As Featured on News Cult: Why I Support Planned Parenthood

After the extremely maddening, unjust, horrific shooting that took place at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs on Friday, I think now is an especially important time for me and others to show their support for Planned Parenthood. I’ve always supported it and always will, as long as it continues to be what it has been and is—a safe, accessible place for everyone, regardless of gender, to receive affordable and necessary healthcare. Regarding Friday’s shooter, I’ll just say this: why is it, that when the attacker is a Muslim, he’s an “evil, radical Islamic terrorist,” and when the subject of police force is black, he’s killed before he gets to exercise his right to due process, but when the shooter is white, he’s a “mentally deranged lone wolf,” brought into custody alive, and no one presumes to know his motives until he has his day in court? That is the most fucked up, backwards, infuriating inconsistency in societal judgment and law enforcement that exists. It seems more than safe to say that Robert Lewis Dear, a man who’s been accused of and in some cases charged with rape, domestic violence, animal cruelty, and being a peeping tom, decided to put his hunting gear on and shoot up his local Planned Parenthood, killing three innocent people and wounding nine others, all in the name of “no more baby parts”—another completely illogical, sick display of hypocrisy, which was clearly influenced (some may even say brainwashed) by the far-right bigoted propaganda in the form of doctored videos that represent a completely false portrait of Planned Parenthood, and countless other slanderous, hate-filled, ignorant displays of fundamentalist intolerance by extremist conservatives.

To set the record straight, let’s start off with some facts about Planned Parenthood. It’s been a healthcare resource for men and women for 99 years. There are 8 million+ Planned Parenthood activists, supporters, and donors. 3/4 of Planned Parenthood’s clients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancies. 34% of all Planned Parenthood health services are contraceptive services. The estimated number of unintended pregnancies averted by Planned Parenthood contraceptive services each year is 584,000. 3% of all Planned Parenthood services are abortion services. The increase in male Planned Parenthood clients from 2000 to 2010 was 105%. Planned Parenthood provides nearly 5 million people worldwide with sexual and reproductive health care and education each year. 76% of Planned Parenthood clients are at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. 8 in 10 Planned Parenthood clients are 20 years of age and older. And 1,000,000 clients are served by Planned Parenthood-supported partners in 10 developing countries.

I support Planned Parenthood because all of those things, all of those facts, are good. I believe that everyone, regardless of age, race, socioeconomic standing, sexual orientation, creed, should have equal access to healthcare. Unfortunately, because of the overwhelming disparity in wealth in the United States and worldwide, and the incredibly high cost of healthcare in the U.S. especially, a lot of people don’t have access to healthcare. But everyone has access to Planned Parenthood. Even if they don’t have insurance, or can’t afford treatment. Planned Parenthood accepts and will care for everyone, regardless of potential compensation. People who refer to Planned Parenthood as “an abortion clinic,” are, simply, wrong. And while I’m happy to take the wind out of the crutch that is the “Planned Parenthood is bad because ABORTION” argument, I also want to make it clear that I support Planned Parenthood BECAUSE it provides abortions, among countless other vital healthcare services. Abortion is safe. Abortion is legal. Abortion is a choice that is made individually. I don’t care if you don’t like abortions—don’t get one. But you sure as shit don’t have the right to tell me I can’t get one.

Don’t try to argue that abortion is the same as murder. Murder is what the Colorado Springs shooter did to those three innocent people, each of whom had spouses and young children. And no one should be forced into parenthood, especially if they aren’t ready for it or don’t want it. I don’t care if you think sex is a sin, and don’t believe in birth control because of your antiquated, unnatural, suppressive beliefs that cause most of you to end up molesting little boys—then don’t have sex. But you have no right to tell me or anyone else that we’re not allowed to have sex, and, furthermore, enjoy it, without having to reproduce as a consequence. There are lots of scientific arguments for why people shouldn’t reproduce, not least of which is overpopulation, which is leading to the rapid environmental degradation of the planet—but how about, I JUST DON’T WANT TO HAVE A KID, so I’m not fucking going to. Period.

Planned Parenthood is a safe haven from hyper-critical, imposing, overbearing attempts to control individual rights and freedoms. It provides non-judgmental, supportive healthcare for people in most need of it. It’s easy to step up onto a pedestal of moral superiority and cast shame upon people who don’t share your beliefs. It’s easy to operate from a place of violent power—which is what people who oppose Planned Parenthood to the point of voting to defund it on a federal level, and attacking its clinics, do. But despite all of those obstacles, Planned Parenthood fights every day to support everyone—whether that means providing a safe place to get an abortion, distributing free condoms, counseling patients on STDs, giving cancer screenings, or providing an affordable routine pap smear—no matter what. It’s a hell of a lot harder to fight against hate, and violence, and ignorance, than it is to perpetuate it—what Planned Parenthood does takes courage, and without it, so many of us would be lost. So I stand with them, and am not going to stop, despite acts aimed at terrorizing doctors who provide crucial, feasibly attainable healthcare and women who exercise their right to reproductive freedom.

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/support-planned-parenthood/

As Featured on News Cult: Why It’s OK to Fail

Failure is our middle name. It’s the one thing we’re successful at. And generally, we’re taught that failure is bad, and we should avoid it and be ashamed of it. But I actually think there isn’t anything that’s more human than failure; and that’s why we shouldn’t run away from it, but should accept it. Embrace it. Failure is a flaw, and more than anything else, humans are imperfect.

Imperfection is hard to come to terms with–I often find myself debating what the meaning of ‘imperfection’ even is. Like, is to be imperfect to unknowingly and unintentionally make mistakes and fail? And if so, is the caveat that you have to learn from those failures and not repeat them in order to maintain the title of “imperfect”? And if you don’t, you’re no longer imperfect, but, rather, malicious, or evil, or at the very least, intentionally “bad”? (In which case we’re SOL because we’re experts at making the same mistakes repeatedly). I don’t get it. But every time I find myself coming to the same confused lack of conclusion, I remind myself that maybe that’s the point–maybe not knowing is the point. Maybe not knowing is imperfection and imperfection is not knowing. Not knowing what to do, what is right and wrong, what is good and bad. But just going through it all regardless.

All this is to say that imperfection, including failure, is natural and a painfully inescapable part of the process of living. And maybe the less we fight against it, the less we’ll fail. Think about it–if you’re drowning, and kicking and desperately grasping, you lose strength and breath more quickly than if you try to remain calm and get your head above water. If you’re failing, stop resisting it so much, and you may find that good things follow. I hate to get all zen because I am by no means a calm person and generally get like Charlie Sheen bad when anyone tells me to calm down, but I kind of really believe that an accepting, serene approach to things is the way to live.

Not to mention that failure is a great way to build character. It’s such a cliché, but you learn so much from failing. Like I learned that physics is the Devil’s magic when I failed the test I spent endless hours studying for and totally thought I fully comprehended in my Advanced Physics class my junior year of high school. And when I got caught stealing a shot of my dad’s expensive whiskey when I was 15, I learned to always go for the vodka because you can more easily replace it with water. Or like when all of my relationships failed I learned to never date again and welcome the reality prospect of dying alone.

See, failing is super normal, nbd, and you really gain more from it than you lose. And also whose standards are we following anyways? Who decides what is success and what is failure? Like, my doctor and society at large may say I failed at my diet, but another possibility is that I succeeded at not losing weight. Or just because your state government says you have to pass standardized testing doesn’t mean you’re not smart enough if you don’t. Remember a little someone named Einstein who failed 4th grade? Or at least that’s what I’ve heard but haven’t actually fact checked? Need I say more? Ok I’ll say more: another great example is vision tests. 20/20 seems like an awfully subjective number to me..

The point is, it’s really OK to fail–whatever that means for you. Sure, there may be certain boundaries here. Like, maybe saying that you failed to not pull the trigger isn’t the best excuse to get you off the hook for shooting someone. But short of extreme cases like that, failure is subjective and fluid and uncertain and just the way it goes. So settle in, stop fighting it, and get ready to fail. A lot. And then fail some more. And then pass on your failure genes to your children, and your children’s children. Unless you fail to conceive. Which, like, isn’t really your fault except that you have weak sperm and/or a really hostile uterus and I don’t blame your nonexistent child, I wouldn’t want to spend 9 seconds, let alone 9 months, inside of you.

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/?p=69881

As Featured on News Cult: 25 Things It Took Me Until 25 to Learn

To say I’m a work in progress would be putting it kindly. I’m like somewhere in between present-day Amanda Bynes and Kristen Wiig throughout the majority of Bridesmaids. That said, I have learned some things in my 25 years–most of them painful lessons and things I will likely need to keep re-learning, but maybe I can save someone some heartache by sharing them. So, here goes.

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1. “Dachshund” is the correct spelling. Def thought it was “doxen,” and that “dachshund” was a different breed and pronounced how it LOOKS LIKE IT SHOULD BE.

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2. Don’t jump straight into the sack with men. 99.99% of the time, there is little to nothing in it for you, so really what’s the point.

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3. Zero fucks given.

4. Coffee is EVERYTHING.

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5. The importance of sleep.

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6. People are too busy thinking about themselves to be thinking negative things about you all the time.

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7. True friends are one in a million, and that’s ok.

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8. Time actually does heal all wounds, or at least makes them better.

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9. Patience, surprisingly, is more efficient than impatience.

10. “Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” is a real thing–it makes getting cowboy boots on sooo much easier.

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11. I don’t have to do everything my parents say.

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12. Laughter is my religion.

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13. Less is more when it comes to material possessions.

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14. Anxiety is an unnecessary hindrance.

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15. Binge-drinking usually leads to poor decision making and bad feelings.

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16. My opinions will change over time, even those I so staunchly believe in. (e.g. NEVER thought I would enjoy hiking or museums. Now I find each tolerable if not also sometimes kind of a little bit nice).

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17. The greatest teacher is experience, and that is irreplaceable, so even bad experiences are worth it in one way or another.

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18. What a pilot light is.

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19. I’m a terrible judge of character.

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20. Having thick, curly hair is a blessing.

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21. Having pasty skin is a blessing.

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22. It’s ok to take a break; not every waking moment has to be spent as a warrior.

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23. No one knows what they’re doing–not the Pope, not Britney Spears (please see 2007), not my parents, not your parents, not their parents, and not me.

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24. There’s no shame in being uncool.

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25. I have a shit ton more to learn.

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Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/25-things-took-25-learn/

As Featured on News Cult: 6 Quick Self-Esteem Boosters

If you’re like me, and kind of hate yourself, you could use a few pick-me-ups to add to your ‘Life Toolbox’ (don’t you despise when people say stuff like that?). I’m not going to be a hypocrite and yell jubilantly from the rooftops, “LOVE YOURSELF, YOU ARE AMAZING AND WONDERFUL!” because, if there’s one thing I hate, it’s motivational speaking, and I don’t think I should give advice I won’t take myself. BUT, in the interest of faking it ’til we make it, here are some quick ways to attempt to boost your self-esteem that maybe you can stomach, and, if you try consistently over time, will actually make you like yourself a little bit maybe.

1. Positive Mantras

Come up with a few nice statements about yourself, even if you don’t believe them (because you won’t), and dedicate yourself to repeating them 10 times a day. Some examples are: “I’m enough,” “I’m strong,” “I crack myself up,” “Everyone can suckadick,” etc.

2. Treat Yourself

I think we can ALL take a page out of Donna Meagle’s book (RIP, Parks and Recreation). Do something small for yourself that you truly enjoy–whether that’s making yourself a cup of tea, buying yourself flowers, watching an episode of your favorite TV show, getting a manicure, eating a piece of chocolate, making your favorite dinner dish, looking at photos from a great vacation, or spending time on a project you want to do, like putting makeup on, doing your own nail art, practicing an instrument, decorating your apartment, making a scrapbook if anyone still does those, etc. And be mindful in the moment while treating yourself so you can fully appreciate it. By doing something you enjoy, you give yourself the message that you deserve good things–you are worthy of them.

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3. Socialize

Yes, we also hate everyone else in addition to ourselves, but just try it–go out! Put yourself in a situation with people you like and admire, and who think highly of you. Soak in the good vibes of good company. When you are around people who like you, maybe that will rub off on you and you’ll start to see yourself through their eyes. And these aren’t people who HAVE to love you, like your mother, so you have less of a reason to discount their affection (unless you go out with your mother, which is very Lorelai & Rory of you and actually pretty cool).

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4. Volunteer

Sorry I’m not sorry for beating the Volunteer horse to death–really, nothing will make you feel better about yourself than helping others/the world. My mom has always told me that the only way to combat ‘bad’ is to do ‘good,’ and I would argue that self-hatred falls under the umbrella of ‘bad.’ So love yourself by loving others.

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5. Give your leftovers to homeless people

Much like #4, this is perhaps the easiest, quickest way to feel better about yourself. Any time you have leftovers after eating out, or if someone leaves food in the office kitchen, go find a homeless person to give it to. Plus, you’ll feel skinny since you won’t be eating the food, and there’s nothing like feeling skinny to make you feel good about yourself!

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6. List Your Accomplishments

Literally write them down–you have a great job, you don’t live in your parents’ basement, you change your Brita filter on time, you follow the “dishwasher/microwave safe” instructions on the bottom of your dishes, you woke up this morning, you aren’t addicted to meth, you do your own taxes, you’re not a homewrecker–whatever the case may be, acknowledge your successes, even if you think they are miniscule and insignificant. Soon enough, you’ll have a Biblical scroll-length document that shows just how fucking awesome you are.

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Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/5-quick-self-esteem-boosters/

As Featured on News Cult: Alternatives to Binging On Food

Whether you indulge in the occasional emotional-eating episode, or have a more serious eating disorder, it can be very difficult to stop binge eating in its tracks, or better yet, stop it before it even starts. The reason it’s so important to prevent binging is that once binging occurs, it’s then even harder to stop common post-binging compulsions– namely, purging, and the subsequent binging/purging cycle. So, here are some alternative behaviors to fall back on when the urge to binge hits–the idea being that they serve the same/similar purpose as binging, but without the same negative consequences. And, before you even engage in these, the very first step is to remove all trigger foods (foods you’re likely to binge on) from your home–this will make a world of difference, because if the food isn’t at your fingertips, you can’t binge on it.

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1. Drink Water

This is just a good thing to do generally in life, but when it comes to binging, drinking water can provide the same sense of fulfillment. Flavored, zero-calorie water is a great option, too–I would recommend Propel (peach and lemon are my favorite flavors).

2. Yoga Inversions

My go-to is a headstand, but if you don’t feel like trying that, you can do a simpler inversion, like just lying on your back and raising your pelvis off the floor, or any variation of bridge pose. Inversions, (like all yoga), distract you by engaging your body, and, in my experience, have a powerful head-clearing effect.

3. Take a Bath

Baths are so relaxing, plus, it’s hard to eat in the bath, so they’re a good obstacle to binging.

4. Write

Write anything–your feelings, stream of consciousness, a story, a poem, a diary, a song, the same word repeatedly–whatever. Just the act of writing is distracting, mentally engaging, and cathartic.

5. Dance, Walk, or Clean

Move your body–counteract the passivity inherent in binging with the activity inherent in physical movement. Express your pain and struggle through movement. Concentrate so hard on mopping the floor that you lose the energy to binge. Blast your favorite music, free your body and move until you’re too tired to move anymore.

6. Zentangles & Origami

My mom taught me to do zentangles and origami as coping mechanisms for anxiety–they require your concentration and therefore divert it from anxiety, or, in this case, the urge to binge. Basically, zentangles are just doodles. You can be more or less artistic as you please–you can create and rely on patterns, or just go wherever your pen takes you. And with origami, my go-to is cranes–it can be fun to set a target number of cranes to make, of various sizes, and plan to decorate with them, or give them away, etc. And the serene, peaceful symbolism behind them is an added bonus.

7. Consume zero-calorie products

If you must consume a food or beverage, have it be something that is slim-to-no calories, like a diet beverage, unsweetened tea, black coffee, gum, sugar-free candy or pickles (apparently the thin pickle slices are 0 calories, according to nutrition labels–this has always been the most confusing thing in my life, but I just employ a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, because, 0 calories? I’LL TAKE IT.)

8. Do something that gives the illusion of being self-destructive without actually being that

Binging has a lot to do with self-destruction, whether consciously or sub-consciously. So if you must do something self-destructive, try to do something more benign. For example, hold ice cubes or dunk your head in cold water. Of course, be careful not to actually hurt yourself, but, otherwise, these are relatively safe alternatives.

Write this list, or your own, somewhere you can see it at home–your bathroom mirror, your full length mirror, a note on your fridge, a decorative chalk board, wherever–so you’ll have a visual reminder of your options.

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/alternatives-binging-food/