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Best of Our Blogs: October 6, 2017

As someone who is sensitive, I avoid the news as much as possible. Im also careful about what I consume (e.g. food, TV, movies). Things that doesnt affect others can have a negative impact on the way I live my life.
This is why all the recent events have been particularly hard for me. Things like being grateful, researching ways to help, and sending loving thoughts to those suffering prevented me from feelings of hopelessness and despair.
If you need extra support, this is a great article that lists resources written by our staff.
If the help you need is with a narcissist this week, all of our top posts have something for you.
Gaslighting: What It Is and Why Its So Destructive
(Psychology of Self) If youve always wondered, but were too afraid to ask, heres what gas lighting really is and what it looks like in childhood and adulthood.
Methinks Narcissists Dost Protest Too Much
(Narcissism Meets Normalcy) What happens when you confront a narcissist? Depends how close you get to the truth.
5 (Terrible) Lessons An Unloving Mother Teaches
(Knotted) Feeling helpless, insecure and alone could have been the consequences of an unloving mother.
The Painful Catch-22 of Caring About a Narcissist
(Narcissism Decoded) Being in a relationship with a narcissist is often a lose-lose situation. But if you dare venture into narcissistic territory, these four steps will prevent you from losing yourself.
What Its Like to Be a Complex Trauma Survivor of Narcissistic Abuse
(Recovering from a Narcissist) If youre a survivor of narcissistic abuse, your road to healing is long and complex, but as this post shows, there is hope.

Kristen Bell Shares Emotional Tribute To Dax Shepard On His Sobriety ‘Birthday’

Kristen Bell shares a sweet message and photos celebrating Dax Shepards 14th year of sobriety
Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard continually show us just how perfect they are for each other, and that theres just so much to love about both of them. The Instagram tribute Kristen Bell shares in honor of Shepards sobriety is just another real, emotional, and beautifully raw glimpse into their relationship were privileged enough to witness.
Also? The never-before-seen, intimate family photos she sharesare simply lovely.

Shepard is celebrating his 14th year of sobriety this weekend, and Bell decided to honor him with a poignant post full of touching moments between the two of them. To the man mocked me when in our wedding photos because I cried too many tears of joy, who wore a baby Bjorn for 2 straight years to show his girls how to be as adventurous as possible, who held our dear little shakey mann pup for 8 hrs straight on the day we had to put him down, she writes.

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To the man mocked me in our wedding photos because I cried too many tears of joy, Who wore a baby Bjorn for 2 straight years to show his girls how to be as adventurous as possible, Who held our dear little shakey mann pup for 8 hrs straight on the day we had to put him down, I know how much you loved using. I know how much it got in your way. And I know, because I saw, how hard you worked to live without it. I will forever be in awe of your dedication, and the level of fierce moral inventory you perform on yourself, like an emotional surgery, every single night. You never fail to make amends, or say sorry when its needed. You are always available to guide me, and all of our friends, with open ears and tough love when its needed most. You have become the fertilizer in the garden of our life, encouraging everyone to grow. I’m so proud that you have never been ashamed of your story, but instead shared it widely, with the hope it might inspire someone else to become the best version of themselves. You have certainly inspired me to do so. I love you more than I ever thought I could love anyone, and I want you to know, I see you. I see how hard you work. You set an excellent example of being human. Happy 14th year sobriety birthday, @daxshepard. Xoxo
A post shared by kristen bell (@kristenanniebell) on Sep 1, 2018 at 6:20pm PDT

Sorry not sorry, I will never stop loving their super casual courthouse wedding photos or that floral archway that reminds me of my junior prom photos.
Shepard has always been very candid about his struggle with addiction and sobriety. Its no easy feat to stay sober, and having a supportive and encouraging partner like Bell is a really awesome thing to see. I know how much you loved using. I know how much it got in your way. And I know, because I saw, how hard you worked to live without it, she says. I will forever be in awe of your dedication, and the level of fierce moral inventory you perform on yourself, like an emotional surgery, every single night.
Image via Instagram/Kristen Bell
She thanks Shepard for never failing to apologize and make amends when its needed. You are always available to guide me, and all of our friends, with open ears and tough love when its needed most.
Image via Instagram/Kristen Bell
The couple are parents to Lincoln, 5, and Delta, 3 and the photos of Daddy Dax are honestly major heartstring tuggers. You have become the fertilizer in the garden of our life, encouraging everyone to grow, she continues. Im so proud that you have never been ashamed of your story, but instead shared it widely, with the hope it might inspire someone else to become the best version of themselves.
You have certainly inspired me to do so.
Image via Instagram/Kristen Bell

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On his own Instagram account, Shepard shared that his wife gave him literally the most awesome birthday gift ever a tour of the Kings Hawaiian factory. As you do.

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Best sober birthday present ever. @kristenanniebell got me a tour of the @kingshawaiian factory and I ate 8 STRAIGHT oughta the oven. 2 more upstairs, and 3 at home. 13 all-in for one day is an accomplishment I will not soon forget. Also, the fact that Kristen looks like a scientist and @mlpadman looks like she’s on a kindergarten field trip just makes my heart swell to dangerous levels. Thanks Ladies!
A post shared by Dax Shepard (@daxshepard) on Sep 1, 2018 at 6:01pm PDT

Christ, I love these two so damn much. Speaking of love, Bells post ends on the sweetest note.
I love you more than I ever thought I could love anyone, and I want you to know, I see you, she says. I see how hard you work. Youre hard work benefits all of us, and you set an excellent example of how to be human.Happy 14th year sobriety birthday, Dax Shepard.

Amaka Ezekwugo

In this interview with GuardianWoman, she talks about her passion for children, the need for parents to be actively involved in their childrens upbringing and how leisure can be an alternative means of learning for them.
Kindly tell us about yourself?
My name is Amaka Ezekwugo nee Eneli, CEO and Founder of A&A Kids. I am a proud wife and Founder of A&A Kids. I am a proud wife and mother of three gorgeous children, an entrepreneur and by the grace of God a mogul in the making.
What led you into entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship found me at a very tender age. I have always had a desire to run my own business in the childrens entertainment industry. However, in what capacity, and to what extent, I was not totally sure. This I believe stemmed from growing up in the United Kingdom having started my education there from the age of 11.
As a child, I experienced and loved several childrens shops, play-centres etc. There was always something so magical about them. It was all like a childs haven. I would go there and walking in, feel like I wanted to have absolutely everything in the shops, which made me always wanting to go back time and time again.
After my University education, I worked at Fitch Ratings in the city of London. I realised that the longer I worked at Fitch Ratings, the more I knew I was living someone elses dream and not mine. I remember one morning sitting on the Tube on my way to work one day, I looked around the carriage at my fellow passengers; no one was smiling, all looking tired, the weather was freezing cold as it was the middle of winter. I walked outside and began my walk to the office looking the same way as the passengers on the cold Tube. It was then I had a light bulb moment. What exactly am I doing? I asked myself. I clearly wasnt happy here but stayed simply because it was a paying nine-to five job. That moment, I spontaneously decided to take the plunge and go back to my home of Nigeria. Even being a British citizen, there is only so much and so far I could achieve especially as I felt being black British. I came home and began my quest for my childrens business. After much thought, I took the route of a unique boutique style toy shop. That is how it all began. So its been a long time coming.
You run a kids party shop called A&A Kids. What inspired this line of venture?
A&A Kids Party Shop is a venture inspired by my children. I remember as a child loving my trips to a toy shop and it has always been so magical. I looked forward to it every time and I always had an endless list of what I wanted to buy. I wanted to create the same experience for children here in Lagos. A one-stop boutique style toy shop that was different from the norm, not only from the layout and interior decoration, but also knowing the products are great quality and long lasting valued toys.
A shop you can easily find a lovely gift for a childs birthday, Christmas any occasion, have it wrapped up, get a card to accompany it and know that all this is very affordable and you walk out feeling satisfied that you got value for money. I wanted to create a shop you walk into and feel so comfortable spending hours without realising simply because the environment and customer service which to me is paramount is extremely pleasant.
What does A&A stand for?
A&A stands for Amaka and Alexandria named after my daughters.
You must love children to have opened a kids party shop. What is your view on parents and their relationships with their children?
I absolutely adore children. Children truly are blessings with no worries in the world. I believe parenting and the relationship dynamics with our children have changed. I often feel we as parents miss out of how quickly our children are growing because we are so busy working hard trying to provide what we believe is the best for our families but at a price. We are not spending as much time as families anymore. Both parents are often busy trying to build their empires that in a lot of cases the children are missing out of bonding time and so are being raised by our home helpers (nannies).
I feel as though sometimes parents learn more about their children from their nannies simply because the child spends more hours in the day with the nannies. I often wonder how well parents truly know their children inside out if we are being honest with ourselves.
It is time we all as parents consciously make the effort to be unified in our homes and create true family bonding time as hands-on fathers and mothers. Our children need us.
Can you tell us about a project or accomplishment that has been the most significant in your business?
I believe my return to Nigeria after several years and opening up A&A Kids Party Shop simply because I took the brave plunge into the unknown and stuck to my guns is most significant. Knowing fully well that starting a business in Nigeria would not necessarily be plain sailing without hiccups and general daily frustrations of things, I took for granted things such as constant electricity, water, good sense of security and more. However I truly love what I do and I am enjoying every step of the journey and have quickly understood it is simply molding me to persevere and be resilient.
Are you currently working on any new projects?
I have been thinking, dreaming, living on a project in my head for the last eight years. I believe it will come to fruition and my hearts desire of putting together what I have envisaged for children in Nigeria would happen one day and soon.
I have played around with this project for these number of years because I want to get it right, not wanting to rush it simply so I can do exactly what I have always planned to do down to the little details. It will be a one-stop Family Centre; a place that will create great bond between parents and their kids, where children will learn and play and parents are taken good care of, too. Even the nannies are also catered for. I will keep you guessing.
What is your funding situation for this project?
It is very discouraging for businesses such as mine trying to source for funds to carry out projects that will benefit our society. Approaching banks have not been very encouraging, so I am going the route of family and friends funding with fantastic ROI (return on investments). That way, they are investing not only in my business, but also in me knowing I work tirelessly and they believe in my project. However, funding is still required but I believe it will come.
As regards this new project, what is your view on the impact of leisure on children?
Once my project is up and running, the impact of leisure with children in Nigeria will be on a different scale. It will be huge and I believe it would solve a lot of problems parents face with having to think constantly of how to entertain their children not just on the weekends, but daily.
Do you agree that leisure can be an alternative means of learning for children?
Children learn through play, which we have realised. With this new project, it will encompass these areas, which means they can play and learn in a fun and safe environment. Part of the bigger picture for us, is to encourage learning in an unconventional way.
Should parents embrace alternative learning?
Absolutely! Parents should definitely embrace alternative learning. It is not all about being in the classroom. We know that there is so much that children learn simply from their environment and from other children, too. In other parts of the world, we see and experience the alternative ways of childrens learning which is why we like to take our children outside the shores of Nigeria sometimes, so it is now time we brought that home.
Do you face any challenges running a business and several projects, while catering for your home?
It is by no means easy running an existing business, planning a new project and being a mother and wife too. I often marvel at the strength the Lord has given me without me breaking down. My typical day for example is a 5:00am wake up, get my three children up and ready for school, making sure all knees and elbows are well greased (lol), hair combed and brushed. Sometimes it feels like a military precision.
I take my children to school and must be there by 7;00am. I rush back home, get ready to go to my shop in time for a 9:00am start. I leave the shop once its time for the school pick up again, take the children home, and then start homework. Once done, I go back to the shop, stay till the close of day, then I am off back home again to make sure the children are fed and ready for bed. This is my daily routine. Its not easy but I wouldnt ask for anything else as I see this as being the time I spend catching up and bonding with my children; asking questions, answering their interesting and very often funny questions and also listening to the conversations between themselves. Children grow up so fast and any day you miss with them is a day you can never get back. So I say I am blessed and in all this, I am being a wife to my husband too.
Asides work, what do you do for fun?
For fun I love gisting with my husband and catching up. I also like to unwind and relax with friends. During me time I enjoy watching all the TV programs I missed during the week. I also enjoy cooking as well. Les just say I have fun in diverse ways.

Forgiving the Unforgivable: Mom Worked With Daughter’s Killers to Bring Hope to a Desperate Community

One of the most remarkable stories of forgiveness had its sad beginning 25 years ago this month, so we reached out to the California woman whose inspiring daughter sacrificed her life to create positive change for a beautiful yet brutal country, leading her parents to do the same.
Amy Biehl was a bright, determined Stanford graduate who ventured to South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship to work in the anti-apartheid movement during its explosive final months before Mandela would become president.
She worked alongside her black comrades to register voters, and she longed to address the poverty of their squalid townships, believing that economic change was critical for any meaningful transformation. She was giving two of them a ride home when the blue-eyed blonde became a target for four angry youths whod just left a rally where militants were calling for the death of privileged white settlers.
Despite the desperate objections of her ANC colleagues that she was a comrade, Amy was stoned and stabbed to death on a road in Guguletu township on the very corner that her parents would soon be calling The Spot of Hope.
Peter and Linda Biehl left their gated community in wealthy Orange County, motivated and haunted by reading Amys diaries. They flew to Cape Town and toured the townships where Amy worked and talked with her friends about the unemployment problem. Peter was a businessman, and with money pouring in to honor their daughters noble cause, they began to organize one development project after anotherwelding, sewing, a print shop, a bakery, a construction company, sports facilities, and adult literacy programs.
But the most startling development of all was the loving relationship that developed between Amys parents and her killers.
People say, well I couldnt get together with people that harmed my loved one, but forgiveness is really about liberating yourselfletting go, so you can be free of hate and bitterness. Its really a one-way street that doesnt need the other person to do anything Reconciliation is a different step. Its really hard work.
Their reconciliation process began when they talked with Bishop Desmond Tutu, who was setting up the countrys Truth and Reconciliation Commission and would win the Nobel Peace Prize for it. The Biehls knew that amnesty would be granted to the young men whose crimes were politically motivated, and they wanted to participate to honor the countrys healing process.
Photo copyright Johanna Baldwin, Easy (left) and Ntobeko (right) with Linda and Peter in1999
We did not expect to have a relationship with them, but two of the young men, after they were released from prison, saw that things hadnt changed in their community, and they wanted to help. They had the courage to come to us, to our foundation, which was bringing jobs to young peopleand we admired that, Linda Biehl told Good News Network by telephone from Cape Town before Saturdays anniversary celebrations began. They were considered by some of their former comrades to be selling out to the all-American dollar.
CONTINUE READING, Click Page 2 below

Easy Nofomela and Ntobeko Peni began working for the foundation. Easy still works there today. Ntobeko (pronounced, Tobecko) gleaned every bit of business wisdom from Peter and became a successful entrepreneur who started a laundromat, driving service, and more.
As time went on we became very close, she continued. Im very proud of Easy and Ntobeko. They traveled to America with me to speak at conferences and its been very positive. That is Amys gift to all of usshe brought us all together.
RELATED:Muslim Father Forgives Man Involved With Sons Murder, Hugs Him in Court
I dont know how they found it in their hearts to forgive us, but I can tell you that it has greatly enriched my life, Ntobeko told a reporter in 2001. I will never forget the kindness they have shown me when they had every reason to hate me.
They call me Makulu, Linda laughed, explaining it means grandmother. Young people here were really looking for parenting during the struggle. They kind of adopted us into their villageit was pretty amazing.
Perhaps the most touching moment for Linda, whose husband died in 2002, was the time Ntobeko asked her to wear a traditional Xhosa outfit to his wedding.
He never really knew his mother so when he asked me to be that person, I realized he was really asking me to be his family. Someone did up my blonde hair in little puffs, and it was very joyful, she recalled fondly.
Amy Biehl Foundation USA, Facebook Page
Many other lives were touched by the Biehlss selfless dedication. Victor West, the ambulance driver who attended Amy had a very hard time dealing with her death because people accused him of not saving her. It lead to substance abuse problems until he finally told mental health officials that he would like to meet her parents.
They had dinner with him, and asked what they could do to help. Victor said he taught first aid and maybe he could do that for the Foundation. So they launched a program of teaching CPR and first aid to thousands of township residents in schools, prisons and community groupsand Victor never touched alcohol since that day.
It grew so much that he and his wife then started their own program called Bounce Back, says Linda. That was our hope, that people would find their own skills and confidence and go out and do these things on their own. As I look back, that is our real success story.
Friends and colleagues gathered on August 25 in the rain and cold, with Linda and members of the community, to sing songs and mark the quarter-century since Amys death. They gathered on the road where the U.S. State Department had placed a large marker, describing her as a tireless human rights activist.
As much as it was a bad thing that happened, everyone drives by it every day. My husband and I drove by it for years, explained Linda. We realized that its a part of the community and we wanted to not make it a bad or sad place, and thought, Lets make it a place of hope.
Most certainly, there would have been no hope without forgiveness: We were raised in a Congregational Church when Peter and I were growing up in Illinois, and he taught Christian ethics to junior high kids. If people are really living their Christian valuesor their Muslim values or Jewish valuesthere is always the element of forgiveness, but often people arent able to live up to that value.
RELATED:Man Who Shot Up Mosque Goes Back For Forgiveness, Finds Hugs Waiting
Its one of the things that was important to us, that we not be hypocritical; it was important that we dont say one thing and do something else. It was important to try to do what we believe, and act out in a positive way.
Even though Linda doesnt run the foundation anymore and she spends most of her time in California and Florida with her children and their families, she still travels and gives speechesand enjoys coming back to South Africa. It is the place where Amy feels most alive to her.
I still get recognized around town by a lot of the Township folks, which is kind of fun. To hear, Oh, youre back its heartwarming.
You can donate to the Amy Biehl Foundation and follow them on Facebook. (Featured photo: copyrightJohanna Baldwin,2002, used with permission)
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Turning 21 at Sligo’s

Turning 21 is one of the greatest (and last) coming-of-age events in life no longer is your nightlife restricted to frat basements, no more hoping youll get a bracelet or not get carded, and no more memorizing addresses and birthdays that are not your own. After this, there arent many birthdays left to look forward to, but on the upside, you never have to give a second thought when a bouncer asks for your ID.
Although we had planned a joint-celebration with one of my friends for that weekend, the actual night of my 21st birthday was unplanned an impromptu decision to leave the house at midnight but that night lives on as one of my top five nights out at Tufts. So, lets take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Imagine yourself in a warm place, where homework is a distant memory, and luckily, work isnt until 11 a.m. the next day.
Imagine that it is summer June 11, 2003 to be exact, 12:15 a.m. After visiting friends (and getting silly) on College Ave., I wander into Davis Square with my two partners-in-crime. (From this night on, I can never walk into Davis Square without remembering and laughing at certain episodes of this evening.) Stumbling across the street, my cell phone vibrates. I jump. Its my dad.
Mr. Muuuuunnoooooz!!! my friend screams. Can I talk to him? Your dad is funny!
Nooooo! I retort. I may be silly, but Im not stupid: Dad doesnt need to hear his little girl tanked. Dramatically, I hang up the phone over my head. We make it to Sligos in one piece (barely), where I readily shove my ID into the bartenders face.
Its my birfday! I say with a huge grin.
Its the bartenders birthday too. He makes my friends and me free shots of Surfer on Acid (now my favorite), and we are handed pieces of cake. I am loving this place. And I still do.
People give Sligos a bad rap. Sure, its small and gets cramped, but hey, if you wanted more room you wouldve paid the $3 cover at the Burren only to wait in line a second time for the back room. Sligos is a neighborhood, no-frills pub at its best and with the most reasonable prices to boot (or rather not to boot, as no one got sick.)
That night, I ordered two shots and two beers and was told, Thats $13. Thirteen dollars?!! I paid $13 for just two of the same shots at Joshua Tree 30 minutes before. (And, I know what youre thinking, no, these drinks werent all for me.) Hands down, Sligos offers the most affordable selection of beers, mixed drinks, and shots in Davis Square it is very college student friendly.
The crowd at Sligos depends on the night and the season. During the summer, Sligos is a mixture of Somerville locals and a few Tufts kids enjoying life at school without the actual school part. Sligos is also authentic enough that you may meet an Irishman or two. During the year, expect to see more Jumbos, especially those who dont want to shell out a lot of cash or wait in line at the Burren. Contrasting with the youngins and their sparkling new IDs are the old men. For some reason, Sligos attracts them, and they, for some reason, think you like being hit on by people old enough to be your grandfather.
The atmosphere can be anywhere from chill just you and your friends drinking beers at the bar to raucous you, your friends, kids from your Intro to Mass Media class, the baseball team, and even that girl you havent seen since freshman year crammed between the chairs and small tables that line its corridor.
All in all, Sligos presented a wonderful outlet for my much-anticipated birthday, and in many ways, I think it is underrated. Sure, the floor there is probably as sticky as in 123, but it doesnt try to pretend it is anything but an Irish divebar that caters to college students. The night of my 21st birthday is a lot like Sligos on the surface, possibly just another night out, but turns out to be a fun and memorable time. It probably isnt a story to tell the kids later (and I have spared you most of the details of debauchery), yet it certainly is one of those nights you look back on and laugh.

10 Must-Follow Body Positive Instagram Accounts

I woke up the other morning, put on a sports bra, and peeled off my thermal top. But I kept my pajama bottoms on. I wanted to get in a workout before the kids woke up, and after tying my hair up, I was ready to go. With the push of a button, the app on my phone guided me through a quick, sweat-session and it was glorious.
I love working up a good sweat, but what gives me even more motivation is seeing women who keep it real and give usall the inspiration we need to unapologetically be ourselves. No one needs to see perfect poses where flaws are hidden, because lets face it, we all have them.

I have cellulite in my ass, and Ill always have a little belly no matter what I do thats just life, and we need to see more realness and encouragement, and less of the perfect bodies (that really arent a thing) on our screens that make us think we will never measure up.
Here are the 10 Instagram accounts to follow if you are looking to get motivated, inspired, and empowered:
1. Bender Fitness

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I made a conscious effort to change the story I was telling myself. Instead of look how much you suck now I started thinking, You are making a great choice to improve your health and fitness. If you keep this up you are going to see great improvements in your speed and endurance. Have you ever found yourself in a negative cycle of self talk? When I catch myself in this cycle these are the techniques I use to change my thought process. Stopping the Comparison Game: 5 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: http://www.benderfitness.com/2018/01/stopping-the-comparison-game-5-ways-to-stop-comparing-yourself-to-others.html #benderfitness #healthyliving #positivity #selftalk #selfkindness #stopcomparing
A post shared by Melissa Bender (@benderfitness) on Jan 20, 2018 at 1:02pm PST

Melissa has been my go-to for three years. Shes a mother, shares recipes, and her workouts are effective and dynamic. Her messages are incredibly empowering and she includes all fitness levels in her workouts.
2. Ashley Graham

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Squattin it out with the @communityofunity ladies! #strongertogether
A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@ashleygraham) on Jan 3, 2018 at 2:34pm PST

Ashley doesnt post solely about workouts, but when she does, its so inspiring. She shows women you can be healthy, fit, and hot as hell at any size and we love her for it.

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3. Hannah Bronfoman

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First day back at the gym like wait, what am I doing? Seriously though, after 6 weeks of being on the road and not working out to my ability (getting a sweat in here and there) has left me feeling a bit out of shape you may not think I look out of shape but I can hardly do the things I was doing before hitting the road. I have a lot of progress to make and instead of being bummed out because I feel a bit on the weaker side its just more fuel to my fire and motivates me to get back at it!!!! WE GOT WORK TO DO!! @hbfit
A post shared by Hannah Fallis Bronfman (@hannahbronfman) on Jan 16, 2018 at 7:21am PST

I adore Hannahbecause her posts arent just fitness-driven, but they show women what true self-care looks like. She goes out and does amazing things with the energy she has, eats healthy food, and lives life to its fullest.
4. Fat Girl Flow

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MY FIRST #FATKINI OF THE YEAR!!! Ugh getting this @gabifresh X @swimsuitsforall in the mail made it feel a little less gloomy outside and made my sunshiney heart feel SO READY FOR THE BEACH!!!! They extended the size range to 26 this year and it fits me perfectly new vid on YouTube where I try it on and talk about it more EEP SO MANY SUMMER TIME FEELS!!! #plussize #bikini #psootd #psblogger #plussizemodel
A post shared by Corissa Enneking (@fatgirlflow) on Feb 6, 2018 at 3:03pm PST

Carissa Ennekingposts badass pictures of herself wearing all the things. She shows women of all sizes they are not confined to a box they are free to look and feel beautiful in bathing suits, lingerie, and sexy little dresses. She is a stunningly beautiful, positive woman, inside and out.
5. Busy Mom Gets Fit

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This was not a year of fitness goals for me I just wanted to maximize my time, get in 3-5 solid lifts a week and stay fit. Feeling successful in that . #fitforlife #busymomgetsfit
A post shared by @ busymomgetsfit on Dec 20, 2017 at 7:20am PST

Val has 4 boys and has made it her mission to help other women get fit. She posts daily inspiration, and I love her memes. She reminds all women we are in this together and the importance of cheering for each other.
6. Jamie Eason-Middleton

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Trying to film a video for my up coming Diet Bet group and my husband thinks he’s funny! @supermanm3 Please check out the link in my bio for details! #dietbetjamieeason #dietbet #crabtoetouches #reebok
A post shared by Jamie Eason Middleton (@jamieeasonmiddleton) on Oct 19, 2017 at 12:03pm PDT

Jamie Eason-Middleton is a fitness blogger with two kids, and tons of experience. I love her honesty about how it can be difficult to combine fitness and motherhood. Ive been following her for over three years now, and she was the one who made me decide it was time to get in the best shape of my life.
7. Jessamyn

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I fell in love with the high quality + stylish @JCPenney athletic wear that I wore during the #HereIAm shoot- the shorts, leggings, and tops made me feel very strong, sexy, and confident. However, we rarely see fat bodied athletes wearing revealing clothing. I think its because were expected to hide our bodies beneath layers of fabric. However, feeling good about ourselves should be a universal value- and what better way to manifest self-love than by wearing the clothes we actually WANT to wear, instead of the clothes were expected to wear? Regardless of body shape or size, were all meant to live our best lives right now, at this exact moment. But lets face it- confidence can be hard to maintain in the face of opposition. It may not come easy, but confidence is more worthwhile than almost anything else in this world. I maintain confidence by reminding myself that I am meant to be unique- and the unexpected bits of my body and personality are the best parts. How do you maintain confidence? #sponsored
A post shared by Jessamyn (@mynameisjessamyn) on Jan 26, 2018 at 2:13pm PST

Jessamynis one of my favorite kickass women who makes me believe I can do really hard fucking things. Look how she nails this pose. In this post, she talks about how being a certain shape or size or shape might make you feel like you are supposed to hide behind your clothes, and shes not having it. Its about loving yourself enough to wear what you want no matter what that is, and its a message we need to hear more of.

8. Alison Kimmey

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My body used to consume my mind. Now my soul consumes my body. I had to stop equating thinness with happiness, because after a decade of chasing skinny I never caught up to happy. And when I stopped pressuring my body to be a certain size, and let go of obsessively controlling every behavior around food and exercise my body decided to do something I had desperately tried to avoid for years- she got bigger. I guess the world just needed more of me. Just do you babes! Xoxo Allie
A post shared by ALLIE Just Do You, Babe! (@allisonkimmey) on Feb 20, 2018 at 5:25pm PST

This message from Allison Kimmelis incredibly powerful. The before shot when she was chasingskinny’ she talks about the unhappiness that comes with that. Shes right we need to be chasing happy, and our body size should not be the deciding factor by any means.
9. Emily Skye

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Physically speaking I will never be the same (which isnt a bad thing) and Im making the most of what Ive got. Ive still got loose skin on my belly but my abs are beginning to make a comeback which shows me that what Im doing is working (following my FIT Program)! . Some people misunderstand my reasons for living a fit and active lifestyle and think its selfish because Im now a mum. Being fit, strong and healthy is important to me mainly because of how it makes me feel. And if I feel good Im happy, and Im a much better mum to my daughter Mia and a better partner to my man Dec and so on. I also like being strong for myself because I like it and I love the look of a strong physique! My focus is always on being healthy but I like to look good too and theres absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look good!! Im not sure why there seems to be a stigma attached to wanting to look good. As long as Im not ever sacrificing my health to look a certain way and as long as it doesnt negatively affect my family I dont see anything wrong with it in fact I see everything RIGHT with it! . Do what makes you happy regardless of what anyone else thinks as long as it doesnt directly hurt anybody. These are words I live by and what Ill instil in my daughter. The last thing I want is for her to live to please others (like I used to) there is a difference between showing love and doing nice things for people and trying to constantly please others at the expense of your own happiness. . This lifestyle makes me happy so Im going to keep living it and I encourage you to live a life that makes you happy too. . What makes you happy, and are you doing it? . . #2monthspostpartum #fitmum #emilyskye #postpartum
A post shared by EMILY SKYE (@emilyskyefit) on Feb 20, 2018 at 6:53am PST

Emily Skyeis a fit mom who isnt afraid to put it all out there and own her reasons for continuing to exercise. She also shows before and after pictures that are very real, and its so refreshing to see someone who lives a healthy lifestyle show us the reality of how having a child changes your body, no matter what your lifestyle is, and the idea to get back into your pre-baby self should only be done if it makes you happy.
10. Summers VonHesse

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My kids are back in Nevada with my hubs, who is amazing for stepping up to take care of everything when I go on trips. He takes care of the kids, the animals, the laundry. I feel very fortunate to have such a supportive partner. I spent like 6 years doing nothing but waiting on everyone else’s needs hand and foot, trying to fit myself into this textbook perfect mom and wife role that was killing me. It sucked the joy from my spirit. Turns out that perfect mom and wife dosnt exist. There are happy and unhappy women tho and I discovered I had to quit trying to be something I wasn’t if I was going to be happy. I can be this amazing free spirited animal and still bake a fuckin cake. My kids have an awesome life. Moral of the story here is never loose yourself in someone else’s needs. Wether it’s your kids, your spouse, your family.it is so important that you honor those things in you that bring you joy.
A post shared by Summers VonHesse (@summers.vonhesse) on Jan 19, 2018 at 7:17am PST

Summers Von Hesseis a mother who talks about self-care and the importance of taking time for yourself. In every picture, its clear to see shes living her best life, taking care of herself, and remembering her happiness does not depend on what others think of her.

Whatever your goals are, the key is to love yourself. If you want to feel the burn without an audience, or see real women willing to show your their whole self without filters and poses to hide their hips or thighs, these ladies deliver. They all offer something different, so youre sure to find one you connect with.
Be ready, you are going to get addicted these women will teach you how to be cool with who you are, no matter your size or shape, and really, I dont know a woman out there who hasnt tried to grasp that one time or another.

Drop the Struggle and Embrace Your Emotions

Society tries to convince us that we can control our internal experiences. We constantly hear messages like Dont worry about it. Relax. Calm down.
Thats dead wrong. Just hearing the words Dont worry can make us anxious.
Telling yourself Dont worry isnt much different. The more often we think, Dont feel anxious you cant feel anxious dont be depressed dont be sad you shouldnt be upset the more anxious, depressed, sad and upset well become.
Lets take a metaphor from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, developed by Hayes and Masuda, as an example of how this process works. Imagine that youre hooked up to a very sensitive polygraph machine. This polygraph machine can pick up the slightest physiological changes that occur in your body, including any changes in heartbeat, pulse, muscle tension, sweat, or any type of minor arousal.
Now suppose I say, Whatever you do, dont get anxious while youre hooked up to this highly sensitive device!
What do you imagine might happen?
You guessed it. Youd start getting anxious.
Now suppose I pull out a gun and say, No, seriously, whatever you do as long as you are hooked up to this polygraph machine you cannot get anxious! Otherwise, I shoot!
Youd get extremely anxious.
Now imagine I say, Give me your phone or Ill shoot.
Youd give me your phone.
Or if I say Give me a dollar or Ill shoot.
Youd give me a dollar.
Although society tries to sell us the idea that we can control our internal experiences the same way we do objects in the external world, the truth is that we actually cant. We cant control our thoughts, feelings, and sensations, the way we can control objects in the world. In fact, the more we try to control or change our internal experiences the more out of control we feel. The more we try to get rid of distressing thoughts and feelings the stronger they become.
This is what many of us do to ourselves when we experience uncomfortable feelings. Our minds, like the polygraph machine, pick up sensations in our bodies. Then we pull out the gun against ourselves and tell ourselves not to have certain emotions. We start struggling with trying to control and eliminate certain thoughts and feelings. The more we try get rid of our experience the more they intensify.
What if we dropped the gun and were kind to ourselves instead? Thoughts and feelings shift and change like the weather. They are temporary. They intensify when we bully ourselves, and fade away with acceptance and self-compassion.
Painful feelings such as loneliness, fear, sadness, deprivation, rejection, and disappointment are an unavoidable part of life. They are just a part of being a human being. Although we dont have control over having painful emotions that are a part of being alive, we always have control over our actions. We can always choose to respond in ways that are consistent with our values, regardless of how we feel.
We may sometimes think that our emotions force us to act a certain way. We think our emotions are in charge. Theyre not. We are. We are never ever truly trapped into actions we dont want. We can always choose to respond to our emotions in ways that leave us free.
So, how can we drop the gun and embrace all our internal experiences?

Notice when youre pulling out a gun on yourself judging or struggling with your internal experience.
Drop the struggle. Instead, give the emotion a neutral label. Say to yourself I feel scared or I feel hurt.
Notice the sensations in your body that comes with that emotion. Stay present with the sensations. Notice the size, shape, color, and texture of the sensation.
Drop the story in your head about why youre feeling this way. Focus on sensations and feelings rather than ideas.
Open up to the emotional experience. Practicing self-compassion and loving kindness helps us soften up to our emotional experience without pushing it away. Put your hand on your heart and speak to yourself as you would to someone you love. You might say, This is really difficult or It makes sense that I feel sad now.
Remember we are all in this together. Think of all the people right now in this world who are feeling helpless, lonely, deprived, or rejected. You are not alone. Being human comes with pain.

Those steps are the essence of self-compassionate care. Self-compassion is embracing your humanness.
Choose self-compassion and you will be free to act in line with your values.
For now, please take this message to heart. Much of the time, youre the one with the gun. Dont pull out the gun and you will be free.

Will Our President Heed History’s Lesson?

Once again, with the recent terrorist attack in Paris, our President went into his professorial mode to point out our abysmal ignorance regarding Islam. As you know, President Obama never uses the phrase radical Islam to describe the now multitude of brutal murders committed by ISIS terrorists, asserting that Islam is a peaceful religion no matter the claims of the self-proclaimed Islamic State to be fulfilling the directives of the Koran. To the contrary, our President assures us their actions are a perversion of the peace loving religion founded by Mohammed. And while many scholars of Islam have pointed out that both the Koran and the Hadith do provide source for the actions of ISIS, our President and self-appointed American theologian takes no mind. Perhaps a dose of American history and the experience of his predecessors in the office of commander-in-chief of the United States, may help him fully grasp the nature of the enemy now encountered by the nations of the world.
In the 18th century, Tripoli, along with the other Barbary Coast lands of Tunis, Morocco and Algiers challenged our new republics diplomacy by their piracy. The Barbary pirates, actually corsairs representing the lands of the Barbary Coast, had as their main objective capturing Christians, Jews and other non-believers for slavery and ransom. From the 16th to 19th century, these Muslim pirates captured an estimated 800,000 to 1.25 million people as slaves. The Europeans made peace with the Barbary States through treaties that required annual payments of tribute dubbed at times annuities. The merchant vessels of any country without such a treaty were at the mercy of these state-sponsored maritime marauders, including those of the United States.
In 1784 Congress appointed Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin as peace commissioners to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with the major states of Europe and the Mediterranean which included the states of the Barbary Coast. In 1786, Jefferson and Adams met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the representative of the Dey, the Regent, of Algiers and Tripoli to Britain. Jefferson and Adams asked him why the Muslims were hostile to the relatively young United States, which had done no harm to the Muslim people. The Deys response, as reported to Congress, was that Islam was founded on the laws of their Prophet, that it was written in the Koran, that all nations who should not have knowledge of their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to paradise.
Perhaps Rahman Adja had in mind these and similar verses found in the Koran:
98: 6-8 Those who disbelieve from among the People of the Book and the idolaters, will be in the fire of hell, abiding therein. They are the worst of creatures. Those who believe and do good, they are the best of creatures. Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of perpetuity wherein rivers, abiding therein, forever flow. Allah is well pleased with them, and they are even pleased with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord.
8:12 When thy Lord revealed to the Angels: I am with you, so make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. So smite above the necks and smite every fingertip of them.
Shaykh al-Shanqeeti (1887-1973), a contemporary Muslim scholar wrote: The reason for slavery is kufr (non-belief in Islam) and fighting against Allah and His Messenger. When Allah enables the Muslim mujaahideen who are offering their souls and their wealth, and fighting with all their strength and with what Allah has given them to make the word of Allah supreme over the kuffaar (disbeliever), then He makes them their property by means of slavery unless the ruler chooses to free them for nothing or for a ransom, if that serves the interests of the Muslims. Adwa al-Bayaan (3/387).
The leaders of the Barbary States were not radical Muslims. They were simply Muslims living in accordance with the moral and ethical principles of Islam as taught in the Koran and the Hadith. Ultimately under President Jefferson, the United States declared war on the Barbary Pirates and prevailed. Known as the first Barbary War, 1801-1805, this early victory of our fledgling Marine Corps is forever remembered in the Marine Corps Hymn, which begins, From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli The line To the shores of Tripoli references the First Barbary War and in particular the Battle of Derne in 1805 won by Lieutenant Presley OBannon and his Marines.
As has been noted in recent reports in the press, ISIS, the Islamic State, has now embarked upon taking slaves of those captured during their terrorist actions, much as the Barbary Pirates did over 200 years ago in accord with the teachings of Islam as explained by Shaykh al-Shanqeeti.
On the Fox news program, The Kelly File (September 12, 2014), and on other news programs as well, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, leader of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a physician who formerly served in the American Armed Forces, refuted President Obamas claim that ISIS is not Islamic. Stating the President does recognize the Islamic State of Iran, the Islamic State of Pakistan, the Islamic State of Saudi Arabia, each of which, as ISIS, imprisons and murders nonbelievers including Jews and Christians, treats women in a despicable manner etc. Dr. Jasser who, as a Muslim advocating for the reform of Islam, claimed when the President wrongly states that ISIS is not in accord with Islam, he is making it more difficult for reformers to have influence on Islam globally.
Why President Obama is so intransigent on this subject when the truth is so obvious, even from the experiences of those who served before him as President of the United States is unfathomable. One irrefutable fact remains, If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. Sun Tzu

Self-Care Sunday Links 9.4.16

Its been a while since Ive shared links to powerful pieces by other writers. So, today, Im changing that. Below are beautiful, important, insightful thoughts on everything from embracing our bodies to embracing ourselves.I hope you find these helpful, and I hope youhavea wonderful Sunday!
Remember you can opt out: You can opt out of everything from being weighed at the doctors office to workout classes that dont feel welcoming toIm so bad, I ate a piece of bread conversations.
How to create your own care instructions.

On burnout and the spoon theory.
Your body isnt anyones business.
On productivity, creation and burnout: We were not created to perform around the clock. Flowers do not bloom 365 days a year. The weather changes with fits and starts as the seasons roll into one another. The tide ebbs and flows. These natural phenomenons do not ask for permission to rest.We were not created to be productive at the expense of our human needs
How to thrive as a highly sensitive mom.
How self-compassion helped me feel good about my body.
How to tune into your body.
Looking back at old photos, at our old selves.
On sobriety, legacy and being yourself.
When your project doesnt take off.
The absolute best books on self-acceptance.
Safeguarding yourself from energy vampires.
10 ways to build a loving relationship with your body.
On self-loathing and lovingourselves instead: I believed that I could not love myself until I was some kind of polished golden orb of perfection, with an immaculately-controlled mind, a healthy body, and a totally clean record. Someone who would never make another misstep, never speak another unkind word, never be a f-up again in any way whatsoeverever. Then I could love myself.But who is that? Who is that person I have just described?That person is nobody. That person is no human being who has ever lived.And once you realize that, then you realize that we are all this same boat together. That everything you hate about yourself is nothing less than your HUMANITY. Your shared humanity
The most important thing that gets left out in self-care advice for moms.
A powerfulself-acceptance verb list.
Exploring what nourish looks like.
Applying the five love languages to loving yourself.
How we do one thing is how we do everything.
How divorce, friendship and yoga changed my life.
And a few questions to reflect on in your journal or to respond toin the comments: What blog posts or words have been inspiring you lately? What have been your favorite ways to practice self-care? What are you currently struggling with? Whats helped you in accepting your body?
Image credit:Yastremska/Bigstockphoto.com