friends

8 Awe-Inspiring Instagram Travel Accounts to Follow

Whether you’re heading overseas on a romantic trip for two or hitting the road with friends, what good is traveling if you can’t find a creative and fun way to share the experience with others? Today, social media has created a trusty and inspired haven through Instagram for users all over the world to share memorable moments on their every trip, while sparking an inspired wanderlust that drives our deepest desires to explore.

The travel category of Instagram can be a bit overwhelming for some as you spend hours sifting through thousands of accounts through destinations and users. But it’s an exciting feat to undertake as it encourages you to head out and dive into an unknown world while leaving your comfort zone for a purposeful existence. If you are in the mood for travel this chilly winter, check out eight of our favorite Instagram travel accounts to follow.

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Autism 101: Effective Ways to Help Your Child Communicate and Thrive

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One of the most humbling parts about my job is getting to know people through their profession. A little before New Year’s Eve, I had the pleasure of chatting with Christine Guth of the Asperger Autism Group of Goshen for an assignment on autism. As someone who was not very familiar with the developmental disability prior to this interview, I was really blown away by Guth’s knowledge. The community leader with more than 10 years of experience not only lends support to parents and their children on the autism spectrum, but is a remarkable individual whose very insight derives from being a mother to two children diagnosed on the autism spectrum, in addition to being the wife to her husband also on the spectrum.

She is a testament to good character and as someone who gained quite a bit of knowledge on the subject, it is evident how appreciated she is when helping parents and children prosper through this condition. While I have had my fair share of thoroughly researched articles that broaden the dialogue on awareness, this is definitely one of my favorites. I was very pleased to see how this particular piece turned out as Guth shared tips with Womanista readers this past January to help make life a bit easier at home.

Womanista | Autism 101: Effective Ways to Help Your Child Communicate and Thrive

If you have a child on the autism spectrum, you might find yourself wondering how to effectively improve their communication and life skills. While early intervention is the key in treating autism, a condition that affects one in 68 children in the U.S., it’s hard to prepare yourself for what’s to come if you’re unsure on how best to help them.
Described as a “developmental disability” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism causes substantial social, communication, and behavioral challenges, and is 4.5 times more common in boys than girls. But since the condition varies from person to person, it can be hard to get the “right” advice and relief. Thankfully, there are tried and tested tips to help make life easier thanks to support groups across the country.
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A Reminder

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Just going to keep this here as a reminder that waiting can be a blessing in hindsight. Whether it’s waiting for a heart to heal, a love to mend, a path to look clearer, a purpose to be understood—waiting often feels like torture and seems impossible to endure because we want things to happen on our own schedule. We have become such self-serving individuals that we don’t realize life doesn’t happen on our terms. God doesn’t operate on our schedules and expecting He will just hinders our faith in Him, ourselves and the circumstances that make up this world we create.

If Psalm 18:30 says God’s ways are “perfect,” then it’s essential to trust whatever happens because His timing is faultless. A lot of bad things happen and a lot of bad people get away with hurting others, but waiting can bring its own set of benefits for the pain caused or for the ones who have inflicted the pain. I know this because I have waited for a lot of things in life. And while God has blessed and showered me with good things, it’s hard some days to wonder about that little organ that is the heart and the engine running that is the brain. Will the heart ever heal itself? Will we ever be OK with it having been broken over and over by someone or something we love (or loved)? Could we ever just stop thinking of all the hurt that we feel deep down inside? I don’t know.

But I do know that time goes by quickly (or at least it did this year) and when we surround ourselves with love, positivity and good people, good work, it’s a sign of better things on the horizon. Our choices are our own and whatever we decide to make in order to aid our own emotional and mental well-being, God is there every step of the way reassuring us through signs and karma that all that waiting will one day mean something we never could have possibly imagined.

{Originally posted on Instagram / photo from Pinterest}

Look at the stars fall down

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"So while turning in my sheets,
And once again I cannot sleep."

Monday morning started off on an awkward foot. I woke up at around 4:27 a.m. because someone crank called me. This hasn’t been the first time either. I have a funny feeling it’s the same crank caller who called me last year on my birthday, at the end of this past April and a few times this past May. But while I have an inkling of who it might be, I really don’t know who it is. Yet the thing is, I never get phone calls at this particular number, especially after midnight from an unknown caller and oddly enough these calls have been around the same time.

"There is no place I cannot go, 
 My mind is muddy but, 
 My heart is heavy does it show,
 I lose the track that loses me,
So here I go."

Could it be a coincidence? Probably not. I remember telling my best friend once there are no such things as coincidence. And hilariously enough, the same week I said that to him, two people he interviewed for one of his “passion projects” said the same thing. Is there no such thing as coincidence? That’s besides the point. Life and fate love screwing with us for shits and giggles, there’s no denying that.

That said, the part of me that trusts my intuition believes it might be him. But I can’t be too sure anymore. Doesn’t it suck when a (mutual) relationship you invest so much time and love in creates self-doubt? That’s not healthy, but at least I’m better off for knowing that.

"And here I go..."

I sat in my bed early this morning, pondering the possibility of him crank calling me. First a letter in March. Then phone calls? While I know in my heart he read my emails for months and months, and even kept a few of them as part of his hidden trove, it  might sound supernatural but there is a part of me that feels weak in such a lifeline now. I can’t explain it. I use to tell him that all my emails were a bookmark to our friendship and I know he acknowledged it. I put my heart into each message and because he and I were alike, I know he always read them. Sometimes even more than once, weeks later, a month later, sometimes even a year later. But suddenly, one day in early May, probably the first week or so—I felt it. I had another dream of him but this time, much more aberrant as he had carved a piece of my chest out and buried it with a box of letters as I watched on.

It’s no secret that I miss him, every damn aching day. (And I love you to the moon and back.) But let it be known that I never loved him because of who he was or who he wanted to become. I only ever loved him because of who he was determined to be. I got to see a beautiful, magical side to him through every conversation, every moment, every laugh and because he was my best friend first, I always made sure to remind him of his magic when he would forget it. And he forgets it often because he’s insecure despite me praying each night he gains strength to be a better, more emotionally adept individual. A friend once told me, the reason why he was so confused about our relationship (as he said so a few times) was because of my strength. Or as he would say, a love that “towers” over anyone he’s ever known. (more…)

Do you ever really know someone?

Matthew Hussey

It’s been a busy, busy week and while I’ve been knee-deep in homework, primary research, writing and copy assignments, and the Indy 500, I did come across something on one of my social networks today that caught my eye. It made me ponder for a real minute as I stared blankly out my office window and wondered about him—living somewhere out there, miles away with a solitary mindset; scared and childlike in his behavior, always reacting from fear and treating those who care about him like they’re nothing but characters in one of his video games.

While we had a six-year relationship firmly rooted in genuine friendship, the way he treated me at the end of it is something I often wonder about. Will he treat others the same way? People rarely ever change, that much I know and have accepted. Though I’ve forgiven him completely and fully by following a path of grace, it’s hard to forget the pain. It’s hard to trust yourself some nights because those broken shards make you wonder about the character of people. It makes you wonder, do we really ever know someone?

After the way he treated me when things weren’t going his way, I saw a side of him I never imagined seeing. Ugly, heartless, cold, and incredibly shallow. Arrogant too. A real piece of work treading Mr. Potter territory. Of course, for the other person involved on the other side of the equation—talk about blindsided due to living under a rock (or just being a halfwit). Of course, they are no different and react in their own exaggerated ways due to the constant dread of living a life like their parents. (Side note: While some women speak about “the decency for fellow women,” there’s one in particular who is a fucking nut-ball of hypocrisy and so afraid of turning into her family of bungles that she took back a cheater a month after discovering his affair and decided to spread those shanks to have a baby for the validity of their love. As her partner says it’s “obligation” and “just makes sense.” So, yeah, decency of a woman…)

However, with regards to him—Tom, Mr. Potter, whatever he so shall be called, what is it, really? Who is he, really? When he wrote me a letter back in March, I didn’t know what to think of him. Every feeling I ever felt came pouring back like a dam. Especially after the whole debacle last fall. But it begged the question, was he truly cruel or truly my friend? (more…)

How to Support Good Friends with Bad Choices

A good friend who sticks by you through thick and thin is a rarity these days. But if our friendships have taught us anything—and acclaimed HBO favorites like Entourage or Girls verify—certain friendships, where one friend continually makes bad decisions can be frustrating.

We all have someone who is true blue, kind, and always caring but tends to make unhealthy choices by never thinking straight or of repercussions. When those kinds of friends make such decisions, it often feels like our options are limited. So how do we help them?

We often believe to be compassionate, we have to listen and not say anything. But that’s not how good, solid friendships work. We never act cowardly towards a friend—especially if you know they will understand you. If anything, we always want the best for them and want to ensure their decision is one that doesn’t emotionally or mentally stunt them, or cause heartache.

Of course, it can take a toll on us. The back and forth of their choices, making us wonder why they just can’t get it. But by ensuring healthy and impartial boundaries in our relationships, we are able to uphold our own emotional reliability. There are ways to be a friend and still be supportive without becoming a habitual enabler. By setting limits on what isn’t good for you, you’re able to take care of your friend and the friendship.

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“I sing for love, I sing for me…”

It’s been four months since it happened and I feel relatively normal. Normal doesn’t mean “good” though. In fact, it’s the total opposite and a feeling ever reminiscent of that Sylvia Plath quote—the one about, if anyone looked at me too closely or even spoke to me, staring me in the eye, I would just burst out crying for a week. Basically, the one about hibernating. Remember now? Well, anyway, I’m fortunate to have a boss who gives me time to myself in the day job, so a lot of my assignments are of me driving around the city, running errands and working almost transiently. It’s fun. It also leaves me time to sit and write which is the most amazing thing ever because obviously, I love writing where I get to and I get to research all these things I never knew about and I’m learning and—

Oddly enough, while I can leave my brain for a while and dive deep into research, I have this stupid faint echo that beats gently. Through rhythm, through every breath. Through a pulse running through my veins. And it’s those lone moments when I realize how much I miss and love him. (more…)