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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How I Got Over Being Bullied


Recently, I read an article about the difference between being rude, being mean and being bullied. It got me thinking about my own history with bullies. I was bullied pretty ruthlessly in middle school. It can take a while to get over it and move on. So, how did I accomplish that?

Two words: I didn't.

Or, is that three words? Two and a half? Anyway. My point is, I never really got over being bullied. The effects are still with me more than twenty years later. Being bullied shaped me into the person I am today, and I still have knee-jerk reactions to certain situations.

When I was in middle school, which is a trying time for many kids, my family moved from the West Coast to West Virginia. It was a culture shock. For one thing, the education system in West Virginia was far behind the schools out west. Contrary to popular opinion, ignorance is NOT bliss. Ignorance is hateful. People fear what they don't understand. And, when people fear something, they tend to attack it rather than try to understand it.

I came to West Virginia with my West Coast accent and my West Coast clothes and was utterly and completely different. They didn't understand me. And, I didn't understand them. I mean, I literally couldn't understand their thick West Virginia accents. On my first day, a kid asked me, "Eww aaaain from rounyear, arrya?" He had to repeat it a few times before I understood what he meant. It was very intimidating. This was the second time we'd moved, and I made friends easily before. So, I plastered on my biggest smile and did my best to be friendly to everyone I met.

The first week was blur. I think they didn't know what to do with me. I was different, and after the novelty wore off, I was labeled as "not one of them" and ostracized. After a while, I was able to make friends with one girl from my neighborhood. We rode the bus together and she was nice, but very, very shy. We were both "nerds," so we had that in common.

Over the next few years, I was ridiculed, had my belongings stolen right in front of teachers who did nothing to help, was shoved into lockers, tripped in the halls, harassed in the bathroom, and worst of all for a preteen girl, publicly humiliated when I started my first menstrual cycle at school. (As if that's not traumatic enough on its own. Right?)

People handle being bullied very differently. Talking with my friend, Josette, she mentioned that being bullied caused her to lash out at other people, hurting them before they could hurt her. Other people will recoil and withdraw, pretending that nothing is wrong or shutting out people who want to help. Many parents never know that their child is being bullied because fear or humiliation keeps the child from talking about it.

In my case, I became a people pleaser. I wanted so badly to be accepted, as all humans do. I wanted the torment to stop. No matter what the kids at school did to me, I just kept smiling and pretending that it didn't matter to me. I'd laugh at their jokes about me, and pretend to like the very people who made my life a nightmare. When the other kids finally stopped picking on me so much, we moved away again. Even though I was miserable almost every day in West Virginia, I was so scared that moving to a new location was going be the same nightmare all over again.

We moved from West Virginia to Virginia, where the amount of military bases makes newcomers a very normal occurrence. I was instantly accepted and had no issues with being an outsider. After a week in my new school, I realized how truly horrible my previous school had been. I compare it to having Stockholm Syndrome. You get used to the hatred and meanness and start to think that's normal ... that being treated with respect and kindness is something to be skeptical of.

You see, anytime my classmates in West Virginia were really nice to me, it was because they were planning some practical joke or they wanted something from me. That kind of damage lingers. I still have moments when I question people's motives if they are really nice to me.

Moving to Virginia really helped, but even though I was removed from the daily anxiety I experienced in West Virginia, it wasn't removed from me. I was constantly worried about saying or doing something that would make my new classmates turn on me. So, I did everything I could to fit in. "Be agreeable" was my new motto. And, it was a very long time before I started feeling comfortable expressing my own opinions again.

Flash forward to twenty years later. I'm a lot more confident in my own skin. I know who I am. I know what I like and what I don't like. And, I'm not afraid disagree with my friends. But, I still want to make everyone happy, and will sacrifice my own comfort to do it. Maybe that's just who I am and who I would have been without being bullied as a kid. When someone pitches a fit about something, I still do my best to compromise and accommodate them ... even if they are being completely irrational or inconsiderate of others.

The effects of being bullied are still there. They are still lurking in my subconscious, along with my insecurities and that weird recurring dream about not being able to fly even though I know that I can. [Enter your R. Kelly jokes here.]

All I can say is that you never really "get over" being bullied. It's something that sticks with you forever. But, you can own the effect it had on you and turn it into a life lesson. Being bullied has made me more open to compromise. I'm not so "my way or the highway" that I won't listen to the needs of others. On top of that, being bullied has made it much easier for me to recognize the bullies in everyday adult life and keep them at arm's length.

Were you bullied as a kid, or later in life? How did you get over it? How has it changed you?
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Let's Talk About ALS



For the past two weeks, a new craze has been sweeping the nation. People are taking large buckets of ice water and dumping them on their heads. Why would they do such a thing? Are they too hot? Is the severe drought in California over, and we're celebrating in the most wasteful way we know how? 

No. Apparently people are dumping buckets of ice water over their head to promote awareness for ALS. 

I sure do know what a lot of people would look like in a wet t-shirt contest (Including my dad. Traumatizing.), but do you know what I don't know a lot about? ALS. Like, what does that even stand for? Awesome Lentil Soup? (Just kidding. Lentil soup is never awesome.)

I'm not here to criticize the challenge, so untwist those panties. It's raised over $15 million in donations for the ALS Association, and I think that's just swell. Besides, it's not like the stupid Facebook game where people post ridiculous phrases in the name of "promoting" breast cancer awareness. (News flash: It's not promoting any kind of awareness if people don't know what the f**k you're talking about.)

All I want to do is tell you what ALS actually is and what you're supporting. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say the majority of the people doing the ice bucket challenge couldn't tell me one thing about ALS. A lot of them don't even tell you how to donate or where to donate or any useful information at all. Except for the Foo Fighters. They did it right.

Since I'm not going to dump ice water on my head, and I'm too poor to donate, here's my contribution to the cause: Educating the masses. 

Here's the most basic, dumbed-down way I can think of how to explain it:

ALS stands for: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Try saying that three times fast. That should be the real challenge. Say amyotrophic lateral sclerosis three times fast and if you can't, donate $100 to the ALS Association. Everyone would have to donate. EVERYONE.)

It's also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease" after the famed Yankees baseball player who contracted the disease and died from it just days before his 38th birthday in 1941.

What ALS does to the body: 
ALS affects the body's nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Basically, these cells start to degenerate over time and fail to send impulses to the muscles, resulting in loss of movement.The muscles start to atrophy from lack of use, and the spine starts to scar and harden in the areas where the nerve cells are located. Once those cells degenerate to the point of cellular death, the brain can no longer control muscle movement, and in the late stages of ALS, patients can become completely paralyzed.

Although people with ALS lose muscle control, they don't lose their cognitive abilities. Case in point: Stephen Hawking. That guy is super smart. Like, way smarter than the rest of us. People with ALS also usually retain their sense of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. So don't talk down to them like they're dumb, or shout like they're deaf or something. You'll just look like an ass, and they'll probably make fun of you to their friends later. I know I would. 

ALS can affect anyone. ANYONE in any part of the world. And although the disease is most common among older adults between the ages of 60 and 69, younger people can contract it too. The guy credited with starting the ice bucket challenge is only 29 years old, and he was diagnosed two years ago in 2012. 

Scientists still don't know what causes ALS, and as of right now, there's no cure. It's imperative a cure is found soon since most people don't live more than five years after being diagnosed. 

I think it's wonderful when people want to bring knowledge of little-known situations to those of us living in our own self-absorbed bubble. A week ago, I didn't really think about ALS. Now, I can't go two minutes without someone posting their own ice bucket challenge video, reminding me that there are people who live with this degenerative disease every day. I hope the money that's being raised finds a cure real soon for those living with ALS now and for those who will be diagnosed in the future. 

I also hope that if you're participating in the challenge, you're educating yourself about ALS. Otherwise, you're just jumping on a bandwagon for the thrill of getting Facebook likes and attention, and well, that's just shitty. 

For more information about ALS, you can visit the ALS Association website and even donate without dumping water on your head. And if you DO do the challenge (ha! doo doo!), maybe put some helpful information in your video to help spread the word. At the very least, be grateful that you're healthy and that your nerve cells are firing well enough to control the muscles in your arms to lift that bucket over your head. 

It's just a thought.

What do you think about the ice bucket challenge? Have you done it? 
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Coping With Grief and Depression


When Robin Williams died the world got a little darker. The angry, combative, one-track minds on the interwebs are quick to remind us that the world is full of "more important" matters. Darker subjects like war, social injustice and political sagas should take precedence over a celebrity death.

How stupid of me! I wasn't aware that humans are only allowed to feel one emotion at a time or think about one topic at a time. My apologies for breaking the law of social commentary and focusing on something important while another important event is happening. (If you didn't catch it, that was sarcasm.)

There is one emotion that is common to all the subjects the interwebs dictate we should be discussing right now: grief. War, social injustice, political turmoil, a second Kimye baby. All these things are cause for immense anguish and grief, and coping with that grief can be overwhelming for some.

In Robin Williams' case, and so many others who are weighed down by depression, sometimes it feels like there is no way out. A while ago, Delayna wrote about her battle with depression and suicide. She is 100 percent right. Depression lies. When you're fighting your own inner demons, your mind plays tricks on you. But, you have the power to fight back.

Surround yourself with good vibes.

Make sure the people in your world are positive and supportive. We've written pretty extensively about ejecting negative influences from your world, and we mean it. Life is hard enough without other people adding to your problems.

You also need to challenge that voice in your head. When I screw up, I'm quick to call myself names. I'm so stupid. I'm such a failure. I'll never be good enough. Bump that! When those thoughts pop up, as they frequently do, tell that voice to shut up. It's your voice in your head, so change it. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on what you're doing right or the lesson you learned.

Push yourself to get out there.

When you're depressed or grief-stricken, the last thing you probably want to do is get out and be social. Your bed or couch can feel like the safest and most comfortable spot to be. Though a little alone time can help some cope with loss, it's important to get out there and talk to people. When you're alone, it's easy to think that your problems are the only ones that exist. If you don't feel like talking, that's fine. But, getting together with friends or family members will help remind you that the world is full of people with complex lives and problems of their own. Getting out regularly may help you keep your own problems in perspective. On top of that, if you've been getting out of house regularly, when you're ready to talk about your problems, the conversation will feel more organic and less contrived.

Make healthy choices.

To quote "Legally Blonde" (sorry I'm not sorry), "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands. They just don't." This is the gospel according to Elle Woods. Praise to you, St. Elle Woods. Don't knock this sacred advice. Living a healthy lifestyle is proven to help with grief and depression. Set aside time to exercise at least three times a week. Take a walk when you're feeling down. And, try to eat as healthy as possible. You'll be amazed what these changes can do for your outlook and self-esteem.

Ask for help.

Asking for help is never—I repeat—NEVER a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of. We all need help sometimes. Even the most annoyingly, picture-perfect people need help. Those "have it all together" types may appear to lead a "#blessed" life, but in reality, they are just better at hiding their doubts and insecurities.

So, when your grief and depression is so overwhelming that you just don't know what do to, tell someone. They won't think you're weak. (And if they do, they're an asshole.) Anyone with a heart will think you're brave for bearing your soul and taking steps to get the help you need. People who do this deserve a medal.

I was scared to ask for help when I needed it. I thought it meant I was admitting defeat. I was an idiot. (But I learned my lesson, and I know better now. See how I just changed that negative voice?)

Be smarter than I was. Be braver than I was. Ask for help when you need it.

If you or someone you know is in a crisis and needs help now, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.


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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Go Fund Yourself

It seems that lately my Twitter and Facebook feeds have been blowing up with people asking for money. Independent movies need backing! Medical bills need to be paid! Shoes need to be bought! (I made that last one up, but I'm sure it exists somewhere.)

When people are bold enough to ask complete strangers to give up their hard-earned dolla dolla bills, I always check out the link. Not to donate money, silly! I'm way too poor for that. Just to see what these people are asking money for and to judge whether or not it's worthy. One link was from a person I've followed on Twitter for a while. She broke her neck and found out she has a tumor on her spine. So scary! If I had money, I would totally donate to help her out.

Soon after I saw that GoFundMe, another Twitterer started tweeting about their GoFundMe. This person needed money because they were having financial difficulties due to a medical reason too. As I read through the whole "woe is me" spiel, something seemed...off to me. My lie-y sense started buzzing. (That's like spidey sense, only -- you get it.) I started inspecting things a little more closely. The person said they had lost their writing gig on a TV show due to their illness, but a quick IMDB search showed no writing credits. The resume they posted on IMDB listed an address that doesn't exist, and said they were represented by a person who, after a Google search, turned out to be fictional character. Hmmm...

The person who created the GoFundMe page had a Facebook page, but their only posts were about the person they created the GoFundMe page for. Also, one of the two pictures was stolen. (And who only has two photos?!) These inconsistencies led me to believe this Twitter person was not to be trusted, and their claims of needing money for their illness was a crock of bull. I unfollowed them.



Look, I get you need money. We all do. But don't lie about why. Be honest! And if you're going to give money to someone asking for it, please do your research! I know you want to give people the benefit of the doubt, but not everyone is as awesome as you. There are horrible people who like to take advantage of your generous, unquestioning nature. 

To show you an example of an honest GoFundMe page, I made my own! You can find it here, complete with rewards and everything! If you're not like me and won't click on the link, here's what it says: 

Hi there. Are you looking to fund a noble cause to feel better about yourself? Well, then you've come to the wrong place because this is not it. 

This is a place to make me feel better about MYSELF. Me. Not you. Get you right out of your head and replace it with me.

I need money, y'all. I'm going through a real hard time right now. I'm suffering from a condition called, "not having everything I want." It's really, really sad that in this day and age, a woman can't have every material thing she desires. What's a girl to do? Find a pathetic, gullible man to pay for everything? Get a second job?


Get real! Those things take work! Something I'm not willing to do which is obviously why I created this page! 

I want to live a more luxurious life. One that includes trips to Whole Foods in a brand new Hyundai Sonata. I want to travel to exotic places like the other side of town and Europe. I should be eatin' acai bowls e'ry day, y'all. E'ry. Day. 

Your money will give me what I really want in life: Money. 

Your generosity is appreciated, but mostly expected. You're welcome. 
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Friday, August 1, 2014

Stop Asking for "Pics"


Most girls raised on Disney movies and rom-coms grew up imagining a handsome, prince-like guy who would treat her like a princess (or at least an equal) and sweep her off her feet for the long-term commitment of her choice. *sigh* It's a lovely dream. But, nowadays, the story goes a little different.

Boy meets girl, generally over some seedy social media platform like Twitter, Tumblr or Tinder. Boy and girl share an exciting, albeit brief, series of messages before the relationship gets serious. And by serious, I mean that the boy asks the girl to "send a pic."

Ah, yes. The mark of true intimacy. Sending some random stranger a picture of you. Sure, it starts off innocent enough: clothed pictures at Starbucks or while you're out with friends, featuring nothing but the best angles of your cleavage and sad kitten eyes, of course. But, after several innocent pictures are sent and their corresponding "ur so hot" compliments are received, things get a little weird.

That's when the request for nude "pics" comes into play. I don't care how much you like someone, this always feels cheap and degrading. (Hey, maybe feeling objectified is your thing. Maybe being a puppet for someone else is what you're into. If it is, go for it!) Don't get me wrong, sending pictures to your committed significant other is different. You know them. You've been on dates with them. Maybe you've even had the sexy time with them. I'm talking about the pic request from that guy on the Internet who you've never physically met before. (Ew.)

Maybe I lack the wrinkle in my brain that females like Miley Cyrus have. You know, the one where they trick themselves into thinking that nudity equates to empowerment. I guess my brain is too full of the wrinkles that tell me to better my mind, body and soul and forget about using flesh to get attention, validation and acceptance. I guess I learned a long time ago that there is much more to me than my lovely lady lumps.

With all those "Miley" types of females out there, it's easy to see why guys have the impression that it's acceptable to ask for naked pics after a few interactions. They see girls posting half-naked pictures all the time. Guys probably think that if they ask nicely, women will gladly fork over one of the many nudes they undoubtedly have in their camera roll. (You know, the ones from all those naked tickle parties we have. Ugh.)

"Hey! There's no harm in asking." - Dudes everywhere.

Yes. Yes, there is. Picture this, dudes. You're chatting up some girl about sexy stuff. You're exchanging intimate details about things you like, don't like, dream about, etc. It's getting hot. Then ... BOOM! She asks you to cough up details about that time you fantasized about your cute cousin or putting peanut butter on your junk and getting freaky with Fido (because, everyone has that one gross fantasy that they'd never tell anyone about). Instant icky feeling. That's forced intimacy. That's what it feels like when you ask a girl for a nude picture when you don't even know her and have no physical relationship with her.

Aside from that disgusting, forced-intimacy feeling, when a guy steps over the line and asks a lady for a pic, he makes her feel small and objectified. Like her only worth to him is dependent on his assessment of her appearance. Like the time you spent getting to know her was just a ruse.

Let me help you here, guys. Women want to feel adored. We want people, not just our romantic interest, to admire us for all of our features combined, not just our physical ones. We want to know that you think we are not only pretty, but also smart, funny, talented, strong, graceful, etc.

Why did he have to ask for a pic? WHY?
And, it goes both ways. We want a guy that we can admire for all of those reasons too. So, when you ask for a pic, you aren't giving us much to admire. For most ladies, asking for a pic is the erectile dysfunction of electronic communication. Bye-bye, lady boner. All that chemistry we just felt for you just got hit with a fire hose. 

If you're that hard up to look at naked people, turn that "SafeSearch" off and Google away.

So, just stop asking for pics. OK? It makes you look desperate. And, no one likes desperate. When a woman wants you to see her naked, trust me, you won't have to ask.
Read more ...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Suggestions for Introverts in Social Situations



This past Saturday, Jennifer and I descended on San Diego, California to take part in the ultimate fangirl experience: Comic-Con. It was amazing and wonderful and sweaty. (So much sweat was sweated.) I'm sure we will discuss its epicness for years to come.

But initially, I was worried it wouldn't be epic. I worried that I would allow my introverted tendencies to ruin the whole experience. A massive mob of annoying people? Waiting in long lines? No alone time for hours on end? This is basically my worst nightmare. (This and floating around in space like in the movie "Gravity." Funk that.) Not only that, Jennifer was staying with me in L.A. which meant even less alone time.

All socializing and no solitary confinement make Delayna a biiiiiitch.

Not wanting to ruin a friendship of nearly 15 years because I'm anti-social, I took steps to ensure I wouldn't lose my shit during the weekend of awesome.

Be honest.
This is something I've started to employ more and more so people don't think I hate them. I don't hate people. I just hate being around them for long periods of time. It's exhausting. Thankfully Jennifer is also an introvert and totally gets it.


But maybe you don't have cool friends like I do. Maybe your friends are all, "Um, why would you rather sit at home eating pizza and binge-watching 'Call the Midwife' when you could be going to da club with us?" 

That's when you gotta break it down for people: "I don't like 'da club.' I will spend every minute beforehand wishing for cramps or food poisoning or a car accident just so I can have a viable excuse not to come. In the event none of those things occur, I will stress out trying to think of a somewhat believable lie to get out of it. If I fail to do so and somehow end up at 'da club,' I will spend the entire 45 minutes I'm there looking at my phone while every molecule of my body screams, 'GET OUT OF HERE.' I equate 'da club' with medieval torture." 

Hopefully your friends understand and only invite you to low-key, low-maintenance things like brunch or the movies. (Although for me, going to the movies is pretty tortuous. Let's just do brunch.) 

Mentally prepare yourself and embrace the chaos. 
If you're extremely introverted like myself, chances are you have to mentally prepare for even the smallest of outings. Like getting the mail. Big outings, like going to a Hollywood Bowl event, aren't even on your radar because attempting such a feat is laughable.


But say you're going to Comic-Con or on vacation with a bunch of people. Mentally preparing is essential for ensuring a good time is had. Not just by you, but everyone around you. Make sure to get copious amounts of alone time beforehand if you can so you're a ray of sunshine during the event. 

Accept the fact there are going to be people in your space and that you'll have to talk to them. Staying in the moment really helps. (That means don't fantasize about your couch or think about the "Doctor Who" marathon happening on BBC America.) Find something about the moment you enjoy, and be grateful for the small miracles. A little gratitude goes a long way. (For everything in life. Remember that.) Jennifer and I had so many small, kismet moments happen for us that pushing through the large, never-ending crowds, and being hot and sweaty didn't seem like such a big deal. 

Have a post-socializing plan. 
You did it! You made it through a social event! Time to employ your post-socializing plan. Cue up your favorite show on TV, order the pizza, and get comfy on the couch. Let people know you will not be available during your "OMG, I had to be around people, and now I get to be all alone. Hooray!" time. Remembering that you'll be rewarded with time by yourself will help you get through the socializing bullshit that people think is important for being a well-rounded individual. Embrace this moment. You deserve it.

SpongeBob knows what's up.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How to Rock Being Single


Let me just brag about the one thing I'm good at. I'm an expert at being single. Solo. All alone. Plus zero. Captain of the couch. Ruler of the remote. Poops with the bathroom door open. That weird girl and her dog. So, when it comes to dishing out advice about being single, I'm an authority. Ya dig?

My last relationship was in December 2010. In 2009, I had just emerged from the big "D" and I don't mean Dallas or that other "D" the Internet loves to talk about. I dated a guy for six months who managed to screw me up worse than my marriage. (Some people have a gift.) So, yeah. It took a while to even think about dating after that. Not that I wasn't tempted by the random hottie (or in my case, the random awkward nerd). But, I resisted. I stayed single for many reasons.

And, you know what? It's been franking awesome!

Being single is the absolute best way to come face to face with yourself. Your flaws. Your fears. But, best of all, your strengths. If you get the chance, I highly recommend rocking the single life for a solid year. And, here's why.

You'll figure out who you are.

People get lost in a relationship. You get so caught up in the "we" that you forget about the "me." That's great when both sides of the "we" support each other. Couples tend to have shared interests, but sometimes it's just a compromise for one person. Maybe you love to party, but your sweetie is a homebody. Or, you love Nascar, but your sugarpie would rather have a root canal. Being single is a great time to find out what makes you tick when you aren't supporting someone else. What do you enjoy?

Rock It Goal: Make of list of things you've been meaning to do. Now that you have the time, focus on getting them done. You won't be thinking about being alone, and you'll be happy you're spending more time on a hobby or interest you've been neglecting.

You'll figure out what you want/don't want. 

Have you ever seen "Runaway Bride"? I know. I'm ashamed to say that I've watched it multiple times. Anyway, Julia Robert's character runs away from the alter numerous times because she's always trying to wrap her life around a man's and never figures out what she wants from a relationship. Being single is the perfect time to figure out what you want in a relationship. What did you like about your last one? What didn't you like? What do you expect from a significant other? Now is the time to really analyze what you want without someone else influencing your decision.

Rock It Goal: Make a list of all the things you want from a relationship. Sometimes it helps to think of what you don't want first and go from there. Then—brace yourselffocus on fulfilling your own needs. Don't be dependent on having someone around to do things for you. If you want your partner to be handy around the house, learn how to fix some things on your own. If you don't know how to boil water, take a cooking class. You won't believe how a little independence will boost your self-confidence and make you realize that relationships don't complete you, they enhance you.

You'll get over it. 

Don't date until you stop seeing red. You may think you're over it, but one text or email from that person can send you on a frothing, cuss-filled rampage. It's not cool to burden someone else with your baggage. You have to unpack that dirty laundry before you can take a romantic trip with someone else. (How's that for an analogy only Dr. Phil could love?)

Rock It Goal: Get therapy. Learn to let it go. Forgive the other person, and forgive yourself. This is your chance to exorcise your dating demons. Don't cheat yourself out of the time you need to really move on.

You'll make new, different memories.

Fill the void with substance, not sex. It's tempting to hop from bed to bed seeking someone to fill the empty spot left by the one before. But, that will just make you feel even worse. Most people claim to be in control and that they're "just having a good time." However, all that meaningless sex usually ends up making people feel even more lonely and dirty. (And, not dirty in a good way.) As time goes on, you'll realize the only memories you're making are filled with all the wrong people.

Rock It Goal: Try new things that don't involve romance! Take a trip with a friend. Do something outside of your comfort zone. Spend more time with your family. Challenge yourself at work. Forget about finding someone new. Focus on finding you!

You'll have fun!

Even if you're not like me, happy as a one-woman wolf pack, don't spend you time focusing on finding the next plus one. Yeah, you're single. But, trust me, it is going to be OK. You will survive. You do NOT need someone else to be happy. You really don't. And, the more you focus on what you don't have, the more miserable you'll be. You know what grandma always used to say, "It will happen when you least expect it."

Rock It Goal: Just follow Rihanna's advice and "Live ya life ... HeyAyAyAyAyAyyyy!"

Got any single tips? Leave 'em below!
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Friday, July 18, 2014

How to Deal With Rejection

There are three things I know for sure: 1) Everybody poops; 2) Cheese bagels are the most delicious;
and 3) Rejection is inevitable.

Unless you go through life doing nothing, literally nothing, you're going to be rejected a few times. Whether it's asking that cute guy/girl out on a date, or applying for a job you really, really want, or writing a blog post that you hope everyone enjoys reading, rejection is standing right next to you, ready to dance a jig of joy on the grave of your dashed hopes and dreams. Jerk.

It's enough to make someone never put themselves out there. That shit hurts. But not putting yourself out there hurts more because you pretty much end up being a lame coward who never leaves the apartment. And then one day, you'll die, but since you were lame and never made any friends or anything, people won't know until your body starts to smell from the decomposition, and your corpse will be found with cats eating your face off. I mean ... who wants that?

Having the tools to deal with rejection in a healthy way gives you the power to gather yourself up and put yourself out there again and again. (And when Rejection tries to dance that jig of joy, you can roll your eyes, and walk away. No joy for you, Rejection!)

Don't take it personally. 
This is probably the most important thing to remember when someone rejects you or your ideas: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. Seriously. I get you're the star in your life, but to everyone else, you're a bit player. Sometimes you're someone's co-star, but most of the time, you're an extra. People see the world through their own realities which aren't really concerned with your feelings because it's all about them. That girl you asked out who turned you down? It had nothing to do with you, and it doesn't mean all girls are bitches. Maybe she doesn't want to date anyone right now, or maybe you're just not her type. That doesn't mean you suck, it just means there's someone else out there who thinks you're perfect. So stop wasting time putting yourself down, or calling her names, and get on with your life.

Oh, you wrote a book and someone gave you a one star review on Amazon? So what? Art is subjective. Not everyone is going to love what you write. If you want to make something that the entire world will adore, you won't make anything. Be proud of the fact you did something, and had the courage to put it out there for the world's enjoyment/disdain. As long as you're proud of it, that's all that matters.

Learn from it. 
It's all about perspective. You can either dwell in the negative (They didn't hire me. I suck. I'll never get a job.), or use every opportunity as a lesson to improve yourself. If you went in for a job interview but didn't get hired, ask yourself if you did your absolute best. This is hard because you have to get real honest with yourself. Don't victimize yourself in the situation. (The room was too cold. The guy didn't look at me. Nothing is my fault. OMG, shut up.) Were you well-prepared? Did you answer questions confidently or stammer through them? If you can, ask the interviewer what they thought you could have done better. Sometimes it's just a matter of you not being a good fit. Think of this as good practice for the next one. Either way, shake it off and believe that a better opportunity is out there waiting for you.

Do something you enjoy. 
Rejection is always going to sting. And the more emotionally invested you are, the bigger the ouch. Even though you may be feeling awful and disgusting and undesirable, you should do something that brings you real joy. Maybe that's re-watching old episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" while eating your favorite pizza, or getting together with your besties who are fantastic at finding the humor in any situation, or going on a nice hike or getting a professional massage. Whatever it is, now's the time to do it. Get yourself back on track and realize that life isn't over because of this one little setback. It keeps going, so you may as well enjoy it.

What you shouldn't do. 
First of all, don't go on social media and throw a temper tantrum. Nobody likes that. You may think it'll get you sympathy, but most people will see you as whiny and crazy and will delight in the feeling of schadenfreude you give them. (Thanks for that.) Post a cat video instead. Everyone agrees those are the best.

Don't let it determine your future. If you decide you're a loser, then it's like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You'll be setting yourself up for disaster every time which will create a cycle of suckage which will then probably create a black hole which will then destroy the world. Please don't do that.

You can bounce back from rejection. As long as you're doing your best, forget the rest. (P90X-ers know what I'm talking about.) When Rejection tries to knock you down, keep getting up because one day it's going to go your way. One day, you'll get to dance a jig of joy on Rejection's grave. That special person will say yes, you'll get that dream job, you'll rule the world! (After me. I'm going to rule the world first.)

What was your worst rejection experience? How did you deal with it? 
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to NOT be a Complete Asshole



“Weird Al” Yankovic released two new parody videos from his new album "Mandatory Fun," and there is a clear theme: People are ignorant and tacky. Of course, part of Al's charm is that he delivers this message in such a hilarious way that the guilty parties have to laugh at their own horrendous behavior. His newest release, is "Word Crimes," a parody of Robin Thicke's song "Blurred Lines." (It's wonderful. A must-see for all the writers and grammar junkies out there.) Al's other video, "Tacky," left me gently caressing my computer screen as fondly as I would touch Ryan Reynold's abdomen while whispering, "Thank you so much." "Tacky" is a parody of Parody of Pharrell's "Happy" and highlights a variety of ways that people are ... well ... tacky.

Some of the more crass examples in "Tacky" include:
  • Making other people pay for things
  • Never letting someone forget a favor you did for them
  • Name dropping
  • Threatening to write a bad Yelp review
  • Live tweeting a funeral, taking selfies with the deceased
  • Getting bitten by a zombie and not telling anyone (So wrong!)

Combine these two new videos with another song from his album, "First World Problems" and it seems like even Al is noticing a rise in obnoxious behavior lately. (Or, maybe I'm just projecting.) But, I think Al is putting it mildly. In fact, I'd say that there's a huge rise in the number of assholes out there. Think I'm being too harsh? Hear me out.

Many things could make you an asshole for a few minutes. You cut off someone in traffic. You entered a bathroom with multiple empty stalls then used the one right next to the only person in there. You waited until your little sister left the room, then took her spot on the couch and changed the channel. (You know who you are!) Thankfully, most people return to being a generally nice human being after their brief lapse in decorum.

However, some bad deeds are indicators of a deep-seated, asshole personality complex. (See also: Kanyeast Infection.) In order to achieve full asshole status, a person would need to embody one or more of the following characteristics. 

Entitled

Want to know the difference between someone with class and an entitled asshole? A classy person may believe they deserve better, but they'll never openly complain about it. An entitled asshole will air their complaints and drama for all the world to see, never realizing that it makes them look like a complete screeching jackass.

"A Grandmaster doesn’t say he’s a Grandmaster.
Other people say it for him."
(Photo courtesy of Humans of New York.)
Have you heard about Humans of New York? It's a wonderful website that features photos of people in New York combined with thought-provoking quotes from the subject. This picture (to the right) popped up on my feed the other day, and it really struck a chord.

Someone should tell Kanye about the whole "let other people say you're great" thing.

More to the point, we are all made of the same stuff. According to Neil deGrasse Tyson, we are all made up of the same material used to create the universe. (How freaking cool is that?) Some people may make more money, have more power, or look more visually pleasing than others, but that does not make them more entitled to any special treatment. There are actual, real-life heroes who have earned the right to a little special treatment who are far more humble and gracious than most materialistic, elitist social climbers.

So, stop being an asshole and realize that nothing in life is guaranteed. You may believe that you deserve better, but that doesn't mean that it's going to happen. 

Self-centered

We are all self-centered to an extent. It's human nature. A sort of innate survival mechanism. We have to look out for numero uno. But, aren't we better than animals? I mean, that's why humans are supposed to have more advanced brains, right? So, when you hijack plans, make decisions that inconvenience others, or bully everyone into submission, you are making a conscious choice to be a self-centered asshole. Don't do that. No one likes that.

Lacking Empathy 

Speaking of being self-centered, there is a whole subset of self-centered assholes who also lack the ability to empathize with other people. They are completely incapable of seeing how their actions affect others and then imagining how they would feel if someone behaved the same way towards them.

You know? Like that time that Darth Vader tells Luke, "I am your father," and then tries to convince Luke to join him in murdering the Emperor. Did Darth Vader really think that Luke was going to say, "Wait ... you're my father? That changes everything. I'm totally evil now. Bump the rebellion! Let's be evil dictators together!" Serious lack of empathy there, Asshole Vader.

Ungrateful

I'm going to be brutally honest here. Stop complaining about every little thing that goes wrong in your life. No one cares. Not even your mom. You want to know why? We all have problems. Some bigger than others. Your cold meal may seem like a big deal to you, but to many, many others, it just sounds like another "first world problem." Be grateful you can afford to eat out. Be grateful that you have food in your belly at all. And, like Al suggested, don't threaten the waiter with a bad Yelp review. That's what assholes do.

Lacking Perspective

As the old saying goes, "Shit happens." But, that shit doesn't have to rule your life. In the moment, when the DVR ate your recording of "Real Housewives of Vapidville," you may be tempted to throw your Cabernet Sauvignon at your 42-inch plasma TV and send a scathing tweet to your local high-speed internet and cable provider about how your evening is completely ruined. Don't. Just don't. You're about to look like a raging asshole. Trust me. I'm just trying to help.

There are times when taking your issues to social media to complain about a product or service is warranted. Maybe you want to make sure others know about bad business practices so that they can be informed consumers. Very thoughtful! But, maybe you should give the company a chance to fix your problem before you go all drunk Reese Witherspoon on them. "Do you know my name?!"

A while back, my friend and co-author of this site, Delayna, had a situation that warranted social shaming. I won't go into the details, but as it turns out, she wasn't the only one with the same complaint. And, guess what? That company is now going out of business. Queen Karma rules!

So, the next time life hands you a lemon, try to gain a little perspective. 

Couldn't buy backstage passes to see your favorite band? At least you still got to see the show. Significant other flaked on your anniversary? Think about all the times they don't flub up. Favorite piece of gym equipment is being hogged by some sweat-covered guy with shoulder hair? At least you aren't married to him!

Don't be an asshole. Remember ... It can always be worse!
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Friday, July 11, 2014

5 Self-Help Books That Will Change Your Life


I love self-help books. It all started when the goddess that is Oprah recommended "A New Earth" as one of her book club selections. Since then, I've actively sought and devoured any book that promises to change my life in some way. Self-help books aren't for everyone. Some people are just born enlightened, and that's great. Weird, but great! However, some people, like me, need it spelled out in black and white. Which is why I read all these books (and then some). These are the ones that resonated the most with me. I think because in all these books the authors each struggled to get through their own personal Hell, and when they came out the other side, they had learned universal truths that we should all recognize in order to live a happier life and they wanted to share them. It's possible to shift your perspective. If you're willing to learn.

"A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle 
If you're gonna take the plunge into the self-help book world, I suggest starting with the best. This was the one I started with, and it completely changed my life. With words of wisdom like:

"Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don't be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are." 

Basically what Tolle is trying to teach us is that we aren't the constant babbling voice in our head. We're the silence surrounding that voice. You need to make a habit of telling that bitchy, whiny ego voice to: 


I'm sure some of you are saying, "Of course I'm that voice. What else would I be?" You just ARE. Duh. That voice is just telling you a story it made up to suit its needs. You don't have to believe it. You don't even have to listen. When you start to ignore the ego, it has an epic bitch fit. It takes practice to let go. And if you're like me, you'll even fall off the wagon. (Easy to do when you live in L.A.) But that shift in perspective is worth it. You'll feel lighter and more at peace than you ever have. Read the book. ("The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle is also wonderful. Read that one too.) 

"The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz
If you're short on time and want the CliffsNotes to enlightenment, "The Four Agreements" is a good place to start. It's only 100 pages. Still too much? Fine. I'll just tell you the four agreements you should abide by for a better life. 
  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word 
  2. Don't Take Anything Personally
  3. Don't Make Assumptions
  4. Always Do Your Best
They sound simple, but they're difficult in reality. Gossiping, assuming the worst, getting easily offended and half-assing our way through the world is part of the human condition. Read the book and be better than that.

"The War of  Art" by Steven Pressfield
Steven Pressfield wrote "The Legend of Bagger Vance." I know! Super successful writer! But he only wrote that after struggling with writing, even becoming homeless at one point. "The War of Art" perfectly and succinctly explains why we struggle to "put our ass where our heart is." You wanna know why? 

Resistance. 

It doesn't matter if you're not a writer, this book will open your eyes as to why you aren't doing what you really want to be doing. (Although as a writer I was like, "OMG, you are talking to ME, aren't you?!") My absolute favorite quote from the book is: 

"Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within is. Between the two stands resistance." 

RIGHT?! It's so true! And it can refer to anything: writing, painting, losing weight, meditating, anything you feel is part of who you're meant to be. We resist it. This is also a quick read at only 163 pages, so do yourself a favor and download it to your reading device. 

"The Nerdist Way" by Chris Hardwick 
Do you prefer your self-help books to come with references to Harry Potter, Doctor Who, X-Men, Star Wars, Star Trek and other things that I hadn't heard of but knew if the Hardmeister was mentioning them, they were awesome? Then this is the book for you. If you don't know who Chris Hardwick is or are unfamiliar with any of the nerdtastic things I just mentioned...I mean...how are you even alive right now? 

Hardwick, in his smart, funny, adorable way, lays out how he changed his life, going from fat alcoholic to hot entrepreneur. There are chapters like, "RPG Your Life," "Doctor Xaviering Your Mind," and "Become an Evil Genius." It's straightforward and inspiring, not to mention nerdy as hell. All my favorite things! Read this book and you're guaranteed: 


"You Are a Badass" by Jen Sincero
In an effort to better myself, I downloaded this book from Audible so I could listen to it while driving to and from work. From the very moment the author, Sincero, started speaking, I knew this was the book I had been waiting for. She takes everything I've learned from the previous four I books I've mentioned, and puts it in a way that feels like she knows everything about me and my life and is trying to kick my ass into being the best me ever. F bombs are dropped on the regular and while she's a total hardass, she's funny too. I love it. I'm so enthralled while driving that I rarely call people the "c word" anymore. Even when they do something dumb like drive 20 miles per hour. It's amazing! What's more amazing is that I can feel my perspective shifting again which hasn't happened since I read "A New Earth." 

Maybe you still aren't convinced, and that's fine. Like I said, they aren't for everyone. But if you're feeling just a teensy bit like you aren't happy with yourself and would like to change but don't know where to start, it couldn't hurt to read at least one of these fabulous books. 

Do you read self-help books? Which one is your favorite? 
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