6 Tips for Successfully Achieving Your Goals This Year ~ Stephanie Ghoston

Happy New Year! It’s that time again. It’s the season for vision boards, desire maps, and visualizing your future successes. Gym memberships will see a huge spike (per usual), as will various addiction-themed groups, and the forgive/forget/organize/improve/live/love vagueness is at an all time high.

Unfortunately, statistics show that only 8% of the population is successful at keeping their resolution. How can you revamp your resolutions so that you’re part of that 8%? By taking the following actions…

1. Start with a review of your previous year.

Don’t rush right into making resolutions without taking stock of the previous year. Make a list of accomplishments from 2014. What kind of person did you have to be in order to accomplish those feats? What worked for you and what didn’t? What obstacles did you face in implementing your resolutions? Reviewing the previous year helps you to better understand what you need to focus on and improve and perhaps what you need ditch. 

Implement a cyclical review for 2015. Take a look at your calendar and mark times to review your progress—be it monthly, quarterly, or maybe centered around some big events you have planned during the year. Waiting a full year to review is too long. You want to make sure you have up-to-date data and a fresh memory so you can continually improve.

2. Get specific and get real.

Many people aren’t successful with their resolutions because the resolution is vague. What’s your actual accomplishment? How will you know you achieved the goal? Don’t be afraid to articulate a specific goal, even if you’re afraid you won’t achieve it. And notice I said real, not “realistic.” I think it’s important to get real with yourself, and set goals that align with what you actually want, instead of what you feel like you’re supposed to want or that you can “realistically” achieve.

Vague resolutions may seem easier to accomplish, as they give wiggle room. Specificity sets a target in our minds and feels more restrictive. However, as Parkinson’s Law points out, a task expands to fill the time allotted for completion. For example, one of my resolutions last year was to “research how to make a blog.” Does that mean spend one minute on the Internet? Do a little research everyday? How was I supposed to know if I accomplished the goal? I wouldn’t, so I amended it to “start a blog by the end of the year.” Then I noticed myself dragging my feet because I knew I had until the end of the year. I amended it to, “start a blog by March 31st.” I launched the first week of March.

3. Give yourself the power.

I think this is the most important step. Most goals depend upon or are based on other people’s actions and decisions, or something outside of your control. However, to be successful at accomplishing your goals, you have to rely on yourself.

Instead of saying “I want to get 100 paying customers by the end of the first quarter,” change it to, “I will reach out to 100 customers by the end of the first quarter.” If you’re in the sales or service industries, you have customers. And you want to make your customers/clients/etc. happy. So you want to make goals that revolve around them. But you are doing yourself a disservice by setting a goal over which you have no control. Focus on upholding your end of the deal and see the magic that ensues.

4. Identify your WHY.

Dig a little deeper: Why do you want to achieve this goal? What will it mean to you? You may have to ask why several times to get to the bottom of the matter. Your “why” will be your motivation on the not-so-good days. Most people focus much of their energy on HOW they will accomplish a goal. But understanding your “why” will not only inspire and motivate you to persevere, it will also give your goal meaning and clarify if it’s really what you say you want. 

5. Plan ahead. 

At some point during the year, you will not feel like doing what you promised yourself. If you know that will happen, why not plan for it? Since you’ve done your review for 2014, you know what you want to avoid. You’ll understand your triggers. But you’ll also know how to react to a funk and how to get out of one. During your scheduled reviews, it’s OK to amend your resolution based on what you know about yourself and what has happened. In addition, be gentle, be nice, and be kind to yourself. 

6. Set up a support network.

We all need people encourage, support, and hold us accountable. As part of planning ahead, you’ll need help along the way. Identify certain people you can count on to motivate you, be your drill sergeant, or offer words of comfort. Let them know ahead of time you’ll be counting on them. They can be anyone—spouse, family member, close friends, or co-workers. You may also choose to hire someone, like a life coach, nutritionist, or personal trainer. Whoever it is, make sure you can really trust them. And also, don’t forget that you must still hold yourself accountable. You’re your own first go-to in your support network.

Remember: resolutions are supposed to focus on the positive. By anticipating the reality that you will have a few bad days or weeks (which is inevitable), you can proactively combat the obstacles and struggles you may face. Figure out how to work through feeling less than 100%. What baby steps or progress can you make even when you’re tired? And don’t be afraid to ask others for help! While you’re in control and self-accountability matters, the more people you get on board to root for you, the merrier!

Photo: Shutterstock

Stephanie is the founder and life coach of Cultivated Sense, a movement that promotes ordinary ways to live extraordinarily and encourages people to stop settling in life and love. She’s also the Director of Logistics for the Paul C. Brunson Matchmaking Agency, an award-winning boutique matchmaking and lifestyle coaching agency. She loves helping people through life transitions and empowering them to cultivate their own sense of how to manage their daily lives. You can find more about Stephanie at www.cultivatedsense.com or on Twitter: @CultivatedSense.

 

http://www.forharriet.com/2015/01/6-tips-for-successfully-achieving-your.html#axzz3wR9j109I

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The Terrible Tale Of My Racist One-Night Stand ~ Ella Sackville Adjei

This is the tale of how I accidentally slept with a racist, and the laughably horrible things he said to me while I lay in his bed.

In July I travelled around the Cyclades with two friends, reunited after spending a year apart at different universities, and re-learning who we might have become in the time away. We’d met Australian Sam and his friend in Athens and, excited at seeing a familiar face in a Mykonos club, dragged them across the dance floor. What we took for enthusiasm at mutual recognition turned out to be more prosaic; Australian Sam and co had no memory at all of our previous meeting and clearly thought their irresistible physical magnetism was what made us pluck them out of the crowd. When you’re determined to get over an ex – even if it has been the best part of a year since the breakup – and let’s be real, prove that “still got it!” attractiveness to yourself, bad things can happen.

Tom Humberstone for BuzzFeed

Over his shoulder my friends wiggled their eyebrows and smiled encouragingly, knowing I was accomplishing my “mission”. I remember thinking his blue eyes (not my usual) seemed bright and fun, and though I felt very strongly that he was arrogant, his shoulders were the exact right height for me to wrap my arms around. So we ended up at his hotel on the other side of the island. Feel free to insert your chosen comic-book euphemism here.

I am no expert on the details of hookups. There aren’t a lot of notches on my bedpost but I feel certain casual racism isn’t the norm when it comes to postcoital pillow talk. We were sharing vaguely awkward, but perfectly pleasant, small talk about life in the UK and Australia and he had just demonstrated his predictably bad British accent, featuring all those familiar harmless stereotypes.

Tom Humberstone for BuzzFeed

His “Indian” accent (purely the word “curry” repeated over and over) segued neatly into a generic “Asian” one (where he said words such as “noodles”, “massage”, and “ladyboy”).

It started to dawn on me that this good-looking stranger had deeper character flaws than just a tendency to focus all conversation on himself. Somehow, I’d foolishly assumed that everyone everywhere was now aware of how not OK this kind of shit is. Or at the very least that they would keep it between themselves and their white mates. How did I fuck up so monumentally and end up in a room alone with this jerk? The only consolation was the thought of how grimly hilarious a story it would become.

Tom Humberstone for BuzzFeed

When I pointed out the blatant racism of his comments, Australian Sam told me Australians “just don’t care about that stuff”. Dancing about a half-step away from “I don’t see skin colour” territory, he said: “If someone wants to get offended because their skin colour is mentioned, that’s their fault.” I snorted in disbelief. My “racist radar” had experienced a major malfunction and now here I was in bed with a guy who thought his love for Biggie and 50 Cent negated his total inexperience with the existence of black people as actual human beings with whom he could interact. I was tired and tipsy, and even though I wanted to tell him where he was going, he wasn’t worth any more of my time or breath.

Tom Humberstone for BuzzFeed

As it was, I was clinging to the very edge of the mattress with my body contorted to avoid any physical contact with this person who by now was truly repulsive to me, and trying not to cry, and wondering how I could get the fuck out of there.

Weeks later, seeking solace, I asked various women of colour friends if they’d experienced any similar racism from romantic or sexual partners, and so many had stories to tell: One told me how her ex-boyfriend used to mimic her accent as she spoke Tamil on the phone to her mum. Another – of Indian and Pakistani origin – was asked to “like, sing in Indian while I rap” by one sexual partner and told “you’re quite pretty, and not that hairy, for one of your lot” by another. For every story of “casual racism as flirtation” shared, I have no doubt that hundreds more go unreported except among groups of exhausted women torn between grim amusement and despair.

A classmate I spoke to, who is of mixed black and white Southeast African origin, had slept with a white South African who insisted on discussing apartheid, her “tribe”, and his exhilaration at “breaking the rules”. The rhetoric and mentality of colonialism is so often still painfully present for so many of us – and not just in our institutions and systems. And unfortunately, racists don’t tend to wear badges to identify them: It would be a lot easier to work out who to avoid on a sweaty dance floor if they did, and whose bright blue eyes to ignore.

A stroke of genius reminded me I had the only set of keys to the room I was sharing with my friends. I dug them out of my pocket as proof but he’d already immediately offered to take me back. Perhaps he had sensed my discomfort, but more likely he felt I had fulfilled my purpose and was no longer necessary.

Tom Humberstone for BuzzFeed

The grimmest circumstances often yield comedy like nothing else: As the bike plodded painfully up a hill, we realised it had a flat tyre. I would have laughed at the farce of it all if I hadn’t wanted to scream into the night at the thought of being trapped in the middle of nowhere with this foolish racist. By some minor miracle, the bike managed to last until the club, where I hopped off and ran awkwardly in my tight “pulling” skirt away into the crowds. I desperately – childishly – hoped his quad bike would give up entirely, leaving him stranded. I never saw Australian Sam again. I left Mykonos two days later. I don’t imagine I’ll ever return.

Tom Humberstone for BuzzFeed

The happy ending is this: I channelled all my hurt and rage into the first iteration of this piece, and began to feel OK again. This didn’t have to scar me, or change my thoughts about sex, or myself. It could just be one experience of many, one sad night of so many happy ones, a valuable life lesson learnt (that lesson being “try not to sleep with awful racist men”). And frankly, getting a piece of writing internationally published is the biggest and best “fuck you” I could have.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ellasackvillea/the-horrifying-tale-of-my-one-night-stand-with-a-racist#.hrq7yb9PK6

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.

http://www.forharriet.com/2015/11/5-hard-truths-for-every-black-woman.html#axzz3s9FbJLy6

10 Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship ~ Jennifer Twardowski

RELATIONSHIP

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.

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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 JenniferTwardowski.com 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.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-twardowski/10-characteristics-of-a-healthy-relationship_b_8578954.html

 

 

8 Things I Am Too Old For ~ Michelle Combs

I’m too old for this shit. — Detective Roger Murtaugh 

If I look back 25 years and think about the information available to me then compared to now, I realize why my ADD brain swirls like one of the cheap pinwheels my husband puts on our deck. 

I was still decades away from caring about headlines that had to do with aging. Back then, I just scanned headlines in Cosmo for 3,609 Ways To Please Your Man articles.

Hint: Say yes. That’s really all it takes.

For the record, I just lied. I never scanned for those articles. They annoyed me all those years ago. Now I find them unworthy of contemplating.

Today? I can read one of thousands of articles on aging ranging from reasons it sucks (no it doesn’t) to age appropriate ways to wear eye shadow (you can have my black eyeliner when you can pry it from my cold dead fingers)

I love getting older. I spent a life time filled with self loathing. I gave that up. I gave up feeling stupid, because I’m not. I gave up beating myself up over being awkward. I’m socially anxious. That’s who I am. There are a lot of us. We’re a tribe. Well, a tribe whose members prefer to keep to themselves. I have replayed times when I’ve said or done something embarrassing literally decades after it happened. I’m done with that. I’m done worrying about how I look. I spent decades worrying about every gray hair and every bulge.

I stopped dying my hair over a year ago. I won’t lie though, I still worry about the bulges. But see? That’s the other thing, I’m cool with that as well. I accept me for who I am. Who I am right now is someone who would like to be a little less squishy. I am all about self-acceptance. And that is very nearly true.

My mind doesn’t understand that I’m 52-years-old. It still feels 31. My body, however, is fully aware of the number of years it’s lived.

There are things I am too old for. Time does change a person and I am finding that it is easier to accept these changes than to fight them.

These are things for which the ship has sailed:

1. Shutting up — I no longer want to keep my mouth shut when I see an injustice. Or feel one. It’s not that I never spoke out, there were times when I did, but it was usually on behalf of someone else. Not for myself. I’m done with that. I don’t know how much good it will do, but if I get treated like shit, I’m going to shout about it.

2. Worrying how I look to others — My husband and I had breakfast at an upscale cafe this morning, well, upscale compared to Waffle House. We were going grocery shopping afterward. My hair would have looked okay if I hadn’t run out of dry shampoo, Also, it’s possible I was wearing jeans that should have been washed three wearings ago. But really … jeans don’t ever get dirty, do they? There were four women sitting at the table next to us and every one of them was wearing an infinity scarf. I had a brief moment of panic. I kind of looked like a pan handler and my husband … well, he definitely looked like a pan handler. What would the infinity women think of me? Then I decided that their opinion of me wouldn’t change how my bacon and avocado omelet tasted. For the record, Waffle House has better coffee.

3. Guilty Pleasures — I no longer have any guilty pleasures. I just have regular pleasures. I don’t feel guilty about liking Lady Gaga. I don’t feel guilty about reading every Stephanie Plum book and I certainly don’t feel guilty about getting obsessive about a TV show and watching it over and over. I have moved on from Supernaturaland Doctor Who. I am currently re-binge watching The Walking Dead. Because Daryl.

4. Uncomfortable shoes — Screw wearing uncomfortable shoes. I also don’t care if my socks match or not. If they mostly match, that’s good enough.

5. Making excuses for my messy house — You know why my house is messy? Because I don’t feel like cleaning right now. Also, it’s messy because I’m unorganized and a bit of a slob.

6. Accumulating stuff I don’t need — I cannot convey how much I am done with this. Nearly everything we have isn’t necessary or entertaining or comforting. We have less than two years before our youngest graduates and starts college. During that time, it is my goal to relieve ourselves of at least half of everything we own. Maybe more.

7. Spending unnecessary time with people I don’t like — I actually started this one a few years ago. I used to go to lunch a few days a week with a group of coworkers. I don’t like them. They are mean, petty, and we don’t share the same interests. One day, I looked at them while they squabbled over sports or politics or a work project and thought what am I doing here? And then I stopped having lunch with them. Life is too short to spend unnecessary time with douche twizzles.

8. Finding the good in every person I know — Sometimes, people are assholes. I’m sure, even with the biggest asshole, if you do enough digging, you’ll find something good about that person. But why would I do that? Why have I done that? I don’t want to waste anymore time than I have to on unpleasant people. People make their choices. If they decide to be insufferable, then so be it. I no longer feel compelled to find something attractive about people like that. I just want move on from them as quickly and painlessly as possible.

What are you finding that you are too old for? I’d like to grow this list.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-combs/things-i-am-too-old-for_b_8182622.html

The Hug That Ruined My Son’s Birthday Party ~ The Good Men Project

Photo: Kidstock/Getty Images

By Allison B. Carter

He looked crushed, his open arms falling limply by his side. My son simply refused to hug him.

“Go hug him,” intense words (not from me) followed.

But my child was adamant; he did not want to hug his relative.

I stood firmly rooted in place watching the interaction and feeling uncomfortable. Seeing my son required to hug his relative felt wrong.

Much has been said on this topic already, especially in regards to girls, so I know I am not alone. But as a mom to boys, there is a surprising reason why this bothers me.

The popular, worn argument is that if kids are forced to engage in physical contact they don’t want, even if it is friendly and familiar, they are vulnerable to unwanted physical contact in later years. Leading, perhaps, to their rape and molestation.

CNN reporter Katia Hetter wrote in her powerful article from 2012, “Forcing children to touch people when they don’t want to leaves them vulnerable to sexual abusers, most of whom are people known to the children they abuse, according to Ursula Wagner, a mental health clinician with the FamilyWorks program at Heartland Alliance in Chicago.”

Three years later, this issue is still very much on parents’ minds. Recently Everyday Feminism posted an article I have seen many times in my Facebook feed.  Writer James St. James lists seven reasons why children should never be forced to hug anyone. All of these are striving to keep children’s boundaries and their instinctive nature to protect themselves from sexual predators intact.

While the danger is higher for girls, boys are still sexually molested at a rate of 1 in 20. This scares me. This should scare all of us.

But there is a part to this that no one is talking about, one that tickles the back of my mind in the scary sleepless nights.

I don’t want my sons to learn that it is okay to force physical touch.

Let me put it this way: while I don’t my sons to be vulnerable to sexual molestation later in their lives, I don’t want them to sexually molest anyone either.

Clearly, I couldn’t imagine this actually happening. My sons are six and three. They are sweet, innocent, and honest. But I don’t think any mother anticipates a rape allegation made against her son.

During their formative years, my family and I need to model for my sons how to patiently wait for enthusiastic consent before forcing or coercing contact.

This is hard to digest. Sex and physical touch are tough topics to teach on a good day. There are things we don’t say piled on things we can’t say. There are expectations without any written rules.

In addition to how to say “no” to unwanted sexual contact, my sons must learn to wait for enthusiastic consent before they make advances on someone else. I am not teaching them this if I force them to hug someone against their will. It seems, rather, that I am teaching them that consent doesn’t matter if the physical activity is “the right thing to do.” Or, even worse, because it is “expected.”

It may seem like a far stretch from requiring my children to hug their aunts and uncles to raising sexually forceful men.

But young men are under scrutiny. They are being pushed to new standards of responsibility before they engage in sexual activities. Universities are rushing to redefine what rape means. Women who have spent years silenced are finding the burden of proof in the he-said/she-said game slightly lighter.

These newly defined standards are good and, as a woman who attended the University of Virginia and followed the recent rape story closely, I am fully supportive of this change. Yet I think of the impact this will have on my boys.

This American Life had a powerful episode wherein boys at a college fraternity were asking blunt and open questions about what “consent” really means. Posing situations to a trained female professional, the kids were asking for concrete answers as to how this new standard translated to real life situations. They didn’t receive any clarity, though, because what could happen is endless. A man can’t predict everything; he certainly can’t predict another person’s behavior.

My boys may be on a college campus someday, possibly even in a similar fraternity session, confused by the same questions. I actually feel compassion for them. The college boys recorded seemed like good men trying to get answers on a very confusing issue, trying to find a way to ensure they didn’t cross any lines.

“Consent is consent and it should be obvious,” we say. Or we say, “Your answer is to wait for enthusiastic consent.”

But those words seem hollow if we don’t ask these same boys for their consent, enthusiastic or not, during their youth. And yes, that can be as simple as waiting for their enthusiastic consent before they hug the people that love them.

To be clear, I want my boys to hug their relatives. But I want them to do it enthusiastically. I want them to hug because it is a natural extension of their love.

My hope is that this will teach them that waiting for consent is what people who love each other do.

https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/the-hug-that-ruined-my-sons-birthday-party-125962401278.html

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

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties ~ Shannon Rosenberg

Dating and relationships can be a special type of shit show in your twenties.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

Between trying to be a real adult and figuring out what you want to do with your life, how does anyone have time to find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with?

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

The struggle is too real. So we asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us what they wish they knew about dating and relationships when they were in their twenties. Here’s what they said:

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

1. “Assume that you can get anyone to fall for you if you want them to.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“It might not be true, but you should go into every date with that assumption, instead of worrying about whether or not the guy is into you.” –kristencarol

2. “Making the first move is terrifying but it will be the most awesome terrifying thing ever.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

ckfreak

3. “The best pick up line in the world is ‘Hi, I’m (insert your name here).’”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
Columbia Pictures / Via gifsgallery.com

–Joey Hamilton, Facebook

4. Follow the “Three Month Rule.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“Follow the Three Month Rule: If after three months there’s something you can’t live with then move on. People don’t change.” –Tracy Evette Paul, Facebook

5. “Don’t commit to someone who hasn’t asked you to.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

kgrandstrand

6. And feel free to actually say no when you want to.

 

Paramount Pictures / Via pshawscorner.com

 
 

“It’s okay to turn someone down. And it’s okay if the person you turn down gets upset, that is beyond your control. I went on so many unwanted dates because I felt bad saying no.” –MrsH810

7. Don’t feel pressured to achieve any specific milestone by any specific time.

“There is no specific timeline that you have to achieve any specific milestone. Some of your friends are going to get married and start having babies early. Others will wait a bit longer. If you’re not one of the first to achieve either or both of those milestones (if that’s what you want), it’s okay. It will happen when the time is right. It’s better to be single than stuck with the wrong person.” –Jen Stone, Facebook

8. Believe people’s actions, not their words.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
20th Century Fox / Via imgur.com

“If he/she’s not contacting you, or playing games, or being flaky, etc., it’s pretty clear what they actually think, despite what they may have said.” –Mcfly7719

9. “Don’t drink excessively on first dates.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
AMC / Via wordpress.com

lacyl3

10. Make sure you date on your own terms.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“Write a contract with yourself to date on your own terms. Be clear about what those terms are and advocate for yourself if it’s not working.” –Sean Fitch, Facebook

11. Have no regrets.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“Regret NOTHING!! You will learn from it all in the end.” –Justin Hilton, Facebook

12. Know that your “ideal” partner can change over time. So just do you right now.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
Screen Gems / Via yvonneashlee.wordpress.com

“Focus on yourself, your goals, and with time, the right one will come around. After all, your 20s are the perfect time for you to explore and really find yourself. Besides, what you saw as an ‘ideal’ partner back in college may be totally different now!” –Valeria Marquez, Facebook

13. And just completely forget about dating if you’re sick of it.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“Ugh. Just get a cat.” –Shannon Hooper, Facebook

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

14. First, learn to be okay by yourself.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“Be okay with being by yourself. You’ll enjoy it so much more when you add someone meaningful to your life and even when things don’t work out, you’ll still have that joy of being with yourself.” – Danit Ehrlich, Facebook

15. And don’t feel like you need to change for anyone.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
NBC / Via theberry.com

“Don’t change who you are for ANYONE! You can adapt and try to take an interest in things that they love, but never change the essence of you. Never lose yourself. The right person would never want you to.” –NurseTina3938

16. Just because they’re perfect, doesn’t mean they’re perfect for you.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“They may be the perfect person, but they may not be the perfect person for you. You’ll know when it’s the right person to stick with.” –Sharon Walles, Facebook

17. “Find someone who you can laugh with and have fun with, any time and anywhere.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
NBC / Via pandawhale.com

christalayne

18. Don’t stay in a dead relationship just because you’re comfortable.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“Just because it’s comfortable, doesn’t always mean it’s right for either of you. Don’t be afraid to go after what you want, and do not be afraid to be on your own. You are far stronger than you think you are!” –Cait G.

19. Don’t try to find yourself through a relationship.

“Find yourself, then the right relationship will find YOU. A relationship will never work out when one or both people are only half done downloading.” –John Shinners, Facebook.

20. And don’t give SO much of yourself without getting anything in return.

“You need to both be in a position where you can sacrifice and compromise.” –Alice Louisa Davies, Facebook

21. Really take into consideration what your friends and family have to say.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
Buena Vista Pictures / Via buzzfeed.com

“If all your friends and family tell you that he/she is a creep, hear them out. Especially if they tell you this repeatedly. They love you and want you to be happy.” –janetm43885b0d5

22. But don’t let them make the decisions for you.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
New Line Cinema / Via weheartit.com

“Don’t let your parents pick out who to date. You’re not in high school anymore, you can tell your parents no.” –Sharon Walles, Facebook

23. “Know when to throw in the towel.”

“You can’t strong arm someone into their potential.” –Kate Morrone, Facebook

24. And don’t feel like you ALWAYS need to be in a relationship.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
Warner Bros. Television / Via teen.com

“Going from one relationship to another is not healthy; have a single break!” –Claire Reading

25. Absolutely don’t let anyone mistreat you.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
Disney / Via manrepeller.com

“Do not stand for bad behavior of any kind — cheating, shouting, lashing out at you and making you feel like shit — if any of this happens, LEAVE!” –Gabi Garb

26. Remember that there is such a thing as giving too much.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“When you do that, whoever you date will grow a sense of self-entitlement rather than gratitude.” –Laurann Rilmen, Facebook

27. “Know that you’re good enough. Anyone would be lucky to have you.”

28. Don’t stay with someone because you think you can change them.

“You CANNOT change that very interesting ‘bad guy.’ Don’t be afraid to set limits. Don’t be afraid to communicate your needs. If he isn’t able to fulfill them or at least compromise, it won’t work out.” –kaa

29. Be with someone who genuinely makes you reallysuper happy.

“No one should make you cry more than they make you laugh.” –hanny12080

30. “No scrubs.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
Warner Bros. Animation / Via gifkeeper.tumblr.com

damnitness

Truth.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/shannonrosenberg/just-get-a-cat#.fvbm86eZR1

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