#SelfCareSunday

To read more, subscribe to #Greetings30Follow #Greetings30 on Instagram and @andrealynntyrel on SnapChat.

***

After a rough “breaking news” weekend like this one, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. We all need some sort of self care. When I feel the worst of the worst, that’s when I know that I need to step back and focus on bringing me back to a place where I can think clearly and rationally.

Self care takes various forms. I turn off my computer and my phone and focus on me. I take showers- LONG showers (close to an hour). Often times, I will stand under the water and mediate, trying to think about nothing.  I’ll watch an ASMR video or something mindless that will make me laugh. I’ll grab my cat and snuggle. I’ll push myself to get dressed, get outside and hang out with good people (a little bit of exposure therapy, if you will). I will do whatever it takes to get out of my head.

But self care does actually mean taking care of yourself physically, as well. I learned this trick on the playa at Burning Man. If you’re feeling off, ask yourself these three questions: Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Are you tired? What does your body need? I feel a 1000x better when I brush my teeth, giving them a hard scrub. I feel a 1000x better when I drink eight ounces of water. I feel better when I take my vitamins. I get out of my head and focus on my body.

Millennials have been accused of focusing too much on self care. But let’s be real- there is nothing wrong about taking care of yourself. We’re raised to think we should always put others before ourselves and ignore our own needs; that it is somehow arrogant or selfish and not a nice thing to do. But Just think how they tell us to put on our oxygen mask first on an airplane before we help others. Yes, absolutely support others, but nurture yourself first.

How do you take care of yourself, dear reader? And don’t forget to treat yourself- treat yourself well (#TreatYoSelf2017!)

Advertisements

#WorldHealthDay

To read more, subscribe to #Greetings30Follow #Greetings30 on Instagram and @andrealynntyrel on SnapChat.

***

Today is World Health Day (WHD). Each year, healthcare professionals and communities around the world partner with the World Health Organization (WHO) to bring awareness to a global health crisis. What’s WHD’s focus this year? Depression.

Depression- let’s talk.

More than 300 million people around the world are affected with depression every year. Common mental disorders (like depression and anxiety) are increasing worldwide. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of people globally suffering from depression and/or anxiety increased by nearly 50%. Close to 20% of the world’s population is affected by one or both of these conditions. Lack of treatment for mental disorders has a high economic cost- new evidence from a study led by WHO shows that depression and anxiety disorders alone cost more than a trillion dollars’ worth of economic loss every year.

In many countries, there is no, or very little, support available for people with mental health disorders. Even in high-income countries, nearly 50% of people with depression don’t get treatment. Depression can lead to self-inflicted injury and to suicide- it’s now the world’s second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds. In 2015, over 78% of global suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

Untreated depression prevents people from life- most common mental health disorders can be prevented and treated, at relatively low cost. Although there are known, effective treatments for depression, fewer than half of those affected in the world (in many countries, fewer than 10%) receive such treatments. Barriers to effective care include a lack of resources, lack of trained health-care providers, and social stigma associated with mental disorders. Another barrier to effective care is inaccurate assessment. In countries of all income levels, people who are depressed are often not correctly diagnosed, and others who do not have the disorder are too often misdiagnosed and prescribed antidepressants.

Depression can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of what depression is and how it can be prevented and treated will help reduce the stigma associated with the condition and lead to more people seeking help. Those who are close to me know that I’m passionate about decreasing mental health’s stigma and am open with talking about my own depression. Sure, it’s a tough and often awkward thing to talk about in causal conversation but it needs to be addressed.

Why not make today the day that you, dear reader, learn more about this disease? Be the person who isn’t afraid to talk honestly about their feelings and experiences with depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. Share your story. Listen to a friend. The only way that the stigma is going to get away. This is the only way that people who desperately need help are going to get it. Your small step forward is the first of many in this fight. Let’s push forward and make some change.

#36Questions

To read more, subscribe to #Greetings30Follow #Greetings30 on Instagram and @andrealynntyrel on SnapChat.

***

I love listening to dating stories. I have quite a few of mine own floating around in my head- after a long weekend, my lady friends and I get together and gab about people with cute smiles, huge blue eyes and who made us laugh until we had charlie horse in our stomachs. We all agree that dating is difficult AF but we look for bright spots among the dating darkness. We encourage each other after we’re ghosted and exchange ideas to keep a conversation going.

Two years ago, I had the privilege of performing in a play with the greatest cast mates anyone could ask for. After one show, we ate lunch together and came across this list from a New York Times article.  We started asking each other and answering questions from the list. It’s a fond memory I think about often- I still think about that moment often. Now that I’m dating, I try to squeeze in those questions from the list into conversation.

This list of 36 questions (broken up into three sets) is supposed to build intimacy by exposing your vulnerability to the person you’re responding to. I have never gotten through the entire list with a perspective partner (I have tried!) but I have pondered these questions when alone. In this moment of my life when I heavily reevaluating my relationship with myself, I’ve asked myself these questions in order to figure out my values and deepen the bond with my inner me.

I am sharing these answers with you, dear reader. I hope that my answers can inspire you into asking yourself,  your partner, your friends, the random dude you’re seeing these questions. These questions are meant to help you fall in love (even if it’s just with yourself). They may not do that exactly but they will help create feelings of intimacy and trust—necessary conditions for love to thrive.

Set I

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? I would have dinner with my biological father. I’m curious to see if we share any personality traits and facials features.

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way? Truthfully, yes. I would want to be famous. I would be a well-known journalism like Lisa Ling or Diane Sawyer.

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? The only times I rehearse are when I think I’ll cry during the call. I’ll usually write my thoughts down and repeat what I wrote.

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you? The perfect day would consist of spending it at the beach with a group of close friends, filled with sunbathing, swimming, music and laughter (maybe a nap). Then, we all get dressed up and go out to a nice dinner somewhere semi-fancy and barhop the night away.

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? I sang to myself this morning as I biked to get coffee. And does my cat count as someone else? If so, I sang to her this morning (she isn’t a fan of my singing and often runs away to hide under the bed).

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want? I rather have the body. There is too much to do in this world and I would want young legs to take me places.

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? Painfully. It will be a painful death.

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common. What I seem to have in common with my readers is that we seems to concerned with current events in the news. We all want to change the world, or at least our corners of it. We also appreciate semi-decent writing.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful? I’m the most thankful for my friends. They catch me when I fall, inspire me to the best version of Andrea I can be and bring so much joy to my life. I’m so grateful to have such a large and strong support system.

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? There would be more sincere hugs and words of praise and encouragement.

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible. I was born. I was in foster care. I was adopted. I had sisters. I went to school. I was an average student. I became the child of a divorce.  I continued to go to school. I got better grades. I was insecure. I played the drums. I ran for student body secretary. I discovered that I wanted to be a journalist. I graduated. I left home. I went to college. I struggled. I hated school. I dropped out. I moved to New York City. I fell in love for the first time. I went to a lot of concerts. I partied. I learned how to fix bicycles. I learned a lot about myself and life in a short time. I moved. I fell in love again- twice. I finished college. I graduated with a degree. I job hunted. I traveled. I lost friends. I met some cool people. I’m still figuring everything out (all this was written in four minutes, timed on my iPhone).

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? I would either be able to read minds or breathe underwater (my grown self still desperately wants to be a mermaid).

***

Stay tuned for Part II.

#WhoRunsTheWorld (Or #NowWhat)

To read more, subscribe to #Greetings30Follow #Greetings30 on Instagram and @andrealynntyrel on SnapChat.

***

“Who runs the world?” -Beyonce (Women do, duh.)

Saturday’s global Women’s Marches scattered expectations, supporting various causes that included women’s rights, immigration reform, health care reform, environment protection, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, workers’ rights and to give Donald Trump the finger. A reported 673 marches took place worldwide, and in my hometown of Reno, over 10,000 men women and children took to the main street with signs and chants, positivity and hope.

So,now what?

My biggest fear is this movement will slowly fade as the year progresses. Where do we go from here? Despite my admiration for the high turn out of this weekend’s protests, what will be most impressive is what we do by putting our words and feelings into actions. Movements are not just about dramatic marches- they’re everyday acts of resistance, creating the positive change and seeing growth with issues we marched for.

First off, VOTE! Vote in your upcoming city, county and state elections! That is the biggest way to have your voice be heard. Support who and what what you believe in. Call, write and email your city’s and state’s representatives about the issues that you are concerned about the most.

Start by donating to organizations like Planned Parenthood, PFLAG, the ACLU and the National Lawyer’s Guild. Also, support media outlets like NPR that provide the public with reliable journalism.

I also understand if you’re broke (you and I both!). One of the simplest thing you can do is not be a passive observer if you see someone being mistreated. Stand up when you see someone being teased or harassed. Tell the abuser that they are wrong. One of the best way to support women, people of color, the LGBTQ, etc, is to stand up for them and never be complacent on something you believe will advance their position in society, as well as their happiness and safety.

If you are more community orientated, volunteer at one your local non-profits. Organize a toiletry drive for a local women’s shelter (shelters often need sanitary napkins and tampons the most). Spend some time at your local animal shelter- kitties and puppies need love, too. Get involved with political and advocacy groups in your area. Get off your couch, step out of your comfort zone, meet some cool people and make plans to change the world!

Remember that the resistance doesn’t stop with the march- we need to keep the drumbeat going and the pressure on from all sides and state. There is no “right” way to get involved- you simply need to get out there. Figure out what works for you. Then do it. JUST DO IT. Fight on, dear reader!

#FamilyValues

To read more, subscribe to #Greetings30.

Follow #Greetings30 on Instagram and @andrealynntyrel on SnapChat.

***

I will always value pizza- the #1 priority in my life.

I will always value pizza- the #1 priority in my life.

In middle school, I was obsessed with Limp Bizkit. I really wanted to go to the Family Values tour (when I told my mom, she listened to their music and almost had a heart attack). That’s a terrible segway but I’ve been thinking about my value system a lot of the last couple of weeks. What do I value? What is a priority in my life? How do I determine my values?

Values shape the way we live our lives, how we interact with others and how we feel about ourselves and others. Even if we recognize them or not, values do naturally exist. They’re learned, passed down from generation to generation, by friends and discovered after certain life experiences, turning points and big decisions. When your actions and thoughts match your values, we’re satisfied and content. But when they don’t align, things feel wrong and life gets hard and confusing. This can be a real source of unhappiness.

Life is easier when you acknowledge your values and when you make plans and decisions that honor them. I think about the things that make me happiest in life, my zen (please keep in mind that this is a random sampling): Purpose. My friends. My mental health. Community service. Creativity and originality. Forgiveness. Achievement. Adventure and exploring things and experiences unknown to me. Tolerance. These things are what I’m currently and always seeking out in my life. What do I do every day that honors these values? I reach out to my friends and make time to spend time with them. I take my antidepressants daily and see my doctor regularly. I dedicate most of free time not spent with friends to volunteering…

There are negative values, too. Fear. Self-doubt. Embarrassment. Competitiveness. Selfish. Pessimism. Guilt. Laziness. These are some of the ones I deal with and think about on a daily basis. Once I recognize these negative values, I can change them into something positive- they are largely false beliefs. Almost all negative values are connected in a broad way with a feeling of little or no self worth. These values can set up a negative pattern that you will bond to and repeat throughout your life. Once these negative beliefs are recognized, you need to listen to your inner critic and stop thinking what you’re thinking- bad thoughts lead to bad actions; bad actions lead to bad habits; bad habits make up a stressful and miserable life.

After determining my values, I think about how am I applying them to my life. I start by writing a list of both my positive and negative values (don’t underestimate the power of a Post-It) and purposely view it every morning before I start my day. Checking in throughout the day helps, too- I listen to music that represents my values on constant rotation and focus on the words. Each day brings a new challenge and I reexamine if the value is that important to cling to. Through this process of consciously shifting and examining my values, I’m slowly (and hopefully) becoming a better person.

What are your positive and negative values, dear reader?

#SoThisIsTheNewYear (Finding Purpose and Happiness)

To read more, subscribe to #Greetings30Follow #Greetings30 on Instagram and @andrealynntyrel on SnapChat.

***

This is about to get real, deal reader.

I think about death often. My death.

I want to preface this blog entry by writing that I’m not suicidal. If I am anything, I am reflective (although I do think about my funeral and what share of blue my body would turn without oxygen and bloody flow quite often). This death fascination has been especially strong the last couple of weeks, even during my happier moments.

Perhaps I have post-holiday depression. Maybe I need to have my antidepressant increased. I just feel nothing. Two days ago, I sat on the beach in Venice, CA- one of my most favorite places in the world- and I felt nothing. I had a great weekend, exploring, partying and meeting new people. But on that beach, even in moments before, I felt empty. On the plane ride home from Christmas, I sat with my seat leaning back, wishing that the plane would explode during midair. L’appel du vide– I’ve always had that feeling but as each day passes by, the feeling intensifies. I would never kill myself- it would kill my mom- but lately, I don’t feel like my life is worth it. I think about my cousin, Josh, who died two years ago in a terrible accident. He was a really good guy, extremely kind and grateful for his life- why couldn’t have God taken me instead of him?

I have a hard time feeling joy- that lasting moment of happiness that I feel like everyone around me has. They are happy all the time despite whatever they’re going through- they express that happiness physically and emotionally. Their lives aren’t perfect but they love them anyway.  For as long as I can remember, I thought it was my mental illness that kept that feeling away from me. I could never sustain that feeling. Even as a tween, I felt that overall sense of sadness all the time. I slept a lot- good chunks of my day- because of it. In college, one of my professors told me that I’m lazy. I replay that moment over and over in my head. I will never forget Paul’s words. Over Christmas, my father and step-mother called me a narcissist. My previous ex-boyfriend said the same thing. They all said that I don’t think about others and I don’t know my identity; that I chose to be miserable and have had a negative influencer in my life. What they all said they been weighing on my mind, as well as this song which features the lyric, “But people don’t really change.” I think about the times in the past when I tried to change my mindset into thinking happier thoughts or break bad habits. I would do really well for a week or two but then slip back into old ways. I don’t think in a sustainable way. All I do is want to sleep and be sad.

I don’t want to set a New Year’s resolution. Last year, I came up with a simple on: be happy. I was miserable most of it. Right now, I’m on deadline for one of the publications that I write for. I’m writing about spring cleaning your being- getting rid of life’s dead weight. I want to be able to push through this dead weight of my life and be a kinder, more empathetic, happier person by the year’s end. But I’m scared of fucking things up, scared of disappointing others and disappointing myself. I’ve been this way for most of my life- I don’t know what it feels like to be happy most of the time, how to be kinder to myself and others. I’m terrified to step out of my comfort zone. What if I can’t break these bad habits?

I feel like I can be happy when I figure out my purpose in my life. That is something that has been weighing me down. Despite my friends tell me to enjoy being single, I hate it. I’m eager to jump into something when I know that I shouldn’t. I love that feeling of being a girlfriend, though. However, I know that you shouldn’t base your happiness on your title or through another person. I think of how being a girlfriend, and then eventually a wife and a mother (especially being a mom) will give my life meaning. But why do I have to wait for someone to come in my life? Why can’t I find that purpose now? I do good things for my community. I have a great circle of friends who support me. So, how do I let the feeling of lappel du vide morph into something happier?

I’m writing this today with no intentions for you, dear reader, to feel sorry for me. I already feel enough pity for myself. I just want to be real with you and ultimately, myself.  I haven’t been great with being honest about myself and the way that I live my life. Most people read this and think that I’m pretty carefree. I’m not. But I want to be. I really do. So, this is my 2017 journey- to 1) find a reason- a good, solid reason to live, 2) ) figure out exactly who I am and 3) be a better person to others and put myself and their shoes.

Happy 2017, dear reader. Maybe your year be filled with all the good stuff you want and need in your life right now. Join me on this journey, won’t you?

#TouchMe

To read more, subscribe to #Greetings30.

Follow #Greetings30 on Instagram and @andrealynntyrel on SnapChat.

I’m a sucker for cuddling. Holding hands. Giving long hugs. Sitting close on the couch. Kissing. Scientists figured out that human beings need at least five different touch interactions during the day and the lack of that comforting touch can lead to depression and anxiety. Touch gives us humans the sensory input that we crave.

The power of touch is pretty incredible. It’s our primary language of compassion and care. Even when it is non-sexual.Touch instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. It lifts serotonin levels, elevating your mood. Touch builds trust and a sense of safety. It’s one of the most simple of ways that we continually renew our bonds with those we love- holding our children, caressing our partners. It relaxes muscles and releases tension in the body.

It is possible to be touch deprived (something that I have been experiencing lately). “Most of us, whatever our relationship status, need more human contact than we’re getting,” said psychologist Matthew Hertenstein, PhD, director of the Touch and Emotion Lab at DePauw University. “Compared with other cultures, we live in a touch-phobic society that’s made affection with anyone but loved ones taboo.”

In the 1960s, psychologist Sidney Jourard observed friends in different parts of the world as they sat in a café together. Sometimes, they hugged. Sometimes, they gave each other a simple high five. Sometimes, something more. In England, Jourard noted that the two friends touched each other zero times within the hour. In the United States, we touched each other twice. In France, the number shot up to 110 times per hour- no wonder the French are considered so sensual, engaging in their sense of touch.

Why are Americans so afraid to touch one another?

We live in such a busy, crowded world. Yet, it’s so easy for many of us to go days, weeks, even months without touching and/or being touched by others. Ask yourself, dear reader, if you are deprived and why you are. I’m not saying to tackle the next random person you see on the street. But maybe the emerging cuddling businesses might be the way to go. Perhaps I should become a professional snuggler…

Year of Happiness

What does it mean to be happy? Like, absolutely happy- your face hurts so much from smiling, there’s fluffy golden retriever puppies everywhere, your heart is about to burst like you’re in middle school with a huge crush on the adorable guy from geography class kind of happy? Truly happy?

Is this the face of a happiness skeptic (or of a dog-napper)?

Is this the face of a happiness skeptic (or of a dog-napper)

For the last month, I’ve been examining the things that make me happy. Almost like Scully of “The X Files” (which, by the way, season 10 is fantastic), I’ve been a big skeptic. For a long time, I didn’t believe that true happiness existed. I know that you can’t be happy all the time (or maybe you can- who knows?) but for some people, happiness just came easy to them. I think about my best friend, Melissa who is undoubtedly the happiest person I know. She is always smiling and radiating energy. Yes, I know that she has her moments but she always manages to bounce back into Happyland quickly. That’s who I want to emulate.

I used to think that my life would be happier if something would happen- I’d be happier if I had a boyfriend; I’d be happier if lost weight, if I had a good job, etc. Even when I had a great boyfriend or was feeling fit, I didn’t feel happy. Perhaps grateful, especially for that paycheck but at the end of the day, I want to cry into the wee hours of the morning.

 I started researching happiness. What is happiness? True happiness? What does it feel like? What does it look like? Does it taste differently? How do you achieve it? Surely, a person can’t just think about being happy and then be happy. Actually, you can.

Studies show that when you smile, endorphins are released causing you to feel relaxed and well, happy. Your brain essentially tricks you into being happy. Each morning during my shower, I smile as wide as I can and think about good thoughts. I envision having a great day- what that would feel like, what would happen- and I let the happy feelings rain over me. I finish getting ready listening to positive music or a funny podcast that pumps me up.

Throughout the day, I check in on myself, asking myself how I’m doing. With my job, I find myself frustrated and stressed throughout most of the day. I try to funnel that energy into completing my work but I’m not especially good at transferring that negativity. Instead, I write. I received a beautiful journal from a friend as graduation gift; and in moments of pressure, I write one thing I’m thankful for, one nice thing I did for myself and one nice thing I’ve done for someone else. If I haven’t done anything kind for anyone that particular day, I think of a way to make myself or a loved one happy and put that thought into action. Just thinking about making someone else happy makes me happy- and I thrive on that anticipation. I write in my journal every day and I am seeing a small boost.

One of the books I’m currently reading suggests to write down what your ideal happy life looks like, what it feels like. My happy life feels rewarding (in my professional life and with my relationships and community service endeavors), and is filled with devotion and a little too much laughter. I reread this list every morning and when I need a happiness boost. The visual of this list’s words help steer me in the direction towards absolute bliss.

Happiness is more like a muscle that feeling. I know if you work on your happiness, strengthen it every day, that emotion grows stronger. It is a difficult emotion to hold on to but it is achievable. And I am determine to live every day basking in its warmth, snuggling with a fluffy animal.

Happy 2016, dear reader!

What Is Making Me Happy… And Bike Safety

Biking in autumn. I love it. The crunch of leaves as you ride over them. The chill in the air. You don’t feel like you sweated out a gallon of liquid at the end of your trek. Yes, it’s a cool 48 degree when I leave in the morning but it warms up to the low 80s in the afternoon. Oh, I love Northern Nevada weather. Perfect weather for long bike rides.

I’ve wanted to write about bike riding safety for a while. I commute 50 miles each week back and forth to my office and I’ve seen a lot of scary things. I don’t intend for this to be a PSA or even preachy but I do want people to read and understand a few things. I know that this blog doesn’t reach the masses and there is only so much screaming I can do at drivers who don’t share the road; but I hope you, dear reader, will take what I write to heart and respect your fellow bicyclists and surrounding drivers while out on the road.

First and foremost: WEAR A HELMET. Make sure you have working front and back lights, as well as check to see if your brakes work (next week, I’ll write more about bicycle maintenance and how to choose a proper helmet).

I don’t own a vehicle. The local bus system is slow (I could bus to work but I’d spend 4 hours commuting instead of a round trip 40 minutes each day). When a driver yells out their window, “Go get a car,” I want to tell, “I’m trying!” Owning a car is a luxury and it’s something I’m working hard to afford. Some people are unfortunately unfortunate not to have that opportunity and are trying the best they can to get to work and live their life. Respect that.

I’m fortunate to live in a town where the police are strict about motorists following bicycle laws. I love my Midtown neighborhood for all its bike lines but when there are no lanes, cyclists and motorists have laws they need to follow. When passing a cyclist, motorists must move into an adjacent lane to the left if possible. If there isn’t an adjacent left lane, motorists must pass with at least three feet of clearance (I’ve seen plenty of cops pull a car over when they didn’t give me the correct amount of space). Cyclists must obey all traffic signs and signals and use their hand signals when turning (see below).Also, drivers may not stop, park or drive on a designated bicycle path or lane- it can be dangerous to maneuver around a car when you don’t have to. And please don’t distract bicyclists. I’ve had so many instances where I almost got into an accident because the driver and/or the passenger was a jerk. I’m cat-called almost every day. I once had firecrackers thrown at me. A couple of weeks ago, someone screamed at me out the passenger-side window and then, stuck their iPhone out their window to film my reaction. Those moments are incredibly scary (and I will take down the license plate number to report the incident).

The great thing about biking around Reno is the comradery I’ve experienced. There are several other cyclists I see on my way to work. We ding our bike bells at each other and exchanges hellos. I’m friends with the guys at my local bike shop. If I ever need bike help, I can go into a Midtown bar or restaurant and someone will lend me a wrench or a tire pump. As Reno grows, my hope is to see more bicyclists on the roads. That will happen when people- both drivers and cyclists- obey the laws more frequently and feel safer.

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.

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