded people. Along the way, I had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of people about their experiences making friends as an adult. Through these conversations, I learned that the people who succeed in building meaningful friendships as an adult are the ones that follow these four steps. 

Step 1: Start by Getting to Know Yourself

When you ask people how to make friends as an adult, they usually give you suggestions like, “just get out there,” “join a dance class,” or, “try speed dating.” On the surface, these are fine suggestions. After all, making friends does require us to get out into the world and take a few emotional risks.

Most of the time, however, we are not lacking for ideas on where to meet people. We are missing the motivation, confidence and self-esteem to get started. For this reason, most people find that reconnecting with themselves is a prerequisite to reconnecting with others.

Think back over the last five decades. Have you spent most of your life looking after other people? Have you left your own passions on the back-burner? Have you let your physical appearance go as you focused on raising your family? Do you feel a bit emotionally bruised by the disappointments that you have faced over the years? Do you have regrets that are holding you back?

Dealing with these issues won’t happen overnight. Be gentle with yourself. If you don’t feel like “getting out there” right away, don’t force yourself. Instead, identify the issues that you can control in your life and focus on those.

2015-06-07-1433688844-4204197-MakingFriendsasanAdult.jpg

Step 2: Develop Your Physical and Emotional Resources

If you feel tired, out of shape, or sad, most of the time, making friends is going to be extremely difficult. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple things that you can do to increase your physical and emotional resources.

Most people don’t realize just how disconnected from their bodies they have become until it is too late. Fitness after 50 is not about looking a certain way for other people. It is about having the energy and confidence to explore the world and make friends on your own terms.

Start small. Use the 1-minute technique to gradually increase your commitment to exercise. Get out into nature. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up every hour to stretch. Try gentle yoga.

Then, as your confidence and stamina improve, increase your level of commitment. Join a local gym or see if your community center has fitness equipment that you can use. Find a sport that you love. Whatever you do, do something.

While you build up your body, don’t forget to nourish your mind. Write down one thing every day that you are grateful for. Spend a few minutes every day in meditation or prayer. Learn to become your own best friend.

Step 3: Chase Your Passions, Not People

When people tell you to “get out there and make friends,” they are telling you to chase people. There are several problems with this approach. First, it puts other people on a pedestal. They are the prize to be won. Second, chasing other people simply doesn’t work. By this point in our lives, we know that the best way to push someone away is to follow them.

The alternative is to approach relationship building from a position of strength. Instead of chasing people, we need to chase our passions. This is the only way to meet people on an equal footing.

What have you always been passionate about? Are there any activities, sports, hobbies or skills that you sacrificed to give your family more attention? What fascinates you? What are you curious about? What gets you excited? These are the questions that you need to answer to make friends after 50.

2015-06-07-1433688888-9253641-HowtoMakeFriendsasanAdult.jpg

Step 4: Be Proactive and Invite People Into Your Life

By the time you reach this step, you will be in great shape. You will have a better understanding of who you are and the kinds of people you want to attract. Perhaps most importantly, you will have recommitted yourself to exploring your passions and getting the most from life after 50. Now it’s time to invite people into your life.

As you explore the world, you will meet hundreds of people who share your interests. Don’t settle for acquaintances. Look for opportunities to bring people deeper into your life. Organize movie nights. Invite small groups over to your house for cocktails. Propose hiking trips. The specifics aren’t important. Just don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. They usually won’t.

Making friends as an adult is possible, but, it requires a new approach. Instead of relying on our social circumstances to bring people into our lives, we need to take the initiative. We need to learn to understand ourselves. We must build our confidence. We need to pursue our passions, not people. Then, when the time comes, we need to reach out and invite people into our lives.

What do you think are the secrets to making friends as an adult? Do you agree that the first step to improving our relationships with others is to learn to understand ourselves? Why or why not? Please join the conversation and “like” and share this article to keep the discussion going.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-manning/make-friends-as-an-adult_b_7529424.html

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed ~ Ali Velez

Cookie Monster is a great life coach who really listens to his clients.

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

He knows how to relate to what they’re going through.

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

No matter what the problem is…

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

He will try to find something positive in the negative.

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

When all seems hopeless, he helps you find your passion…

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

And provides the perfect comfort.

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

What are you doing with your life? Listen to Cookie Monster! This is all the life advice you will ever need:

Cookie Monster Is The Life Coach You Never Knew You Needed
PBS / Via youtube.com

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alivelez/cookie-monster-is-the-life-coach-you-never-knew-you-needed#.gf9Lag0Awp

My Story of Depression, Culture and Community by Giovannah Philippeaux

It makes me angry sometimes when I think of the pain, loneliness, sadness, and frustration that come with closeted depression. I am a 28-year-old Caribbean-American female from a deeply-religious family. Depression, therapy, and help are not topics of discussion. My family did the best they could, but like in many Caribbean and African-American families, the symptoms and afflictions of depression were never addressed. At best, you get prayed over or, in my case, you get offered the option of an exorcism.

As I look back on my life, I realize that I began to show signs of depression at an early age. At school, I was failing nearly every subject. Outside of school, I would spend days and weekends in my darkened room playing with matches while lying on my bed. Things reached their worst when I began taking classroom chalk home so that I could draw on my bedroom walls. I remember this now as a clear indication of a nervous breakdown. Why was I feeling this way? I do not know, but it was real, raw, and dark. It was a step beyond pain; I had become numb.

I look back and ask: “Why was no one there for me? Why did no one reach out to me and say something, anything?” Simple: In my experience, in Caribbean and African-American cultures, depression does not exist. There is no space for this difficult conversation, and this attitude persists.

I recently shared with my father that my therapist wanted me to go on anti-depressants. His response: That I needed to be more active, to get out more. On another occasion, I revealed that I sometimes felt like I was losing my mind. His response: “Go ahead.” Yes, these comments were insensitive and ignorant, but they were not his fault. They are symptoms of a culture that continues to overlook the reality of mental illness. That, at worst, chooses to ignore the issue or, at best, chooses to pray it away. What we do not realize is that by continuing to do this, by continuing to remain silent and uninformed on the issues of depression and mental illness, we make it worse.

I wish there had been someone in my life to notice that I needed help, guidance, direction and support. I wish there had been someone there to see that I was struggling and drowning. If so, I might have gotten help much sooner. My life could have been much different.

I do not resent how my life has worked out. I do not write this to assign blame. I write this in hope that someone will read it. Someone with a child, sibling, or spouse will read it and think it is time for a very difficult conversation. Trust me: You want to have this compassionate conversation sooner rather than later, because if I had not gotten help when I did, I might not have been writing this now.

Originally posted on The Huffington Post. Yeah!!! Me on The Huffington Post…awesome. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/giovannah-philippeaux/my-story-of-depression-cu_b_5742466.html

Thankful Thursday: Happiness Leads to Success?

Dr. Christine Carter offers an interesting lesson on the relationship between happiness and success. In the video she states that happiness can lead to success but that success does not always lead to happiness.

“So when we focus on the skills that they need to lead happy and meaningful lives they’ll tend to have lives that are full of lots of different types of positive emotions and those positive emotions are gonna really contribute to their success. When we are happy we tend to be more creative, we’re better problem solvers, we’re more resilient, these are the things that lead us to success in life. So when we focus on happiness for our kids, what is more likely to happen is that they will fulfill their potential and that is success.”