I Stand with Planned Parenthood

I was 23 the first time I used Planned Parenthood’s services. I was uninsured, broke and in need of a medical exam. At that time, I just dropped out of college so I couldn’t use the campus clinic and going to the ER was out of the question. Planned Parenthood was the most affordable choice for me, and for my friends, who recommended that I go and seek out their services. I received quality care from professionals at a low cost and felt safe.

Last week, when I read about the House and their decision to freeze funding for Planned Parenthood for a year, I was livid. I understood their ruling (even though I still think it’s ridiculous) and my heart went out to the millions of people who rely on their services. 2.7 million women and men in the United States visit Planned Parenthood health centers annually, with one in five American women visiting a Planned Parenthood at least once in her life. Despite what some think Planned Parenthood does, Planned Parenthood provides nearly 400,000 Pap tests and nearly 500,000 breast exams each year. They provide about 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including 700,00 HIV tests. The organization also provides educational programs and outreach to 1.5 million young people and adults each year. Only about 3% of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services.

Today, I stand with Planned Parenthood. I am in support of women’s health care and affordable care. As a woman who still uses Planned Parenthood for contraceptive services, I don’t want to see this great organization fall and not be there for those who need it most. If you are in support, wear pink today. Attend one of the many support rallies across the country. Donate. Volunteer your time in a Planned Parenthood facility. Learn about what Planned Parenthood does for your community.

#IStandWithPlannedParenthood

What is Making Me Happy This Week

It’s autumn! Hello snuggle weather! My favorite time of year! I’m cozy in sweaters and beanies and am getting ready to plan my holiday season. Last week, I baked my first pie and started keeping tabs on the movies that I think will win an Oscar next March (Johnny Depp in “Black Mass” for best actor, all the way).

September is the time of year where I start pinching pennies, thinking about the perfect gift I’m going to buy my loved ones for the holidays. Because I enjoy spoiling everyone, I have to go all out with presents. That usually means skipping cocktails on Friday night so I can throw some bills in the presents fund jar (not fun).

Personal Capital reached out and asked me how do I stretch my dollars during the start of this money-hungry season. Other than keeping up with new fall TV (I’m stoked for “Blackish” and the new “Heroes” miniseries), I embrace the chill and venture outside. I love long walks and bike rides through my neighborhood with my fellow, watching the leaves change and talking about who’s making what for Thanksgiving. The air is crisp enough so you can spend a couple hours at the park, reading a good book or getting people together for impromptu kick ball game. If you rather spend your time indoors, fall is good time to sort through your closet, getting rid of your summer clothing you didn’t wear. Get together with friends and have a clothing swap, donating all the ungrabbed pieces to your favorite thrift store. My all-time favorite thing to do in fall is bake- the materials for chocolate chip cookies aren’t expensive and in the end, you have some warm chocolately goodness in your belly.

This post is a collaboration with Personal Capital– all opinions are my own. Thank you for reading and supporting 20Something!

Each week, my favorite NPR podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour ends their program with the question, “What is making me happy this week?” The podcast’s commentators then share the best parts of their lives from Sunday ’til Saturday. As I’m trying to live a more positive life and focus more on my own happiness, I started asking myself this question, with hopes that I can happiness everywhere in my world.

What is Making Me Happy This Week

With Burning Man still on my mind, I’ve been thinking of ways to incorporate the event’s ten principals into my daily life in the “default world.” Enter: Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is a social media site where you invite travelers into your home to stay or show them around your town. I’ve hosted many surfers, who dip into Reno during long car trips and need a place to sleep and shower. It’s moment where I can share kindness, make a friend and explore the world around me (I’ve had surfers from as far as Australia and the Czech Republic).

Last night, I hosted this cool girl named Alex, who was driving up to the Oregon coast to visit her family. We drank on the patio at a bar around the corner, talking about our jobs, life in Vegas and of course, Burning Man, and she later gave me a great shoulder massage. This morning as the sun rose, I sent Alex off on her way, with a big hug and an invite to come back and stay in my home again.

Each week, my favorite NPR podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour ends their program with the question, “What is making me happy this week?” The podcast’s commentators then share the best parts of their lives from Sunday ’til Saturday. As I’m trying to live a more positive life and focus more on my own happiness, I started asking myself this question, with hopes that I can happiness everywhere in my world.

Taxi Driver (How To Let Go and Get Over)

“Taxi driver/ It’s rush hour/ So take the streets if you wanna/ Just outrun the demons, could you?” -Frank Ocean

I chatted with a friend this morning about her recent break up. She and her ex-boyfriend ended on good terms and agreed to be friends. They went to another friend’s party over the weekend, where the ex brought the new girl he was dating. My friend realized that she wasn’t over him and was heartbroken (cue in the Frank Ocean lyrics). Getting over someone is the worst, isn’t it? Thoughts about that someone who hurt you so badly that they suck the breath out of your lungs and leaves you awake at night, wondering what did you do wrong? Did you say the wrong thing? Do the wrong thing? But somehow, in some way, you get over that person.

How do you get over something, whether it’s a person or a terrible moment in your life? Many say time is the answer but is that the true thing we need? I keep thinking about a previous position that I once held- I hated the work and the blah-sounding title but it paid me the largest paychecks of my life. I had phenomenal insurance. It was close to home and with the exception of my boss, I loved my co-workers. But I left it, looking for greener pastures. I’ve had good positions since then but there hasn’t been anything quite like it. There are some nights I lie awake in bed and think of what my life would be like if I stuck with the job, especially when I’m due for a dentist appointment and my Obamacare doesn’t pay for it. I’m not over that job. I still want that job. Sometimes, I want to email my old boss and beg for it back even though I know they found someone to replace me.

I know when I think thoughts like that, I’m only punishing myself. I’m stuck in the past, wandering through the land of what-ifs. I keep reliving the guilt and pain, like Sisyphus pushing the boulder uphill. Remembering to be in the present helps- it’s evidence of what we need right now; a here-and-now problem, not a past problem. I find if my mind wandering, I try to think about the positive affects- quitting that awful job has inspired me to create a more “Andrea-like” job path with dreams of consulting and independent research. Those “what if” generalizations are bull. They may be defense mechanisms but they are turning into my personal rock that I don’t want to lift anymore. No one should do heavy lifting (unless you want big biceps).

And some advice to my friend: you are brave and wonderful. It takes a lot of courage to be friends with your ex (I know, I’ve tried). Usually when a friend breaks up with their partner, I suggest going out and sleeping with the first person who messages them on Tinder. But you’re better than that- we both know it and both know that you deserve the best. Your healing will take some time- but that time now is all about you. After breaking-up with my second boyfriend, I got really into bicycle riding and trips to the library- some physical and mental brain activity. I implemented those habits of biking to get a new book every couple of days- now, those actions are my habits. My life really does revolve around my bicycle. Find that something and do it every day. Make that your happy thought; the thing that keeps you alive like air. That thing will help cure the heartache. I know you’re jealous and want to show off random hot dates at the next party- and I know that when you’re ready to date again, you will do that with confidence, not in spite. Just now- be easy on yourself and find your happiness. Take a break from talking to your ex and remember that you’re awesome- you’re the one who taught me how to be cool, remember?

How do you get over something, dear reader?

What is Making Me Happy This Week

Oh, internet! What would we do without you?

I spend a good chunk of time online every day. This week, I’m creating a new website for my job and spent a lot of my free time checking out other’s Burning Man photos on Reddit and Imgur. I feel like the internet is something that I highly take for granted- I just can’t imagine my life without it- when I lose connection, I die a little inside. When I first wake up, I go online to check out the weather report. I check my favorite news outlets after my shower and listen to podcasts and Spotify during my day at work. During my breaks, I blog and research interesting topics (like cheese). In the evening, I chat and Skype with friends in NYC and the Bay area and check out Yelp to read the reviews on the new restaurant I’m going to have dinner at. I end the day watching Netflix and emailing my mom.

Sure, I have I heard that the internet is terrible (true, there are many awful sites) and a huge time waster but I’m grateful to have such powerful technology every day at the end of my fingertips. I love staying connected to my loved ones and the world.

Each week, my favorite NPR podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour ends their program with the question, “What is making me happy this week?” The podcast’s commentators then share the best parts of their lives from Sunday ’til Saturday. As I’m trying to live a more positive life and focus more on my own happiness, I started asking myself this question, with hopes that I can happiness everywhere in my world.

Motivational Mon… THURSDAY!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and cookies. What do these two have in common?

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Other than the scene where Buffy describes herself as unbaked cookie dough, Buffy and cookies are my motivation when I run. It’s silly (I know) but sometimes, you need to fill your life with bad asses, like Ms. Summers. Buffy is strong and tough. When I don’t feel like running, I ask myself, what would Buffy do (WWBD)? Buffy has to stay fit in order to slay vampires and demons so of course, she would go for a run. When I’m in slayer mode with my sneakers pounding the pavement, it’s cookies I think about. I tell myself that I can eat the entire sleeve of frozen Thin Mints when I get home. Images of their chocolate goodness dance in my head. But by the time I get home, I’m filled with so much positive energy that the idea of sugar sounds too much for me to handle (no need to get crazy).

Exercise aside, motivation is a fleeting concept for me. Take this blog, for example. There are times where I have to force myself to log on to WordPress and type. A good chunk of the time, I have no idea what I’m going to write about- I tell myself, don’t write this crap. Let’s take a nap instead. I feel that way about a lot of things- see me when I first wake up. If my cat wasn’t pawing at me for breakfast, I would spend all day in bed.

So, what gets me up in the morning? For most of my twenties, it was my paycheck- a girl has got to eat! But as I’ve gotten older, work wasn’t given me that sustaining feeling. Although I loved most of my jobs, they were no longer the things I lived for. When I started dating, my partners were. But that has changed the older I’ve become. I’m a firm believer that you can’t put all your emotional needs in a basket when it comes to relationships, Although my boyfriend makes me insanely happy, no one should depend on their partner for all their happiness. What does that leave you with?

At the end of the day, you only have you. Sure, loved ones can be motivating. The actress saying inspiring things in the magazine can be motivating. There are books and lectures. Even destructive habits like comparing yourself to others can be motivating. But you are the person who needs to get up and take action. You are that one individual who can make that change or do that task. So, get off your chair and get moving.

How do you motivate yourself, dear reader?

Reflections of Burning Man

Waiting for the Man to burn

Waiting for the Man to burn

Although it’s been on my bucket list for most of my twenties, I never thought I’d make it out to Burning Man. I never have been a person for the outdoors until recently- frankly, I just hate sweating (almost to the point where I want botox injections in my armpits). For those who don’t know, Burning Man is a week-long event out in the middle of the Nevada desert, about a three hour drive from my home in Reno. The conditions are rough- the temperature highs can peak to the 11os and the lows to the 20s. Add the wind swirling the fine desert sand 60+ mph and it can be torture. But year after year, 70,000 people gather their RVs and camping equipment and rough it out. Why? Burning Man is this all encompassing festival with art, culture, bicycles, lights, music, architecture, dance, lectures, friends and fun.

I had breakfast with a friend a few weeks ago and he thought that Burning Man was just one drug influenced orgy. Sure, there are drugs and sex at Burning Man but it is so much more. Out of all the things I experienced over the four days I was there, it was the people that charmed me the most. Me, the manfriend and our friend, CC, drove out on Thursday morning and was greeted with hugs and tickles. We crawled around in the playa dust, shouting out that we lost our Burning Man virginities and set up our tents and shade structures. We then, changed into more appropriate gear and ventured out in bikes.

45+ mphs winds + fine playa dust = whiteout conditions

45+ mphs winds + fine playa dust = whiteout conditions

I have to admit that I had too many reservations about the whole experience- the night before we left, I cried to Steve, telling him that I didn’t want to go. I was feeling agoraphobic- in the past few months, I cut relationships with former friends and decided not to venture out to make new ones, retreating to my home and forming a more comfortable connection to my couch and Netflix. I was terrified about being open and present. Also, I spent the week before silently cursing at my body. Burning Man is a place where almost anything goes- including nudity. When you Google Burning Man, photos of naked women with gorgeous, slender bodies grace the webpage. I wasn’t ready to face that.

My fears got the best of me on the first day. Burning Man is a sensory overload- it was too much for me and my fears. At a friend’s camp, I got overly intoxicated and tried to bike back to my camp. I think I fell off my bike (I can’t remember as I blacked out) but I do remember a wonderful older gentleman seeing me struggle. He kindly walked me back to my camp and tucked me in bed. The next day, I wandered around the streets, feeling ashamed of the night before and still wanting to go home when I stopped at the Mystic Camp to watch people meditate. I was invited to join and afterward, I sat there and cried. A woman named Deva with the most gorgeous locked hair ran up to me and gave me the warmest hug that seemed to last for an hour. I told her that I was having a terrible time and she listened, telling me that everything was okay, that I was in a safe space and that I would be stronger after experiencing the event with all my emotions. It was the kindest gesture and I immediately felt better.

Me and the manfriend: dusty, happy and in love

Me and the manfriend: dusty, happy, and in love

The rest of my time at Burning Man was awesome. After mediating, I decided that I was going to enjoy myself, even if I had to force myself to (although I didn’t). I met some more awesome people, exchanged blinky lights, danced, drank (in moderation), explored, kissed, took pictures, ran around partially naked, cheered and had a great time (even in a four-hour long whiteout). Steve, CC and I stood together watching the Man burn on our last night. I was excited to get a box of Girl Scout cookies from a fellow dressed as Santa Claus and spent the entire time dancing and hugging my friends. As the Man went ablaze, I threw my anxieties at him- every negative thing I felt about my body, my job and perfect career hunt, issues with money; all the fears I have about my relationship with my boyfriend and my family and turning 30. Within minutes, the Man turned from wood and lights into ash and I felt clean. I felt lighter. Everything terrible I was feeling was suddenly gone. All felt wonderful and still.

I’d never thought that the Burning Man would be restorative. I’ve read that’s why many people go but I just wanted to go and party. I’m still coming off my good burn rush. I feel more vibrant and energized and positive. I’m ready to conquer the world and be great. After my first day, Steve asked me if I wanted to do Burning Man next year- I told him, no. But since then, I changed my mind. I need something like Burning Man in my life. I need that one constant reminder where you know that there are good people out there and that you have the power within you to change for the better. I think everyone should experience Burning Man once. If you let it, it may just change you.

I can’t wait for next year. Must start saving money now.