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17 Feb 18:58

The Hidden Costs Of Dating When You’re LGBT

by Holly Trantham

No, this is not going to be an article moaning about the cost of a good strawberry daiquiri, or how to effectively budget a good drag queen night out, or even the increasing cost of Lady Gaga concert tickets. I’m here to lay down some ~statistics~ on the hidden costs (and savings) when your love … Continued

The post The Hidden Costs Of Dating When You’re LGBT appeared first on The Financial Diet.

15 Feb 18:36

8 Alternative Therapies Worth Considering

by Mark Sisson

Natural medicine on wooden table backgroundHere at Mark’s Daily Apple, I avoid writing off anything without first investigating it. I keep one foot in the “alternative” health world and one in the “conventional” realm, making sure to maintain a skeptical—but openminded—stance on everything. There’s no other way to do it, if you’re honest. At least as far as I can tell.

No, not every alternative therapy works. A lot of it is pure hogwash. But whether we’re talking about off-label uses of conventional drugs and illegal drugs, natural pharmacological agents, or downright outlandish-sounding interventions, some therapies are worth considering. Not trying, necessarily. Considering.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of them:

Curcumin for Depression

The standard treatment for serious depression is the antidepressant. For years, researchers have been trotting out studies which pit curcumin—the primary phytonutrient in the spice turmeric—against conventional antidepressants or placebos.

  • In 2014, curcumin improved symptoms in patients with major depressive disorder, showing particular efficacy in people with atypical depression.
  • In 2015, researchers discovered that curcumin raised levels of certain biomarkers with proven antidepressant effects.
  • Also in 2015, researchers found that curcumin made antidepressants more effective.
  • And this year, researchers again confirmed the benefits of curcumin in major depression.

Exercise for Depression

To their credit, doctors are quick to recommend exercise for the treatment of “physical” ailments like osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, sarcopenia. It works, and it’s obvious and broadly accepted that it works. But evidence is emerging that exercise can also be an effective primary therapy for depression.

It’s especially good for people who don’t respond to SSRIs. In one study, 30% of folks whose depression did not respond to antidepressants experienced complete remission using exercise. In another, exercise improved self-rated sleep quality in depressed patients.

Psychedelics for Depression, Addiction, and Anxiety

Turn on, tune in, drop out… of your addiction, intractable depression, and crippling anxiety? Maybe.

In patients with terminal cancer, a single dose of psilocbyin (compound in “magic mushrooms”) abolished depression and anxiety. That’s “end of life” anxiety and depression, by the way—the realest stuff around. Other studies have similar results.

Ketamine is a powerful sedative that in smaller doses produces psychedelic effects. More recently, it’s emerged as a rapid antidepressant, with single doses abolishing drug-resistant depression within 24 hours and lasting up to three weeks.

Ibogaine is an African psychedelic whose characteristics make it untenable for recreation but promising for addiction therapy. It’s been used to produce remission of severe opioid addiction. It’s effective against alcoholism and nicotine addiction, and it shows promise against methamphetamine addiction.

It goes without saying that these are all powerful substances that also happen to be illegal in most places. Exercise caution. Several ibogaine clinics are doing good work in Mexico, so that’s an option.

Red Light for Joint Pain, Macular Degeneration, Thyroiditis, Cellulite, and Hair Loss

Shining infrared light on your bum knee and expecting anything to happen sounds ridiculous, right? Well…

There are other effects, too.

  • Applying red light to the eyes of seniors with macular degeneration significantly improved visual acuity after just two weeks. The benefits lasted for at least three years. Yes, years.
  • Applying red light to the skin covering the thyroid gland in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis for ten sessions improved thyroid function. Placebo did not.
  • A red light-enhanced comb appears to stimulate hair growth in both men and women with hair loss.
  • Red light may even help smooth out cellulite, though the jury is still out.

Fecal Transplants for Antibiotic-Resistant C. diff Infections

A friend of mine’s father passed from cancer a decade back. While the cancer ultimately did him in, one of the severest blows occurred when he picked up a nasty case of antibiotic-resistant C. diff in the hospital on a routine check with the oncologist. He was stuck there for weeks. Nothing worked. There’s no question he lost several months or years from dealing with the ramifications of constant watery diarrhea and poor sleep (from being woken up by his rumbling stomach).

I wish I knew about fecal transplants back then, because they are the single most effective (and in many cases, only) way to treat drug-resistant C. diff infections.

Helminths

Modern sterility, medicine, and hygiene have eliminated helminths, yet our immune systems, which evolved in the presence of these parasites, expect them. There’s good evidence that our immune systems are “overactive” without a parasite load to attack, and this has given rise to the increase in asthma, allergies, intestinal diseases, celiac, and even multiple sclerosis.

Helminthic therapy—literally giving yourself worms—sounds gross, but it really does seem to help people deal with some of these conditions.

Forest Bathing for Stress, Diabetes, Hypertension, and Immune Health

Strolling along a wooded path sure is pleasant, but evidence out of Japan—where forest walks known as “forest bathing” are a cornerstone of modern medicine—shows that it can treat disease and ill health. It lowers stress and reduces cortisol, improves blood glucose control (compared to the same amount of walking in a city setting), reduces blood pressure, and increases the activity of cancer-fighting natural killer cells. What’s best of all? Many of these effects last for weeks after a single visit.

But don’t just go once a month. Go as often as possible. Get your green space (even if you’re not sick).

Low-Dose Naltrexone for Seemingly Everything

At normal doses, naltrexone blocks opioid receptors, inhibits GABA activity, and prevents dopamine release, making it great for alcohol or opioid addiction. At low doses, naltrexone blocks opioid receptors just enough to provoke the release of our natural opioids, the endorphins, which helps balance out the immune response and reduce inflammation. A growing number of clinicians are now using low-dose naltrexone as an off-label drug to treat conditions like multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, autism, chronic pain, and cancer.

As the immune system and inflammation both play major roles in seemingly every health condition, low-dose naltrexone is also being explored by clinicians in many other fields, including fertility and autoimmune diseases.

That’s it for today, folks. I’d love to hear from you.

What alternative therapies are you curious about? Which ones have you used? Are there any you’d like me to explore further?

Thanks for reading!

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The post 8 Alternative Therapies Worth Considering appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

03 Feb 16:25

Take Your Daughters To See Hidden Figures This Weekend

by Jen
And while you're at it, take your sons, too. Take your friends and your family and your co-workers and friendly-looking passers-by, but especially - especially - take all the young women in your life, because wow, you guys. WOW.


I knew from the reviews this was going to be a great film, but Hidden Figures still knocked me back in my seat. Watching how these three women - and more like them - contributed to NASA and the space race of the 1960s was eye-opening to say the least, but done with so much heart and humor and in-your-face bravery that you WILL leave the theater ready to take on the world.

Hidden Figures shows the racism of the 60s at every turn, and those images and attitudes cut deep. They'll make you mad, because they should make you mad. But through every injustice, Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary prove themselves to be mighty warriors. They don't quit, they take the future into their own hands and work harder. They speak up. They educate themselves. They're brilliant and  strong. They show a dignity and a professionalism and an ethic we ALL need, perhaps more than ever today.

I love that each woman has a different path and a different set of obstacles, and overcomes them all completely on her own. There is no rescuing in this movie. No lucky breaks or the hand of fate. It's hard work and gritted teeth and more self-control then I *know* I'll ever have. Plus actors Taraji Henson (Katherine), Octavia Spencer (Dorothy), and Janelle Monae (Mary) bring these women to life with grace and steel; you couldn't ask for a better casting.
 

As for the other characters, it's odd seeing Sheldon from Big Bang Theory (aka Jim Parson) not wearing a geek shirt, but beyond that, he's essentially Sheldon minus the charm: arrogant and irritating. Kevin Costner shines as Director Al Harrison, though. You're gonna love him. And young John Glenn.


That's another thing: I like that Hidden Figures gives us light and love and humor among the struggle. We get to laugh and cry a few happy tears. We get to leave inspired to do more, and to do it better.

It's rated PG for "thematic elements" (?) and a little language, so this is a safe one for kids. No sex, and the only violence are brief news clips of protests.

So please, take your daughters, your granddaughters, your nieces and their friends, take them all to see Hidden Figures this weekend. Don't wait for the DVD. If for no other reason than to tell Hollywood: YES, THIS. We want more of this!


 And if I still haven't convinced you, then watch this trailer:



Now I'm off to Universal for their annual Harry Potter Celebration this weekend - stay tuned for pics!
03 Feb 14:15

#938: Supporting Immigrant Coworkers in the USA.

by JenniferP

Hi,

I have a coworker from Iran. The President is about to announce awful policies around admitting people from countries including Iran. I’m pretty sure he and his siblings are all here on non-permament statuses, though I don’t know for sure. He’s a friendly acquaintance, not someone I’d say I have a close relationship with, but it’s a small workplace and we’ve talked a fair bit.

Is there a good way to be supportive and express solidarity? I don’t want to put him on the spot, as questions that make him uncomfortable, etc. But I do want to do anything I can to make him feel better or make things actually better for him, be that being an emotional support in these stressful times, just letting him know that people around him care, or something else. For context, we live in a very liberal major city in a liberal industry, in a company where people openly talk about their distress over the current political situation, so he probably assumes people are generally on his side.

Thank you.

Hello everyone, it’s the week that the U.S. government decided to use Holocaust Memorial Day to drop a bunch of evil, racist, discriminatory, xenophobic (not to mention illegal) rules designed to cause as much terror and chaos as possible for vulnerable people. Fun fact: The Executive Order in question (full text here, but also potentially hearing That Voice talking in autoplay video, so, be warned) also affects legal permanent residents (green card holders) and dual citizens of other countries (for example, if you are a French citizen who was born in one of the targeted countries, you could also be turned back from boarding a plane or detained at airports) and is designed to create maximum tension & upheaval for people who are already “vetted” and in the country legally. It is already causing chaos and despair for people I personally know and love, and even though initial legal challenges are working and there have been some temporary stays, it is just the beginning of what the new administration has planned with its Nazilicious “America First!” policies where people can be made “illegal” with the stroke of a pen. If you’re in the USA and you’re reading this and think this was a great idea or want to tell me how it isn’t that bad or we should give it a chaaaaaaaaance, please kindly fuck off forever from this website. First rule of surviving an autocracy: Believe the autocrat. It is that bad.

Related reading: 1. Mrs. Kirkorian, Sharon Olds, 2. Home, Warsan Shire.

Hello, Letter Writer, thanks for writing your sadly- timely-as-fuck letter and wanting to do right by your coworker.

The literal best thing you can do right now is to help stop the policies (Source: The Nation).

A. Educate *yourself* about the issue. Don’t make already-vulnerable people explain things to you and for fuck’s sake if they do explain things, don’t debate them about it or try to correct them about it and don’t offer empty reassurances that it can’t be that bad. A lot of smart people are writing about this stuff right now, you can hold your questions until you can be alone with Google and those critical thinking skills you were hopefully taught in school. You don’t have to become the world’s foremost expert or be debate-team perfect overnight. If your coworker wants to talk about stuff, listen without interrupting.

B. Bug every single elected official that you have, every day. Here are tips for doing so if you have anxiety. Short version: Calling works best. If you’re going to send postal mail, use postcards. Call YOUR representatives. Say your name and address and keep it short. Be nice to the person answering the phones, they have a hard job. Script: “Hi my name is ___ and my address is _____. I don’t need a response.* I do not support ____ and am asking Senator ____ to vigorously oppose it” or “I want to thank Senator ____ for their action/vote/position/statement on _____ issue.” Pick one issue per call (this is the hardest part, honestly).

I hated doing this at first but now it takes me about 15 minutes a day, all told.

*Saying “I don’t need a response” makes it faster for the staffers to deal with you b/c they don’t have to add you to the list of people who need a physical letter.

C. Support organizations doing the work. The ACLU is a worthy organization working hard on this, but they aren’t the only ones. From The Nation:

4. ACT LOCAL: JOIN GRASSROOTS EFFORTS AND INITIATIVES

Many of the efforts protecting immigrants will be on the local level, so find the groups in your community doing the work. As with most small nonprofits, donations are always welcome, but if that’s not within reach, take time to learn about the organization, its active campaigns, and volunteer your time. Below are a few examples to get you started.

Arab American Association of NY (AAANY): AAANY supports and empowers the Arab Immigrant and Arab American community by providing services to help immigrants adjust to new homes and become active members of society. Their aim is for families to achieve the ultimate goals of independence, productivity and stability.

National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON): NDLON works to improve the lives of day laborers in the US. With member organizations across the country, NDLON works to unify and strengthen its base in efforts to develop strategic and effective leadership, mobilization and organizing campaigns.

CAIR: The Council on American Islamic Relations has fought for the civil rights of American Muslims. There are 30 nationwide affiliates, defending, representing, and educating over 1 million Muslims in the New York area.

Families for Freedom (FFF): FFF is a multiethnic human-rights organization in NYC run by and for individuals and families facing and fighting deportation. FFF organizers are immigrant prisoners, former prisoners, their families, or those at risk of deportation. Their aim is to empower immigrant communities as communities of color, and to be a guiding voice in the fight for human rights.

Grassroots leadership: Located in Austin, Texas, Grassroots Leadership believes “no one should profit from the imprisonment of human beings” and they “work for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation, and criminalization are things of the past.” They are currently organizing Sanctuary in the Streets Training to build sanctuary networks through direct action and organizing throughout Texas.

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS): HIAS brings the lessons of its history and Jewish ethics and experience to our commitment to serve refugees and other displaced persons of concern around the world through the following values: Welcoming, Dignity and Respect, Empowerment, Excellence and Innovation, Collaboration and Teamwork, and Accountability. If you’re not in New York, HIAS also works with a variety of refugee resettlement organizations across the country.

Make the Road New York (MRNY): MRNY builds the power of Latino and working-class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, and transformative education. Its campaigns include expanding civil rights, promoting health, improving housing, achieving workplace justice, improving public education, and empowering youth. It has recently launched a group called Aliados for allies of immigrants to join the fight. You can sign up for their next meeting here.

Many of these are NYC-central; you very probably almost definitely have a group somewhere local to you. The awesome airport protests yesterday didn’t happen “out of nowhere.” It’s great that social media reached so many people and got them to show up, but many brave people were organizing for this eventuality already. Connect.

D. If you can protest/march/rally/show up where you are, then do it. If you can’t, and not everyone can, do what you can to support those who can. For one example, I like the Chicago Community Bond Fund, which helps pay bond for people who can’t afford it, including but not limited to protestors and civil rights activists. Make signs. Make calls. Provide child care for people who go.

Use your voice and your power as a citizen to fight this. This is not so much “resistance” as the work of civic engagement we should all have been doing all along.

E. Beware of dogwhistles. I listened to the UK Prime Minister – US President press conference on Friday (why I did this to myself I don’t know but I did) and the number of times they used the term “ordinary working people” or “ordinary working citizens” in their comments was telling. Whatever else those words mean when they are at home, when politicians use them together it is a code that specifically means”white people who hate foreigners and who are probably racist, like me.” Every time you hear Real Americans or Ordinary Working People or The White Working Class from a politician, you are hearing a racist dogwhistle. Every time. I don’t care who is saying it – If your preferred-lefty-sort-of-candidate or politician is saying it, it’s still a racist dogwhistle used when trying desperately to chase after those voters.I say this because another racist dogwhistle is about “peaceful protesters” versus the other kind. We’re seeing bills to criminalize protest pop up all over the place. The Women’s Marches last weekend were “peaceful” because the police did not meet large groups of white women with the same violence and attempts to provoke violence that they routinely visit on black protestors. If you want people to continue to be able to demonstrate in defense of their human rights in our country, white people gotta show up and keep showing up for black activists, immigrants, Native American/First Peoples, and others.

Learn to hear these dogwhistles for what they are and call them out. We’re going to hear them a lot in these coming years.

F. Bonus: If you’re in a position to do something on an institutional level, do it. Companies who depend on international workers, what can you do to sponsor visas/hire attorneys/throw emergency funds to people in crisis/pull some levers of power for your employees? If you’re not in management, that’s a good question for you and coworkers to ask management. “Hey, what is company doing to support our colleagues and help them defend their rights? And how can we help?” (P.S. Wealthy people who hire domestic workers, what are you doing to keep your staff safe right now?)

G. Actually talk to your coworker.

Okay. You did some reading. You’ve called your representatives and will keep calling them. You donated some $ and some time. You deleted or countered the dogwhistle comments from that one racist relative on your Facebook. Maybe you showed up at an airport or are gonna show up soon to witness and protest for detainees. Cool. Then it’s time to say to your coworker something like, “I can’t imagine how stressful and terrifying all of this is for you & your family. I don’t agree with it and I’m doing what I can to stop it. I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I wanted to tell you that I’m really glad you’re here and that I get to work with you and know you.

Remember, “Comfort In, Dump Out.

Remember also that “Let me know if there’s anything I can do” is not actually a helpful thing to drop on someone in crisis. It feels helpful, but actual help needs to be more specific. More helpful would be “If you need to vent about it, I’m happy to listen.” 

If we all do the work diligently and for real maybe we can avoid the “If you need me to hide you in my attic for several years, I’m down” stage.

I’ve got some heavy deadlines and distractions going on, so I’m turning comments off for this post. Google. Call. Donate. Demonstrate. Question. Be kind.

 

 

 


26 Jan 21:28

How to change careers, despite having a not-too-helpful degree

by medea
Kristen

RELEVANT

Career Path tarot reading by Etsy seller zennistar
Career Path tarot reading by Etsy seller zennistar

I was stuck for a while wondering why I ever chose the career I did… and then continued to work doing anything but that career. (There were no jobs for theater majors, who would've thunk?) But I was finally actually able to change careers, and change my path, despite having a not-too-helpful degree.

Here's how I pulled it off. Maybe it'll work for you too?

I got a lot of different jobs

I had no idea what career path I wanted to choose. I had no way to go back to school (even part-time was beyond my financial means). So I decided to get jobs that just paid the bills. I signed up for jobs that sounded interesting and gave me a living wage. I took jobs that included room and board and moving far away. I had jobs just because I needed to make ends meet. And I had jobs because I thought I might be good at them. And some of them SUCKED to the nth degree and had me crying before work and after.

I learned from all of them

I learned that I was not going to be my job… that I was not that kind of person. I learned what my skills were, what I liked to do, what I was good at, and what I sucked at doing. And I learned how to avoid being in a situations where I would need to do those things I suck at doing. I also used one theater skill throughout: fake it till you make it.

It turned out that I didn't much care WHAT I was doing, just HOW

It began as "job that pays the bills." Then I realized that I also needed to not be miserable while paying bills. I didn't have to LOVE my job, but at least be able to function without crying. I discovered I'm actually an introvert and suck at office interaction and forced socializing. I found out that even if work was monotonous, if it was for a good cause, I was happy doing it. I learned that I did not want to be my own boss (it is WAY harder than it seems). But I wanted bosses who did not suck and who respect their employees.

Make a list of things you need and things you need to avoid

Through trial and error I came up with my own personal list of things that I want from a job, and things I will avoid like the plague. What helped me find my new career path (which makes me very happy) was to think what my bottom line was. Your list is most likely going to be quite different, and mine was different when I got started with it, I've added and modified it as the years have gone by.

My personal list of things to look for in a job looks like this now:

  1. Makes me feel that I am helping the world be a better place.
  2. Pays me enough to live well and be able to save up and travel.
  3. Is not all-consuming (I want time for me, and to not feel tied down or overly stressed).
  4. Does not require me to conform or be less myself.

In summary…

Don't be afraid to branch out and find other stuff you'd like doing. Search for grants, fellowships or training programs that will hire you and train you. Figure out what you ARE looking for in a job and try to search in that direction.

Anyone else pull off changing careers? How did you do it?

Recent Comments

  • Janey: I love this article. I have taken so many weird jobs! I've had 23 so far and I'm 31 years… [Link]
  • Jamie: I recently changed paths as well. I have a Bachelor of science in law enforcement, with a conservation emphasis (so,… [Link]
  • Mitzi: You make a very valid point. I went to college (had not finished at that point) before I joined… [Link]
  • Jessica Catherine: Thank you for the refreshing article. I was talking with a friend this morning about how as we get older,… [Link]
  • ang: After 3 years in family law, I can say that there's no better feeling than walking away from that emotional… [Link]

+ 10 more! Join the discussion

20 Jan 18:35

Eat Your Heart Out, Sorting Hat

by Jen
John's been making custom Hogwarts House banners for group members over on Fans of Epbot the past several days, and now we've brainstormed enough funny ones that I think they have to be shared.

Each graphic is a transparent .png, so just download your favorite and use any image program to layer it over your profile picture. We made 3 options for each House:








» Read More
20 Jan 18:31

#934: “How do I keep myself together in order to leave a toxic work situation?”

by JenniferP

Hi Captain –

I have a question about keeping yourself sane while trying to get out of a bad situation.

I’m trying to leave my job. Everyone I work with is too. I’m at a very small startup, and the main person in charge is both incredibly demanding and extremely volatile, which makes it virtually impossible to succeed. For a variety of reasons,* I can’t just quit, but I am actively looking and trying as hard as I can to get out.

The problem is that, for me at least, job searching is stressful too, and I’m much better at it when I’m in a good place mentally. Unfortunately, our head honcho makes this really difficult. It’s not just a matter of ignoring or deflecting manipulative or unkind comments; it’s that they’re in touch constantly, with all of us, making it hard to even get the time or space for reflection. They don’t have a lot of family and have devoted the last few years to making the company work, which means that they constantly want engagement and validation (even if they’re berating us), and they won’t stop trying to engage until we cave and give them the answer they’re looking for.

For example: they’ll ask, on a weekend, if a previously-undiscussed deliverable can be done by Monday. If I say it can’t, they’ll ask why we’re not working on the weekend when everyone else is working “like mad.” They’ll then keep messaging me asking what it is that they haven’t explained properly about the opportunities before me, and what they can do differently so that I understand it, and then ask if I’m receiving the messages. If I don’t answer, I’ll receive a talk on Monday asking what it is that can be done to make sure a situation like that, in which we’re unreachable, doesn’t happen in the future. (This is often followed by “I’m tired of arguing with you and want to make this work, but I don’t know what else I can do.”)

So my options boil down to either a) completely acquiesce to all requests, regardless of their merit or any other factors, or b) have a pointless, hour-long conversation that consists mostly of being reprimanded. I should also note that they also want to hang out socially with all of us a lot, and pout if we won’t, which, as you can imagine, also affects the workplace dynamic.

I will be much, much better off if I can stay in this position until I find another one or am in a better financial position to leave. In the meantime, though, I’m so stressed and busy that it’s hard for me to do anything, including look for other jobs. Do you have suggestions for scripts I can use on *myself* here in order to keep myself going? My therapist says just to remind myself constantly that I won’t be here forever and that I am leaving as soon as I can, but the more frustrated I am, the less likely that seems. And I feel like this is a situation that a lot of people get into – cutting toxic people out of your life is necessary, but it’s so complicated.

Sincerely,

Working on Freedom (she/her)

*You can include these reasons if you want, but I left them out for brevity. I’m including them here to indicate that I really have thought about leaving, and really have decided that the best option for the moment is to stay until I get another job. Those reasons are:

– I have < 1 month of rent in my savings account, and am reluctant to borrow from my parents
– My job history has quite a few short stints, mostly due to coincidence and/or bad luck (yearlong grant programs, getting laid off, leaving a part-time job in order to take this one, and, yes, one where I was a bad fit)
– I’m in a weird specialized field where the work I’m doing is actually hugely beneficial to my ability to get a job in the future

Dear Working on Freedom,

I like a project management challenge.

Let’s trust your reasons that you need to stay in this job at least a little while longer. Let’s say that in an ideal world you’d like to leave this job for another job and not just to get away.

Step 1: In my experience, things don’t become real until you attach dates to them. Buy a cheap, fun calendar that you keep at home and designate only for job finding stuff.* Pick a date in the future and circle it. That is your quitting date, and every week you will do something to work toward leaving this job by that date. It will help with your therapist’s task of reminding yourself that this is only temporary.

Step 2: Keep going to therapy.

Step 3: It’s January 9 today. Pick a weekend in January and mentally clear your calendar. Don’t make any arduous social commitments, stock your fridge with food you like, and mentally block out the time for yourself. Write it in your special calendar: “Career Planning Weekend.”

Step 4: Consider signing up for a Google Voice or Skype other alternate phone number, or even picking up a cheap burner phone to use as your work phone. Work gets ONE way to contact you, your friends & family & others get your real number, and it’s easier for you to log out or block or turn off Work’s method when you need time to think.

Step 5: On that Friday, after you’ve left work for the day, go home, eat a food, take a shower, change into comfy clothes, and then send a version of the following email to your bosses & the rest of your team, using a friendly, upbeat tone:

Hey team, I’m going to be unplugged and out of reach this weekend, so don’t panic if you don’t hear back from me. Looking forward to digging back into [specific work problem] with y’all on Monday.

As soon as you hit “send,” log out of that email account, log out of work chat programs, slack channels, log out of all your social media stuff and messenger apps that anyone you work with (even the cool people) could *possibly* see, and turn off your cell phone and put it in a drawer. Become unreachable by any of them until Monday morning when you are back at work. 

Full Disclosure:

  • You will have very anxious feelings about this. This is because your bosses have trained you to expect constant contact & pressure from them as normal.
  • Your bosses will have a lot feelings about not being able to reach you.
  • They may deputize your cool coworkers to try to find you (which is why you have to cut EVERYONE off).
  • They will probably manufacture a situation where you are the sole person who could possibly answer a question and everyone was held up in their work “because of you.”
  • They will probably reprimand you or panic at you in some way on Monday.
  • They will use guilt (“Everyone else is working around the clock to make this happen, are you not part of the team?“)
  • You may not feel that it is “worth it” to court the consequences of their feelings on Monday – why rock the boat when it’s only temporary?
  • You may be tempted to try to give advance notice or ask permission to be off the clock over the weekend. Resist this – asking or negotiating in advance not get you what you need
  • You may check your phone over the weekend and find 100s of messages & texts built up from work. Do not answer any of them. Ever. You told them you were going to be unreachable, you are unreachable. The proper answer to “Can this be done by Monday?” on Saturday is silence because you didn’t read it until Monday.
  • When they reprimand you, don’t argue. Let them talk it out, say, “Ok!” or whatever the most noncommittal thing you can say and go back to work. The predictable reprimands are the price of freedom, so, decide you’ll pay the price when necessary and move on from worrying about it.

You didn’t say that you worked for an organ donation flight & surgical team, so, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say there are probably no actual life-or-death emergencies in what you do. 

You need space to think and to plan your next move. They will never give it to you. Your bosses are vampires who will suck you dry and tell you it’s your fault for not having more blood when you die on them. I honestly do not think they will fire you over this. This is my theory: Most reasonable people respect other reasonable people and tend to think that if we go along and work hard and do our best to accommodate others, we will get the same treatment and respect in return. Unreasonable people do not respect people who always say yes to them – the opposite is true. When I had toxic employers in management consulting who expected me to always say yes and I finally said no after much worry and anxiety on my part and much pushback on theirs, not only did they not fire me, they promoted me! It is okay to set limits with toxic and intrusive people and stick to them. In fact, setting hard limits is the only thing that those people actually understand or respect.

Bottom line: You’ve got to get some space from the constant contact from your bosses in order to hear yourself think. These people are terrible managers, full stop, and since they reprimand you already no matter what you do you might as well take care of yourself! Like case of the lawyer from a few weeks ago, if their whole business grinds to a halt because you personally are unreachable for 2 (weekend!) days, a) they have a shit business b) that they manage badly and also c) you are extremely valuable to their business and they can’t afford to fire you right now! The first time you pull away will be the hardest time. You’ve already survived all the bullshit they’ve thrown at you to date, you can survive a little more.

Step 6: Over the First But Not Last Weekend of Freedom, take out that calendar, take out a journal, and start to imagine the life you want.

Step 6A: First order of business: Schedule four sacred hours/week for Future
Career Stuff and four sacred hours/week for Fun. You can break those hours up into little daily things or big chunks of things, but you need that time. It’s not optional.

Step 6B: Working backward from your “Quit Date”, fill in that calendar with weekly tasks for yourself. I’m spitballing some tasks I think that could be relevant – you adapt this list so it fits your field and your aspirations. For starters:

  • Research job openings & companies that would be a good fit and get you closer to where you actually want to be. Keep up with what they are doing in the world, recent news items, personnel changes.
  • Update your resume & LinkedIn with recent achievements & responsibilities from your current job – make sure you’re always looking good on paper.
  • Make a list of former mentors & peers in your field who might be good sources of job leads and encouragement.
  • Schedule time to send people on this list a note or meet socially over the coming year. For example, have a monthly catchup coffee or breakfast with somebody on that list. Keep track of their professional achievements & life events and get in the habit of sending nice notes to them.
  • Research people who have the career you want 10 years from now. What steps did they take, what professional certifications do they have, what organizations do they belong to? Do they attend conferences or do speaking engagements where you live? Do they have a social media or online presence you could follow and/or start to interact?
  • Join professional organizations & MeetUp groups related to your field, go to one event each month.
  • Work on skills or continuing education related to your chosen field. How are your public speaking and presentation skills? How’s your wardrobe & professional “polish” level? Do you need to brush up on corporate communications or PR or a foreign language or government regulations? This is the kind of stuff you might be able to carve out during your workday, since your current position is in your chosen field.
  • Apply for at least one job every month. Ramp that total up as you get closer to your quit date.
  • Break everything down to the smallest possible pieces.

Step 6C: Review your self-care routines and schedule time for that, too.

  • Do you get enough sleep?
  • Do you move your body a little every day in a way that makes you feel good?
  • Do you eat food that makes you feel good?
  • Do you have your shots/Do you go to the doctor when you are sick/Have you had a physical recently?
  • What’s your morning routine like, do you have rituals that let you be in your head and in your body in a way that feel good?
  • Do you see friends & family enough?
  • Do you get to do hobbies and fun things you like? Do you get to read a book for fun sometimes, or go to the movies?
  • One way to reduce your stress is to schedule fun rewards that match up to the time you spend working on career stuff.

The fun stuff is important. You’re not an employee or a worker, you are a person. If your projected quit date is several months or even a year in the future, it’s tempting to say “I can hold off on all that good stuff – I just have to get through until I can quit this job!” but [Dear Sugar] Sweet pea, your life is happening right now. [/Dear Sugar]

Step 6D: Cross things off and give yourself gold stars as you go. Whether you can leave by your chosen quit date or not, creating a visible record of “The Year I Tried My Best To Advance In My Career And Be Happier” is motivating and potentially psychologically healing, yes?

Step 7: Plug in more intentionally, and unplug more regularly. 

The culture of your company is that people work on the weekends, so it’s easy for me to say “stop working any weekends, ever!” (even though that is my recommendation) and much harder for you to do it. I don’t expect you to singlehandedly change corporate culture or your jerk bosses’ jerk expectations in one go and I don’t want it to be a sticking point in doing the rest of the stuff..

I think a few practices can make things start to work slightly better for you:

7a. If you are expected to be in contact over the weekends, schedule that time in your calendar. Log in from 2 pm to 4 pm Saturday and then log the fuck back out. No “just one more email” and no being perpetually on-call! If there is forced/expected socializing, block that out as work, too.

7b. Get out of the habit of checking work email or phone messages when you first wake up. Do whatever you can to prolong that until later in the day.

7c. Start keeping a log of all the time that you actually work. Checking emails on the weekends is work. Being expected to have mandatory work fun with your bosses is work. Every text message or needy contact from them is work. Watching your hourly rate plummet when you divide your salary by all the time you are expected to put in will be highly motivating in your leaving.

7d. Figure out the absolute minimum of work social stuff you want to attend and commit to doing it. When you go, hang with your coworkers, do your best to have actual fun and a positive attitude. The rest of the time, have “other plans” that you do not justify or explain. “Can’t tonight, other plans! Have fun, see you tomorrow.

7e. Create a Weekend of Complete Freedom From Your Thirsty Corporate Overlords once every month. Grab it you grabbed that first January weekend: Treat it as  a normal thing to want a weekend of no work and present it as a fait accompli that you do not have to ask for or apologize for. Turn your phone & other ways of contacting you entirely off. When you come back from that weekend, be in the office early, dressed impeccably, and looking eager, rested, and ready. When the inevitable pushback comes, here are your scripts:

  • I don’t know about you, but I work better when I am mentally refreshed.” or “If I don’t unplug once in a while it really slows me down.” or “I need to get out into nature every once in a while or I can’t hear myself think.” or “Scheduling real breaks from thinking about work helps me be more focused.”  [+ subject change back to solving a work problem] Say it enthusiastically and in a friendly tone (rehearse with therapist if necessary), like you expect them to be psyched that you are so focused and renewed.

Reasoning: There is this gross FastCompany-ish capitalist gospel that literally everything you do in your life should benefit your career, so, if you enjoy running or meditation or making sock puppets or some other non-moneymaking activity, you can justify it by how it eventually improves your value to your corporation or personal brand or whatever. It’s extremely likely that your bosses buy into this, so, use it! “I read that top performers need periodic vision quests and I want to be a top performer, hence, I climbed a mountain this weekend to meditate about improving our bottom line.

  • “Had family thing!” or “Had friends I never get to see in town.” (Your cat/the characters in books/your own sweet self can count as “family” or “friends you never get to see” for their purposes btw. I do not enjoy lying,  but the socially acceptable friction-free excuse has its place, and bosses who try to crawl up your butthole every waking moment have more than earned it).
  • Forced teaming is a manipulation tool that your bosses use against you – “We’re all in this together working day and night!” Try adding “You know how it is” to use it back at them, like, “I had a family thing, you know how it is. I’m gonna jump into [WORK PROBLEM] this morning – anything I should know before I dive back in?” “Sometimes I just gotta go for a long hike and leave my phone behind, you know how it is! I thought of a solution for [WORK PROBLEM], can I run it by you?

You’ll get the most friction the first couple times. View it as an extinction burst that will recede over time, if you are consistent and boring about enforcing the boundary. Your bosses & coworkers will catch on to the fact that you aren’t on call every once in a while and that the world doesn’t end when you do.

 

Step 8: Go get a new job and get the hell out!

Remember:

  • Two weeks’ notice when you have a signed offer in hand is probably sufficient when you quit, and you don’t have to tell them you’re searching for a new job.
  • They will try to make you feel guilty for leaving and they will probably succeed, but you’ll only feel guilty for 2 weeks and then you won’t work there anymore.
  • Job applications often have a “Can we contact your current employer?” box to check and it’s okay to say “No” or ask them to “wait until the offer stage.” A potential employer who gets super-weird about this is communicating a red flag!

 

Good luck getting out! This is not the only company that will ever hire you! You can do it!

Who else is in the “I Must Get A New Job This Year” club? Maybe the forums at friendsofcaptainawkward.com are a good place to track progress and check in and commiserate?

*Commander Logic made me do this for my wedding and she was right to.

 

 


09 Jan 19:54

How to balance feminism with pragmatism in household chores

by Offbeat Editors
ROSIE large Round DISHWASHER Clean/Dirty Magnet
ROSIE Dishwasher Clean/Dirty Magnet by Etsy seller Yesware11
Both my partner and I consider ourselves progressive, feminist individuals. In most things, we are great about ensuring the we are contributing equally. The problem arises when it comes to the domestic sphere. I come from an exceedingly handy, DIY family — I have been repairing toilets since I was 10. My partner (and his family) can't tell a wrench from a hammer. Same goes for cooking.

As a feminist, this rankles me. I don't want to be responsible for the majority of the domestic chores. At the same time, I don't think it is very feminist to force someone to do something they hate. I can tell it frustrates him, too, because he wants us to be equal.

Is there some way you have found balance in your relationships? Or are there any tips for encouraging yourself or partners to help out around the house (or in the kitchen)? -Liz N

This is a great question, and certainly a lot of do have thoughts on feminism and household chores. So I took this question to the Homies, and here's their well-rounded advice that overwhelmingly broke down into three categories:

1. Balance, encouragement and compromise

My best advice is to help your partner feel competent in all areas of the house. When my partner does something that I don't know how to do, he talks me through it and will encourage me to participate. Sometimes those feelings of hating a chore comes from the fear of not doing it correctly.

Often doing the things you dread end up making you feel the best when they are done. -Meredith

Balance. Have him do certain chores like the floors, vacuuming and laundry. This is how it is in our house. I do all the cooking and meal planning, plus all domestic fixes and anything to do with finances. -Shannon

Use your best qualities. My husband and I seem to take on the "standard" roles, but help each other out… I do the laundry but he puts his own away as I do mine and the kids… He does do some cleaning though, like his one chore is the dishes and handling the trash/recycling sorting. We take what we both like to do and the dislikes we divide up.

Sometimes I get so caught up in me assuming the "typical wifey" cooking and cleaning, but… I just encouraged my husband to give cooking and baking a try, helped him along the way, and now he can make some things better than I can. -Kristin

Balance and comprise… Our skills balance each other out and we teach each other as we go. I've taught him to peel a potato. He's taught me how to use the different heads on a vacuum. Win win. -Jessica

We pick the things we each haaaate and the other partner does those things. Like I would live out of a laundry basket all the time, so hubs folds the clothes. But he would let the shower scum gain sentience, so I clean the bathroom. -Kate

Does he want to help? Then figure out a way to teach him that doesn't make the task daunting and overwhelming… Plus you can always divvy the work up as "I cook, you clean. You want to swap it up, you get to learn how to cook." And if he helps cook, you both clean. -Teresa

2. Invest in the issue

This is what I did with my ex: I resented being the one to do all the domestic work. His mess threshold was far higher than mine. So I paid for a housekeeper. And reaped all the benefits.

Outside help we pay for. With all the available outside options in food delivery, cleaning service, and handyman, it makes it no longer that I am doing it all. And he helps pay for it, so it's still not a burden on me. Thumbtack, Munchery, maid service, etc. -Heather

Take a couple cooking classes together so you can both learn new things and then maybe that will help you and your partner. Make it fun and new for both of you. -Miranda

I hate to be part of the Instant Pot cult, but seriously that one gadget finally got my partner to take an interest in cooking. When he figured out he could just press button and have a meal done in 10 min, it opened doors for him! LOL.

But in all seriousness, I think it just takes the right motivation. Case in point, I taught myself basic car maintenance and repairs because I wanted a pretty European car that is notoriously expensive to have repaired. When I drove a GM, I had no interest in it whatsoever. -Emily

If your partner doesn't like chores, split all chores and household expenses down the middle, and they alone can pay someone to do the stuff they don't want to do. -Cynthia

Re-frame the way you look at it

I've had to somewhat let go of ideas about "women historically have done this, so if I'm the only one doing this it is anti-progressive or anti-feminist" — you have to do what works for you as partners, almost take the gender/roles out of it. I am the better cook and I enjoy it, so I do most of that. He does more of the dishes, and takes care of the kitty litter, and does a fair amount of the shopping.

…But I totally get you, it can rankle at times just because it is a in-your-daily-life reminder of the privilege men have and the way ideas about roles have been shaped by our society, our parents, etc. I think about this a lot when doing stuff I just sort of picked up over time that he has no idea about. Like. "how did you not pick this up?" but then it's like, "well, you weren't in the kitchen with your mom and no one ever bothered to make you learn this and you didn't think it was your job to have to learn it so you didn't ask either."

I was in the kitchen, watching, partly because I understood, even when young, it was part of my role and I would have to know how to do this stuff. But this is all the same reason I wasn't out watching my uncle change a tire. So it's two sides of the same coin and we've all been screwed by it in various ways. I wish I was more DIY/handy/mechanically self sufficient! -Emily

I do my best to see all chores as height and skill issues. Meaning I can't trim the outdoor tree branches or get things off high shelves because at 5' tall — I just don't reach. And he does the cooking because when he cooks the food is actually edible. The truth is that he's a LOT better at *most* of the daily household things than I am, so I'm always running behind in terms of feeling like we're pulling our weight equally. I do my best to even things up by wrapping all holiday presents, making sure he gets places on time and dressed in actual clothes, and dealing with sick cats, but he's the true domestic champion in our house. -Tamra

Yeah, we're kind of the same way. My husband ends up doing most of the domestic chores while I do the technical ones, but we do share. I am fully capable of doing laundry and dishes, and I do those as needed, especially when my husband is stuck working late. I don't feel like any less of a feminist doing those chores. They need to be done, and I'm the one who's available to do them. We both do what needs to be done according to our skills and time demands. It's really only anti-feminist if a woman is forced into domestic chores and banned from the technical ones because she's a woman. You can still be feminist and do all the domestic chores if that's where your abilities happen to be. -Theresa

How do YOU find a balance between feminism and household chores with your partner?

Recent Comments

  • Trinity: Our approach is mostly skill based, but we decided to set our expectations at 80/20, which is to say, I… [Link]
  • Marina: It's fine for someone not to do a chore they hate. Emphasis on A chore--a single chore. It's not fine… [Link]
  • Helga: My spouse and I divy up chores by what we hate. I hate dishes: he does dishes. He hates lawnwork:… [Link]
  • Vaseydaisy: It always seems to be a tricky balance. My husband grew up in a very staunch traditional household, and we… [Link]
  • Holly: We are the same way, but my partner is a decent cook. For years he has cooked and washed… [Link]

+ 2 more! Join the discussion

05 Jan 18:15

But what about STIs?KimchiCuddles.com



But what about STIs?
KimchiCuddles.com

05 Jan 17:56

The Lesson of the McNuggets: Embrace being real over being perfect

by Liza Palmer

Always remember The Lesson of the McNuggets as we go into our New Years celebrations/new year of our lives…

Photo by Liza Orr Palmer
Photo by Liza Orr Palmer

It was last year, I was late for a holiday party, and found myself without my designated potluck item.

I had all my excuses lined up. We've all been there. There never seems to be enough time, money or energy to be the Fantasy Holiday Version of Ourselves. Unstained red party dresses, holiday gatherings with tables full of festive offerings, wonderfully wrapped presents that perfectly embody our feelings for whomever is lucky enough to receive them.

I was in the cusp of a spiral when I saw it. A McDonalds. Fuck it.

"50 Chicken McNuggets, please." "15?" "No 50. And throw in some fries." I mean, when in Rome.

The guy gave me bag after bag of more Chicken McNuggets than I'd ever seen. And? A smorgasbord of every dipping sauce they offer. Like EVERY DIPPING SAUCE.

Not knowing how they'd go over, I walked into the party with my bags of McDonalds a bit deflated.

And EVERYONE WENT NUTS.

It was the hit of the party. So much so that, for this year's installment of that same holiday party, there were requests to bring 'em back.

All this to say…

For so long, I'd defined The Fantasy Holiday Version of Myself as something I could never be — some unholy Martha Stewart/Ina Garten/Gwyneth Paltrow blend — that every year I ended up feeling that if I could just strive harder or be a bit better I'd achieve it.

Maybe this is the holiday season I embrace being Real over being Perfect.

Was there a holiday moment this year where you realized that it's okay to be real instead of perfect?

Recent Comments

  • Tribesmaid OnTheBrink!: OMG this is wonderful! I am not a cook, I am not a host, I am not an entertainer.… [Link]
  • Anna M: For the last family reunion, I was incredibly tired after a long month at work and I can't cook at… [Link]
  • Kristin: My husband's family reunion always has someone bringing a bucket of chicken. Feels like a cop out, until you… [Link]
  • kahlanamnell: That sounds similar to when I offered to order some Dominos pizza as my contribution to a Halloween party when… [Link]
  • toad22: I'm lovin' it!! (pun intended). [Link]

Join the discussion

03 Jan 14:09

Small behaviors to leave in 2016: The Content-Free Interruption

by JenniferP

So I’m dicking around online this morning, and a friend shared some theories about a show she’s been watching (with spoilers amply warned for) and an invitation for friends who are also watching to discuss. Other people who watch the show weigh in and are happily trading theories and easter eggs and everything is fine until…

BEHOLD

THE CONTENT-FREE INTERRUPTER(S)

kool-aid-man

A janky homemade Kool-Aid Man bursts through a wall.

“I haven’t gotten around to watching that yet.”

“I watched the first episode but didn’t like it.”

“It really doesn’t seem like my thing.”

“I never really got the appeal.”

Let me translate all of those for you:

“Hello! I have literally nothing to add!”

twitchy

Eye-twitch.

I’ve written before about how tedious I find Geeky Dominance Displays where “I am a fan of X, do you also like X?” gets answered with an automatic”No, X sucks, let me tell you the reasons!” or “Cool, let me download everything I know about X into you and truly test your knowledge to see if you are a Real Fan!” Those conversations can suck but at least everyone is, like, engaged?

Nobody having a fun discussion of a thing they are intensely watching was waiting for you (not YOU-you since y’all are pretty great Internet Discussers, but, General Internet You) to weigh in just to tell us that you don’t know anything about it. It’s okay if you haven’t watched whatever it is – there’s no pop quiz! There are also no extra points awarded for class participation.

If someone in an online discussion asks you specifically if you’ve seen something or like something (you’ll know when, because they’ll use your name), then of course answer truthfully. And as a default, if you want to talk about something you haven’t seen or suspect isn’t your thing…

…maybe…

…I don’t know…

…you could…

…start with a question…?

Such as: “I haven’t watched it/I suspect it’s not my jam, but what did you like about it?

It is also okay to scroll on by casual conversations your friends about things you don’t like or care or know anything about! Your silence can be its own beautiful communication of your lack of interest! Find (or start) a separate discussion of the things you care about!

Maybe it’s also my 53-day-and-counting USA election hangover, but we’ve also got to kill the “I didn’t bother to read the article you linked but I am going to argue extensively about what I suspect is in it + unrelated matters I have opinions about” comment. If you care enough to type, care enough to read.  If you didn’t care enough to read, maybe you don’t care enough to type. See how easy that is? It’s okay if you don’t have time to read everything your friends post. It’s okay! No need to weigh in on something you haven’t read and don’t know about. Tell your friends and family and let’s make this beautiful Internet 10,000 times less tedious.

Crankily yours,

Captain Awkward & Family

P.S. Awkward Spouse would like to send out a special message to people who review online recipes like this:

This recipe is terrible! I substituted every ingredient with a different ingredient, cooked it for a different length of time using a different method, and followed not a single instruction. It didn’t turn out at all! One star!

Spouse:

thank-you-for-your-input

Sherlock slamming the door on Anderson with the text “Yes, thank you for your input.”

 

 

 

P.P.S. Awkward Cat also says Happy New Year, or, what she would say if she cared about years or internet comments, or anything at all.

Beadie

A tiny black-and-white cat with huge eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


06 Dec 16:41

The Best Menstrual Cup

by Rose Eveleth
menstrual cups top image

After spending 25 hours on research and testing 18 different cups from nine different manufacturers, we found that the MeLuna Classic is the best cup for first-time users. It’s the cup that comes in the biggest variety of sizes to accommodate people of different heights, athletic backgrounds, or vaginal birth histories. The MeLuna is also available in a firmer version and with different handles. Its design can be folded the most ways, yet it popped open easily, so it was the easiest to insert, remove, and clean.

21 Nov 16:08

Guest Post: A post-election guide to changing hearts and minds

by vaurora

[Trigger warnings: sexual assault, racist police violence, anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-Semitism, child sexual abuse]

Valerie Aurora teaches the Ally Skills Workshop, which teaches people with more power and privilege how to stand up in small, everyday ways for people with less. She also trains people to the lead the Ally Skills Workshop. She is a long-time Captain Awkward reader and recommends the blog in every workshop she teaches.

Hey Awkwardeers,

Many of us are grappling with how to use our skills and influence to resist the upcoming Trump administration and the hatred and violence that it inspires. As Captain Awkward readers, we’ve been practicing setting boundaries, standing up for our values, and making it awkward for the right person. We are uniquely prepared for a crucial part of the next few months or years: changing the minds of people who support the Trump administration, and standing up to the abusers they are empowering. This post teaches scripts and techniques to do these two tasks, along with the theory behind them. It’s for people living in the U.S., but it may be useful to people living elsewhere as well.

First, some terminology: an ally is someone who uses unearned advantages that society has given to them (a.k.a. privileges) to reduce inequality, with the goal of eventually ending privilege altogether. Targets are people who suffer from oppression – systemic, pervasive discrimination present throughout society that benefits people with more privilege, and harms those with less.

The first question to ask yourself is, how likely is it that you can act as an ally? Here are some things that might give you more privilege in the U.S.: being white, male, cisgender, straight, a natural-born U.S. citizen, a white Protestant (or can pass as one), abled, rich, middle or upper class, university-educated, securely employed, or in a position of power. If you have any of these characteristics, they gives you more power to stand up for targets and work to end oppression (and your own privilege).

Most people have some privileges but not all of them. That means that in some situations, you can act as an ally, and in other situations, you can’t because you are the target of oppression. For example, a Jewish man can act as an ally when someone is being sexist, but will be a target when someone is being anti-Semitic. It can get more complicated: a white Jewish person often can’t use white privilege to be an ally against white supremacy since that system often also includes anti-Semitism.

If you have relatively few opportunities to act as an ally, you can always encourage like-minded people with more privilege to learn ally skills. Either way, remember: you are far less likely to be attacked when you speak up for another group than when members of that group speak up for themselves. For example, a Black person in the U.S. speaking up about racism is far more likely to get racial slurs and death threats than a white person speaking up about racism (who may even get praise and gratitude for doing so).

So let’s get into a concrete example about a conversation likely to come up at Thanksgiving if you have Trump supporters in your family:

You’re a cis man visiting your family for Thanksgiving. Before dinner, you’re helping chop onions in the kitchen with several of your family members, including your loudest, meanest uncle, Uncle Joe.

Uncle Joe: “All those women are lying about Trump grabbing them. Besides, even if he did it, boys will be boys, you know. No use trying to stop them.”

You: [Stops cutting the onions and puts knife down.] [Calmly] “I believe women have the right to not be sexually assaulted. I believe that Trump assaulted those women. If you want to condone sexual assault, you can do it without me.”

You leave the onions half-chopped and walk out of the kitchen, leaving Uncle Joe to deal with the discomfort he created. In the living room, you see your younger cousin Fred, who overheard the conversation. Growing up, he was a sensitive kid who loved playing with you.

You: “It’s really hard when family members act like sexual assault is no big deal.”

Fred: [Looks troubled] “Well, my friends say that sometimes women lie about it for the attention.”

You: [Looking Fred in the eye, speaking kindly] “Hey, I used to think that too: that people who were complaining about being hurt were just whiners who wanted attention, or maybe money. Then a friend of mine told me that when her high school coach pinned her against the wall and put his hand in her shorts, she didn’t tell anyone because she didn’t think anyone would believe her. And then she told me that half her friends have a similar story. I felt so bad for her. I realized that most sexual assault victims never say anything at all because talking about it ruins their lives. Now I assume women are telling the truth about sexual assault until I have a good reason to think otherwise.”

Fred: [Looks a little shocked and taken aback]

You: “Hey, I didn’t mean to lay that on you all at once. But if it’s hard for you to hear that, imagine how hard it was for my friend to actually have that happen to her for real. And on top of that, she couldn’t tell anyone about it. It really sucks.”

Fred: “Huh, I never really thought of it that way. But don’t women lie about rape sometimes?”

You: “Yes, rarely. The thing I realized is, plenty of people believe all women are lying. My job is to be one of the few people supporting them. That’s how we find out the truth.”

Fred: “Wow, I didn’t think of that.”

You: “Yeah, I didn’t think about any of that either until my friend told me about her coach. I’m so grateful my friend trusted me enough to tell me that. I want to support people like her because I want to end sexual assault.” [Long pause] “Hey, so what do you think of the Steelers this season?”

Conversations like this follow a broad pattern. We’ll summarize that pattern, then go into more details about it, and end with some more scripts and examples.

  1. Start by evaluating your ability to influence others in this situation: Who respects you? Who wants something from you? What can you give or take? Who might retaliate against you if you act?
  2. Identify whether you are likely to influence or persuade anyone (including the audience), and choose one of the following:
    • If you are unlikely to change anyone’s mind, just set a firm boundary about not doing that behavior in places you control, and enforce it.
    • If you think someone might change their mind, state your position once, firmly but calmly, then set the boundary and enforce it.
    • If you think someone is likely to change their mind – they are a potential ally – then follow the next steps to start a warm, compassionate, safe conversation with that person.
  3. Figure out what values you might share with the potential ally.
  4. Make a gentle statement about how your shared values shape your understanding of the topic at hand.
  5. If they become defensive or angry or argumentative, de-escalate the situation and change the topic while making it clear you still hold to your values.
  6. If they respond with curiosity or confusion or even apathy, keep going.
  7. Find a way to express compassion and understanding for how the potential ally ended up with the opinions they have now (tip: develop compassion and love for your past self, who was almost certainly more racist, homophobic, etc. than you are now).
  8. Make yourself vulnerable in some way: share a time you made a mistake, or something you feel ashamed of, or a time you were hurt.
  9. Share a personal story about the topic: something that changed your mind, or an “aha!” moment when suddenly you understood why something was wrong (but be sure to preserve the privacy of others when appropriate).
  10. Help them have compassion for the targets of oppression: talk about how the target must feel, make an analogy with a group the potential ally has an easier time empathizing with, share your own feelings of compassion and love for the targets.
  11. Restate your values and how they inform your opinion on this topic, warmly and clearly.
  12. If they have another comment or question, repeat from “Find a way to express compassion” until they run out of questions, or you run out of energy.
  13. End by changing the subject to something you both enjoy, or expressing your feelings of warmth and connection for the potential ally.

All of these guidelines are intended to help you: spend your time and energy in an effective way, build psychological safety so the potential ally feels comfortable asking questions and expressing doubt, serve as a role model by consistently acting warm and compassionate while also sticking to your values, continue the discussion only as long as the potential ally is still making progress, and end in a way that makes them feel safe coming back to talk to you again.

Here are a few example scripts for each part of the conversation. Let’s start with the example comments that you would be responding to:

  • “What I think is that if Black kids would just stop playing with toy guns, they’d got shot a whole lot less.”
  • “You have to admit, it just makes sense to be more suspicious of Muslims trying to get into the country. I don’t know that I’m against the ban on Muslim immigration.”
  • “I can’t believe how rude my granddaughter was. Why didn’t her mother tell her she had to hug her grandpa? Can’t you talk some sense into her?”

Setting a firm boundary and enforcing it:

  • “It’s important to me to value and respect people of color. I won’t participate in a conversation that doesn’t respect that.” + leave the conversation if they don’t stop
  • “I believe we should judge people by their actions as individuals, not by their religion. If you disagree, take it outside.” + broken record of “Not here.” “Take it outside.” “We can’t continue until you leave.”
  • “Girls’ right to control their own bodies is non-negotiable for me. Let’s change the subject.” + keep suggesting new subjects until they get distracted

Gentle statement about shared values and the topic at hand:

  • “I think every kid should have a safe and happy childhood, so it makes me incredibly sad that Black children are being shot by the police more often than other children.”
  • “I think part of what makes the U.S. great is our founding value of religious tolerance, so excluding people from the U.S. just because they are Muslim makes no sense to me.”
  • “It’s so important to me that every young girl learn that she has the right to decide who touches her body, so when you tell her to hug someone she doesn’t want to, I think about what message she is getting about saying no in other situations.”

Express compassion or understanding:

  • “You know, I used to wonder about that too.”
  • “I remember having that question too.”
  • “That’s a really good question, and it took me years to understand the answer.”
  • “I can see that.”
  • “I hear what you are saying.” + kind and compassionate recap of what they said

Make yourself vulnerable and sharing your own mistakes:

  • “Sometimes I still get nervous when I’m walking on the street and see someone who looks like a mugger on TV.”
  • “For many years, the only Muslims I could name were terrorists who had killed a lot of people.”
  • “I remember feeling annoyed and suspicious when one of my relatives told me that our uncle made her feel uncomfortable when he hugged her or looked at her. I thought she just wanted to get attention.”

Share a personal story about when you changed your mind or had an “aha!” moment:

  • “But when I read about Tamir Rice playing with a toy gun and getting shot when he was only 12 years old… I remember so vividly playing with my BB gun in my neighborhood when I was 10, and I was only worried about my mean neighbor Bill shouting at me. Not getting shot by cops. I suddenly realized that the reason I’m alive and Tamir isn’t is that my skin is a different color.”
  • “Then in my poetry class, we read some poetry by Rumi. His poems were so beautiful, about love and freedom from fear. I started reading more about Sufism, which is a very mystical part of Islam, and realized that Islam was just as complicated as Christianity. Some Muslims are pacifists and some are moderates and some are fundamentalists. I realized it made as much sense to assume all Muslims were terrorists as to assume all Christians were televangelists.”
  • “Then I found out years later that that same uncle had molested one of my cousins several times. I felt sick when I realized I’d been on a camping trip with them during that time. I think that if we had taken my relative seriously about not wanting to hug my uncle, maybe my cousin would have felt safe telling us what was happening to her.”

Help them have compassion for the target:

  • “I just imagine, what was it like for Tamir, being 12 years old and playing, and how terrified he must have been when the cops arrived, and what it was like in the seconds before he died? No one should have to go through that.”
  • “I thought, what would it be like to be someone who cared deeply about love and peace and kindness, and have people look at me with fear and revulsion. How would I feel if I got on a plane and the person next to me called the flight attendant and got me kicked off for acting suspicious, because I looked Muslim to them? I’d feel sick all the time.”
  • “I felt sick just knowing I was nearby when my cousin might have been molested. How much worse was it for her? Knowing that even if she told us what was happening, we would probably accuse her of making it up, the way we did with my relative who didn’t want to hug him. How lonely and afraid she must have felt.”

Restate your values and connect them to the topic:

  • “I just think all people are humans, and deserve the same care and respect I get automatically for being white.”
  • “I want to live in a country where people can feel safe from religious persecution, and part of that is not keeping people from immigrating based solely on their religion.”
  • “I want girls and women to feel in control of their bodies, and that means supporting girls when they say they don’t want to hug someone, even if they are a relative.”

Reassure them that you still feel warmly towards them, and change the subject:

  • “Thanks for listening to me, your opinion means a lot to me. Hey, have you watched that new superhero movie?”
  • “I’m really glad we could talk about this, even if we don’t always agree. So, what colleges are you applying to?”
  • “I really appreciate you thinking about this, even though it feels uncomfortable. Do you think it’s time to check on the chicken?”

Now it’s your turn, commenters: What are some the ways you developed the skills necessary to follow these scripts? How did you learn to feel compassion for someone who shared your values but believed something horrible because they’d been lied to all their life? How did you learn to recognize your sources of power and influence? How do you stay calm when someone doesn’t mean to be cruel, but says something awful anyway?

Thank you to Mary Gardiner, Y-Vonne Hutchinson, Leigh Honeywell, and Kendra Albert, who all contributed to the Ally Skills Workshop and this article. This post is licensed Creative Commons Sharealike-Attribution 4.0 – please reuse and modify with attribution to Valerie Aurora and the above co-authors.


18 Nov 13:41

I Am SOOO Over-Thinking This... Right?

by Jen
We've had an especially busy few weeks, what with an out-of-town con, visiting family and friends, some meetups, birthdays, events, etc, so I've let some stuff slide. I've gotten behind on work, neglected my stretches, missed some meds. I've found myself compiling useless lists in my head, getting overwhelmed, and then staring at my phone to numb the urgency. Wash, rinse, repeat.

This might not be the best strategy.

Last weekend we went to Dapper Day so I could take pictures, and I caught a bug that makes me shaky and tired and utterly useless... until about 4AM, when I am wide awake and shaky and utterly useless. So I've been lying in bed a lot, stewing and sighing and - ug - thinking.

You know those feedback loops our brains get stuck on sometimes? How come those are never about nice things? Like, why can't we endlessly obsess over that perfect trip to Disneyland? Or the way our favorite person looks when s/he laughs? But noo-oo. It's all, "Oooh, you shouldn't have said that thing last week!" Or, "Surprise! You forgot so-and-so's birthday and now they secretly hate you." Or, "Hey, remember that time ten years ago when you got fired? WASN'T THAT AWFUL?? Let's go relive allll the tiny details in slow-motion and with color commentary from your inner self-loathing again. And again. And again and again and again!"



This month I learned a family member thinks I don't work, and is disgusted by it. She thinks John and I are independently wealthy (hoo!) and sit around making costumes all day. She's never been to Epbot, and brags to others in our family about this, because ew, blogs.


We see her all the time, by the way, and talk about Epbot pretty often. So, I was a little rocked. I mean, I'm fine, and this *does* explain why she glazes over every time I say the word "steampunk," so it's actually kind of funny.

Or... bah, maybe I'm not fine. Maybe I'm a people-pleaser, and relatives more so. Maybe I fret for days before posting personal, anxiety-related things, and rely on you guys to assure me it's OK that I do. Maybe I pour my heart and soul into my photos, my projects, my proud cheer-leading of the things I love. Maybe this blog is the one contribution I make to the universe that I feel actually matters from time to time.

Maybe I'm just a little "peopled" out, a little sick, and need some quiet to recoup.

Cats and/or stuffed animals always help.


I'll never blame folks for thinking I don't work. I get to do things I love, and a lot of times I get paid for it. That certainly doesn't seem like work. I'm surrounded by joy and creativity and support, and most of the time I don't have to wear pants. If that's not the American dream, then heck, let's all move to Ottawa and eat Beaver Tails. (The pastry, I mean, not actual beaver tails. [Those wouldn't taste nearly as good.])

But I really do try. I put me into the things I do. Then I agonize over whether those things are good enough. I take too much time, I stay up too late, I neglect John. I lose sleep, I re-write 'til it's memorized, and I fret over readers who tell me their pain, searching for just the right words to lessen it.

I feel less when I'm not working. Useless. Unfulfilled. Like all I've done 'til now was for naught, and all that really matters is my next post. I can recognize that's not entirely healthy, but on the flip side, when I really nail a post? When I've written something I'm proud of, or show you something new I love, and think you'll love, too? Best. Buzz. EVER.

And when John brings home letters from the PO box, saying I helped? When I look at Fans of Epbot, a community that's doing its best to lift each other up, and come together, cross divides, all grounded on a foundation of commonality I helped spark? When I get e-mails and fan art that show I do have an impact?

(A reader named Jim drew this after my Panic Victories post... and I love it.)

Or when a reader gets tongue-tied or cries, because of meeting me? Me, the girl who got fired that time. The girl who says the wrong things and who will forget your name. The girl who messes up, who's ashamed and uncertain and just, you know, trying.

Those things aren't a buzz. They're a reason to keep trying.

I'm a people-pleaser. Always have been, always will. But I hope, with your help, I'll aim to please the right people, and learn to care a little less about the ones who will never be impressed, no matter how I try.


As I lay staring at the wall this afternoon, I thought again about my favorite quote from Maya Angelou: "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel." I closed my eyes, and thought about how *I* feel around each of my closest friends and family. The answers actually kind of surprised me.

I realized some of the people I most want to be around are the ones who make me feel less, inadequate, uncertain - even ashamed. I realized these were the ones I was forever trying - and failing - to impress.

But other family and friends, well, just the thought of their presence made my shoulders loosen, made me feel relaxed and confident and creative.

We rise or sink to the level of those we choose to surround ourselves with. I've always known that, but this was the gut-check I think I needed. Because I need to be around that second group of people more in my life. And I need to tell them that.

So my challenge to you - because heck yeah, let's make this a challenge - is this: Close your eyes and imagine each of the people in your life, one by one, sitting in front of you. Think about how their presence makes you feel. You might just be surprised. Then orient your life, best you can, to be more around the ones who make you the best you. More importantly, tell them they make you the best you. I can say from experience, there is no greater compliment.

And now I'm going back to bed. Hugs, high fives, and I'll see ya on the flip side.


16 Nov 13:25

Scratch-Made Moscow Mules + Ginger Beer Concentrate

by Lindsay

Scratch-Made Moscow Mules + Ginger Beer Concentrate

My experiments in baby ginger continue… it turns out pickling isn’t all it’s good for.

Ever since Rachel’s ruined me for ginger beer forever, I’ve been trying to recreate it at home, since I don’t exactly make it to Seattle very often (and the shipping… well, it burns more than the ginger). In my experimentation I’ve discovered that not all ginger is created equal. The same recipe using ginger from different stores will taste different, and nothing I tried really tasted exactly right.

Until I used the baby ginger.

The flavor is strong and spicy, but fresher, without the same sinus-singing burn that more mature ginger tends to have.

Granted, it is still pretty dang spicy (just how I like it), but you can easily adjust the quantities of sugar, lime juice, and other ingredients to mellow out the burn if you choose.

"Fancy" Moscow Mule Recipe, made with homemade ginger beer concentrate

I used the brilliant method outlined in Ashley’s book, Date Night In, which calls for you to blend the ginger with sugar and water (no peeling necessary), and then strain out the solids. I run it through the blender again to eek out every last bit of ginger flavor.

The ginger beer concentrate is incredibly versatile, and while it serves as the base for these fancy mules, you can also mix it with plain club soda for a hot and refreshing homemade ginger beer. I like to make a big batch of the concentrate and freeze it in ice cube trays so I can easily make a ginger soda anytime I please.

"Fancy" Moscow Mule Recipe, made with homemade ginger beer concentrate and ginger liqueur

Funny story: I love ginger beer (that’s nothing new), and I know if a restaurant has a Moscow Mule on their menu that I can usually just get a plain ginger beer. Well, one night I tried to be clever and order “a Moscow Mule please, hold the mule”. The waiter gave me a strange look because, well, I basically just ordered a straight up vodka. Oops.

(Side thought: Who decided to call it a mule anyway? There’s nothing ass-inine about ginger beer. Maybe because it has a bit of a kick? Who knows.)

I call these “Fancy Mules” because they have an extra splash of Domaine de Canton, a French ginger liqueur that makes these mules extra special. I guess you could call them French Mules if you’d like (despite the fact that the Moscow part is still there). But the variations are really endless… Kentucky Mules made with bourbon, Gin Gin Mules with gin, Mexican Mules with tequila, Mezcal Mules with (duh) mezcal… I mean really, ginger beer with just about any liquor is going to be good. Especially this homemade ginger stuff.

Read the Rest —Scratch-Made Moscow Mules + Ginger Beer Concentrate

© Love & Olive Oil

16 Nov 13:23

Quick Beef Pho

by Lindsay

Quick Beef Pho - A perfect weeknight dinner recipe

Let me start by saying: this is not real pho. Real pho is a lengthy process that involves gently simmering beef bones, various cuts of meat, charred onions and other aromatics for hours to produce a clear and yet richly flavored and lightly spiced broth. If you’ve never had real pho, I highly recommend seeking out the nearest Vietnamese restaurant and diving into a bowl as soon as possible.

Dare I say it is more satisfying than chicken soup? Those spices are everything. Remember that the next time you get a cold.

Unfortunately, life is such that we don’t always (or, er, ever?) have six extra hours to spend simmering beef bones to make our own broth from scratch. So, we have to cheat a little bit.

Faux pho, if you will.

Say it: foe fuh.

Quick Beef Pho with bean sprouts and thai basil

Here we’ve used pre-made beef stock, which we then simmer with some of the same spices you find in traditional pho such as star anise, cinnamon, and cloves. A beautiful tender piece of beef, sliced every so thinly, is added at the very end and cooks in a matter of seconds. It’s all served over a bed of rice noodles and piled high with bean sprouts, Thai basil, onion and jalapeno (as you dare) and accompanied by a small dish of hoisin and sriracha for added flavor (I usually swirl my chopsticks in the sauces and then dive in for a perfect bite of noodle and beef and all the fixings).

Read the Rest —Quick Beef Pho

© Love & Olive Oil

15 Nov 23:33

7 Ways Weed Boosts My Libido

by Girly Juice

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My relationship to marijuana has been a journey. There was a time, years ago, when I was “straight-edge,” but now I firmly consider myself a member of the #StonerFemme contingent. Weed helps me on a near-daily basis with my anxiety and depression, my chronic joint pain, and – yes! – my libido.

I get a lot of questions about this whenever I mention it on Twitter, largely from people who are confused because they haven’t experienced this effect from marijuana. I can’t really explain it; I’m sure it depends on your body chemistry, your method of consumption, and what type of weed you’ve got. As for me, I find that sativa-dominant hybrids work best if I’m trying to amp up my libido, but really, almost every strain I’ve tried has made me feel this way. (The first Leafly review for my favorite sexytimes strain just says “Yo I was vibrating and shit,” so apparently I’m not alone.)

Hopefully I don’t have to tell you that intoxicants can complicate consent. If you need a refresher on that, read the first four paragraphs of this article I wrote. But with that caveat, I want to tell you today about the seven (!) key ways that marijuana helps raise my libido and my enjoyment of sex and masturbation…

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Arousal. Oftentimes, when I go several days without masturbating, it’s because it just feels like too much work. My sex drive is more responsive than spontaneous, so if I want to jerk off, I have to spend some time warming myself up and getting turned on: watching porn, reading erotica, and/or gently touching myself in places that aren’t my genitals until that area is ready to be touched. That process is lovely when I’m in the mood for it, but sometimes it just feels like an extra barrier to entry that isn’t worth the hassle. So I skip masturbation entirely.

Weed, amazingly, helps me circumvent the arousal process. If I smoke up, I’ll reliably get turned on within about 10 minutes, without having to actually do anything to make that happen. My genitals start to feel all warm and engorged like they do when I’ve been engaging in foreplay for several minutes – except I haven’t. It’s brilliant.

I remember one time, I smoked some weed at my then-boyfriend’s house just before leaving to head back home. On the walk home, I felt my own wetness start to drip down my leg. That’s a level of lubrication I usually only reach after, say, an hour of teasing and edging and fucking with someone I find colossally attractive. And weed made it happen without any effort or work at all. Strange and lovely!

Sensitivity. There is science to back this up: weed increases our capacity to feel physical sensations. Whether it’s a partner’s fingertips trailing along your spine, someone’s soft lips pressed against yours, or a vibrator nestled against your clit, sensory information tends to feel amplified when you’re high.

I wouldn’t say that weed makes my orgasms come more quickly or easily – I’m still a tough nut to crack, even when I’m stoned – but the lead-up to orgasm does feel better than it normally would. It’s as if I’ve never felt those exact sensations before, and my body and brain are experiencing them anew. It’s pretty magical.

Worth noting: this increased sensitivity isn’t always a good thing. When I had anal sex for the first time, my fuckpal – a seasoned stoner – advised me not to smoke beforehand, because anal penetration is already an intense sensation and weed could make it so I’d feel every bump and vein. I’m glad I listened to him. But for less overwhelming sex acts, that boost in receptiveness can be positively delicious.

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Tactility. So, yes, weed makes me more physically sensitive, and it also makes me more excited about the whole notion of touching people. Or touching myself, as the case may be.

I once smoked weed with a beloved fuckbuddy while at a party, and when it hit me, I became obsessed with his arm hair. We were standing close together and I kept brushing my arm against his, sloooowly, to feel his comforting hairiness slide against my porcelain smoothness. It felt shockingly intimate and sexy, despite the fact that we were fully dressed and not even looking at each other – he was absorbed in conversation with someone else and I was pretending to listen to that conversation, too. But my attention was reduced to just those few inches of skin on skin, and how fucking delightful he felt against me.

This obsession with tactile information also means that oral sex on weed is a damn good time. You know what they say about “the munchies”…! When I’m high, I’m equally thrilled if there’s a Reese’s cup in my mouth or a dick in there, and for roughly equivalent reasons.

Visualizations. I wrote about this a bit when I had my first stoned orgasm. Weed isn’t a full-on psychedelic, in the sense that you’re probably not going to have a spiritual breakthrough or an LSD-esque “trip” on it, but it can create some visual and sensory hallucinations sometimes.

For example: once, Bex was sexting with their long-distance Sir while high, and when the topic of a blowjob was broached, Bex says they could actually feel their Sir’s cock in their mouth. I’ve had similar experiences when I’ve combined weed with fantasies, sexting, or porn: I become very suggestible, such that the mention of, say, a fist in my vagina can create the sensory illusion that there actually is a fist fucking me. When I try to sexually fantasize while sober, my mind often wanders and I can’t focus enough to get a vivid fantasy going; weed makes that process a lot easier and more fun.

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Disinhibition. Much like alcohol, marijuana can loosen your inhibitions so you don’t feel as self-conscious. For an anxious person like me, this is a godsend. Anxiety triggers my sexual brakes, making it hard for me to get turned on and relax into the moment. Weed lifts the oppressive weight of anxiety off my shoulders, so I can be in the moment and quit worrying about shit that doesn’t matter.

While this effect is, like I said, similar to the disinhibition alcohol can facilitate, weed is physiologically a far better pre-sex choice than alcohol. Due to how booze affects the blood vessels, being drunk stunts our sexual sensitivity, our capacity for orgasm, and our ability to maintain an erection (penile or clitoral). They don’t call it “whiskey dick” for nothin’!

Joy. Gala Darling has written that regular exercise creates “a constant undercurrent of joy” in her life; I feel similarly about marijuana. It melts my stress and transports me to a place of childlike delight, where I can see the present moment for what it is: an opportunity for happiness, growth, and play.

There is certainly a time and a place for sex that is emotionally intense, focused, and serious. But that type of sex is a rare craving for me; what I want, far more often, is the goofy, giggly, relaxed kind of sex. I firmly believe that sex is grown-up playtime. I’m happiest in my sex life when I remember that and take it to heart. Weed makes that even easier to do.

When I’m depressed, or recovering from some kind of heartbreak, I often find it difficult to get turned on, because my sexual thoughts and fantasies just make me sad instead. Weed helps with that: it puts me into a happy-go-lucky brainspace where even people who’ve hurt my feelings can’t really bother me. So I can fantasize about them to my heart’s content.

Ecstatic pain. This one is weird, and I don’t have a scientific explanation for it, just firsthand experience to draw from: marijuana sometimes makes me experience pain as pleasure.

I first noticed this years ago when, stoned at a party, a friend and I began doing sun salutations. I noticed immediately that the stretching of my muscles – usually an intense, slightly uncomfortable feeling for me – felt almost orgasmic. I moaned aloud as I moved through the poses, pushing my body farther than I normally would, because the more I pushed, the better it felt.

It took me a few years to figure out how best to use this effect to my advantage: kink! I looove getting spanked, slapped, bitten, and scratched when I’m stoned. It all feels so fucking good. When I’m in that headspace and someone really skilled is spanking me just right, sometimes it even seems like I could get off from that alone. That hasn’t happened yet, but I’m still holdin’ out hope!

 

How do you find marijuana interacts with your libido, sensitivity, and enjoyment of sex? Got any tips, tricks, or favorite strains to share?

The post 7 Ways Weed Boosts My Libido appeared first on Girly Juice.

15 Nov 15:45

i have a chinese symbol tattooed on my neck that doesn't mean what i thought it did.

by samantha
look dude, i had no idea in 1998 that to give off some semblance of cool as an adult i would need to get a cubist rose tattooed on my barely discernible ribcage. in 1998 i had two pagers and one of those clear house phones that allowed you to see all the pink and red and blue wiring within. in 1998 i drove a maroon ford escort hatchback that i crashed in front of a strip mall while distractedly turning up the radio to better hear "the boy is mine." i knew in 1998 that pacey was the only reason on earth to ever watch dawson's creek, on regular CRT tv with an actual antenna. i had only tried three different types of cheese before 1998. in 1998 i didn't have a goddamned email address. so when, in 1998, i turned 18 years old and it officially became legal to carve intricate, lacy floral patterns and the names of my literary heroes into my supple young skin? i raced to the nearest tattoo parlor clutching my poetry journal to my bosom, ready to spend all $217 in my possession to have something deep and meaningful permanently inscribed into my flesh. JK I GOT A BUNCH OF TRIBAL TATTOOS AND SHIT LOL FUCK YOU.

i was in chicago last weekend for a book thing. and when i wasn't in my beautiful hotel room intermittently sobbing into the crisp white towels over how many delicious varieties of fried chicken were available within any one mile radius at virtually any time day or night, i was unfortunately outside of that hotel room being assaulted by other people's inane conversations. one night i was standing on the corner of halsted and randolph laughing at the idea that anyone would actually wait 2+ hours to eat a cheeseburger at au cheval when a handsome young man with two vibrant and colorful full sleeves adorning his pale, slender arms stumbled out of the restaurant, insulted that he was on the wait-for-a-text-list, griped "we can't get a seat at the bar but that guy with the cubs tattoo has a table!? let's go back to logan square, bro." (i might have taken some creative license with the last part of that sentence but whatever you know it's true.)

i could feel all the hair on my unironic mickey mouse/tweety bird/tazmanian devil tattoo stand on end. (i don't have any of those, but i know some bitches who do, and this is about solidarity.) everyone is a dumbass at 18. some people are still dumbasses at 32. it can't be helped. and sure, maybe i should've known that one day the olde english lettering spelling out ONE IRON DUKE on my right forearm would cause me deep and powerful shame at the hands of a style blogger with access to an american express card, but i fucking didn't. there were no smartphones back then, i couldn't just whip out my iphone and bring up the 10,000,000 pictures of the chinese symbol for "mother" available to me so that i wouldn't end up with the word "vagina" TATTOOED ON THE SIDE OF MY MOTHERFUCKING NECK FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. so give us a goddamned break, kids. back then we still had to fucking use encyclopedias.

so this one's for all the homies getting tattooed in the early aughts who had neither access to 2500 real american dollars to get inked from shoulder to wrist with something cool enough to impress our future roller derby teammates nor the foresight to realize that tattooing "i want no one else to succeed" on her breastplate would force her to engage with so many hideous, mouthbreathing strangers. ugh my life is neverending misery. i should either wear a turtleneck every day or get cards made up that say "please don't make me take my headphones off, it's a quote from there will be blood, okay!?"

i'm here for all you girls with butterflies flapping gently above your ass cracks and what you were misled to believe are the japanese letters for "love" and "destiny" peeking out from under the hems of your jeans; and the bros with barbed wire circling biceps that no longer flex as hard as they used to and faded orange koi gasping for air atop flabby pectoral muscles that strain a little tighter against your old abercrombie polo shirts. yes, i have an inky black tribal "sun" tattooed over the ill-conceived initials on my inner left wrist of a grown man who put ketchup on a steak at ruth's chris one time before leaving a 10% tip and I WILL NO LONGER BE ASHAMED, friends. did that dude and i end up happily ever after? no! but at the time did my then-25 year old brain think that a person who made me a copy of his house key should be honored in return with a corner of real estate on my body!? you bet that ladybug tattoo on your ass i did.

i'm not hiding anymore, fam. some asshole at a reading a couple years ago was like, "lol japanese wave tattoo!?" and for a split second i felt stupid and almost apologetic but wait: HELLO, SON. I AM OLD. and while i hope that tiny hipster mustache etched permanently into the side of your finger remains au courant forever, i'm smart enough to know it won't and that you better start thinking up the cutesy story to explain it away at parties now. because in ten years when 3D face tattoos are the wave and the girls you're trying to bone are all, "ew...mustache?" you're going to feel this exact same shame and hopefully by that point my aquarius constellation tattoo and i will be cackling up at you from the ninth circle of hell.



a semi-exhaustive list of all my trash tattoos, which hopefully will make you feel marginally better about your own life choices:

1 my first ever tattoo was this garbage i got, inspired by my 1998 hero ani difranco, in the dead center of my chest. i had the cover of her spin magazine tacked to a square of cardboard hanging on my dorm room wall, and that tattoo seemed as fitting a tribute as any to let everyone know that i spent a lot of time in high school crying along to "not a pretty girl."

2 giant tribal flame on top of right forearm.

3 tribal flower with nearly illegible name of dead mother scribbled beneath, top of left forearm.

4 below that, some other tribal thing that this dude at jade dragon kept calling a spider as he was tattooing it on me. i'm not really that into bugs and twenty years later it lives on my arm and still creeps me the fuck out.

5 "one iron duke," in honor of dead father, in that running from your wrist to your elbow style that eminem has wow o wow is this humiliating.

6 AFOREMENTIONED NECK TATTOO.

7 "shut up" on right upper arm.

8 ugh my sister and i got these matching butterfly tattoos? which is weird because i don't think we even like each other enough to do that kind of thing, and i'm going to go on record and say that i had chosen mine first and was in the chair with my shirt off when she got hers. 

9 oh man i was deeply in love and got the initials of a non-fictional person on the inside of my wrist and totally didn't think it was a mistake.

9a happiness is a lie and love is fleeting as fuck. cover ups to the rescue.

10 i was never one to instill a whole lot of meaning into my tattoo choices (and i definitely did not give them a whole lot of thought?) but i couldn't resist getting a little something when i went with a friend and got that there will be blood quote written on my left boob in this font that looks like a child's handwriting. i think this is officially when i was like "let's just cover this bag of rotting meat with whatever who cares."

11 case in point: i got really, really into sons of anarchy and decided that i was going to get a bunch of biker tattoos? okay so the first is this black and white shaded reaper surrounded by smoke and waves, angrily wielding a sickle with blood oozing from it; 12 the second one is a freehand skull done with only shading needles. he's surrounded by stars and roses and has a serpent coiled throughout, with its tail coming out of the skull's mouth and its head slithering out of where his missing brain would be; and finally, 13 a screaming reaper with terrifying sharp teeth who is brandishing an incredibly detailed smoking pistol. these are all on my right arm, and i still stand by this decision. man, i love that show.

14 slowing down in my old age, i got the aquarius constellation because if you pretend you believe in astrology people tend to be less irritated by your idiotic decision-making. 

15 when i went to dump my dad's ashes i got a tattoo of the state of tennessee, mostly to remind myself that i drove from chicago to nashville in a rented camry in seven hours fueled only by lukewarm diet coke and the kind of adult contemporary playlist that would melt your mom's panties right off.

16 cursed, on my wrist. because duh.

i wish i was cool, man. but i feel like that ship sailed as soon as i decided to pick my first handful of tattoos from the drunk rugby player's handbook circa 1997. there's freedom in covering your body with nonsense, though. once you get one dumb piece of garbage, you can just do whatever the fuck you want! aim low! get all of the cartoon characters and insipid motivational quotes your body can handle! ALL TATTOOS ARE TRASH. "dream as if you'll live forever." *cluster of birds trailing over mole-speckled right shoulder*
14 Nov 13:40

10 gorgeous judgement-busting photos of tattooed parents

by Ashley Sloan
All photos by
All photos by Ashley Sloan

In society, how you look is seen as very important — it can make or break you on getting a job, and it's how the average person creates their first impression of you. Which means that often tattooed individuals are harshly judged. Those that are tattooed parents especially get a mix of reactions…

Some are positive, but those reactions that are negative can be extreme. Stereotypically, people that are tattooed can be seen as people that may take part in drugs, gangs, or generally not living a culturally acceptable "positive" lifestyle. Sure, in recent years, tattoos have become more common, but they can still carry a negative connotation. I also have several tattoos, and was once asked if I did drugs. When I asked why this person asked me that, they said "because you have tattoos."

In my years as a photographer, I have seen some amazing artwork adorned on amazing people… and the majority of them parents. They have shown love, live a positive lifestyle, and are some of the most interesting people I have ever met. This got me thinking… "I want to show the world this love!"

The people in my "Tattooed Parents in Everyday Society" collection are parents who have been judged by those that do not know them. Many of these parents own small businesses, are tattoo artists themselves, are a part of a military family, and raise amazing kiddos. They just also have all this amazing art on their bodies…

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In a world where constant judging of other people goes on, those with body art and kiddos should not be put into a category of negativity. Our artwork should be admired and us as parents should be supported because in the end we are all the same!

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14 Nov 13:17

Link: The Southern Poverty Law Center/Responding To Everyday Bigotry

by JenniferP

This excellent guide is full of gentle, direct scripts pulled from real situations.

Speak Up: Responding To Everyday Bigotry

 


14 Nov 13:04

#917: “How to set boundaries with people who think boundaries and hurt are manipulative? AKA Help implementing boundary advice?”

by JenniferP

Hello, Cap and friends! I have a couple of questions about boundary-setting with people who don’t believe in boundaries.

The Awkward team’s advice and scripts on setting boundaries have been so wonderfully helpful in my life, but what (if anything) can you say to people who believe that setting boundaries in a family is controlling?

For an example, there are wonderful scripts you linked from the SPLC center, on how to set boundaries with family members being bigoted:

>”Your ‘jokes’ are putting unnecessary distance between us; I worry they’ll end up doing irreparable harm. I want to make sure those ‘jokes’ don’t damage our relationship.” “You know that respect and tolerance are important values in my life, and, while I understand that you have a right to say what you want, I’m asking you to show a little more respect for me by not telling these ‘jokes’ when I’m around.” “I don’t want this rift to get worse, and I want us to have a good relationship. What should we do?””

In my family (parents + siblings, I’m 30), the responses are simply, “There wouldn’t be a problem if you just laughed” and “You’re trying to control what I do by saying that. It’s manipulative to say that I’m disrespecting you if I keep saying [awful insults about minority groups, or about me personally].” I mean, in a way they are kind of right? I am literally attempting to control discourse to a degree, but somehow that feels like they are missing the forest for the trees in a way I can’t articulate. Especially since they get offended if you don’t laugh at their ‘jokes!’

Is there any way to rationally respond to people that think that attempting to set boundaries (or tears at being insulted) is “childish and manipulative”? They see that as a truly deeply harmful thing, and it would be really wonderful if it was possible to get them to understand the idea of **mutual** respect.

Thank you so very much for ANY ideas.

– A Weary Woman

Dear Weary Woman,

Here are your 4 new best friends:

  • “Okay.”
  • “Wow.”
  • “No.”
  • CHILLY AWKWARD SILENCE

Them: [Bigoted remark]

You: Wow. [+ maybe one of the SPLC scripts to unpack it]

Them: “It’s manipulative if you say my bigoted remarks are not okay!”

You: “Okay.” + CHILLY AWKWARD SILENCE

Them: “There would be no problem if you just laughed.”

You: “No.” + CHILLY AWKWARD SILENCE

Them: “Your problem is that you have no sense of humor.”

You: “Okay.” + CHILLY AWKWARD SILENCE

Be a broken record. Let them be offended. Let them think you’re being manipulative. Don’t engage in detail or give them reasons. If they won’t stop or escalate, say “Welp, good to see you, time to go!” & get out of there. You don’t owe them continued access to your attention. Leave the conversation and try again another day.

Whatever you do, don’t smooth it over. Let it get super awkward. Be the party pooper at the bigot party. Get a reputation for being uptight and humorless and no fun.

People have a right to their opinions, speech, and votes. You have a right to think those opinions are crap and to think less of people when they spout them. Bigots think that “everyone” thinks as they do and that their views are “simple common sense.” What bigots are looking for when they say bigoted stuff to people who (as far as they know) share their race/class/orientation/disability status/etc. is solidarity and reassurance. Deny them this reassurance and solidarity. Deny them evidence that “everyone” thinks that way. That is your power here, and it’s a pretty big one, given the way your family throws a tantrum whenever you try to use it. You’re already doing the right stuff, now it’s just about holding the line and letting be as awkward as they are making it.

If they care about your good opinion, they’ll stop saying that stuff around you. If they don’t, they won’t, and as a result, you’ll drift away from them and spend less time with them. If that happens, it’s a choice they are making. I guarantee that your folks can and do control themselves in countless other social situations, they just thought they could take their metaphorical hoods off around you and relax. Teach them that they can’t relax and that they need to behave themselves all the time.

Maybe because you spoke up a moment of self-awareness will come to them, and they will have a change of heart, but I think we should all keep our expectations about that very, very low right now and not get too invested in redemption narratives. Whenever I set a boundary here in moderation & dealing with (thankfully rare) trolling, I get pushback along the lines of “Well, with that attitude how do you expect to convert someone like me to your way of thinking?” The answer to that is: I don’t know, I’m not necessarily doing to convince you. I’m doing it for myself and for the other people who hang out here, so that we can feel safe and have the discussions we need to have. When you push back against someone’s bigoted remarks, this Thanksgiving (for one looming example) or at any other time, you’re not necessarily doing it to change that person’s heart or mind right in that minute. You’re doing it for yourself, so you can live with yourself and know that you did your best. And you’re doing it for the other people in your family, especially kids who are watching, to say, hey, I am a safe, kind person who doesn’t put up with this crap and you can be one, too.

True story: In undergrad, a professor invited Antonin Scalia (that Scalia) to our class to talk about hate crimes legislation and civil rights legislation in general. He made essentially the argument that many bigots make about this stuff – “Well, you can’t legislate people’s hearts, so why bother?” This was in 1993/1994 and I don’t have my notes anymore, so it’s not quite a direct quote that you can attribute, but he definitely said something along the lines of “If someone murders you because you’re gay or black, why can’t we just punish it like murder? Murder is already wrong enough, why do we have to saddle it with this extra burden of figuring out intent?

What he was ignoring is the way that oppression is about systems, not personal intent. Hate crimes are terrorism, meant to send a message to people in the targeted group that the same thing will happen to them. It’s not just violence against one person, it’s a threat and should be treated as one. While it would be nice if every hate group had a change of heart, what we can control is making it harder for them to do violence to people.

You can’t legislate people’s hearts, but you can hack away the culture that normalizes their behavior one plate of mashed potatoes and awkward conversation at a time. The world needs you to be awkward and make it weird.

 

 

 

 


09 Nov 15:21

This real-life eggplant emoji vibrator is a wet dream come true!

by Megan Finley
All photo courtesy of Emojibator.com
All photo courtesy of Emojibator.com

I just wanted to squeeze in a little quickie right now, and let you know that the eggplant emoji — you know, the one we ALL use because Japan hasn't gifted us with a dick emoji (yet) — is now a real life vibrator. In real life!

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I think this cat's expression says it all. And I think I just found EVERYONE'S Secret Santa gifts. Because…

productphoto-orgasmsarepartofabalanceddiet_1024x1024

Whew. Thanks for letting me share this with you. Was it good for you?

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  • Nya: Best post ever. The world needs more eggplant vibrators right now. [Link]
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09 Nov 15:17

On the underground resistance

by The Coquette

Are you freaking out? I’m freaking out.
Yes. I am freaking out.

I can’t fucking take it. I hate the news outlets for covering it like this. It’s meant to maximize our suffering. If trump wins I very seriously may commit suicide due to lack of faith in humanity.
Don’t commit suicide. We will get through this together.

I’m terrified.
Me too.

Drop the arrogant tone, kid.
Go fuck yourself.

I’m watching the votes roll in and I cannot stop crying. I’m so fucking nervous right now.
Go ahead and cry. This is worthy of your tears.

Fuck Gary Johnson. Fuck Gary Johnson. FUCK GARY JOHNSON!!!
Ralph Nader did this to us in 2000. History repeats. Such is life.

Coke, I’m watching the numbers come in and I’m freaking out. Help.
I cannot help you. We must accept this new reality with strong minds and calm hearts.

I’m so scared.
That’s okay. Just know, the republic will survive.

I feel like we’re all going to die in a nuclear holocaust now.
This will not result in your death, though unless you resist, it may result in your enslavement.

I am numb but almost in tears. What is happening?
A neo-fascist with a personality disorder conned his way into being the leader of the free world. It happens. Don’t worry. We will all be around to watch his downfall.

Do you have any words of comfort for us in this time of great fuckery?
Yes. In this time of great fuckery, know that you are on the right side of history, and though we may face difficult times ahead, it will only provide wings for the better angels of our nature.

Coke. I’m crying. I’m shattered. I’m in Australia, watching in horror and I can’t even begin to process what you guys are feeling. I’m so sorry.
It’s okay. We got this. The man will fuck up in such a way that he will not see the end of his first term as President.

what are we going to fucking do
Resist.

Coke, I don’t want to live in this America. Trump almost President? I would rather die. It feels like the only option right now.
It is still our America. This is a grotesque fluke. The system will correct itself.

How the fuck is this happening?
America is filled with a small-minded, hateful, and willfully ignorant population of uneducated rural white voters. Trump got them to show up to the polls. Don’t worry. This will not happen again.

How do we Impeach a sitting president nowadays, by your estimation?
It will be quite easy with a con man like Trump. He is imminently impeachable.

What do I do? What do I do? What do I do? Please, give me something tangible that I can work toward to help this horrible country. Please.
Stay engaged and fight. Resist. Do not back down. Never give up.

What Now?
Fuckery.

What the actual fuck?! How, why, I don’t even know what to say right now.
Breathe easy. We will survive this.

This is all just a stress dream, right? I’m going to wake up and Clinton will be in the White House.
No. This is reality. Accept it.

Coke, please? I’m scared of Trump. I’m angry and sad and empty. I was so proud to be an American -so proud to be a Michigander. Where do we go from here? How do we make this okay?
Your state fucked the whole country tonight. It’s not okay, but it is what happened. Now it’s time to pick up the pieces and move on.

Never has “embrace the fucking change” made more visceral sense. What just happened?
History fucked us, as history is wont to do. We have no choice but to embrace it, for now.

Jesus fucking Christ. What happens next? What. Happened.
Tomorrow happens next. It will be okay. This is a shock, but the future is rich with possibility.

I just don’t fucking understand.
Don’t try to understand. Try to accept, and then gird your loins for battle.

I’m sure I’m not alone in asking this, now what? Earlier today when I was living in delirious denial, I was sure we’d elect our first woman president and turn the senate blue. I was wrong. I feel like the end of the world is here. Stock market crash, divided country, and someone truly unqualified, unstable, racist, misogynist, is going to take the highest office in the land in 70+ days. I imagine that Pence the terrifying evangelical will be the defacto president. Coke, I’m lost. Please give me something.
This is not the end of anything. It is the beginning of our call to action. We are on the right side of history, but nobody said this shit would be easy.

I will gladly join the resistance to take down the clown. Also any advice on what actions to take/how to best counteract Trump’s hate would be much appreciated in this dark despondent time.
Depending on how things pan out, I will have more information in the coming days with regard to joining the resistance. I’m not joking about this.

Were you serious about applications? I’m fucking horrified right now. I feel so numb. But something within me has changed tonight and I want to do something, anything. Much love from a longtime reader.
Yes. It’s too early to tell what it will become, but I am deadly serious about starting a movement. We can do this.

02 Nov 18:24

New study doesn’t show men are wimps about contraception side effects, low vasectomy rate might

by Dr. Jen Gunter

There has been a lot of discussion recently about a new hormonal contraception study for men that was halted early due to adverse events. Two of the side effects/adverse events that led to early termination were acne and mood disorders leading many to wonder, what gives?

Can’t men hack hormones or are researchers biased and letting men get off easy?

Excellent example of a terrible headline

The Study

A phase 2 trial of a combination of an injectable testosterone and norethisterone (a progestin and a hormone similar to what is in many birth control pills) for men. The goal was to see if the drug suppressed sperm, prevented pregnancy, was safe, and if the men who used it found the side effect profile acceptable. There was no placebo arm as placebo arms in contraception studies are unethical for obvious reasons.

320 men enrolled and 266 completed enough of the study to produce data on how well the product worked. The good news is that the drug combination was very successful and almost 96% of men has suppressed sperm. There were 4 pregnancies for a pregnancy rate of 1.57/100 users. The Pearl Index was calculated as 2.18 pregnancies per 100 person years (basically 100 people use the method and 2.18 get pregnant over that year).  The Pearl Index is 1.5-2 for the birth control pill. Other good news is that more than 75% of men said they were satisfied with the method and would use it again.

The Bad News

The study was halted early as one of two independent safety panels took issue with the high rate of side effects. This wasn’t the researchers saying, “Oh these poor men.” This was an independent review board. The adverse events that raised concerns were: acne (45%), increased libido (38%), “emotional disorder” (16.9%), injection site pain (23.1%) and myalgias (or muscle pain, 16.3%). One man committed suicide, which somehow the researchers said wasn’t related to the drug because his family said he was stressed at work, and one attempted suicide. 

Comparing Like With Like

You can’t compare the findings of a phase 2 trial with the echo chamber of personal experience that is the Internet. You have to compare study with study, not a study with an op-ed column. These side effect rate is pretty high with this new study of men when compared with contraception studies for women. For example and perspective, a study comparing the birth control patch with the pill found a serious adverse event rate of 2%. The pill reduces acne for 70% of women and in studies with the Mirena IUD the rate of acne is 6.8%.

That recently reported study on depression with the birth control pill? It has some good points, but also lots of issues – the most glaring being no control group (i.e. no copper IUD users). But let’s say for argument’s sake the study is accurate depression wise, which would mean the birth control pill accounted for one additional case of depression per 200 adolescent users. In the male contraception study 2.8% of users developed depression, so much higher. However, for the most accurate comparison we need prospective studies of women using birth control pills and those have not clearly demonstrated a link between depression and the pill. That doesn’t discount personal experiences, might there be a subset of women prone to depression with hormones? Might it be multifactorial so several events must be in place for the pill to trigger depression? Sure, but we don’t have those answers yet. 

As an aside, anyone telling women not to use the pill because it’s possible that an additional 0.5% of adolescents could develop depression I assume you are also telling women these same women that they should certainly not get pregnant as 15% of women develop post partum depression.

Four significant issues with the study

  1. A significant percentage of adverse events came from one study center
  2. None of the men appeared to have been formally screened for depression beforehand.
  3. “Emotional disorders” weren’t defined in the paper (perhaps they were in the study), I’m a doctor and I don’t know what that means
  4. For 5 men it took > 52 weeks (but less than 74 weeks) for spermatogenesis to recover. One man still had no return of adequate sperm for fertility at 4 years

Based on the above I think scientifically it was reasonable to stop the study. Was it to spare men possible excessive side effects, a possible increased risk of suicide, and ill-defined emotional issues at one study site? Sure, that’s ethics. It doesn’t mean the study was a failure, it means the side effect/adverse event profile was higher than expected and not distributed evenly among study centers and a group of reviewers wondered, ‘What’s up with this, perhaps we should figure it out?” It is curious to me that the delay in return to normal fertility wasn’t part of what prompted the independent review board to suggest, although likely they didn’t have that information at the time of the safety review.  

The biggest head scratcher for me is what was up with this one site? I also think if there are these early concerns about possible depression further studies should be formally screening men for depression. Maybe it is was drug and maybe men with depression were more likely to self-select for the study. I think grading the severity of acne might also be important. 

As for the 20 men who dropped out because of side effects? That’s A) not why the study was stopped and B) women drop out of contraception studies all the time too and it doesn’t mean they are wimps. Here’s a quote from a prospective study looking at the pill and depo provera and side effects and depression, “We observed that experiencing adverse symptoms may lead to method discontinuation.”

The dose of hormones was effective and that’s great, but the Press and many people have forgotten this for catchy and misleading headlines. Ending studies early for safety happens. The conclusion isn’t men can’t handle hormones it means better screening may be needed before and during the next study for both depression and anxiety and maybe more uniform training among study centers. 

The study doesn’t say men are wimping out, our low vasectomy rate does

Forget the study. We already have plenty of data on how women bear the burden of contraception when a similar option is available to both in the coupleship. Only 5% of American men have had a vasectomy yet 15% of American women have had a tubal ligation. Almost weekly I discuss contraception with a woman who is having issues with multiple methods. She and her partner have finished childbearing and yet she can’t get him to make an appointment to discuss vasectomy. She just rolls her eyes. She’d given up asking. She assumed the not insignificant risk of pregnancy usually more than once and yet she cannot get her partner to assume the insignificant risk of a vasectomy. What exactly does that say?  Yeah, I know this is not all men but it’s a lot. And this, quite frankly, is bullshit. The numbers should be reversed.

While vasectomy only applies to those finished childbearing it is about as adverse event free as contraception can be and yet we still can’t get all eligible men to have one. This is what makes me depressed about male hormonal contraception, because it is unlikely that there will ever be a contraceptive as easy and as safe as vasectomy.

We need more research into reversible male contraceptives and hopefully what was learned from this study will be helpful, however, looking at vasectomy rates I’m pretty pessimistic about the majority of men choosing it as an option. Here’s hoping I’m proven wrong.

8912-figure-28912-figure-3

  • An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated both review boards recommended terminating early, it was one. The information about those who dropped out has also been included. I have also updated the post with the number of men with delayed/failure to return to normal fertility.

21 Oct 17:54

Donald Trump confuses birth with abortion and no, there are no ninth month abortions

by Dr. Jen Gunter

The third and final Presidential debate focused very quickly on abortion. Clinton defended choice and Trump, not one to be bothered with facts, countered with this doozy of line:

“I think it’s terrible if you go with what Hillary is saying in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. Now, you can say that that’s okay, and Hillary can say that that’s okay, but it’s not okay with me. Because based on what she’s saying and based on where she’s going and where she’s been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day. And that’s not acceptable.”

First of all, we don’t rip anything in OB/GYN. In surgery we use sharp dissection and blunt dissection, but we don’t rip. Some women do tear during a vaginal delivery, but that’s not a doctor ripping the baby out. Even with a forceps delivery I wouldn’t call it ripping. We also don’t rip tissues during c-sections. Perhaps we can forgive Donald Trump for not knowing this as it is hard to believe that a man who bragged that he doesn’t change diapers and said he wouldn’t have had a baby if his wife had wanted him to actually physically participate in its care would have attended the birth of his own children. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart as there is, after all, lots of blood coming out the “wherever.”

Trump’s statement, as incorrect as it may be, supports the fallacy of the due-date abortion. It is a common anti-choice narrative that women come in at 39 weeks and have some kind of abortion for fun or out of boredom and that we doctors are only too happy to comply. I’m sure some people think there are Groupons. The more graphic the description of the procedure the better as it helps to distract from the facts.

Talking about abortion from a medical perspective is challenging when you are not a health care provider. Even someone familiar with the laws can get confused. For example, Mrs. Clinton made an error speaking about late-term abortion when she said it was a health of the mother issue. Typically it is not (it’s almost always fetal anomalies). However, this error on Clinton’s part only underscores how important it is for politicians to not practice medicine.

To put it in perspective  1.3% of abortions happen at or after 21 weeks and 80% are for birth defects. Put another way 1% of abortions are after 21 weeks and are for birth defects and 0.3% of abortions are after 21 weeks and are not for birth defects (some of these will be health of the mother and a very few will be for other indications). Let’s take it situation by situation.

Abortion by gestational age in the United States Late-term abortion is > 21 weeks

Abortion by gestational age in the United States
Late-term abortion is > 21 weeks

Birth Defects

This could range from Down syndrome to anomalies incompatible with life. The generally accepted limit of viability is 24 weeks so before that gestational age abortions can happen for any reason. After 18 or so weeks the options are an induction of labor or a dilation or an evacuation (or D and E), which is a surgery. With induction it can take a few days as labor can be hard to trigger so early. If all goes well the cervix dilates and the fetus delivers. Sometimes indictions fail because you can’t always get such a premature uterus to contract. With a D and E the cervix is dilated, with the help of medication, instruments or both, and the fetus is removed. The fetus is essentially taken apart with a D and E to fit through the dilated cervix (the cervix is dilated less with a D and E than for an induction). This is no secret to the women having the procedure. This is also no ripping, there is simply surgical technique. Women know they were pregnant before the procedure and that they were not after and trust me they don’t think their doctor waved a magic wand or had a time turner.

After 24 weeks birth defects that lead to abortion are very severe and typically considered incompatible with life. These procedures are either a traditional induction, just like labor, or something that requires instrumentation. Because of the nonsensical partial birth abortion law women who wish to have a dilation and extraction (a modified technique for more advanced procedures) need to have fetal cardiac activity stopped with an injection into the uterus. Either way it’s a 2 or 3 day or even 4 process to get the cervix to dilate enough. The further along in the pregnancy, the more likely the procedure will be an induction of labor, but a skilled practitoner can do a dilation and extraction at 32 or 34 weeks. I’ve never heard of a dilation and extraction for any other reason than severe birth defects and often it is for a woman who has had two or three c-sections for whom inducing labor might pose other health hazards, like uterine rupture. Are we to force women to have c-sections for a pregnancy that is not compatible with life?

Why do some women end up with these procedures later on in their pregnancy? Sometimes it can take weeks or even longer to fully understand what is going on with the fetus. Some patients might think they can make it to term and then at 34 weeks cave and ask to be delivered because they just can’t bear one more person asking them about their baby. Do they just smile and walk away or say, “Well, actually, my baby has no brain and will die at birth?” Some women go to term and others can’t. To judge these women for requesting an early delivery is cruel on so many levels. I wrote more about it here if you are interested.  Regardless, terminations for birth defects isn’t ripping “the baby out of the womb in the ninth month.” At 38 or 39 weeks it’s always an induction and is simply called a delivery.

Health of the Mother

This definitely happens between 20 and 24 weeks. The most likely scenario is ruptured membranes and an infection in the uterus. The treatment of this is delivery or the infection will spread and kill the mother, however, someone with lupus or renal disease or heart disease (for example) could have a deterioration of their health and with their providers make the decision to have a termination. After 25 weeks this would simply be a c-section or an induction of labor and the baby would go to the neonatal intensive care unit. Between 24-25 weeks there could be some leeway as conditions that are serious enough to require delivery at 24 weeks often also have devastating effects on the fetus. For example, the fetus could be so severely growth restricted making viability at 24 weeks unlikely and a woman with a severe heart condition may not elect to risk her health with a c-section for a likely non viable pregnancy and choose a termination. These are difficult and nuanced decisions and everyone is simply working together to make the best decision for the pregnant person. I don’t know where Mrs. Clinton got this “bad news at the end” of the pregnancy being about maternal health. I have only ever heard of one very late abortion for maternal health and that was for the rape of a minor by her brother and that was still not at term.

So no one is performing health of the mother abortions at 38 or 39 weeks we just do deliveries. It’s called obstetrics.

Other

Some of the 0.3% of abortions after 21 weeks will be for personal reasons. Often these are called elective abortions, but I don’t like that term. Usually this happens when it took too long to find a clinic and raise the money. These abortions happen before 24 weeks. There is no ninth month action here either.

The facts

There are no ninth month abortions. Really. A ninth month abortion is a unicorn and so it’s ridiculous to even discuss it. Terminations after 24 weeks are for severe fetal anomalies.

If it’s a unicorn, why not legislate it? Introducing a gestational age limit is introducing the thin edge of the wedge. Once you say abortion is illegal at say 37 weeks then you have agreed the subject is up for negotiation and more legislation.

If someone were truly interested in reducing abortion they wouldn’t start with the 1.3%, more reductions can be made in the first trimester where most terminations are due to unplanned pregnancies. These abortions could be reduced dramatically with access to free and accessible long-acting reversible contraception. To dismiss these abortions and focus on the later procedures means it is not about reducing abortion at all, so it can only be about punishment and control.

 

 

 

 

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***Comments are now closed due to an increasing number of abusive remarks***


17 Oct 12:53

His Daughter Wanted To Fly The Millenium Falcon For Halloween, So...

by Jen
Kristen

D"AWWWW

LOOK WHAT THIS AWESOME DAD DID:

 D'awwww.

That's right, as if this little Rey wasn't already too cute for words:

 

 Now she gets to fly her own Millenium Falcon!


 ... which her dad made out of foam board and paper cups.



 And, you guys?

IT LIGHTS UP.
» Read More
11 Oct 13:47

Vestiges of monogamy…SEE ME ON TOUR!...



Vestiges of monogamy…

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05 Oct 20:31

Panic Victories, Cabbages, and Kings

by Jen
I posted this yesterday on Facebook to my closest circle of friends, but after I did, it occurred to me it applies here, too:

(Yes, I *am* wearing a Knights Who Say Ni helmet in a tank top for my profile pic. WHAT.) 


The week I'm referring to was on our first book tour, when John came down with a deadly combo of  pneumonia and a bacterial staph infection. I did a show while he was in the E.R., before we realized how serious it was, but after that is a haze of terror and helplessness and aching, soul-stabbing loneliness.


I started Epbot about 7 months later, I think in some ways because I *did* feel so alone that week. While there was an incredible outpouring of support and love from the Cake Wrecks community, with readers driving out of their way to bring me things at my hotel, and sending messages and offers of help, there was also a wall there. Not an intentional one, of course; it's just we didn't know each other. They knew I liked to write funny stuff, I knew they liked to read it. Beyond that, the rest was a guessing game.

With Epbot I set out to create a place where, among other things, I could be myself and just talk to people. And ideally, have them talk back. About silly stuff. About fandom stuff. Of struggles and triumphs and inspirations - of cabbages and kings!

I got all that in spades.

Today, most of my closest friends I've met through this blog. Some were fans who asked for a meetup, others were artists or cosplayers I featured on roundups. Some I've only met IRL a few times, others I get to see every month. But all of them found something in common with me, chose to express it, and have made my life so much richer.

Even those of you I don't know yet, I feel like I know, at least a little. From what I hear on meetups, I think you feel the same. We have these commonalities, you see. Not everything, of course - that'd be boring - but enough to bring us together. Enough to cheer each other on.


 Yesterday John and I had a meetup at Diagon Alley in Universal. Not unusual; we do these a lot.

Why yes, I WILL use this excuse to post a few pics from my phone.




This was a particularly lovely one, though, because right up front Chelsea admitted she was nervous meeting me, so I got to confess that I was nervous, too. Not over the meeting, but because I'd decided that maybe that was the day I could finally, after years of hoping and trying and failing - finally get myself on the ride E.T.

You're laughing now, but my agoraphobia has prevented me from going on rides for around 5 years now. It's an irrational nuisance, a fear-monster I've been working to tame. Two years ago I conquered the kiddy Dr. Suess ride, but anything that locked me in, that lifted off the ground or sailed into water, has been off-limits - and of course that's nearly all of them.

E.T. was my holy grail, because I hadn't been on it since I was a kid, and because I was afraid it would close before I could work up the courage. Yes, I, a grown woman, was afraid of the E.T. ride.

I've been working on my exposure therapy, though, while continuing to get my thyroid and hormone issues in check. Several months ago I went on the boat ride in The Land. Before that I made it through the queue of E.T. - a big step, since they lock you in a room first - before ducking out at the end with shaky, sweaty palms. And often at night, before I went to sleep, I would imagine myself on the ride, the darkness and the height and the restraint bars, until the fear loosened ever-so-slightly.

So I'd been doing my homework, and I felt, finally, ready. All I needed now was moral support, a pinch of distraction, and maybe even a scosh of peer pressure.

I told Chelsea this - well, an abbreviated version - when we first met, and later that day, just before the park closed, she and her hubby Nate insisted on accompanying me and John to the ride.

We told them they didn't have to. There were other things they'd rather do, and we told them to go do those instead. But they spent their precious vacation time to come with us, chatting and laughing, and then they rode E.T. with me, and you guys, I rode E.T., I did it, and though I shook quite a bit and gripped those handlebars 'til my knuckles went white and I very nearly panicked, I didn't panic. I went right to that edge, and came back safe and sound. I can't say it was fun, not yet, but I can see how it might be again someday - and just that is something I couldn't imagine even a few months ago.

I know a theme park ride is a silly victory, I do, but it's a marker of so much more. Last week I sat comfortably through a community play. Bad traffic doesn't bother me anymore. Neither do elevators or movies. A month ago - and this one stings to admit - I successfully drove by myself for the first time in over two years, and it was actually fun. Best of all, I did all of these things without Xanax.

While I'm proud, let me be clear: It's not mind-over-matter. It's not that I have better or stronger willpower. It's proper health care and treatment and medication, combined with a few mental and breathing techniques for fine-tuning. After years of searching for the right doctors and tests, my Hashimoto's is mostly under control, I do spine stretches to relieve "computer hunch," and most recently I've been correcting some imbalances with prescription hormones - all issues that have triggered and exacerbated my panic. It's been such a long, tedious journey, but now, almost a decade after my panic switched on overnight, I can almost imagine a life without it. Almost. That. is. HUGE.

I'm telling you all this because I want you to know there is hope, and because this isn't a private victory. Whether you're aware of it or not, you've helped me get here. This community is helping me take back what agoraphobia has stolen from me. So it was only fitting that Chelsea and Nate were there with me at E.T., even if they, too, didn't know how much they were helping. (I managed not to cry after; just stood there grinning and shaking. That's another little battle won.)

Thanks to this community, I don't have to face the monsters alone. And neither do you.

Oh, and since I believe every victory deserves its spoils, check it out - I got myself a battle trophy:


I took this on a nearby bench while the rest of the group went on the Simpsons ride. (Baby steps - I'll get to more rides eventually.) You know I'm giddy when I resort to taking selfies. [shudder]

My new E.T. plush stands next to my monitor, a reminder of triumphs and home and friends I haven't met yet, and also that when the really hard times come, next time, I won't have to face them alone.

Fist bumps all round, y'all. We did good.

04 Oct 17:22

Leslie Jones Finds Her Hacker in SNL Mr. Robot Spoof - "Is there a Mrs. Robot?"

by Charline Jao

Heads up: Spoilers for Mr. Robot in the above video.

Leslie Jones wants the world to know she’s got the world’s most notorious hacker on her side. The recent Saturday Night Live premiere included a Mr. Robot parody in which Jones recruits Elliot Alderson (expertly spoofed by Pete Davidson) to help her hunt down her hacker. Mr. Robot and Darlene also make small appearances.

If you weren’t already aware, the video references Jones’ real life experience getting hacked. After being targeted for online abuse which consisted of posting Jones’ private photos, information, and other horrific types of sexism and racism, the Ghostbusters star spoke to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who promised to do more in combatting this kind of behavior. Homeland Security is also currently investigating the case.

While most of the jokes in the video play off Mr. Robot‘s seriousness by building the contrast between Elliot’s sad, technological prowess and Jones’ energetic, outdated sensibility (her password is “password”), there’s something very powerful about Leslie Jones making comedy out of something as awful as her harassment. How amazing is that? Not only does she unapologetically bring up her role in Ghostbusters in a clever “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts” to remind us she won’t let the haters get her downshe’s using that terrible experience as fuel for new content.

What did you think about the spoof?

(via Polygon)
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03 Oct 17:08

Guest Post: #909 “I Should Be Able To Do Money…But I Can’t”

by joon

Dear Captain Awkward,

I am so scared. I keep messing things up financially. I just don’t know how to do it. How to DO MONEY. But it’s a paradox, because I am earning a decent amount.

It’s a paradox about which I feel rather ashamed, because I am aware of my privilege. I come from a middle-class family of financial flailers–always earning a comfortably middle-class salary, yet always lurching, always in debt, always bouncing checks, always living paycheck to paycheck, always STRESSED AS FUCK about money, yet never really changing (or seeming to know how to change) spending habits, or debt, or livingsituation, or whatever the fuck it is you do to live with lower financial stress. I am just like my parents in this regard.

I am so scared. I am always living paycheck to paycheck, and even that isn’t enough. To illustrate what I mean, I often have to stop eating for 3 days before paychecks, I tend to bounce checks once every month or two, and I’ve had to postpone my student loan payments 3 times in 4 months. It is not so easy to just move, either–my rent is pretty decent for the location, especially considering that now I don’t have a car (a crash last summer, another financial fuckeroo), it is important to live near my workplace.

I just don’t know where to start. Whenever I google stuff about getting financial advice online for free, it’s always some advice that comes in the form of happy go lucky blank slates. Like, these super-duper positive people writing how-to’s as though they are teaching the teenage children of rich and stable folks how to save their allowance. Fuck that shit! I don’t want advice that is starting from some elusive, unrealistic (at least for me, but probably for most) baseline of financial stability and emotional okayness.

I want some advice that respects my baseline of terrible credit, shitty habits, major upcoming expenses, MAJOR student loan debt, major shame and self-loathing, and total overwhelm and fear.

I feel so fucked. I am scared.

I know that here, Captain, you tend to respond to stories. However, I also know that you love advice blogs in general, that you’re an aficionado of the genre. Therefore my question is a request for help in finding some other advice blogs: do you know of any places on the internet I can go to find the kind of help, the kind of realistic, open, detailed, respectful advice I’m looking for?

And frankly if you have thoughts on my situation, I will definitely take your advice, too.

Thanks a lot,

Financially Flailing

Dear Flailing,

I hear you that you feel scared—and that you feel especially ashamed because you recognize your relative good fortune to date. Would it help to know that you are not alone, that you are now among the majority in the US? Living paycheck to paycheck—or well behind one—is common, including in folks who’ve had sound opportunity. So kudos to you for actively seeking to set straight what so far feels to you like an impossible situation.

As you’ve found, the advice common in financial guides does not apply to everyone, or at least not to everyone’s starting point. Many such resources assume a near-magical combination of higher-income, plus a naturally frugal bent, plus a supportive family, plus a state of emotional zen, plus a cognitive capacity to navigate institutions ranging from banks to universities, plus plus plus. Not everyone has all of these. Folks with barriers such as stress, grief, cognitive limitations, a difficult family history, an experience of abuse, or a disability are often left to their own devices and, like you, feel embarrassment and shame that they aren’t “succeeding.”

Many mainstream resources don’t help. In fact, they exacerbate the issue by making it difficult for folks to come out of their financial closets. I know it didn’t help me one iota when all the advice seemed to scream, “Be an entirely different person! Become an extrovert! Don’t have Asperger’s or depression! Have more physical stamina!”  Ack. Our financial path must—at its most basic level—honor who we are at our heart, not to mention at our physical capacity.

You’re smart, articulate, and educated but, as you’ve discovered, these qualities alone do not lead to financial success. But other ones do.

As a volunteer, I serve some of my region’s lowest-income people. Interestingly, some had extremely high income (think executive directors and an NHL player) before needing help to secure and then live on $510 per month. As is usually the case, their financial flailing was not about a lack of drive, commitment, hard work, or intelligence. These folks’ careers relied on these characteristics. So what else is at play?

You seem to be painfully aware that you have sufficient income and status, and that there is some self-sabotage going on. This means that while you feel like a failure you’re actually already two steps ahead of the game!

I propose five strategies to help you fulfill your dream of financial well-being:

1. Prepare. Interestingly, preparing for financial recovery involves no file folders, specialized software, or fee-based advisers. Getting ready will involve just the simple step of writing down five free things you can do when you start to feel overwhelmed. What soothes you? A bubble bath? A run? Knitting? Texting with a dear friend? Meditation? A pitch black room? The Pogues on maximum volume? Post your list to at least five key places: your bathroom mirror, your car dashboard, the top of your shoe, your wrist, wherever you will see this prompt to self-soothe rather than spend. When the judgement or panic begins to arise, implement one of your personal self-soothing options. (And if you spend instead? No big deal, because you’re going to put in place the next steps too.)

2. Connect. The primary difference I see in people who transition from struggling to stable is emotional back-up. Many of us rely on spending to alleviate intolerable levels of loneliness, isolation, fear, anger, guilt, and more. Ironically, when we then spiral into shame about our spending, we often spend even more to cope! For this reason, I recommend your second step be putting support in place. For a sociable introvert or a person with a wild schedule, an online forum such as that offered by the Simple Living Network might be the best bet. For a person who thrives in live groups, the twelve-step program Debtors Anonymous can be a boon. If you have access to affordable one-on-one therapy, I encourage you to take that opportunity, too.

Even when these resources use financial floundering as a focus or anchor topic, much more will happen. This is because for most of us, money is attached to loss, hope, grief, attachment, and shame. When we focus on our finances, our money issues begin to resolve but so do layers of psychological struggle. When we act on one, we are inherently acting on both. So in healing financially, it is critical to have support not just to spend more judiciously, but to live through the emotional layers that arise when we shift the very way we’re interacting with our world. Your support person or group provides practical support while simultaneously (and more importantly) caring for your heart—walking you through your shame and out the other side while you implement change.

3. Envision. Take up to an hour to consider your personal goals. What are your dreams? When you see yourself in twenty years, what is your life full of? What does that look like, smell like, sound like, taste like? Pull related photos out of magazines, jot down key words, or chat about it into your phone or video camera. The sky’s the limit. Record everything you truly desire materially or environmentally. Silence? A turntable? An English country garden? The opportunity to raise a child?

4. Assess. Does your current lifestyle match this vision? If your heart tells you that in the future you want a peaceful cottage to write in, does spending $4 on ice cream today align with that? Don’t judge or kick yourself. Just notice. Watch yourself as though you are a scientist—a neutral third party curious about the patterns.

5. Record. On any given day, write down every penny that comes in to your life and every penny that goes out. This includes the dollar to the busker and the auto-debit for the internet bill. This activity can seem intimidating, because we anticipate seeing evidence of unmitigated disaster: pen hitting paper minute by minute, volumes of scrawled notes. It needn’t be overwhelming, though, and in fact can be strangely soothing. When we record in a notebook every penny as it goes out or in, we begin to see the power we have—the choice we get to make from moment to moment. We give ourselves a glimpse of our healthy decision-making capacity. Record nothing from before this moment, and nothing from beyond now. Just this moment’s transaction. As you record, accept your feelings. (Rely on your list for self-soothing.) Don’t try to modify your spending; no one else need see the information. Just record. Do this in as many moments, on as many days, as you feel up to it. Your consciousness will take it from there.

Once we have these five elements or practices in place, we naturally take steps to increase our income—asking for a raise, babysitting for a neighbour, snagging that grant—and decreasing our expenses—applying for a halt in student loan interest, canceling the gym membership we never use, inviting friends to a potluck in place of our usual Friday night restaurant outing. We do these one at a time, as our support team helps us to.

When we’ve connected more deeply with ourselves—and recognized our right to honor our truest self—we begin spending on that which aligns with our own deepest values, and declining to spend on that which others told us we should want: marriage, a magazine subscription, the university degree. Of course, the actual details of what we spend or save on are unique to each person, which is why our financial journey is often one of achieving physical, psychological, and relational freedom as well.

When we align our finances with who we really are at heart—ditching other people’s priorities in favor of honoring our own values and dreams—the perplexing paradoxes resolve. In the end, it seems that near-magic is involved after all, but it’s you who creates it.

Joon Madriga was marginalized by a severe yet undiagnosed brain-based disability, which left her on the streets. She subsequently found her way to help herself, then thousands of others. Her recently released book, Rising: Strategies for the Broke, the At-Risk, and Those Who Love Them, is available on Amazon.com. She blogs at financialtipsforthebroke.com and welcomes your questions and struggles there.

Moderator Note: Readers, feel free to recommend other resources & techniques in the comments. I’d prefer to see recommendations in the form of “X site/forum/tool worked really well for me, here’s how and why” over “You should try X.”