Rumor: Kawhi Leonard told Spurs teammates, ‘I’ll do anything for all you guys in this room, but not this organization’

After Kawhi Leonardrepeatedly told the Spurs he’d play then didn’t, his teammates held a players-only meeting imploring him to play. Leonard stood his ground and said, despite his desire to return, he wouldn’t guarantee playing again that season. Tony Parker, who had already returned to the lineup, said his quad injury was “100 times worse” than Leonard’s and went out of his way to say he never considered getting a second opinion from outside the Spurs.

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Nike Told Masters Champion Patrick Reed He Wasn’t Allowed to Wear Red On Sunday

Patrick Reed is the 2018 Masters Champion, having just capped off one of the most anticipated major championship weeks in recent memory. Young guns like Reed, Jordan Speith, and Rickie Fowler finished in the top three, but coming into Augusta, much of the buzz was around Tiger Woods, who was playing in his first major since 2015. While Woods was sidelined, Reed rose as one the brightest young talents on tour.

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JAY-Z Reveals ‘the Most Beautiful Thing’ Daughter Blue Ivy Has Ever Told Him

JAY-Z is opening up about his close relationship with his daughter Blue Ivy.

The 48-year-old rapper will appear on David Letterman‘s new Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, on Friday. In a sneak peek of the episode, which Today premiered on Wednesday, the father of three recounted one of his favorite moments he’s shared with his eldest child.

“I told her to get in the car the other day because she was asking a thousand questions and we had to leave for school,” he told the talk show host. “So we’re driving, and I hear a little voice. ‘Dad?’ I turn around and she said, ‘I didn’t like when you told me to get in the car the way you told me. It hurt my feelings.’ ”

Though she’s only 6, JAY-Z was proud of his little girl for speaking her mind and standing up for herself. “That’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever said to me,” he said.

Want all the latest pregnancy and birth announcements, plus celebrity mom blogs? Click here to get those and more in the PEOPLE Babies newsletter.

JAY-Z’s chat with Letterman is filled with candid confessions.

In a clip released Monday, the Roc Nation founder opened up about the time his mother Gloria Carter came out to him — a conversation that he said left him weeping tears of joy.

“Imagine having to live your life as someone else and you think you’re protecting your kids. And for my mother to have to live as someone that she wasn’t and hide and protect her kids … didn’t want to embarrass her kids for all this time. And for her to sit in front of me and say, ‘I think I love someone…’ I mean, I really cried. That’s a real story,” JAY-Z said.

“I cried because I was so happy for her that she was free,” he continued, explaining that he later celebrated her sexuality in a duet titled “Smile,” from his June album, 4:44. “This happened eight months ago when the album was being made. She told me. I made the song the next day.”

He also described the distinct qualities individual rappers bring to the table, proving his point with impressions of Snoop Dogg and Eminem.

“You can have a great voice, and you can just almost say anything,” JAY-Z said. “I think Snoop Dogg has a great voice — he can say ‘One-two-three and to the four.’ I was like ‘Oh my God.’ It just sounds good, right?”

“Or you can be someone like Eminem and just have amazing cadence and syncopation,” he said, imitating the rapper’s style. “There’s percussion inside the music, so there’s multiple ways to be really good. Some people just have it all.”

RELATED VIDEO: George Clooney Tells David Letterman About His Deep Love For Wife Amal

JAY is the latest star to sit down with the former late-night host on his new program. Letterman’s guest roster for the series includes such names as George ClooneyMalala YousafzaiTina FeyHoward Stern and President Barack Obama.

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman: JAY-Z premieres Friday on Netflix.

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Intel Told Chinese Firms of Chip Flaws Before U.S. Government

In initial disclosures about critical security flaws discovered in its processors, Intel notified a small group of customers, including Chinese technology companies, but left out the U.S. government, according to people familiar with the matter and some of the companies involved. WSJD


Kellyanne Conway: Why I Told My Daughters It Was Okay to Support Hillary Clinton

Kellyanne Conway’s interview is part of TIME Firsts, a multimedia project featuring 46 groundbreaking women. Watch the rest of the videos at Buy the book at the TIME Shop.

2016 was a year of firsts for women in politics. Though she ultimately suffered a crushing loss to Donald TrumpHillary Clinton will nonetheless go down in history as the first female presidential nominee for a major party. On the other side of the aisle, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway earned her place as the first woman to run a winning presidential bid.

Though they fought on opposite sides in the election, Conway tells TIME now that she has great respect for Clinton’s presidential campaign — and that she shared that sentiment with her three elementary-school-aged daughters when she explained why she wasn’t supporting the history-making Democratic nominee.

“In explaining how I feel about one thing that Donald Trump said or did to my daughters, I would be remiss in not revealing the full conversation, which is also why Mommy, who’s a woman, did not support the first female presidential candidate for a major party,” Trump’s campaign manager turned White House counselor said in an interview for TIME’s new Firsts video series profiling groundbreaking women.

“I would tell them that I respect very much that Secretary Clinton was running for president, and it showed that in this country, anybody can do anything if they set their mind to it,” recalled Conway, who has four young children — three daughters and a son — with her husband, New York lawyer George T. Conway III. “At the same time, I tried to explain to them that you could be excited for someone with whom you disagree, and share in that moment in history as a proud American.”

RELATED VIDEO: Exclusive: Natasha Stoynoff Speaks Out: ‘I Don’t Want Women to Feel Afraid’

In the interview, Conway also discussed how she first made a name for herself as a Republican pollster — despite what she described as “an immediate source of curiosity” about her gender from many members of the GOP.

“In Republican politics, particularly 20 some years ago, there were few women. There were few women consultants, there were few women candidates, there were certainly few women congressmen and office-holders,” she said. “I’d walk into the RNC and I’d walk into other Republican political situations, which I have described as walking into the men’s locker room at the Elks Club holding a bachelor party.

“My comfort level came in learning how to think like a man and to behave like a lady,” Conway added.

Her strategy seems to have worked with Trump.

“I’m so pleased that I have his ear and his trust as campaign manager,” she said, “and now as I take on this role as counselor to the president — the highest ranking non-relative female in his White House.”

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Texans Told to Evacuate Ahead of Hurricane Harvey as Massive Storm Approaches: ‘Don’t Take Any Chances’

Texas residents are being told to evacuate and take all necessary precautions as Hurricane Harvey is expected to touch down on Friday night, in the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the Texas Coastal Bend in nearly 50 years.

“I strongly urge all Texans to heed warnings from your local officials and I also urge that you immediately follow evacuation orders for all impacted counties — particularly in the Corpus Christi and Houston areas where the storm surges and flooding from Hurricane Harvey are most likely,” Gov. Greg Abott said in a statement.

Harvey, which is expected to touch down Friday night or early Saturday morning along the Texas Gulf Coast, is expected to bring up to 35 inches of rain, CNN reports. Flood waters and destructive waves could reach heights of up to 12 feet along the Texas coast.

The storm, currently Category 2, is expected to become a Category 3 hurricane by time it makes landfall with winds of more than 100 mph, CNN reports. As it strengthens, forecasters said Harvey will be the nation’s first Category 3 hurricane to make landfall in nearly 12 years, according to The Weather Channel.

Officials have labeled Harvey a “life-threatening storm” that will put millions of people in a “grave risk,” the Associated Press reports.

“Please take all necessary precautions to save your life and to minimize risks,” Gov. Abott added in the statement. “Don’t take any chances and evacuate when you are ordered.”

Now, local businesses in the storms path are shutting down and residents are clearing out grocery stores in preparation. Meanwhile, Corpus Christi’s Driscoll Children’s Hospital was airlifting 10 sick, premature babies from its neonatal intensive care unit to a hospital in Fort Worth, according to the AP.

The infants were expected to arrive at the hospital by early Friday and an official told the publication that hospital staff feared that power outages at the Corpus Christie hospital might disable the babies’ ventilators.

Daring Rescues in the Wake of Hurricane Matthew

Abott has requested that 700 National Guard members be activated for the storm and Ports of Corpus Christi and Galveston are closed, according to CNN.

Residents lined up during the week to catch buses to safer areas and roads were packed with backpack-carrying residents heading out of town.

“I’m shaking inside, but for them, I’m trying to be strong,” a Corpus Christi mother of two said, according to CNN.

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OMG! Botched Patient’s Previous Doctor Told Her She Had to Wear a Yoga Mat Around Her Body After Liposuction

Connie, Botched, Botched 402The Botched doctors are shocked by Connie’s story!
On this Sunday’s Botched episode, Terry Dubrow and Paul Nassif sit down with patient Connie, who tells them about her…

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Muslim Writer Schools Troll Who Told Him To Take Off His ‘Stupid Hijab’

Author and lawyer Qasim Rashid frequently finds himself playing the part of teacher for Islamophobes on Twitter. Backed by more than 70,000 followers, he tries to demystify common misconceptions about Islam.

This week, Rashid joined a vocal chorus of Muslim influencers expressing their horror over Monday’s terrorist attack in Manchester, England, and explaining once again that such incidents are not representative of their faith.

But his words once again fell on some deaf ears. One particularly confused troll tweeted at Rashid to take off his “stupid hijab”:

Rashid recently posted a long and informative series of tweets explaining that the Quran commands men, as well as women, to observe hijab rules ― that is, principles of modesty. The word “hijab” also refers specifically to a head covering that some Muslim women choose to wear.

In all likelihood, the Twitter user was actually referring to the songkok ― an Indonesian cap worn by some Muslim men ― which Rashid is seen wearing in his profile photo.

Rashid responded in the best way:

Nearly 16,000 Twitter users agreed.

But he didn’t stop there. Rashid turned the interaction into a teachable moment, as he is wont to do, and made a larger statement about head coverings. Using the hashtag #MyAwesomeHat, he showed off some of the religious and secular “hats” he’s worn over the years:

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Style – The Huffington Post
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Katy Perry on ‘I Kissed a Girl’: ‘Truth Be Told, I Did More Than That!’

When Katy Perry released the pop hit “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It” in 2008, she says she was starting a conversation with people around the world.

“Truth be told, I did more than that!” she told the audience of the2017 HRC Los Angeles Gala while accepting the National Equality Award on Saturday night. “But how was I going to reconcile that with the gospel-singing girl raised in youth groups that were pro conversion camps? What I did know was that I was curious, and even then I knew that sexuality was not as black and white as this dress.

“But in 2008, when that song came out, I knew that it started a conversation that a lot of the world seemed curious enough to sing along to it.”

Perry went on to detail her religious upbringing (both of her parents are pastors) and how she “prayed the gay away at Jesus camps.” But soon her “bubble started to burst” and she discovered people who were different from her.

“These people were nothing like I had been taught to fear. They were the most free, strong, kind, and inclusive people that I have ever met,” she said. “They stimulated my mind, and they filled my heart with joy, and they danced with joy while doing it. These people are actually, magic, and they are magic because they are living their truth.”

From Coinage: See Where 6 Stars Were Before They Were Famous

Although she strayed away from the beliefs of her religion, Perry says she wouldn’t have chosen a different path for herself: “Priceless lessons happen large. The path of discovery has made me, has tested me, and forever changed me. You don’t get to choose your family, but you can choose your tribe,” she said. “I stand here as real evidence for all that no matter where you came from it is about where you are going, that real change, real evolution, and that real perception shift can happen, if we open our minds and soften our hearts.”

The pop star added that it would’ve been a lot easier for her to stay the “whipped-creamed-t–s-springing-poppy-lite-coffee-fun-anthem-animal-totem-singing-girl” who remained neutral politically.

“No longer can I sit in silence,” she says. “I have to stand up what I feel is true and that is equality and justice for all, period.”

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The Stories Mother Nature Told Her Children

The Stories Mother Nature Told Her Children

Do you know Mother Nature? She it is to whom God has given the care of the earth, and all that grows in or upon it, just as he has given to your mother the care of her family of boys and girls. You may think that Mother Nature, like the famous “old woman who lived in the shoe,” has so many children that she doesn’t know what to do. But you will know better when you become acquainted with her, and learn how strong she is, and how active; how she can really be in fifty places at once, taking care of a sick tree, or a baby flower just born; and, at the same time, building underground palaces, guiding the steps of little travellers setting out on long journeys,

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How To Avoid Talking To People, As Told In 2 Genius Comics

Engaging in small talk sends plenty of people ― and introverts especially ― into panic mode. For others, small talk just feels shallow and aimless, like so:

In the College Humor comics below, illustrator A.C. Stuart gives us a fail-proof defense against dreaded stop and chat:

Problem. Solved.

Head to Stuart’s Facebook page for more illustrations. 

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Burn-Master Michael Jordan Once Told a Teammate He Didn’t Deserve to Wear Jordans

“My sneaker’s for All-Stars.”

Style – Esquire


These Feminist Artists Are Tired Of Being Told To Smile

The night was March 15, 2016. Hillary Clinton had just swept the primaries in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, thus moving one step closer to becoming the next president of the United States of America; you know, the leader of the most powerful nation in the world.

And yet, despite the epic night in Clinton’s campaign, the main takeaway was: smile. 

Joe Scarborough’s casually misogynist tweet was not shocking or unusual, but just another unsolicited quip expressing what most women already know, that they’re first and foremost recognized as pretty faces — even when they’re about to govern the free world. 

When curator Jenny Mushkin-Goldman caught word of the incident, her first reaction was immediate disbelief. “That that degree of disrespect would be leveled toward, hopefully, our future president — it makes me angry,” she told The Huffington Post. “A man would never be asked to react that way.”

The patronizing nonsense Clinton was forced to endure on the day of her win is something many women face on their daily commutes. “I’ve lived in Manhattan for 15 years,” Mushkin-Goldman said, laughing with exasperation. “Just walking down the street, it’s so commonplace to hear catcalls like that. You’re going about your business, thinking about your day, and suddenly a man you do not know calls out at you to smile.”

The catcall is insidious, in part, because it can be well-intentioned — meant to be playful or complimentary. “They don’t realize how condescending it is,” Mushkin-Goldman said. “I’m not trying to blame individuals; it’s a societal problem. What’s underneath the statement is the idea a woman exists to perform, to entertain — for a man.”

So, as a grand middle finger to Scarborough, Brit Hume, that annoying dude on your walk home, and every man who ever felt the need to comment on a woman’s demeanor or decorum, Mushkin-Goldman organized an art show. It’s called, appropriately enough, “Smile!” The all-woman group show features feminist artists united by their valiant gumption, a refusal to create or perform — or, yes, smile nicely — for anyone other than themselves.

As Mushkin-Goldman put it: “My reaction to all of this is: ‘Yeah, I’ll smile, but, buddy, this is not for you. I smile because I want to smile, because I’m happy with myself.'”

The exhibit will soon take over New York’s Shin Gallery thanks to the enthusiasm of owner Hong Gyu Shin. “He wanted to do an all-female show,” Mushkin-Goldman said, “when I told him this idea he was immediately on board.” 

“Smile!” features six artists who care too much about their work to give a f**k about what you think. One such artist is Rebecca Goyette, who always appears to be having more fun than anyone else. Goyette is known for her feminist brand of absurd pornos, in which traditional tropes and gender roles are eschewed in favor of delicious weirdness, and in this case, lots of lobsters. 

In her short NSFW film “Lobstapus/Lobstapussy,” Goyette takes over an uninhibited Greek island as a hybrid human-lobster sex goddess, where she proceeds to make sweet, strange love to her crew of barnacle boys and girls. “She’s taking the traditional notion of female sexuality and turning it on its head,” Mushkin-Goldman said. “Goyette is putting a woman in charge, following her own desires, having a sexual adventure without shame.”

Goyette brazenly embodies the spirit of sex positivity that runs throughout the show, a frame of mind pioneered over 40 years ago by fellow “Smile!” artist Betty Tompkins. Tompkins is most well known for her “Fuck Paintings,” massive black-and-white reproductions of porn clippings zoomed in on the naughty parts, which she’s been creating since the 1970s.

For “Smile!” Tompkins contributed a series of “Word Paintings,” each image featuring crowdsourced words all too often used to describe women. Beginning in 2002, Tompkins invited women to participate in her project creating “images of women comprised of words.” Some of the final products include “c**t,” “honey,” “c**ksucker,” “slot,” “slut,” “basket case,” “hot tomato” and “amateur Latina p***y.”

Another iconic feminist artist, Deborah Kass, brings text-centric work to the show with her piece “C’Mon Get Happy,” quoting the 1970s “Partridge Family” theme song. The image combines cheery nostalgia with the more serious undertones of promises unfulfilled. “There’s this sense of darkness, a commentary about the failed promises of the 1950s,” Mushkin-Goldman said. “These beliefs that women can have it all, be super powerful business people and also wonder moms, that never came to be.” 

Two artists, Emily Noelle Lambert and Emily Weiskopf, channel a similar force of energy. Mushkin-Goldman describes Lambert’s art as an abstract response to Kass’ image, a sort of “jubilant punch in the sky.” Weiskopf’s “My Mona” is her take on Mona Lisa’s smile, transforming the iconic, coy grin into a geometric landscape of pink, red and fuchsia, the softness of the fleshy hues met with the cool harshness of straight parallel lines. 

One of the darker works in the show is a piece by Hyon Gyon, made specifically for the exhibition. “It is, in a sense, an altar. Basically the pedestal men put women on,” the curator explained. The throne has distinct tiers for first, second and third place, and comes complete with a set of chains, communicating the tension of being simultaneously elevated and restricted, placed on a pedestal with no ostensible mode of escape. 

However even Gyon’s work uses humor as a primarily vehicle for dissent and liberation. “I come from a Jewish background — so humor is essential to survival,” Mushkin-Goldman said. “We remain strong and positive through humor. It is crucial to remaining strong in the face of adversity.”

“Smile!” curated by Jenny Mushkin-Goldman, opens May 4 at Shin Gallery in New York. 

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Arts – The Huffington Post
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The 10 Stages of the Yom Kippur Fast, as Told by Amy Schumer

The Yom Kippur fast is a sneaky one. The Jewish people were smart and decided to ease us into it by celebrating Rosh Hashanah the week prior. It’s almost like they assumed the more food they could provide us with during that holiday, the less painful the lurking fast would be 10 days later.

Turns out it’s not really less painful, because, like the hangover you’re enduring in your 10 am lecture Friday morning after a Thursday night out, we all knew this was coming. How is it that just 10 days ago we were all blissfully enjoying endless amounts of challah, consuming more jars of honey than a drunk Winnie the Pooh and now we’re fasting for 25 hours?

Yes 25 hours — not 24, because the Jewish people weren’t satisfied with the limits of a “normal” day, and thus, the extra hour of “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” nonsense resulted in a 25 hour fast. Talk about going above and beyond.

If you’re looking for someone who feels your pain, I’m sure you have several friends enduring the same gnawing hunger inside of their abandoned abdomens. However, if you need a greater sense of communal misery beyond your usual circle during this hangry time, we turn to the only woman who can provide a voice of sanity and reason in crises like these: Amy Schumer.

Stage One: Extreme Confidence

GIF Courtesy of

This is gonna be a freakin’ breeze. You’ve juice cleansed, cabbage dieted and gone an entire day eating only, like, one Chipotle burrito and four pretzels once, so you’re basically a pro. It’s hour one and with g-d’s blessing and your insane willpower, you are feeeeeeelin’ it.

Stage Two: Lying to Yourself

GIF Courtesy of

You’re totally fine. Like, seriously, totally fine. You’re not even hungry. Actually, you’re full. You definitely woke up this morning and had breakfast and not just gulps of air. You’re totally okay, you’re more than okay — you are absolutely great.

Stage Three: Irritability

GIF Courtesy of

You’ve been sitting in services listening to the rabbi drone on in a language you still haven’t mastered despite 13+ years of Hebrew school and being bar mitzvah’d. You thought perhaps ~prayer would save you~, but the food that should be satiating your craving is instead being replaced by the annoyance filling you up inside.

Stage Four: Exhaustion
GIF Courtesy of

You’ve stuck it out at synagogue for as long as humanly possible, and you’re finally headed home to LAY. You have no food, no energy and nothing keeping you alive at this point. You feel like a limp noodle. OMG noodles. The couch looks inviting. Ugh, but your bed is also your bed. Honestly, at this point, the floor will do just fine.

Stage Five: Hysteria
GIF Courtesy of


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Original post by Becca Soverinsky for Spoon University – Michigan.

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The Love Story Of Peter Pan And Tinker Bell, As Told By Peter

“Second star to the right!” She called out, laughing.

Her voice carried easily over the autumn wind as we flew above the confusion of lost boys, giggling girls, and parents trying desperately to remember. We were not flying very high, but the lights and people seemed so small and far away that, for the moment at least, the world below us looked like a miniature toy carnival.

“Second star to the right! That’s what it feels like!” She said, and she took my hand in hers, kicking her feet in the air as if running and, throwing her head back, laughing. The wind turned her long hair into a ribbon of fiery gossamer, trailing out behind us.

“No hand holding.” Said the bored voice over the speakers and she dropped my hand with a petulant huff that carried frustration layered with a relief at the easy excuse to let go.

It’s coming soon, I thought sadly. Our reason for being here. Our Goodbye.

Moments later, we slowed, seats gently rocking into one another with creaks and groans as the great spider of machinery lowered its chain web of swings back to earth.

“That is the only ride I want to go on!” She said, jumping out of her seat and launching at me in a fiercely quick hug. She was as exhilarated as I was anxious.

“Let’s go explore,” she said. Then she twirled around, waving me to follow before skipping off on her tippy toed wings into the confusion of cotton candy.


Tinker Bell came to me in the midwinter of my twenty seventh year.

I had left Neverland long ago by that time. My life was one of goals and deadlines, of power and responsibility, of control over one’s own destiny. I had grown to see the mantra of “never grow up” for what it was: a cartoon fallacy. I walked away from childhood willingly, eagerly, and as happened so frequently in the stories of the aged, before I realized what I had left behind.

The eternal minutes of years cast my soul into a new body, one that was much larger and slow than my soul remembered. That body was led by a series of unfortunate events to a bleak hospital wing where it paced in the hallway like a madman. As I waited for Death to visit my family as it had when I was a child, I recognized it immediately as the worst and best night of my life. It was in that ward, on December 27th, when she appeared as if by magic, right when I needed her most. I remember the time as if the clock is still hovering in front of me bathed in a pall of blue light. It was 7:04 PM. On that exact day, at that exact time, I looked into the soft, brown eyes of the girl who would become my very deepest love.

When I first kissed her, when she finally- after what felt an eternity- floated into my arms, the rest of the world dimmed, its color draining away for the brightness that was this magical fairy. On that day, I forgot the foolish and false importance of wife, house, and job. I forgot the goals of adulthood- or that there was even such a concept as strange and foreign as “grown-up.”

On that day, I met my Tinker Bell, and she called me back to Neverland.


Screams descend from the rickety roller coaster and the caramel scent of kettle corn settles in my throat like a coating of pitch, think and cloying and making me feel as though I am suffocating on sugar. Tinker Bell floats before me, laughing in the rush of kids who call and shout to their friends. She acts for all the world as if this were the only place she was meant to be.

I want nothing more than to be away from this wretched madness. I want quiet. I want space so that I’m not shoved in the back by a dramatically gesticulating seven year old who will just die if he doesn’t get funnel cake. I want to be lying in the dark with Tinker Bell’s head on my chest, listening to her slow dreaming breath as I hold her, gently kiss her head, and try desperately to sleep for a few more minutes before the wine-dark dawn descends. I want to be anywhere but here. But more than that, I want to be with her. And here with her is better than anywhere without her.

So instead of my quiet darkness, we float together through the cacophony of blinking, candy apple lights as I try to draw breath through the thick air, try to smile, and try not to fear.

“What about the Ferris wheel?” I say, pouring as much syrupy happiness into the question as I can manage. “That’s kind of like the swings.”

She looks at me as if I’d just suggested that she eat a large and particularly purple sea creature.

“Ferris wheels are boring!” she groans, and just as I’m about to protest, her face makes its remarkable night-to-day change, radiating a smile that dims the lights around us.

“Let’s go see the animals!” she shrieks, grabbing my hand and skipping forward lightly, pulling me as if I’m a rag doll.

She’s always been able to pull me, magically casting me about like a toy despite her tiny size and my much greater weight, and age. She need only grab my hand and I could be lifted into the sky on her magical fairy dust laughter.

At least, that’s how it had been. Before. Lately, we flew less often. I weighed considerably more these days, and she cast me about considerably less.

But now I can feel her throwing me about, can feel the warmth of her hand in mine, pouring into my arm like sparkles, cascading down and up my spine to make my feet feel light and my hair stand on end.

The power of Tinker Bell’s touch.

I don’t want to let go of her hand. I want to squeeze it, clutch it. I want to pull her towards me and bury her in my arms, to close my eyes and breath the winter scent of her hair as I used to. But instead I look down at her hand holding mine and can see the awkwardness seeping into the corners of my vision like fire eating a picture. As soon as it had started, the moment passes, and she lets my hand fall away.

Such is life with Tinker Bell. Lifetimes of seconds, wrenched away from me as we float above the world. Together and ever growing apart.

The reek of cotton candy slowly gives way to the dark, earthy scent of straw and manure as the shouldering crowds are replaced with tiny shrieks and strollers creaking in mud ruts. Tinker Bell skips ahead with a laugh and I look at the hand she released, suddenly heavy with it’s great ring of guilt.

There is a woman wearing my guilt ring’s pair. A woman who is sitting at home doing something wonderfully mundane, like reading Jane Eyre for the 137th time, or cooking kale and lentil soup with the burner on high and way too much cumin. She is a woman connected to me by years of love and awkwardly unspoken distances. A woman humming a Lucy Kaplansky song to herself while her husband floats through a blinking, shrieking Neverland with his fairy girl.

I can feel the weight of this guilt pressing down on my shoulders and head like a wet, wool blanket, muggy in its damp, accusatory heat.

It is this weight, I think to myself, that makes me too heavy for Tinker Bell to cast about anymore. But even as I think it, I know it’s not true. It’s not my fear and guilt that is pulling her away. It is her.

She is changing.

As much as could be expected from a girl. And such is the price you pay when you fall so deeply in love with someone so young.


Despite my best efforts to be a better person, the sight of ducks and sheep makes me think of food.

“We could get something to eat,” I suggest, unsurprised at the slight crack in my voice that I’m pretty sure only I heard.

She speaks, and something about meat and gluten is lost in the sudden honking of a donkey who has had just quite enough pulling on that particular ear, thank you very much.

“Well,” I say, trying to make my voice into the epitome of an ironic joke, “you don’t want to ride, and you don’t want to eat. I’m not sure what we’re doing here.”

Despite my attempt at feigning humor, I sound how I feel: petulant and whiney. She rises from petting a white angora bunny and looks at me with eyes full of confusion and concern, and only very lightly sprinkled with hurt.

“I wanted to spend time with you.” She says. “Just with you.”

She tilts her head slightly in the way that has always announced a thought on the verge of a decision, then she smiles and brushes my lips with a quick and quiet kiss so tender that it feels like she is dressing a wound.

Maybe, I think, she is dressing a wound, a great wrenching wound of choices and betrayal. And my face flushes with embarrassment and that heavy weight of wet, hot guilt.

The truth is this: As much as I love my wife, her life would be forfeit for the life of my Tinker Bell. It hardly matters that she would likely say the same- she has the same conflicts and demons, the same choices. The thought of those choices fills me with warmth, and love, and wretched self-loathing.

Tinker Bell, oblivious, aware, giggling, flutters to the maligned donkey to stroke it gently, calming it in that way she has of calming everything she touches. She smiles and skips and laughs, flying from animal to animal as if breakfast never happened, as if the earthquake never shook her heart, as if her world didn’t come tumbling down around her over mustard and basil omelets and stupid-for-gods-sake-why-does-everything-have-to-be-called-heirloom tomato slices.

Unlike me, she is happy. She can be happy because she is young. Today is a goodbye, and this type of goodbye is easy for the young. In a sense, this type of goodbye is the entire purpose of being young, and it never catches the young by surprise.

It caught me by surprise, though. Springing out of no-where at breakfast- at least I saw it at breakfast. Looking back, it’s obvious now that it really started the moment I first laid eyes on her.

How long since I’ve felt the weight of her pressed down happily on my lap? How long since she carelessly threw her arms around my neck, knowing that if she lost her balance, I would catch her? How long since I had a stolen moment of her love in evening’s quiet darkness?

Yet this morning, as if the past were a mythical land where forgetting was sugar, she graced me with sweetness. This morning, she came to me and, tasting her careless love, I wept inside for its sudden bitter tinge.

It was on her tongue as well. Squirming uncomfortably on the lap she used to rest on so well. Telling jokes to laugh about instead of kissing my stubbled cheek. Sitting awkwardly, as if trying to finish a distasteful chore. She would never admit it, but she tasted the bitterness as strongly as I.

That moment on my lap, unlike countless moments before, was different. Something had changed- she had changed. From the dark closet of her young mind was pulled an invisible gown of realization that, once donned, could never be stripped from her. We both felt that garment on her, together, in that same, shimmering moment.

Suddenly, she bolted off of my lap, turning in a dramatic show to suggest that we “do something fun” and that we “spend time together.” Awkwardness darkening the scene like spilled ink.


And so we ended up here, Tinker Bell and her Peter, floating from the petting zoo back to the chaos of cotton candy, as I try to carry this weight of guilt and search for my happy thought that will keep me flying.

But I can’t find my happy thought because the only thought I have is that Tinker Bell is leaving me forever. The only thought I have is the knowledge that things are… different.

“Let’s go in the funhouse!” I say, less for an honest suggestion than as a dressing to staunch the flow of my tears.

“Ha!” She barks, throwing her head back. “There’s no way you’re getting me in there with you!”

I just begin the descent into the cavern of her insinuation when a voice calls out to her, using her birth name.

“Cecilia! Cecilia!”

Tinker Bell turns, smiling.

“Hi, Alexa!” She beams, and the two girls dive into a pool of conversation- about boys, and music, and Jenny McIntyre’s red suede pumps- as if they had been swimming together in the words for the past half hour.

Feeling as substantial as a ghost, I dissolve into the funhouse to join my brethren of forgotten specters. The irony of the dark cavern filled with crooked, rubber skeletons and scratchy speakers howling their silly groans and wails is actually soothing. I trudge through tight corridors lit in sickly green, barely aware of the fright that I am expected to feel, but growing ever more afraid as I come closer to the exit that will eject me back into the real world where things really are scary and confusing.

I pop out of the funhouse at the same time as two boys who squeeze roughly past on the staircase, weaving through the crowd like gazelles to bound off for another rapid adventure. When I reach the girls, who are still somewhere in the middle of a conversation in a foreign language, it becomes apparent that I was not missed.

“I can’t,” Tinker Bell says, nodding to me as if I had not just returned, “I’m here with my dad.”

“Hello, Alexa.” I say, and I note that I sound as strangely old and formal as every parent who’s ever talked with a child’s friend.

“Hi Mister C,” she says, turning back to her recruitment mission even before she hits “mister.” “Cecilia, you have to come! He asked about you!”

Tinker Bell groans and, for the first time, looks uncertain and afraid.

That, I think, is my cue. This is our goodbye.

“You should go, sweetie,” I choke.

It isn’t what I want to say. Even buried in the tomb-green lights of the funhouse, I wanted to come up with something more meaningful. I wanted to say something like: It’s all different now, you’re different. My lap is no longer your favorite seat. I can’t sleep holding my little girl as she breaths on my chest. I’m no longer your Peter Pan, my love, and it’s time for you to be another’s Tinker Bell. It’s different now, and even if you won’t admit it, I have to. That is my role, to tell you that it’s okay, that it’s time for you to fly away. But I want you to know, my sweet, magical pixie, that I will always be here for you, if ever your wings get tired.

I wanted to say this, to tell her of my love for her, to lift her in a hug and smell her hair one last time, but I’ve left Neverland. I’ve become a grown-up and grown-ups are cowards who hide their truths in platitudes, so I cover a sudden choking sob with a yawn and say:

“Go on, sweetie, go meet this charming prince of yours. I’m pretty tired anyway. Have fun and call us if you need a ride home.”

Delighted terror drifts down from the Ferris wheel as she looks at me, head tilted in lights that turn her hair into a copper flame that singes my heart.

“I love you daddy,” she whispers, throwing her arms around my neck and kissing my cheek quickly. I breath in her winter scent as she lets go and flies away on her tippy toed wings into the confusion of cotton candy.

She never turns back to see the tears fall to the cheeks of her aged Peter.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Teen Who Was Told She Would Never Speak Is Now A Talented Singer

This young woman has something to sing about.

Born with a birth defect, Amber Simone Chinn was not expected to breathe, much less speak, on her own. But now, the 19-year-old is a powerful singer, and a video of her performing has gone viral, WGRZ reported.

Chinn was born with craniosynostosis — a defect in which the joints between the skull bones close prematurely — which led to a procedure at the age of 6 months, from which she was not expected to fully recover, the news outlet reported. Chinn’s parents were told she would never talk, but she beat the odds, calling her recovery a miracle.

At a friend’s graduation party earlier this month, Chinn was caught on camera singing by the pool. The video of her performing “The Worst,” by Jhene Akio, was uploaded to Facebook and has received over 2 million views as of Tuesday.

“It’s hard to grasp,” Chinn told WGRZ. “I have confidence, but I never thought me sitting by the pool, a random video would be so viral.”

Now, the young musician is a student at SUNY Buffalo State and is working with local music producers on an original song. On her GoFundMe page to create a music label, Chinn cites her performance of “The Worst” as a “music video about women empowerment and the need to confront and walk away from domestic abuse.”

Last December, another young woman shared a small musical moment to address a larger issue. Single mom Kimberly Henson uploaded a video of herself singing Sam Smith’s version of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” to her baby daughter. Overnight, she reached more than 20 million people on Facebook alone, WLTX reported. In January, she released an original song called “Tiny Hearts” to share her experiences as a single parent.

“I may have taken a different path and missed little things here and there,” Henson told The Huffington Post. “But coming home and being a little person’s superhero means a lot of more in the end.”

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NBC Told Marta Kauffman That ‘No One’s Going To Watch A Show About People In Their 20s’

Showrunner Marta Kauffman had to deal with quite a few obstacles in creating “Friends” (including, but not limited to, misogyny). One of the comments she received from NBC early on nearly nixed the now iconic setup for the cast.

“We were told by the network, ‘No one’s going to watch a show about people in their 20s,'” she said. “[They said], ‘You have to have an older person.'”

Of course, the show had nearly 25 million viewers in its first season. Though you, dear Internet, need no reminder of how beloved “Friends” was and always will be.

That concern from higher-ups was one of the reasons Kauffman almost had to bring in “Pat the Cop,” aka, as moderator Ben Blacker put it, “America’s favorite lost character.”

As the lore would have it, Pat was suggested by one executive as an older figure who would provide the characters with relationship advice.

Kauffman was vehemently against bringing on Pat or a similar figure — one of the other ideas was a “Coffee Joe” — and insisted that she could make audiences care about such a young set of characters without a more mature presence.

“We kept saying, ‘If the stories are universal enough, you don’t need it.'” She eventually met executives’ requests by bringing in Rachel Green’s parents. (Later, Monica’s and Ross’ parents were also a big presence.)

“It felt more natural,” Kauffman said. “That’s how we decided to deal with the note. And this is what I always tell writers: you’ve gotta deal with the note somehow.

R.I.P. Pat the Cop. May you live on forever in “Friends” trivia posts.

Lauren Duca is currently covering the ATX Television Festival for The Huffington Post. Follow her on Twitter @laurenduca and expect much more to come!

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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The Flawless Response This Woman Had To A Dude Who Told Her She Needed To Lose Weight

One surefire way to not pick up a lady: Tell her she needs to lose weight.

On June 3, marketing director and fashion blogger Christina Topacio took to Twitter to share an offensive and sexist text message conversation she had with a guy she had never actually met in real life.

The audacious dude told Topacio that while he would “seriously consider dating” her and “getting to know” her, he thinks she needs to change a few things. This unsolicited advice was not necessary (to say the least).

“It fucking kills me to say this… And it’s nothing you don’t already know,” the guy wrote in a text to Topacio. “And I’m positive you’ve thought about it. And I’m only telling you this because I want it to effect a change. You need to fucking lose weight. It kills me.”

Topacio told The Huffington Post that she met the guy on a dating site where they exchanged numbers, however, they had never hung out in person.

She tweeted screenshots of the entire text message conversation yesterday to her 8,500 followers, receiving over 2,500 retweets. Check out the cringeworthy exchange below:

“My first reaction was, literally, ‘Wait, what?!'” Topacio told HuffPost. “Then, I got sad. Like, this person has never seen me in real life. I was baffled.”

She said that she shared the conversation on social media to empower women to stand up for themselves. “My goal is to encourage girls to not only brush it off, despite how hurtful it is, and to laugh it away,” she said. “I want women to feel empowered to stand up for themselves, own who they are and understand that someone else’s opinion has no relation to them being an amazing person.”

“My story is not a new story, this happens to women constantly,” she added. “I’m just happy to have been given an opportunity to share my personal experience in hopes that it empowers women to shut it down. And ultimately say… I’m beautiful, I’m strong, I’m powerful, I’m 100 percent me.”

Take note of Topacio’s flawless response:

christina 4

Haters gonna hate and Christina’s gonna eat her Chipotle.

Go on with your beautiful, strong and powerful self, Christina.

H/T BuzzFeed

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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He Asked 1500+ Elders For Advice On Living And Loving. Here’s What They Told Him.

Karl Pillemer has spent the last several years systematically interviewing hundreds of older Americans to collect their lessons for living.

Pillemer admits he’s an advice junkie. He’s also a Ph.D. gerontologist at Cornell University.

Some years ago, after turning 50, he wondered whether there is something about getting older that teaches you how to live better. “Could we look at the oldest Americans as experts on how to live our lives?” he asked. “And could we tap that wisdom to help us make the most of our lifetimes?”

His first book, “30 Lessons for Living,” synthesized advice from over 1,000 elders on topics like happiness, work, and health.

Now Pillemer has followed up with “30 Lessons for Loving,” which features practical wisdom from over 700 older Americans with 25,000 collective years of marriage experience. One couple he profiles was married for 76 years. Another interviewee describes divorcing her husband, then remarrying him 64 years later.

I spoke with Pillemer for Sophia, a HuffPost project to collect life lessons from accomplished people that was partly inspired by his work.

Pillemer shared seven key pieces of advice he’s heard repeatedly from older Americans — about their greatest regrets, finding fulfillment, and keeping relationships healthy through life’s ups-and-downs.

1. Stop worrying so much.

I asked these oldest Americans what they think people tend to regret at their age, and what they would advise younger people to do to avoid regrets.

I expected big-ticket items — an affair or a shady business deal, something along those lines. I really didn’t expect to hear the one answer that was among the most frequent and certainly among the most passionate and vehement: stop worrying so much.

One of the biggest regrets of the very old was, I wish I hadn’t spent so much time worrying. They weren’t talking about planning, but the kind of mindless rumination that all of us do over things we have no control.

One of the people who said that summed it up this way. It was a woman who said, “I knew there were going to be layoffs at my job. I did nothing over the coming three months except worry about being laid off. I poisoned my life. I didn’t think about anything else, even though I had no control over it.” And she paused and said, “I wish I had those three months back, because that was just lifetime lost.”

sophia project

I’m sort of a chronic Woody Allen-esque worrier. Hearing hundreds and hundreds of older people saying that when you get to our age, you’ll see time spent needlessly worrying as time wasted, it really had a profound effect on me.

People have asked me, “What do you do with that insight? How do we stop worrying?” For me, when I start to get into the mindless rumination, I will remind myself that it’s an almost absolute certainty that everybody, when they get to the end of life, will say to themselves, “I wish I hadn’t spent so much time worrying about something that wasn’t going to happen.” After doing this for so long, I kind of have this feeling of a thousand grandparents in a room yelling at me [laughs].

A related insight of older people comes through very strongly in their advice about marriage. Very often a lot of their advice revolves around lightening up. We allow things, like marriage or other domains of life, to become extremely grim.

Their viewpoint from later on — this may sound like a cliché, but they mean it — is most of the things they worried about didn’t happen, and the bad things that happened to them were things they hadn’t considered.

sophia project

2. In relationships, sweat the small stuff.

If I learned one thing about how to keep the spark alive over many decades, there’s a point that the elders make that aligns very closely with research. It is an emphasis on thinking small — the small, minute-to-minute, day-to-day interactions that make up a relationship.

We tend to think of relationships globally. But all relationships are made up of hundreds or thousands of daily micro-interactions where you have the opportunity to be positive and supportive to your partner, or to be dismissive and uninterested.

There’s been research showing, for example, that how you respond if your partner interrupts you while you’re doing something is very diagnostic of how good the relationship’s going to be. If you’re actively involved in reading the paper or doing something, and your partner wants to show you something of interest to him or her, whether you respond dismissively or you briefly stop what you’re doing and engage with your partner is very diagnostic of positivity in the relationship.

sophia project

Other research has shown that it takes around 10 positive interactions to make up for one nasty one, so the ratio of positive to negative small interactions in a relationship is really critical. And that’s exactly what older people say. Many of their lessons embody this same concept.

For example, one of the things that older people argue is that we ought to be polite in our relationships. You know, the old things that people learned in elementary school, to say please and thank you and observe normal civility, is something people forget to do all the time in their relationships, mostly because we feel comfortable.

They argue using politeness and tact, but also making a habit of positive things, of compliments, of small surprises, of doing a partner’s chore, if you have a fairly rigid division of labor. Many people described that. I had more than one woman — perhaps it’s quote from someone else — but they jokingly said that their husband doing the dishes was the best aphrodisiac they could think of. So I would say that for a good relationship that lasts a long time, one of the absolute keys is attending to being positive, cheerful, supportive in the small aspects of the relationship.

sophia project

Another thing which is closely related: many couples begin to develop divergent interests and one partner then becomes hostile to a passionate interest. I had many older people say, “Our relationship changed when I gave my partner’s interests a chance and embraced them.”

One guy in his mid-80s, he was astonished. He said, “I started going to opera and ballet. Me! Opera and ballet! But it was worth it to engage with my partner.” Or wives who took up golf or developed an interest in football. At some point, people begin to say that positivity in the relationship is more important than fighting over these kinds of like minor differences.

People who have very positive relationships consciously tend to maximize these small positive interactions. And that is a place where elder wisdom completely or very closely aligns with what we know from research about good marriages.

3. Don’t sacrifice your relationship for your children.

There’s a very strong research finding in family social science. It is called the U-shaped curve of marital happiness. Basically, marriages start out pretty happy. Marital happiness drops precipitously at the birth of the first child and usually never completely recovers until the last child has left the house.

So even though kids are great — they satisfy our existential longings, and we love them, and it’s one of the most profound experiences — they are stressful for marriages. You probably don’t need a social scientist to tell you that, because anybody who’s been through it knows that.

There’s no question that a lot of marital arguments and difficulties revolve around children. It’s one of the paradoxes of marriage that good things, like having kids or having a really good job, even owning and taking care of a house, also can be sources of marital stress. It’s the double-edged sword of marriage.

The elders had one really strong recommendation in terms of adjusting to kids. Put your marriage first, put your relationship first, and don’t let kids distract you from having a good relationship with your partner.

Couples lose themselves in the mix of kids and work and fundamentally abandon attention to their relationship. The advice of the oldest Americans is very similar to that famous instruction on airplanes — put your own oxygen mask on first and then put it on the kids. If you aren’t attending to your relationship, you aren’t going to be very effective as child-rearers.

It’s very unusual that people have an awful relationship and wind up being good parents. If you sacrifice your relationship for your children, you have a reasonable chance of losing both.

sophia project

Now, they aren’t saying, of course, that you don’t love your kids and that you wouldn’t hurl yourself in front of a train to save them. But they argue that a marital relationship needs constant attention in spite of the kids.

I was shocked, in focus groups I did in preparation for the book, how many young parents couldn’t even remember when they’d gone out on their own or spent much individual time together. The oldest Americans’ argument is: Carve it out. Impose on grandparents. Develop a babysitting exchange. Even if you don’t have any money.

I had people who grew up in the Depression. One couple said, “We returned our disposable soda bottles and went to McDonald’s. It was just an opportunity to be away.”

Even if it’s something as artificial as a weekly date night where you scrimp and arrange for babysitting and go off on your own, you simply must do it. If you lose yourself in this middle-aged blur of work and kids, you really won’t do your kids any good.

sophia project

4. People who share core values typically have better marriages.

One hallmark of these long and harmonious marriages — and this is a piece of advice, too, that older people explicitly give — is to marry someone a lot like you.

We have in our popular culture this vast amount of examples of where opposites attract and make for great relationships, from “Romeo and Juliet” through “The Little Mermaid” through “Pretty Woman” and on and on.

Both the elders and research say, not so much. Marrying somebody who is very similar to you — in the trade, we call it homophily. Homophilous marriages, where the partners are pretty similar across a range of domains, tend to last longer and be happier.

What seems to really make the difference are core shared values. For example, work and the importance of work, the number of children and the way children are to be raised and goals for children, how important money is, spiritual and religious values to some extent. If there’s core value similarity, that seems to really make for these longer and happier marriages.

There’s no magic bullet. But marrying someone who’s fundamentally similar to you, especially in outlook, worldview, and values, really does seem to make a difference. It makes everything else much easier.

You might ask, in our complex multicultural society, is that really a good thing to recommend? What they would say is, you can have differences. Sometimes differences do spice up a relationship. But if you have two people who are, for example, strongly committed to two different religious traditions, you’ve got to be aware that you’re going to have to work around that in your relationship. If you have other kinds of strong value differences, it’s important to be aware of those and deal with them.

sophia project

5. Communicate early, communicate often.

I’ve spent a lot of time interviewing young people. Of course, I’m speaking anecdotally. I know a lot of them as a college professor. One thing I’ve learned is that even in long dating relationships, it’s actually relatively unusual that they have a deep discussion about child-rearing values or even having children.

I think that’s a problem. I think the elders would say it’s a problem. Understanding how your values align is very important early on.

This is related, and it may seem obvious, but virtually all of the elders in long marriages say the key to their success was learning how to communicate effectively on important issues.

People who were divorced very typically attribute it to a communication breakdown. I had several couples in the study who had gotten divorced and then remarried. One couple was actually remarried almost a half century after they were first divorced and began to have a very positive relationship. Almost always that was attributed to learning how to open up, to have open and successful communication and to really talk to one another.

6. Approach marriage as a discipline.

The unspoken, unquestioned, and underlying assumption, especially of people 75 and older, was that marriage would last forever.

They viewed marriage as an unbreakable bond; they simply had to work within those parameters. That means, for example, you live through rough patches and don’t just try to get out of the relationship. You come to accommodations and acceptances of the other person. You see this unit as something that is bigger than two people and their immediate individual satisfaction.

When they got married, they were making a commitment to the concept of marriage as a worthwhile institution, rather than the partnership based on immediate satisfaction of the individuals involved.

I got from them the idea of marriage as a discipline — not a punishment kind of discipline but the way it’s used if you’re learning music or a martial art. Marriage is a lifelong path, one that you never perfect and that you continually work to get better at. You’re continually working to improve communication and overcome problems and establish more interest.

This worldview — that once you were in marriage, you were in it for good — shaped people’s day-to-day experience and view of it. It’s one of the things which those who do articulate it recommend to younger people. They say, even if the reality is that you may not stay married, you ought to have this attitude, because it will make you work harder to get through difficult times. And there are such benefits to doing that that you ought to do it.

sophia project

7. Take time to craft the story of your life.

There’s been considerable research on the importance of reminiscence, life review. Most old people would like to be able to see their lives as a meaningful whole, to be able to sum it up into a coherent narrative.

I don’t want to wax too poetic, but I have really been struck by something which the famous psychologist Erik Erikson said. At some point you realize that you’re given this one chance — he words it this way — ‘this one chance in all of eternity to enact an identity and to play it out in the real world.’

Towards the end of life, what’s really important to people is to be able to see how their life mattered, how it was meaningful, how there was a story to it that wraps up in a good way.

People who are able to create that kind of narrative, and think of their life in that way, are typically happier. They’re more generative. They’re much more serene and open to the end of life. So that is really good work for people to do. Writing about it is something that a number of my interviewees did. Often my best interviewees were people who had done some writing of memoirs.

There is a concept which some of them also did, it’s called the “ethical will,” where people will write down what they would like to leave to younger generations about their values and principles and morality, how someone should live a life.

sophia project

It’s so critical for older people to record their memories. I would go one step further. Stop me if — actually, I’m going to go ahead and say it. We’re in the midst right now in our society of a very dangerous experiment. That’s one where young people, outside of intermittent contacts in their own family, have no meaningful contact with older people in any other dimension of their lives.

Whereas old people were often much more integrated and were sought out as sources of wisdom and advice and life experience, now they really aren’t, because our society is so age-segregated.

I think that we place young people in peril without these kind of intergenerational contacts. This is something that’s so natural for the human race. It’s really only been about the last hundred years that people have gone to anyone other than the oldest person they knew for advice about something, say like marriage or child-rearing.

Even though it sounds artificial, it’s important for older people to record their own thoughts and memories, but it’s really critical for younger people to ask them for them, and not just for stories, but for guidance and practical advice for living. I’m not against professional help. I think it’s great. But sometimes people might go and ask the elders in their lives for advice on finding a meaningful career or improving a relationship first.

So I think that it’s both older people doing it themselves, nurturing these memories and reflecting on their lives, but it’s also our role as younger people to help them to do it, to express interest in it and be a part of their reminiscing and summing up their life into a meaningful story. That’s what we really risk losing now. It’s a large reason for these projects, I have to say, and why I’m writing these books.

Transcription services by Tigerfish; now offering transcripts in two-hours guaranteed. Interview has been edited and condensed.

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Sophia is a project to collect life lessons from fascinating people. Learn more or sign up to receive lessons for living directly via Facebook or our email newsletter.
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Dame Maggie Smith’s Best One-Liners From Downton, As Told By Gifs

Happy birthday Dame Maggie Smith — or should we saw Lady Grantham? The Dowager Countess turns 80 on Sunday and though her “Harry Potter” days are over, we thank our lucky stars we can still get our weekly dose of her sharp wit and biting humor when “Downton Abbey” returns for its fifth season on January 4th on PBS.

While Smith has had quite a distinguished career with roles in acclaimed films like “The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie,” for which she won an Oscar, “A Room With A View,” and the recent “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” films, perhaps her most memorable role is that of the nosy, pushy, caustic family matriarch at “Downton Abbey.”

While millions of viewers tune in to see the drama unfold, Smith herself says she has never watched the show. She says what she gets out of the role is simply “the delight of acting.” We’re pretty sure the pleasure is all ours, Dame Maggie.

Besides seeing what becomes of the Grantham ladies’ love lives, the upstairs/downstairs relationships and apparently, a cameo appearance by none other than George Clooney, we’re looking forward to seeing what the Dowager Countess has up her sleeve next, whether it’s bickering with Mrs. Crawley or battling with new technologies.

So to celebrate Dame Maggie’ birthday and to get you excited about the next season, here are the Dowager Countess’ very best one-liners in gifs. Enjoy!

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‘Who Told You That You Were Naked?’

Inspiration comes in strange ways. Two weeks ago at Mass, I arrived to find our great big sanctuary packed with people of all ages, including the school kids from next door — it turns out they were doing the readings for Mass.

All the kids were well prepared, but the first little girl (who could not have been more than seven) was the best. She approached the microphone with confidence, and began to read, plenty loud and clear as a bell.

“After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree…” Very singsong-y and dutiful, the way little kids speak. Her reading continued, complete with animation and voices for the different characters:

God (stern and booming): “Where ARE you?”
Adam (busted): “I heard you in the garden! But I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself!”
God (like one of the Three Billy Goats Gruff): “Who told you that you were naked?”

And she went on like that, nailing every word and inflection, making the story spring to life.

In an otherwise silent church, I looked around to find I was the only one suppressing laughter or even smiling — not out of derision but out of joy and surprise. In all my life, I don’t think I had ever heard a lector who was so all in. She read as though it mattered, and that made all the difference.

So it is with us and our work. When we forget that what we do matters, and how we do it matters even more, we miss opportunities to inspire those around us. We miss opportunities to be inspired.

This reminds me of a great line I once heard from a saxophonist named Ray Silkman: “What comes from the heart reaches the heart.”

In that spirit, let’s take even one of our ordinary tasks this week — whether it’s wrapping, baking, cleaning or filing — and infuse it with a little more heart and creativity. Even if it’s just lighting a candle while we work or putting on some music.

Let’s see how much we can inspire those around us, or even just ourselves.
GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
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God Told David Oyelowo He Would Play Martin Luther King, But He Didn’t Stop There

David Oyelowo hasn’t been shy about discussing how God spoke to him in 2007 and said the actor would eventually play Martin Luther King Jr. in what would become “Selma.”

“The reason I’m talking about that is because I’m as shocked as anyone else may be that this British guy is playing Martin Luther King,” Oyelowo, who was born in England, said during a recent interview. “Certainly back then, in 2007, I had done none of the movies people have now seen me do now.”

At the time, Oyelowo — who has since starred in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Jack Reacher,” “The Help” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” — was a relative unknown. But it was another obstacle separating him from King that proved more difficult to overcome: Stephen Frears. Back then, the director was attached to “Selma” and didn’t think Oyelowo was right for the part. In the ensuing seven years, however, Frears left and multiple directors nearly stepped into his place (including Spike Lee and Paul Haggis). In 2010, Lee Daniels came onboard and, after working with Oyelowo on”Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” cast the actor as King. The tumultuous development process didn’t end there: Daniels dropped out because of scheduling conflicts. That’s when Oyelowo suggested another former collaborator: Ava DuVernay, with whom Oyelowo had made the 2012 indie film “Middle of Nowhere.”

“There was so much faith that had to be employed that this thing was going to happen,” Oyelowo said. “Virtually every day between that moment [when God spoke] to me and now, I did everything I could to make this thing happen.”

Now that it has, Oyelowo has received the best reviews of his career for playing King. The performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama, and it has Oyelowo in the middle of a crowded group of contenders vying for an Oscar nomination. “Selma,” meanwhile, stands as one of the year’s best films, a timely and insightful drama that says as much about Martin Luther King’s struggle to get equal voting rights in 1965 as it does about the Millions March in 2014.

Oyelowo spoke to HuffPost Entertainment about “Selma,” working with DuVernay and what it was like to meet King’s children.

You’ve talked about hearing a higher calling to play this role all the way back in 2007. Does that kind of connection with God extend through the production as well?
What I couldn’t have anticipated is how much I needed, to be perfectly frank, God’s help in the playing of it. Not least because this was a man of God. This was someone, if you’ve seen him giving those speeches, there is something flowing through him other than himself. He is flowing in his anointing. I needed that. I like to think of myself as a good actor, but Martin Luther King, I ain’t! If you’re going to go and shoot in Atlanta, in a historical church, with 500 people who are from Atlanta, you need a little help from above. So I definitely felt I had that.

Watch Oyelowo in an exclusive clip from “Selma”

During that seven year period from when you first read the script and now, was playing Dr. King something you thought about every day, or is that impossible?
The first thing I can say to you is that it’s very possible to think about playing Martin Luther King every single day for seven years. I’m living evidence of that. There is never going to be a time in your life as an actor where you’re going to go, “Oh yeah, I’m ready to play Dr. King now.” But between doing the work in quiet and then, the films that presented themselves to me, I prepared. Playing a Union solider in “Lincoln,” playing a preacher in “The Help,” playing a black fighter pilot in “Red Tails,” playing the son of a butler in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” who is in the Freedom Riders and becomes a Black Panther: these were all films in which I had to go study the history. Inevitably they were part of what informed playing Dr. King. Now, were they opportunities that were divinely presented to me or was I just continually drawn to that material because of what was going on in my head? That I can’t really say. But I do know that so many different aspects of my life went into what you see in the film. Plus, I was now the age Dr. King was when these things happened in his life. When I first read the script, I had two kids; when we shot it, I had four kids, like he did. There were so many things I matured into by the time I played the role.

Dr. King is, relatively speaking, a young man during the events of “Selma,” but he looks 10-15 years older than his actual age. How did you manage the physical transformation this role required?
Again, we’re back to the spiritual side of things. People like to talk about the weight gain and the voice, but that’s what we do as actors; that’s the first rung of what you need to do if you’re going to play someone like this. But it was the emotional and spiritual weight of what this man did and had to go through that was tough. At that stage in his life, to have spent 10 years under threat — and not only his life, but his kids’ lives, his wife’s life. Having all these people depend on him. Being a voice for the voiceless. Being someone who has seen people die because of this cause. And not just because racist people have killed them, but because he went to places where he tried to have racists act out in front of the cameras, and then people get hurt. In Selma, people died. That weighs on you. If you’re mentally placing yourself in that space, it does something to you physically. When I watch him, you can see there is a burden. You can see that he looks and feels older than he was. He was 36 at this stage. That is crazy. That had to be one of the things I tried to bring to it.

You recommended Ava to direct this film. Having worked with her on “Middle of Nowhere,” what surprised you about her transition to this kind of bigger material?
When we worked together on “Middle Of Nowhere” I saw her talent is undeniable. One of the privileges I’ve had in doing some of those films I mentioned is working with Steven Spielberg and other incredible directors. I was on the set with Ava, and she is just as good. I think the unique thing about her — and what she brought to “Selma” that was so incredible — was the ease with which she went into a film that was 100 times the budget of the last thing she had done. There were so many more people, so many more elements, it was much bigger in size, but she never panicked. She never shouted. She never threw a chair. She never compromised her vision. That went through the post-production side of things as well. To be a visionary, you have to be single minded. She has that without being, to be perfectly honest, an unpleasant person. That’s very rare! Often being single-minded is combined with being a bit of a nightmare to be around. She’s just not that.

It’s impossible to discuss “Selma” without mentioning how timely it is in its scenes of protest and police brutality. How do you think “Selma” fits in with the events that have occurred over the last month?
Well, we’re back to the divide, aren’t we? If you were ever going to have a moment in time when this film should come out in the 50 years since these events happened, it would be now. Not only would it be now, it would be now now. It would be this month. We would be having this conversation today. You can’t tell me between everything we’ve discussed already to when the film is being released to the fact that it’s a black woman who has made this — just in terms of where we are in history and how beautiful a thing that is — that it’s not divine timing. Whether you believe in that stuff or not, I truly believe the reason why this film is so pertinent for right now is that it shows this isn’t the first time. It shows that we are not a new generation for this and also how it was successfully dealt with. Peaceful protest. Strategy. Using the power of the image to bring the world together. That’s what happened in a sense.

Ferguson, I feel, was deemed a “black problem.” Eric Garner became an American problem. That’s the power of the image. Seeing him murdered onscreen has been the thing that has brought America and the world together to protest. Seeing Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge is what brought the nation together, black and white, in 1965. The difference is that was about voting rights, and this is about police reform. There had to be federal intervention with voting rights; the federal government is stalling on intervening on this, to bring in independent bodies to police the police. It’s just clear that’s what is needed. No matter what they say about how difficult that is because it’s states’ rights. It was states’ rights with voting. It’s crazy how similar it is.

david oyelowo
“Selma” cast wears “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts to protest the death of Eric Garner at the New York Public Library on Dec. 14, 2014

Did you get to meet anyone close to Dr. King in preparation for the role?
I met every one of his children and spoke with them. I actually became quite friendly with Dexter Scott King, his second son. I met Martin Luther King III. I actually didn’t meet Bernice King until the Friday before we were going to start shooting. I bumped into her at the King Center, if you would believe it — again, the divine! I was with a group of the actors who were going to be in the film, and she went up to everyone, deliberately leaving me to last. “So, who you playing?” she said. I was like, “Oh. My. Lord.” Dr. King’s voice is pretty deep, but I was like, in a high-pitched voice, “I’m going to be playing your daddy.” It was as bad as it could be. But by the time we finished our conversation, she ended up praying with me and giving me her blessing to play her dad. She and her elder brother saw the film recently and were very complimentary about it. She said mine is the best interpretation of her dad she’s seen. I will take it.

After seven years of having this role in your life, did you feel any letdown or hangover after you moved on to the next job?
There was no letdown. I was very happy to let this guy go. I wouldn’t say it was a burden, because I felt so privileged to do it, but there were moments where it was a real crossover. I stayed in character for the three months we were doing this. I, for one second, wouldn’t say I was him for that time, but I felt a little bit of what it may have been like. Just because you have to take it on. He lived through 13 years of that. I was very happy to walk away. I tell you that much.

This interview has been edited and condensed.
Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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My Wife Told Me She Wants to Cheat, Here’s How I Feel

When Elloa Atkinson confessed to the Internet that she wanted to cheat on her husband, the Internet went crazy. Here is her husband Nige’s side of the story.

Elloa and Nige:

We had reservations about republishing this, originally shared on The Good Men Project, here. Therefore we’d like to say at the outset that there is no prescription here, no recommendation or suggestion about how other people “should” conduct themselves. We do our best to live by the principle of emotional responsibility which states that I am 100 percent responsible for my experience, as you are for yours. The concept of honesty is one part of this, and while it feels risky, it is, as our teachers Duane and Catherine O’Kane write, “far less risky than acting out.” We share this story for the people who want to believe that vulnerability, as scary as it feels, is ultimately worth the risk.


I wrote a post about wanting to cheat on my husband, and it went viral. The response was mixed, the opinions passionate. The only voice that was noticeably absent was that of my husband, Nige.

This didn’t seem right, but it did feel significant, symbolic of the collective vow of silence that today’s men are living under.

While some people expressed their outrage that I would hurt my husband in this way, others shared either publicly or privately that they too have had these kind of thoughts, fantasies and yes, even obsessions. Still others protested that if a man were to speak about being attracted to women whilst in a relationship, he would be lambasted.

This conversation, sparked by my article, appears to be one we are ready to have. The next step was clear. It was time for Nige to speak.



A few weeks ago, when Elloa disclosed her secret attraction, I felt like my stomach had been clamped in a vice. Then, as her confession came, an inward surge of Hulk-like anger, all too familiar. My thoughts were no different than some of the judgmental comments that appeared in reaction to her article on The Huffington Post. Let’s face it: the ego always speaks first, and often cruelly.

The difference was, I know enough about this part of my mind not to voice my thoughts at this point. The first thing I have to do in these moments is take a breath, then another one, then another one. If I react now, it’s game on for the ego, but game over for the relationship — and I won’t let the ego win, because it viciously guards a set of mistaken beliefs that drive me further and further away from the one thing I truly want the most: love.

Therefore, Elloa and I have a contract about disclosing our secrets and dark thoughts to each other. We both understand that secrets kill relationships, and see so many couples playing a long-term game of hide and seek with each other. In our marriage, we are determined to fully know and be known by the other, and that means having the kind of raw, honest conversation that Elloa’s article described. The purpose of this is to go beyond the secret thought to the fear of who we are underneath, the fear that is driving that secret thought, desire or behavior.

Having this depth of honesty in our communication is not easy. It is scary, vulnerable and unpredictable.

Fortunately, we have enough tools in our relationship kitbag to be able to work through any form of upset in a safe and contained way, without using the other person as a dumping ground. The critical element in the whole process is the intention that we both set at the beginning.

We did what we always do in this situation, utilizing a therapeutic process (adapted from Clearmind International) that forms a core part of our relationship. The process gives permission to the reactive, raging part of my mind to unleash its fury for three solid minutes without any kind of reaction whatsoever from Ell. Crucial to the process is that she remains neutral, and that no physical boundaries are crossed whatsoever.

When the other person refuses to fight back but also stays the course and remains in a place of neutrality (not always easy to do), something amazing happens: the brutal, vicious attacking part of our mind gives way and we literally “drop” into our feelings. This is the place no man wants to go — a pit of despair, self-loathing, shame and loneliness.

My anger, directed initially towards Elloa for her “disgusting” behavior, was really masking a deep wound that I have carried since I was a boy — the belief that I in fact am completely inadequate and unloveable.



The root of this belief lies in my childhood, during which I lost a testicle after being kicked by another boy and the subsequent taunting, which dogged me for most of my schooldays. I grew up believing I was a freak. I called myself the odd man out.

Fast forward 39 years and there I am with my wife, feeling 6 years old again: raw, exposed and vulnerable, with my head in my hands. I am terrified to look up, afraid she will reject me. In that moment, I feel deeply ashamed of who I am.

I know there is only one way through this shame — I have to make contact. I have to let her see me, otherwise I’ll just be an empty shell. If I don’t let her into my world, then I’m doomed to walk this planet as a zombie, a man with a plastic smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. And yet there is so much I want to say. Somehow, I have to take a risk and open up.

As a man, I haven’t been taught by our society how to express my feelings. It’s as taboo as wanting to cheat, forbidden in daily life and permissible only in the direst of circumstances. Even then, only a few tears are allowed before the words “man up” come into play.

Even now, after nearly three decades of inner work, speaking about how I feel often feels clumsy and awkward for me. However, experience has taught me not to listen to the shaming voice that tells me that I’m weak if I cry.

So on the day Ell told me about her crush, I let her hold me while my body shook and the tears poured out of me. I told her everything I fear I am and she just listened, just held me and let me let it all out.

Eventually, I came to a quieter place. The dam, once burst, doesn’t gush water uncontrollably forever. The wave subsides. I am left with my beliefs.


After the outrage and attack, after the shame and the guilt, after the tears, there is a moment of true choice. This is the state from which I can change my mind, because here, I am open. Here, I am willing to accept help. I ask my wife, this woman who just a few minutes ago I thought was the cause of all my pain, to help me remember who I am.

And the truth comes back to me. I am not the odd man out. I never was. I am strong. I am worth loving. I am good. And nothing can be taken from me because I have everything I need within.

This is not a theoretical or intellectual knowing, it is an experience I inhabit when I work through, rather than dance around or avoid, my deepest fears. The function of my relationship isn’t to avoid experiencing pain or the realization of my fears — it is to give each other a soft place to land when one of us needs to show up, knowing that the healing is always twofold.

Elloa revealing her attraction therefore became a catalyst for me to expose a war wound that I carry on a daily basis and to do the work of changing my perception of myself. I do not do this work alone. I do it from a mindset of making conscious contact with my wife and with myself.

I’m a normal guy; I have thoughts of sexual attraction towards other women almost every day. Some are fleeting while others linger. It’s the ones that linger that trouble me the most. But I know that with each attraction there is an opportunity — often not as dramatic as this one — to take a step closer to my wife, to myself and to being the type of man I want the world to know exists.

And that is why, in our household, my wife Elloa is always welcome to tell the truth, and why I tell mine in return.

Find out more from Nige Atkinson about breaking the vow of male silence.

Join Elloa Atkinson and develop a miracle mindset to see things differently.

Watch and learn Clearmind International’s approach to emotional responsibility in From Crisis to Celebration.
Weddings – The Huffington Post
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Zong!: As Told To The Author By Setaey Adamu Boateng

Zong!: As Told To The Author By Setaey Adamu Boateng

In November, 1781, the captain of the slave ship Zong ordered that some 150 Africans be murdered by drowning so that the ship''s owners could collect insurance monies. Relying entirely on the words of the legal decision Gregson vs Gilbert (the only extant public document related to the massacre of these African slaves), Zong! tells the story that cannot be told yet must be told. Equal parts song, moan, shout, oath, ululation, curse, and chant, Zong! excavates the legal text. Memory, history and law collide and metamorphose into the poetics of the fragment. Through the innovative use of fugal and counterpointed repetition, Zong! becomes an anti-narrative lament that stretches the boundaries of the poetic form, haunting the spaces of forgetting and mourning the forgotten.
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What Your New Year’s Eve Plans Say About You, As Told By ‘Downton Abbey’

“Downton Abbey” is soon returning to U.S. small screens and if you have friends in the U.K. (or probably just read stuff online), you know there’s an emotionally trying season ahead. As you prepare for that and the rest of 2014, it’s time to reflect on the year and who you’ve become as a person. Here’s what your New Year’s Eve plans say about you, according the upstairs and downstairs folk of our favorite estate.

Your Plans: Surreptitiously writing letters texting the guy you like and hoping he invites you out.


Lady Edith Crawley
You have googly eyes over pretty much every guy that looks in your direction, but your obsessing very specifically over one right now. You could probably hang out with your mom or something, but you’d rather experience the anguish of communicating in your room alone. He’ll text you! You just know it …

Your Plans: Cocktails at a catered event, but whatever.


Lady Mary Crawley
You’re the best and you’ll be doing the best for New Year’s, if you must. No one is as beautiful, smart, graceful, elegant or as good as raising their eyebrows as you. You’re always invited to the best New Year’s events and that’s just a fact. But aren’t pigs in a blanket just so nouveau riche?

Your Plans: You told a few people you’d go to their parties, you’ll see what happens though.


Thomas Barrow
Basically, you’re just a jerk. You told a bunch of “friends” you’d hang out with them, because it was easier than saying no. You really only care about yourself and that usually works out, because you (almost) always get your way. Also, you’re like, really, really good looking.

Your Plans: Chaperoning your friends, who are definitely going to get completely trashed.


Mrs. Hughes
You are constantly taking care of everyone. Sometimes you get exasperated by everyone expecting you to take care of them, but it can be rewarding at times. Except on New Year’s, that is. New Year’s is going to be a hot mess and you’ll be self-righteously sober the whole time.

Your Plans: Going out to dinner and pretending noisemakers don’t exist.


The Dowager Countess
What even is this holiday? There are things called noisemakers? No, thank you. You’d prefer not to. You’d be above the whole thing, if you were willing to participate in it’s existence.

Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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