Browsing Tag


Gratitude, Guest Posts, memories

Take The R Train

April 2, 2020

By Laraine Herring

My mother could have remained in Bay Ridge, taking the R train into Lower Manhattan to work at the Stock Exchange. She could have not met my father, who could have passed Spanish at Wake Forest and graduated there instead of transferring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where they did not require two years of Spanish for a History major, where he did meet my mother, who was the first female accepted into the graduate school of mathematics at Chapel Hill, at an uncharacteristic football game where she’d gone with her roommate as an out for her blind date. But if she had remained working at the Stock Exchange riding the R train this would not have happened.

My father would have married a woman named Betty, not Elinor. I’m reasonably confident of this because when he died we found drawings Betty had made for him of his face, his golf swing, his eyes, and she called the house a lot and tried to make friends with my mother. She stopped calling once we moved from North Carolina to Arizona, but I still have one of the pictures she drew in a box in my closet. She could have been my mother, but there’s a reasonable chance she is dead now, or at the very least married to someone who never quite measured up to my father, but who nonetheless was a decent man. Betty could be writing this piece too. She would start with: I might have married Glenn…and I don’t know what she would have written next because I don’t know her. But I have her picture.

My father could have died with the polio in 1949 like he was supposed to. Like everyone did. Like the boy who was in the iron lung next to his who died in the night, my father talking to him in the dark, not realizing he had gone. The boy’s name was Charlie, and the two times my father spoke of him, he trailed off into ellipses.

Charlie could have lived like my father lived. He could have broken out of the iron lung and not imprinted my father with his death in the night. It is hard for a boy of eight to carry the death of a boy of seven in the dark. That’s a weight that lingers, like the bitter of chocolate.

My father could have died in 1976 after his heart attack like he was supposed to. Like the doctors said he would. Like maybe he would have, except one round of doctors had already told him in 1949 he should have died and he told them he was not going to die and so he had a script for what to do the next time he heard that.

I could have died in 2017 of colon cancer, but I didn’t. I knew how to tell the doctors no because my father told them no twice. Even when he died, he told them no. He pulled out his tubes in unconscious urgency. He clawed at his oxygen. It was his time for dying, and he was telling them no to the saving.

If my father hadn’t died in 1987, I would have gone to Oregon. I had a scholarship to William and Mary and I was desperate to get out of the desert and into the green. But I graduated from high school in 1986 and I knew I couldn’t go because my father was dying and so I didn’t go, but every time I visit the Northwest I see my shadow in the train and I see a possible life where I wouldn’t have met my husband, who is a born and bred Northern Arizona man, a man who becomes sad in the rain. Too much sun makes me sad, but not my husband, and somewhere between 1986 and now I realized that every choice I make may not give me everything I want. Every choice is many choices. I can visit the trees and the water and the damp, but I slept with many wrong people before I met my husband and I know what right feels like now, even if it’s in the desert.

If I hadn’t lived with the abuser in 1988 after my father died, I wouldn’t have had my heart smashed open to an empathy I didn’t know was possible. Or I might have died there. Other women do. I walked out of their graveyard.

If my father’s family had not been Southern Baptist we might have remained in the will and could be living in North Carolina by the Atlantic in the family home. We could have an altar of sand dollars on the dining table, gathered over years of morning walks at low tide. I might wear navy and forgo white after Labor Day and know how to can peaches. But probably not.

If I had stayed in Phoenix in 2003 instead of moving to Prescott—I had to get out of the haunting heat-sun—I wouldn’t have met my husband. I left Phoenix because a tree fell on my house and then I had a dream that echoed the dream I had when we first moved to Phoenix in 1981—I will die in this place if I don’t leave—and so I was gone in a month. This is the only time in my life I made a decision of that magnitude so quickly.

That’s not true. I told the oncologist I would not do chemotherapy and radiation even quicker. They pushed it like a desperate realtor hawking swampland in Florida but I said no. I come from a long line of people who told the doctors no. They were exasperated and fired me as a patient. This was OK because I am not patient.

If I hadn’t told my doctors no, I wouldn’t have met the psychic in Encinitas the year after my surgery who handed me a rose quartz and looked me straight like only the real psychics can do and said, “It must have been so hard for you to fight for your body’s intuition.” And I cried in the middle of the psychic fair, watching the Pacific breeze blowing her psychedelic psychic skirt around her legs. She was the first person to recognize that—the first person to let me recognize that—yes, yes, I had to fight to say no. I had to fight. The wrong choice was easier. The wrong choice was covered by insurance. My wrong choices—every single one of them—were the easier decisions. The ones that cost me my voice.

“I didn’t know how hard it would be,” I told her. Harder than cancer. Harder than surgery. The refusal to walk the pre-written cancer-journey-story filleted me. “If I did chemo, I would die,” I said. And she held my hands and let me cry and the ocean carried my salt away like she always does.

If my mother had stayed in Bay Ridge riding the R train, I wouldn’t be with her today, riding the R train, returning to Bay Ridge to eat pizza at Lucas, which is now the Brooklyn Firefly, because it was where they went for pizza when she was a girl, back when she wasn’t allowed in the special math and science high school because it was only for boys, back when my father was learning how to walk again and Betty was drawing his picture and I was waiting somewhere velvet-dark until I found the woman who was strong enough to bear all of me.

Laraine Herring holds an MFA in creative writing and an MA in counseling psychology. Her short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in national and local publications. Her fiction has won the Barbara Deming Award for Women and her nonfiction work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has appeared in K’in, Tiferet Journal, The Manifest-Station, Quiet Storm, Vice-Versa, and others. She currently directs the creative writing program at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. She can be found online at


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Advice, Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood

Some Thoughts on Parenting

October 18, 2019

By David D. Speer

Recently, my family was at a birthday party at Peter Piper Pizza in Ahwatukee. I was watching my son and his cousins run around, happy as children tend to be with pizza and games. It was while I was watching them that a few things occurred to me. These things are, in my opinion, things that all parents could and probably should have in common. With that in mind, here is some fatherly advice from an Arizona father:

  • Hug your kids. Often. For no reason at all. Sometimes they just need it and will never turn you down. In fact, hug anyone you love whenever you have a chance. Life is short.
  • Say, “I love you” as often as you can. In fact, make it the first thing your kids hear in the morning and last before sleep. Say “I love you” plenty in between, too. If we fill this world with children who know they are loved, perhaps this world will become a better place.
  • Let ‘em play. They will only be able to do this for a finite amount of time and these memories of playing will be the foundation of great memories.
    • Play with them whenever you can, too.
  • Chocolate milk was made for blowing bubbles into.
  • Don’t swear. At least don’t swear in front of your kids. If they hear you swear be prepared for possibly two things: 1) They are going to ask you what it means and 2) They may repeat it. In either case it is not a conversation you want to have.
  • Don’t get mad when the kids do something wrong and please don’t correct them in a way to embarrass them. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people yell at their kids just because they can. Its just awful to see and they may treat your grandchildren in this fashion someday.
  • Mom and Dad equals the name of God to children. Be a benevolent one.
  • Kids will go out of their way for your acceptance and to try to make you proud. If they don’t find it, they will look for someone who will accept them. Be very careful here.
  • Kids are usually quick to forgive and, therefore, you should be too. Don’t be afraid of saying “I’m sorry.” just because you’re a parent.
  • Kids are usually smart. In fact, they will surprise you if given the chance. However, don’t get hung up on math scores and academics. We all have individual talents and individual smart-ness. Kids are no exception. If they are struggling with their grades its ok. They ALL have a talent somewhere. Help them find it.
  • Teach them to say things like, “Please” and “Thank you”. They don’t cost a thing and are a simple way to be polite. Mr. Rogers was on to something with this.
  • Kids grow up fast. Before you know it, they go from asking for milk to asking to borrow the car. Cherish the little things that make them unique.
  • Take copious amounts of pictures while they are growing up. You can thank me for that one when they move out.
  • Never ask, “What’s wrong with you?” or “How many times do I have to tell you?” when you are mad. If they answer “Nothing!” or “Forty-two more times!” they gave you your answer. If you need to, take a few moments to compose yourself before dispensing discipline.
  • Be a friend when they need it and they need it more than you’d think. Be a parent when they need it too. I have found that the correct balance of parent and friend makes an amazing parent.
  • Leave home for a least a weekend once a year. Longer and more often if you can. Vacations are where the most memories of youth and strong family bonds tend to be made.
  • If you live in Arizona, get them a pool or take them to one and let them swim, all summer long.
  • You are going to make mistakes. Sometimes, big ones. Its ok. Admit it and move forward. Its when you hang on to those mistakes that things go south. Being human is allowed.
  • Stay off your phone (or other device) when your kids are around. They need to know they are more important then that text or whatever you think is more important. Trust me, they notice when you are not paying attention to them.
  • This one is for grandparents: You have waited your whole life for grandchildren, so make sure you are available for your grandchildren. The memories they have of you when they are older will resonate their entire lives. Make the most out of the small window that time has given.
  • Growing up is tough, but we can make it fun and little easier if we try.

There were some other things that hit me too. Not necessarily related to parenting, but I feel you should know:

  • Whipped cream has no business on cake and is NOT frosting, so stop trying to pass it off as such. Frosting is Frosting.
  • If you stand to pee, lift the seat. Or, at least wipe it after. To do otherwise is just lazy and gross.
  • If you haven’t called your mom today, pick up the phone and call her! Right now.
  • Don’t try to control things too much. You just can’t.
  • Delete Facebook, Instagram and other social media. IT IS A HUGE WASTE OF YOUR TIME. It also wastes the time of people closest to you. This is probably a form of addiction, though, so slowly ween yourself off.
  • No one can tell you the meaning of life but you. It is different for everyone and tends to change over time.
  • Say “Hello” when you pass someone on the street, in the hallway or at work. You never know if you are going to make a new friend or make the other person’s day.
  • Call someone from high school every year.
  • Visit all 50 states at least once (bring the kids).
  • Visit Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and South America at least once.
  • Put down that silly vapor pen. Those things will probably kill you, too.
  • When someone says, “To be honest” my first thought is that they probably tell lies most of the time.
  • Most things that seem important now probably won’t be in 10 years. (remember Walkman, Discman?)

And, finally:

  • Try something new and possibly thrilling. You’ll be glad you did.

David D. Speer is a husband, father of three, high school teacher, athletic coach, small business owner and aspiring author. He has a Master’s in Business Admin and a BA in Secondary Ed and a BA in History. He has lived in Phoenix most of his life, but has also lived in Colorado and Washington.


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Addiction, Fatherhood, Guest Posts

There’s A Bus Waiting

August 17, 2015

By David Lintvedt

We called him “Satellite Mike”, but I never knew his real name.  I heard that at one time he had a family, house and a good job, but all of that was taken away by alcohol and drugs.  For many years he’d struggled with his addictions, and had been in and out of AA, rehabs and detoxes.  By the time I met him the abuse had left him with brain damage, what we in ‘the rooms’ refer to as a wet brain, which is almost like a perpetual state of drunkenness.  This condition robbed him of his ability to think clearly and this left him unpredictable: it was a little scary, but could be interesting.

I would occasionally give Mike rides to and from meetings…and although this meant that we had to ride with the windows open (as personal hygiene was not high on his list)  I enjoyed talking with him, hearing stories of his drunken adventures, and the fantasies created by his sodden mind.  Yet these talks also left me feeling very sad, as I could see flashes of the man he once was…before the addictions took him away.

Satellite Mike had been trying to find long term sobriety for years, but every time he would get a few weeks or months of clean time together, he would feel better and decide that his problems were not that bad, and he would go on another bender.  Once he told me that he regretted not taking advantage of those opportunities to find sobriety early on, when he still had a chance; but when I knew him, he was so far gone it was hard to tell whether he was drunk or not.

We put up with Mike in the program, understanding that when he disrupted a meeting, or flipped over a table at the diner, it was because his brain was pumping out bad chemicals.  As a reward for accepting Mike, we learned a lot from him as Mike was a true power of example…a warning of what was waiting for us, if we became complacent, or let our guard down…if we ever came to believe we could handle (or even deserve) our next drink or drug.

When he was going to meetings and in treatment, Mike lived in transitional housing provided by a non-profit group called Project Hospitality, whose goal it was to help people who were struggling with addiction. When he was not sticking to his program Mike would just disappear; sometimes he’d be in a hospital, once he was locked up in jail for a short stretch, other times he was just off on a bender, perhaps sleeping in the Ferry Terminal or on the streets of Manhattan.  Eventually however, he would come back to the meetings, looking sheepish, asking for rides, food, cigarettes and forgiveness.  He came back because he knew that there was nowhere else for him to go.

Satellite Mike was living in one of these transitional housing units when he went on his final drunk.  I never learned how much of what happened was due to the amount of drugs and alcohol in his system, and how much was due to the damage already done to his brain…and in the end it really did not matter, the damage was done.

One cool and damp spring night, after being kicked out of a bar, Mike began roaming the streets of Staten Island, yelling at cars, and accosting passersby.  Finally, he got it into his head to play “bull fighter” with city buses, out on Victory Boulevard; he waved his coat like a cape, and was heard yelling “Toro, Toro!”  Several buses missed him, but as he leaped out of the way of one bus, he landed in the path of another bus, going the other way, and he was gone!

In the years since he died, I have often wondered if Mike meant to get hit by the bus that night, if that was the only way he saw to end the misery caused by his damaged brain, and the horror of not being able to drink without pain, while not being able to get sober either.


Continue Reading…

Fatherhood, Guest Posts, healing, Race/Racism

A Black Remembrance of My White Father.

June 21, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Erika Robinson

I have not shared this photo before. I have wanted to keep my father to myself, perhaps because, when he was alive, I had to share him with so many.

But it’s Father’s Day, and it is both nationally and personally a sober time. So I am giving all of us a gift by sharing my father once again.

My father left for college when he was only 16. He left for the big city from a farm in Nebraska, where he had no exposure to Black people.

There was no one whiter than my father, with his light eyes and hair, his aquiline nose, his Midwestern twang, and the way he said words like egg and roof. Tweed jackets with leather elbow patches and Oxford shirts were his uniform. He lent them a white guy cool by finishing his look with khakis and topsiders that he wore with no socks. He smoked a pipe. He loved Latin and classical music and German food. He was completely and unapologetically white.

My father was also the greatest man I have ever known. I described him to a friend recently: the way my father was committed to social justice and the cause of civil rights; the way he gave his voice, his body, his life force to the struggle for equality for Black people to the degree that he received letters of thanks during his lifetime from Martin Luther King, and to the degree that he was eulogized in Congress upon his death.

My friend said “Your father sounds as though he was very…optimistic.”

This friend of mine is a very polite young white man. I could tell from the pause between the words “very” and “optimistic” that what he’d wanted to call my father was “naive.”

Here is what my father was: he was grounded in his identity as a white man, aware of the privilege this status conferred upon him, and acutely conscious of the mantle of responsibility laid upon him to live a life of service to those upon whom society had conferred a different status entirely. Continue Reading…

Fatherhood, Guest Posts, healing, parenting

How To Parent On A Night Like This.

November 25, 2014



By Carvell Wallace

My son is home from school. He stays in bed while I take his little sister to her 4th grade class. He watches about 8 hours of television. I have to work. We watch Skyfall together in the morning. The violence is a little beyond what I would normally allow, but something about a father and son watching a spy thriller together…I can’t resist. A Final Showdown at the Scottish Manor. Helicopters and explosions. Cars with semi automatics in the headlights. Sawed off shotguns.

I pick my daughter up at 3:30 while he stays at home. I take her to the grocery. We talk about persimmons and how to tell if they’re ripe. She asks me how I decide which chicken to buy. I explain about air-chilled, and free-range, and grain fed, and hormone free. I realize that I don’t actually understand “air chilled.” I send her clear across the store to go find peanut oil. She does. I am impressed.

In the car, she asks about her brother. I tell her he’s home alone. She is quiet for a few more minutes. Then she tells a story of the time her mother went to the store and left them home alone. And they heard a sound. An explosion of a kind. And her older brother started panicking, telling her it was gunshots, telling her to close the blinds and hide on the floor. And how she became terrified and FaceTimed Mommy from her iPad. And Mommy tried to calm her down, but eventually came right home, leaving a cart filled with groceries in the aisle.

Helicopters are already circling downtown.

She tells me that she now knows that they were overreacting. That it was probably fireworks. It didn’t sound like real gunshots. She’s heard real gunshots. They happened one afternoon while she was playing on the schoolyard. The teachers told them to run inside and they didn’t even have to line up. That’s how she knew it was serious.

We come back home and the kids are reunited. Rare is the day that one has school and the other doesn’t. They are so used to being together in the same cars on the same schedule, even at different schools, that when they see each other, there is awkwardness. They want to check in. If they were adults, they might say “how was your day?” and “I missed you!” But they are not adults. So they argue about who is the worst teacher at the elementary school, and then reminisce about funny episodes of sitcoms that they’ve watched. She quizzes him on his menu, keen to make sure that he didn’t get an ice cream or a cookie on his day off. She’s always keeping track of things like this. Everything must be even.

Grand Jury Decision is expected to be read at 8pm CST.

She begins her homework. He watches vaguely racist and sexist youtube videos.

I make her a snack of plain yogurt and granola.

Rumors are starting to spread that there will be no indictment.

I already know there will be no indictment. I’ve been a black man in America for a long time.

The house is quiet, everyone engrossed in their screens. I am agitated. Scrolling social media, lead in the pit of my stomach.

We’ve been here before. As a family.

We are black people in Oakland. We talk about race a lot. We talk about gender a lot. We discuss transphobia and homophobia a lot. We discuss capitalism and civil rights a lot. We’ve heard helicopters and chants and seen the streets burn. We’ve been to protests. We’ve held signs and played drums. We’ve had our car broken into and our heart-covered backpack and pink size 3 trench coat stolen from the front seat on the first night of Occupy. We’ve driven past armies of cops in riot gear in our minivan. We’ve been here before. We are black people in Oakland. Continue Reading…

Fatherhood, Guest Posts, parenting

Powder Blue Polyester Tuxedo.

October 23, 2014


By Ben Tanzer.

There is quiet. Can you hear it? Just wait a moment. Pause. Take it in.

There is no screaming about toys, Animal Jam, showers, homework, dishes, screen time, or even screaming about why someone is screaming.

No one is complaining, crying, wheezing, moaning, grousing, grumbling, protesting, or bleating. And no one is watching Pokemon, Pretty Little Liars, Kicking It, H20, The Fosters, America’s

Got Talent, or The X Factor. It is quiet, and it is like magic. It is magic.

Noah, the little one, is lying on his back, brow furrowed, skin as buttery as ever, and he is reading Miss Daisy is Crazy!, one of the 20 million books in the My Weird School series by my new best friend Dan Gutman. Other titles include Mr. Klutz is Nuts! and Mrs. Roopy is Loopy! and on and on ad infinitum.

Myles, the older one, is sprawled out on his stomach in our bed, his spiky, mushroom cap hair flying in 50 directions, his long legs splayed everywhere, and he is re-reading, yes you read that correctly, re-reading Insurgent, a book that couldn’t be more in synch with what he loves: scrappy, underdog, outcast girl discovers she is special and then kicks all kinds of butt.

Continue Reading…

Fatherhood, Guest Posts, Inspiration, Truth

Now Is An Uncomfortable Place To Be. By Carvell Wallace.

September 29, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Carvell Wallace. 

Sometimes I have dreams where I wake up crying. Intensely. Childishly. These are dreams about a broken heart. Usually at the end of a love affair.

But last night I dreamt about Ferguson. We were there. My kids and I. There were railroad tracks. Singing. Candles and crepuscular bands of light silhouetting black bodies against the sky. I don’t remember what happened, but in the dream we failed. Somehow we failed. And I was wailing alone like a motherless child.

I kinda stopped posting about Ferguson or about police. Because there’s so much. So many unarmed people shot, killed, and beaten by police. I mean, we’re all kind of scrolling past now, aren’t we? Video shows police shoot unarmed man. Video shows suspect had his hands up. Video contradicts police story, Man in wheelchair beaten by police. See the shocking video. Woman kicked in the face by police. Pregnant woman slammed to ground by police. See the shocking video. Police arrest woman waiting for her children to use the bathroom, Police taze man waiting for his daughter to get out of daycare. See the shocking video. Police shoot man for following the directions The Police gave him. My feed would be 100% this. There would no longer be a Carvell. Just post after post after post to prove that it matters. That it’s happening and it matters. Continue Reading…


One Dad’s Search for Beauty in His Daily Parenting Routine.

March 3, 2014

By Steve Edwards.

Before I tell you about the snowy owl I saw on Christmas or why I got pulled over by the police twice in the last three days, let me say a little about my life and daily routine. I’m a husband, a father of a four-year-old boy with special needs, and I have (and my wife does, too, for that matter) a full-time job. I teach a 4/4 load as an assistant professor—writing and literature courses, mostly—at a university in central Massachusetts, and the entirety of my paycheck goes to paying for my son’s medicine, doctor’s bills and specialized pre-school. My wife’s paycheck goes toward the rest of our expenses—rent, heat, food, student loans. We make good money but barely scrape by. Sometimes we try to laugh it off, calling it our “posh special needs lifestyle.”

I get up at six and make coffee. My wife has an hour commute and is out the door about the time our son leaps from bed and starts asking what’s for breakfast. I make him toast and get together his meds. He has four of them—I think. I’ve done this routine so many times, I do it without thinking at all really. But I think it’s four. Drops go in his milk. Then a plunger-vile of another prescription. Then a teaspoon of another. Then a capsule I break open over applesauce or sorbet.

After breakfast I turn on the TV for him so I can pack his lunch, pack my lunch, then set out his clothes for the day and iron my own clothes (though admittedly, I have a gray sweater and a pair of brown cords that are in pretty high rotation because they don’t have to be ironed.) Once I’ve gotten us ready for the day, my next big task is getting my son to put on his jacket. For some reason, the thought of wearing his jacket sends my son into apocalyptical fits. He will rage and cry and curl up in a ball in the corner. I would just take him outside without his jacket—hell with it—but it’s Massachusetts, and winter, and this morning it was 5 degrees. Some days, after I’ve gotten the jacket on him and gotten him out to the car, I say, “Oops. I forgot something inside. I’ll be right back.” Then I rush inside and let out a string of profanities at the top of my lungs.

After that, I drive an hour to my son’s special preschool (where, thank god, he gets amazing care and support). Then it’s another hour commute to my job. And that’s pretty much the morning—frenetic and mind-numbingly dull at the same time. The rest of the day, I meet with students and try to appear like a normal human to my colleagues who probably wonder why I am wearing that sweater and those cords AGAIN. After work, I race home, clean up the breakfast dishes and prepare dinner for my wife and son who are both exhausted from their days, and cranky (as am I, most nights). An hour of after-dinner television or music and it’s bedtime for my son. You can imagine how well this goes over: he yells, screams, swats at us, cries his eyes out, and then—once he’s finally in bed—turns so angelic I hate to say goodnight because this is the only good part of the day. “Sing me a song, Daddy,” he says. “Sing me ‘Thunder Road.’”

And of course I do. You have to.

That’s a typical day for us in what has been anything but a typical year. At the end of the summer, I had a kidney stone and had to make a midnight run to the emergency room. Two days later, with no warning at all, our son’s preschool (a different one from where he goes now) said he needed a full-time aide or they wouldn’t allow him back. Spoiler alert: we didn’t think he needed a full-time developmental aide, and we couldn’t have afforded a full-time developmental aide even if we did. So they effectively booted him from preschool two days after my kidney stone and only a week before my fall semester started. After a mad scramble to find him a new school—because if we didn’t find him a new school, either my wife or I would have had to quit our jobs in order to pay for the services our son did, in fact, need—after all that, my wife got sick with pneumonia. She hacked and coughed and was practically bed-ridden for three and a half weeks in the month of October.

Then (yes, there’s more) after she had recovered, she slipped while carrying our sleeping boy from the car to the house and badly damaged her left knee. She was on crutches for a month, and, thankfully, only needed a cortisone shot and not full blown reconstructive surgery. But she was in severe pain every day, and it often woke her at night if she shifted in her sleep. And none of these challenges, of course, made it any easier for my wife or I to do our jobs, to work with our special needs child, or manage the bills that kept pouring in like so much floodwater in a basement.

So it doesn’t surprise me that, through it all, I forgot to get the sticker for my car that certifies it has been inspected by the state to meet emissions standards. In Massachusetts it’s something you have to do every year, and, as an environmentalist, I’m glad the state makes at least a cursory effort to protect our air and water. That’s why I drive a Prius—to lessen my environmental impact. But what can I say, Prius or not: I forgot to get the inspection. I didn’t have the sticker.

The first day I got pulled over was a Wednesday morning after a big snowstorm, and preschool had been delayed for two hours. This meant that instead of prepping for the class I had to teach that afternoon, I was watching Barney & Friends with my kid. I drove by the police car, it pulled out behind me and the lights came on.

The officer took my license and registration back to his cruiser and ran them through his computer, then returned and pointed out my expired state inspection sticker. I was frustrated by the delay in an already delayed day, and annoyed that that was the reason he had pulled me over (Didn’t he have something better to do?), but I thanked the officer for only giving me a warning ticket and was on my way. The encounter took about fifteen minutes, and I made mental plans to get the inspection on Saturday. Which is exactly what I explained to the officer who pulled me over this morning for the exact same reason. Only this time I was driving my son to an early 8 a.m. appointment with his speech therapist and we were on a busy stretch of road.

We were on a busy stretch of road at the busiest time of the morning commute. I passed the police car, thought about Wednesday morning’s episode, and breathed a sigh of relief when it didn’t pull out behind me. But then—off in the distance, in my rearview mirror: flashing blue lights. Surely, I thought, he can’t be rushing after me. He wouldn’t force the eight or ten cars behind me, at the height of the morning commute, to pull over just so he could hassle me for having an expired state inspections sticker on my Prius on the way to take my special needs child to speech therapy.


“License and registration,” the officer said as the cars on the road whooshed by and my son repeatedly asked why the police man was talking to us.

I handed the officer my license and registration, and I showed him the warning ticket I’d gotten on Wednesday. I told him that I had made arrangements to get the inspection done on Saturday.

“Just be sure you do that,” he said sternly, handing back my papers. “You’re two months expired. You’re living on borrowed time.”

“I’m going Saturday,” I said again.

“It only takes fifteen-twenty minutes,” he said.

I told him a third time that I would get it done Saturday and thanked him, and after we had started off down the road and the officer had turned, I banged the steering wheel and in frustration yelled, “FUCK!”

And in back my son said, “FUCK!”

Before we got pulled over this morning, I had been thinking that I would write something about Beauty and the necessity of Beauty for getting through hard times. I had been thinking about our trip on Christmas Day. We drove out to the coast, north of Boston—just the three of us—to gorgeous Plum Island and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. It was cold but clear. Fourteen degrees. Breezy. Along one of the roads by the water some cars were stopped, and some people had big-lensed cameras held up to their faces. They had spotted a snowy owl. At my wife’s suggestion, I pulled over and grabbed my binoculars and ran out to catch a glimpse of the bird.

Before getting pulled over this morning, I thought I would reflect on the incredible and almost healing beauty of that owl’s stoic countenance among the rustling beach grasses, the Atlantic gleaming like a dark blue crystal in the distance. I wanted to say: THIS. This matters. Beauty matters.

But after getting pulled over, that sweet thought was gone, replaced by adrenaline and anger and resentment.

I wanted to tell the officer that I didn’t have fifteen minutes to just buzz by and get an inspection, that we all lived on borrowed time. I wanted to tell my son not to say the F-word. I wanted to tell myself not to say the F-word in front of my son. I wanted my wife to again be the healthy, happy and wonderful woman I had married five years ago, and I wanted to again be her healthy, happy and wonderful husband, and not the sleep-deprived, stressed out, anxious, grumpy mess I had become. I wanted my son to just be better. To be healed somehow. To not yell and scream and cry all the time. To not be overcome by mysterious waves of gut pain. To not say to his mother in stern tones: “Mommy, you are NOT my friend! YOU ARE NOT!” I wanted us all to feel good for a change. I wanted that, and the only thing I could do was to keep driving and breathe deep and hope that that owl might glide back into my thoughts on silent wings.


*This article originally appeared on The Good Men Project.

Steve Edwards lives in Massachusetts with his wife and son. He is author of the memoir Breaking into the Backcountry, the story of his seven months of solitude as the caretaker of a 95-acre homestead along the Rogue National Wild and Scenic River in southern Oregon. You can find him online at and @The_Big_Quiet on Twitter.

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer living on an airplane and the founder of The Manifest-Station.  She’s leading a Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing for all levels. She and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Check out her site for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up is NYC in March followed by Dallas, Seattle and London. 

Inspiration, Q & A Series

Cameron Mathison: From Good Morning America Correspondent to Family Man. The Manifestation Q&A Series.

May 2, 2012

Welcome to The Manifestation Q&A Series.

 I am Jennifer Pastiloff and this series is designed to introduce the world to someone I find incredible. Someone who is manifesting their dreams on a daily basis.

Someone like Cameron Mathison.

I first met Cameron in December when Good Morning America came to film my Karaoke Yoga class at Equinox. I knew I liked him right away when I offered to give him one of my Manifestation t-shirts which I sell to raise money for Prader Willi Research (you can see him wearing it in the segment) and he insisted to pay for it. I told him it was a gift and he refused. I knew right then and there, before we even began to film, just what kind of guy this handsome man was. He may be beautiful on the outside (and he is folks, he is) but, I can assure you, he is way more beautiful on the inside. He fished in his pockets and found $25 and made me take it knowing where the money was going. (My nephew has a rare genetic disorder called Prader Willi Syndrome.)

The whole room was meant to sing for the duration of the class but right away I asked Cameron if he wanted to do a duet with me. (Mind you, I cannot sing at all.) For me, it was a way to get way out of my comfort zone. He said no.

Sweetly, of course.

He then turned around and said he would sing the duet. He too would conquer his fear.


It was at that moment I knew that I really loved this guy.

Needless to say, we sang a duet of “I Got You Babe” and it was one of the best moments of my entire life. My cheeks hurt from laughing. I had never felt such pure joy and such freedom. I also knew I had made a new friend.

Click here to watch us on Good Morning America.

Singing "Let It Be" during my Karaoke Yoga Class at Equinox for Good Morning America

Cameron is inspiring on so many levels. He travels nonstop for Good Morning America, and yet and still, is an incredibly devoted father and husband. He practices and teaches meditation and is committed to serving others in a way I haven’t seen in many actors. He truly makes me want to be a better person, and that folks, is the kind of friend I want.

I might also add that one of the things that I find most inspiring and refreshing about him is his devotion to meditation. We can all learn from him. (Or, at least I can, with my monkey mind.) Below he says: Through meditation I have recognized that all the happiness there is in the world comes from wishing others to be happy.

Does it get any better than that?

His answers below are honest and funny, inspiring and authentic. Cameron Mathison is someone you should know. 

Below he says “I truly feel that my success has been largely because I try to be appreciative, kind and I ALWAYS try to enjoy what I do.” I can safely say that Cameron is waling the talk. That is exactly how he comes across.

It is my greatest delight to share his delicious gems with you today. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you most proud to have manifested in your life?

Cameron Mathison: A family so full of love. We are so incredibly close it’s amazing. Just this morning my 5 yr old daughter said she wanted to marry her brother Lucas. Then she added… And Daddy! Just lots of love.

We are a family that tries to emphasize Love and kindness. We take the kids to a Sunday morning “Dharma for Kids” class where there is a little meditation and a teaching on Love, patience, generosity, compassion etc… So sweet.

We really feel grateful for what we have and continue to try and bring meaning into our lives by being a benefit to others. I think I’m most proud to have manifested that. A family that seems to be on a spiritual path together:)

Jennifer Pastiloff: A mantra I love by is “I do what I love and I love what I do.” You seem to embody this as well. Have you always lived this way?

Cameron Mathison: I truly feel that my success has been largely because I try to be appreciative, kind and I ALWAYS try to enjoy what I do. Even during the most challenging times in my career I really try to smile and have a positive attitude. I also try not to grasp too much at my job being a true source of happiness. I enjoy it and I am so grateful, but it’s not how I define myself. I wasn’t always that way, which was difficult when things wouldn’t go they way I had hoped. I try to keep a much healthier perspective regarding work which allows me to enjoy it even more.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I know you are pretty serious about your meditation practice. Can you share with us a bit about that and about your teaching?

Cameron Mathison: Meditation has changed my life. It has shown me how our experience of our world is totally dependent on our mind. Studying meditation makes clear nothing is fixed and is completely fluid and changeable. Engrained habits of body, speech and mind can be completely reversed through a meditation practice and in doing so attaining a much more stable and genuine happiness. Nobody is inherently angry or bad, nobody is forever one way or the other. Meditation is an extremely powerful tool to make changes in our life that lead to deep happiness regardless of our external conditions… And in doing so, we become such a benefit to those around us. All based on the fact that true happiness comes from inner peace. We know this from experience… Sometimes when things are going well in our lives we can still get upset or depressed if our mind is not peaceful. In the same way, when things externally may be falling apart, we can still be peaceful and happy if our mind is peaceful. Meditation is a phenominal tool to develop lasting peace and happiness.

Yes, I occasionally get the opportunity to teach classes at Kadampa Meditation Center. Its an extremely meaningful way for me to volunteer my time:)

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who/what inspires you the most?

Cameron Mathison: People that devote their life to benefitting others. Massively inspiring to me. Something that I continually try to improve… My ability to benefit others.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your children?

Cameron Mathison: That I have a lot of work to do on myself! They are the ultimate teachers. I am a very involved dad and I never want to stop trying to improve myself for their benefit and the benfit of others. My kids can show me the areas I still need work on:)

I feel like our time here on this earth is very short in the grand scheme of things and I want to use my time here to become the best person I can be.

My kids show me that I can become more patient (especially at homework time!), a better listener (when I have tons of other things to attend to). They have shown me how deeply it is possible to love… How wonderful if we could expand that love to others!

The Mathison family.

Jennifer Pastiloff: From being an actor?

Cameron Mathison: Hmmm…. What have I learned from being an actor? To be less self aware. I think in order to be a good actor on some level you have to not worry about what others are thinking. To truly lose yourself in a role. I think before I began acting I was too concerned about what others thought of me. Through my career I was able to start letting that go.

Jennifer Pastiloff: From being married?

Cameron Mathison: That it takes work. That life becomes so meaningful when we work and try to improve ourselves. That taking responsibilty for OUR part in any conflict is so incredibly important. That blaming is toxic. It’s through my wife that I found the meditation practice I study so there’s no way to express my gratitude. The love and connection we have is beyond what I thought was possible, and it’s largely due to being on a spiritual journey together.

Jennifer Pastiloff: From your meditation practice?

Cameron Mathison: That true, real happiness comes from within… From inner peace. In general we try to solve our problems externally. Fixing a situation “out there”. New partner, new job, new house, change this or that. Arranging our externals so we can be “happy”. That happiness generally is only temporary. By training in meditation we can be happy “no matter what”. It’s so liberating. Of course we still try to fix a diff situation when we can, but meditation has taught me that the real the real source of happiness is a peaceful mind.

Jennifer Pastiloff: From teaching meditation?

Cameron Mathison: That I have so much to learn. Sometimes its hard to express my experience with meditation to a class. I guess because my “self” still gets in the way… Can’t wait to get out of my own way and simply just try to benefit others. It’s such powerful stuff. Luckily I have an incredible teacher so I just have to follow his lead.

The bulk of the classes are guided meditations with some Buddhist philosophy and teachings in Between.

Of course by having the opportunity to teach, I end up learning SO much about what I’m teaching.

Jennifer Pastiloff: From singing a duet with me on Good Morning America?

Cameron Mathison: That I conquered yet another fear!!! You helped me with that! Never thought I would do that.

Cameron Mathison: What has been your favorite part about being a correspondent for GMA?

Cameron Mathison: GMA has given me the chance to literally learn and expand a whole new career. They have been beyond kind to me. I love my job with them. Not only because I get to do all sorts of fun segments, but because they are like an extended family. Beyond grateful for the continued opportunities there.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who has been your greatest teacher?

Cameron Mathison: That’s an easy one: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. He is an internationally known meditation master and phenomenal teacher and author that is guiding so many people to find true lasting happiness:)

Jennifer Pastiloff: If you weren’t acting and being a host what would you be doing?

Cameron Mathison: Hmmmm… I used to say a ski instructor in the winter and work at a golf club in the summer. I’m not sure anymore. Maybe a full time volunteer:) 

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are some words you live by?

Cameron Mathison: 

Happiness comes from inner peace.

Be kind.

We can do anything we put our minds to. The mind is infinitely powerful.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Let’s talk Twitter. I love what you tweet. How has social media played a part in your life and your career?

Cameron Mathison: Thanks for saying that. I try to balance the everyday “what I’m working on” stuff, with some meaningful spiritual tweets. I find it very hard to balance it. I actually don’t think I am very good at it! I’m trying!

I’m not sure how social media has affected my life and career. Well, I do host an online show as well part owner of the app FRIENDTHEM, so I guess it has affected my career! Both opportunities have been absolutely great. Very grateful.

I think we have to be a little careful because It sure can be a big distraction if you let it. There is pressure out there to tweet about different jobs etc… But I really like to use it as a way to put out some good energy:)

Jennifer Pastiloff: What was it like being on the red carpet at this year’s Oscars?

Cameron Mathison: So cool! I was on the red carpet, then back stage during the show for a live web cast, and then GMA the next morning. What an experience.

Jennifer Pastiloff: My sister Rachel, whose one son has Prader Willi Syndrome asked me to ask you the following: How does one continue to manifest your dreams while being a parent? I watch you travel so much and I am fascinated by how you juggle it all.

Cameron Mathison: Great question. The answer is I pretty much cut out everything else in my life! Until I find a bit more balance with work, the only things I’m doing these days are work and be a dad (all while integrating my spiritual practice). I literally schedule my flights and trips around pick up and drop offs at school:)

Cameron and his kids.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Do you practice yoga?

Cameron Mathison: No:(

I certainly have the wish! Vanessa and i even had someone come to our house to try and do private classes so we could fit it into out life. Didn’t last:(

Help me Jen!!!

(Note from Jen: ask and you shall receive.)

Jennifer Pastiloff: Gratitude is the greatest force In my life. Most of my classes are set to this theme. If you could say thank you right now, who would it be to?

Cameron Mathison: I literally don’t have the time to write the list it would be so long!

The obvious ones are my parents, wife, kids and My spiritual teacher Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

I really try to be grateful all the time.. To everyone. I train in it actually. It’s such a powerful mind. Even the people that might seem unkind can be seen as people to be grateful to. For helping me train in patience, compassion, love etc…

Jennifer Pastiloff: When is the last time you have laughed at yourself?

Cameron Mathison: All the time! I think laughing at oneself is a great way not to take ourselves too seriously.

(Note from Jen: My most famous rule in my yoga class, as Cameron very well knows, is if you fall you MUST laugh.)

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is your favorite memory?

Cameron Mathison: I’m not sure if these are my actual top 3… But they are up there:)

1) The birth of both my kids. In an instant when Lucas and Leila came into the world my life had greater meaning. It’s very hard to explain, but it was like my first real experience of how blissful it is to be more concerned about others than myself. Of course I thought about others before that, but this was on such a deeper level.

2) A sort of meditation retreat I did in Brazil. My spiritual teacher was giving teachings at this remote temple in Brazil and I flew down to listen and meditate. There was no cell service or emails or any distractions like that. All I did was listen to beautiful teachings, meditate and volunteer. I remember noticing such freedom from any negativity in my mind. Totally free from anger, attachment, craving, jealousy or any agitation. Just a truly peaceful mind.

It made me realize the potential we all have. 

3) Our honeymoon. It was 7 years late so I thought I had to go all out! We were in the Maldives and it ws the first time we had been away from the kids like that. Really spectacular time together. I will never forget it.

Jennifer Pastiloff: How has meditation changed your life?

Cameron Mathison: I’ll try to keep this short because I could talk about it all day:)

Meditation has had the single biggest positive impact on my life.

We live in a world where it seems we are encouraged to do everything possible to distract ourselves. Internet, tv, movies, video games, cell phones, ipads, etc… Its so rare to take an opportunity to look “inward”.

I couldn’t even go across town in a cab in NYC without plugging into my iPod, or getting on my cell phone. Literally I panicked when I was somewhere alone and couldn’t “tune out” through distractions. I had literally never been alone with my own mind in a still and peaceful way. Whenever problems arose I would just try to adjust “externals” to fix them. I would also try to numb out through distractions and objects of attachment. That would work for a little while but it never lasted.

Meditation changed all of that.

When faced with adversity I learned first to look inward to solve the problem. Of course I still try to adjust situations externally if I can, but the key is to do it with a calm and peaceful mind.

My meditation practice has brought inconceivable meaning to my life.

I have learned to watch my mind and see what thoughts are beneficial and lead to real happiness, and which thoughts are deceptive and lead to agitation and suffering.

I have learned that if I change my mind, I change my perception of the world.

I have learned how much more of a benefit I can be to others by watching and training in virtuous states of mind.

Through meditation I have recognized that all the happiness there is in the world comes from wishing others to be happy.

I should point out that we don’t need to be sitting in formal meditation to meditate. We can do it anytime in anyplace! Some of my best insights come to me meditating in a car, walking, or on a plane:)


Jennifer Pastiloff: What’s next for you? 

Cameron Mathison: Wish I knew. So much change in my life lately. It’s been a great opportunity to practice acceptance and patience. Whatever is coming my way I hope I handle it with a happy mind:)

Cameron at the Oscars!

The beautiful Mathison family.

Cameron on Dancing With The Stars:

Clip of the class singing “Let It Be” during Karaoke Yoga:

Follow Cameron Mathison on Twitter here for daily doses of inspiration and to see where in the world his adventures with GMA take him.

Jennifer Pastiloff is currently a writer for Positively Positive and is writing her first book. She travels the world leading Manifestation Retreats and workshops. When she is not traveling, she is based in Los Angeles where she leads public and private yoga classes. To book a workshop with Jen or to buy a Manifestation t-shirt to raise money for Prader Willi Syndrome please visit

Connect with Jen on Facebook 

Connect with Jen on Twitter

Cameron and I after we filmed for GMA. Sweaty and happy.

Inspiration, Q & A Series

Alimi Ballard: Divine Source of Inspiration. The Manifestation Q&A Series.

January 16, 2012

Welcome to The Manifestation Q&A Series. 

I am Jennifer Pastiloff and this series is designed to introduce the world to someone I find incredible. Someone who is manifesting their dreams on a daily basis.

Alimi Ballard

Dear Manifesters, I have been bugging this guy for ages and it has finally happened! He did a Q&A! I have known Alimi Ballard for about 15 years. I first met him when I was working at the Newsroom Cafe and his girlfriend Dahn (now wife) became my regulars over a period of 13 years. I watched them grow and marry and have kids. 

This is a special guest for many reasons. He has seen me on my journey in a way most have not. He has watched me transform into what I am now, and, he is one of my biggest champions. He is also my go-to source for inspiration.

Alimi is an actor by trade but I think of him as my spiritual guru. I stalk his Twitter and Facebook daily for positive messages and simply to feel good. ( I recommend you do the same.) I find people in my life who I want to model my life after and he is at the very top of my list. His positivity is infectious, Manifesters. 

You may recognize from the film Fast 5 or the tv show Numb3rs, where he was one of the leads. I want you to get to know him because he is a divine source of inspiration, wisdom, joy, and goodness for me. He is an amazing father, husband, actor, friend, and teacher. His answers below made me smile as I knew they would. It is my greatest honor to introduce you to one of my oldest regulars from my waitressing days who is now one of my dearest friends and teachers.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you most proud to have manifested in your life?

Alimi Ballard: Most proud of manifesting….well co-manifesting ( the wife and GOD had a part in it too 😉 the two DAZZLING, DYNAMIC, DIVINE souls that are my children.

– Secondly, it would be MANIFESTING my path.. my earth-walk.. my calling.. my way.. having discovered why I AM HERE. 🙂

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is the greatest lesson you learn from your kids?

Alimi Ballard: Humility. I believe, if you are paying attention, the presence of children reconnects you to GOD. To that vast other side. The very act of them EXISTING from a drunken night of naughtiness with my wife STILL bugs me out. I can always FEEEEEEL the aspect of life that is BIGGER than what I can put my two hands on, when I see them.

Jennifer Pastiloff:  You are such a source of positive inspiration for me and for so many people. Where does all this positivity stem from?

Alimi Ballard: About two year ago something happened to me. In the most mundane of events, I was watching a music video ( yup, it was Wale ‘Nike Boots’ ) and had an epiphany. Hahahahahahaaa….I kid you not. I’m watching, enjoying the song and BAM, a light comes on. I realized that I didn’t have to WAIT to make a difference. I could affect POSITIVE CHANGE from right where I was at AT the moment. What I have to give.. share.. offer.. is ready right now. “You can make a DIFFERENCE….no matter WHO you are. No matter WHERE you are.”

Jennifer Pastiloff: What can we expect Alimi to be manifesting for 2012?

Alimi Ballard: My first BILLBOARD!!!! Look for me on the side of the BUS when you’re in traffic. 🙂

Jennifer Pastiloff: If you could say thank you to one person right now, who would it be?

Alimi Ballard: Kwasi. He was a father figure to me from about 10 months to 4 years. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who/what inspires you the most?

Alimi Ballard: The ACT of sharing that INNER LIGHT that LIBERATES, HEALS & TRANSFORMS. Whether you’re on a street corner, Thanksgiving diner or in a Yoga Studio you can sometimes FEEL it. Sometimes you can FEEL when the air is charged with that special BUZZ that gives off goosebumps. OOOOHHHWEEEEE!!!!!

Jennifer Pastiloff: When was the bets part of working on Fast 5?

Alimi Ballard: Running the risk of playing favorites, it was Dwayne THE ROCK Johnson. I’ve been in the ent. industry for about 20yrs and know that how people SEEM, may not always match up when you meet them in person. I can honestly say that Dwayne exceeds all expectations of Graciousness, Warmth & Sincerity. Being roughly the sized of a Sherman tank, it would be so easy to have an intimidating persona. THE EXACT OPPOSITE. 🙂 The man is like the Mayor wherever he goes. Humility in ACTION is such sight to behold.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I see you are directing now. How did that come about and can we expect more of that in the future?

Alimi Ballard: I haven’t gotten to directing just yet, but I have begun producing and writing. The 1st short film I’ve produced, along with my wife ( she also wrote it :), ‘INTERCEPTION’ it getting great Film Festival reception. YES!!! 

Currently developing an action based web series that I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED ABOUT!!!! So yes, more behind the camera fun-ness in the future. 🙂 

Jennifer Pastiloff: I miss seeing you on my tv screen weekly. Any plans to return to episodic television?

Alimi Ballard: MANIFESTING as we speak. 🙂 Very Excited!!!

Jennifer Pastiloff: If there was one message you could share with people who want to manifest their dreams, what would it be?

Alimi Ballard: “Visualize this thing you WANT. See it, feel it, BELIEVE in it. Make your mental BLUEPRINT and begin.” – Robert Collier (Note from Jen: this is manifesting folks! This it it!)

Jennifer Pastiloff: I have a list of rules. See below. What would some of Alimi’s rules be…..

Alimi Ballard: Be KIND


– Do as much GOOD wherever and WHENEVER you can.

– Worrying is a habit….STOP THAT!!!

– Learn to love yourself FIRST, before trying to LOOOOOOOOOVE anybody else. ( It’s like being on a plane when the Oxygen masks fall. Put yours on FIRST, then get to the person next to you. 🙂

– Nobody is allowed in the bathroom when daddy is occupying the throne. PERIOD!

– This life is NOT a dress rehearsal. This is the BIG SHOW….and the clock is ticking. BRING THE RAUCOUS BABY!!!!

Jennifer Pastiloff: Where can we find more of you?





Jen Pastiloff’s rules:

1. Be Kind.

2. Have a sense of humor especially when it comes to yourself

3. Write poems, even if only in your head

4. Sing out loud, even if badly

5. Dance

6. If you don’t have anything nice to say… you know the deal

7. Find things to be in awe of

8. Be grateful for what you have right now .

9. Watch Modern Family

10. Duh, do yoga

11. Don’t worry. Everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier and funner lives. They don’t.

12. Tell someone you love that you love them. Right now.

13.. Take more pictures.

14. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. No such thing.

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