Food for thought

Liam Payne Reveals The Reason Why One Direction Was More Toxic Than It Seemed

By | Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, Liam Payne, Motivation, One Direction, stories, toxic

Was being part of One Direction as phenomenal and glorious as it seemed?

Even the most skeptical of audiences can confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that the group is one of the most influential musical acts of all time. Not only did they singlehandedly revive the boyband model that had gone stagnant since the nineties, but they essentially laid the groundwork for how modern fandom operates. 

The admiration among the public was unparalleled. 1D commanded colossal, crazed audiences everywhere they went, complete with hordes of preteen girls screaming, crying, and fawning over their every move. Its members — Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik — and their seamless dynamic inspired so many inappropriate fantasies, ‘shipping’ wars, and neurotic discourse that it transformed the nature of celebrity for good. 

Though the group is technically on hiatus, it’s universally accepted that they’re not likely to get back together anytime soon. The silver lining is that this does grant each member ample time and space to reflect on their experience with a fresh perspective. As it turns out, being in One Direction wasn’t a walk in the park. 

Liam Payne said the group’s success was “dumb luck” and that he was “pissed” most of the time

Liam Payne discussed One Direction’s near-cosmic success in a revealing interview with Men’s Health Australia. He’d only been sixteen when he, along with the four others, were handpicked to form a band in the music competition series The X Factor. Though they finished third in the competition, they managed to impress judge Simon Cowell enough to land a deal with his record label Syco Records. The rest, as they say, is history. 

The 27-year-old firmly rejects the notion that it was ‘meant to be’ for the boyband, that they possessed an extraordinary natural ability that would have found a way to break through no matter what.  It’s tempting to attribute their stardom to some God-given talent that allowed them to flourish in such a striking way, but Liam claims that it was all “just dumb luck.” Like many other triumphs, you need a little bit of skill, a little bit of hard work, but an enormous amount of fortune in your favor. “There were so many scenarios that had to fall into line for that to happen,” said Liam, adding that it was a “perfect storm” that led to the group’s swift ascendency — something that will never be quite so similarly be replicated. 

It’s almost like putting the Disney costume on before you step up on stage and underneath the Disney costume I was pissed quite a lot of the time because there was no other way to get your head around what was going on. 

Liam Payne to Men’s Health Australia

It must feel wonderful to accumulate so much wealth, acclaim, and adoration in just your teenage years, but if you’re not careful, it can quickly veer off into a curse. Liam turned to alcohol to keep up with the pressures of growing up in the public eye and having the innermost particulars of his life turn into fodder for the press. As 1D became more and more well-known, Liam started discerning the darker, more malicious side of celebrity and how it shatters the individual’s well-being, end to end. 

It was a “toxic” experience that left him feeling “numb” for a long time

There’s a price to pay when you’ve signed over your innocence to the predatory claws of fame. Granted, they’d been too young to comprehensively contemplate the toll it would take on their health, both physical and mental. You miss out on the mundane, yet immensely valuable, routines of an ordinary school kid; instead, you have to push yourself to unimaginable lengths to produce more output, to provide more entertainment, to please everyone in the crowd. 

Liam stated that the problem is as intensive in the music industry as anywhere else; if you’re forced to exert yourself day in, day out without addressing underlying issues, you’re going to run out of fuel in no time. “When you’re doing hundreds and hundreds of [concerts] and it’s the same 22 songs at the same time every single day,” it doesn’t matter whether you’re happy or not. “You’ve got to go out there,” said Liam. 

In addition, your entire life is mapped out by forces outside your purview. From the group’s genesis to its evolution, every aspect of the One Direction project was precisely orchestrated and micromanaged by corporate entities seeking to reap profits. Liam acknowledged that he’d had absolutely no control over his day-to-day. “No, never,” he said. He just followed instructions, nodded his head, and danced. He added that he still struggles with being more decisive. “I really struggle to say no because I don’t like to let people down. It’s in my nature.” 

We had an absolute blast, but there were certain parts of it where it just got a little bit toxic.

Liam Payne to Men’s Health Australia

The struggles of holding onto your identity amidst the chaos and the public fixation “nearly killed him,” and there were times when he wanted to act on his urges, he told The Guardian

When the group decided to go on an indefinite hiatus in the mid-2010s, Liam could finally take a breath and envision life on his own terms. It was like the “the pressure cooker had been let off” and that the group could firmly focus on their art and friendship in the final months. 

Only, post-separation, he realized he didn’t really know anything about himself or the kind of direction he wanted to take in his career or otherwise. He found himself dawdling through old patterns and resistant to change. “It was a bit of a numb feeling,” he said. Thankfully, fatherhood knocked on the door at just the right time, and Liam was able to promptly reframe his priorities and zero in on the big picture. 

Despite the aches associated with One Direction, Liam maintains that it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and was generally fun. It’s nearly impossible to keep everything in check when you’re a worldwide spectacle like One Direction, but, for the most part, he doesn’t regret it too much. 

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Maintain realistic expectations

The contrast between One Direction’s outward brilliance and the internal tumult is a lesson in setting healthy expectations for yourself and those closest to you. You can’t accurately predict every development that’s to occur in your life, but you can tell yourself that it’s never as simple as it seems and that obstacles of all types could present themselves before you. 

You have to venture into every undertaking, knowing that you’ll be pushed to the limit. As long as you understand your limit and what you’re willing to do to achieve ‘success,’ you’ll save yourself a good deal of trauma and pain. Appearances don’t matter; what matters is you and your ability to tend to your wellbeing in the face of adversity. 

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Woman Trusts Her Instincts And Delivers Her Own Baby Inside of a Car

By | Food for thought, inspiring, motherhood, mothers, pregnant, relationships, stories, uplifting news

With a baby on the way and miles from home or hospital, one remarkable mom took matters into her own hands.

Labor day

When 35-year-old opera singer Emily Geller Hardman was attending a wedding in Lancaster Pennsylvania with husband Travis Hardman, she was packing more than just a dress.

Emily was 37 weeks pregnant with their second child, but that didn’t stop her from enjoying a great night full of dancing without a hitch.

Everything was going smoothly until that night at the hotel when Hardman’s water suddenly broke. Amazingly unphased, she went back to sleep to rest up for a trip to the hospital with Travis.

It turns out the baby had other plans.

That’s because just a few hours and many intense contractions later, she was in back of the couple’s car as Travis raced to the nearest hospital. Talking with PEOPLE, he remembers the chaos clearly.

“She was like, ‘pull over,’ and I said, ‘I can’t pull over here. It’s a deathtrap.”

– Travis Hardman

DIY Delivery

Finally, Travis found a spot for them to safely pull over and Hardman to get out and stretch. She was barely hanging on.

“I remember my legs were shaking,” she says. “I was thinking, ‘I’m bearing down too early. I’m pushing too early.’ I had no control over my body at that point.”

That’s when her motherly instinct kicked in.

“But, I willed myself back into the car at that point because I just thought, ‘Well, we have to make it to the hospital.’ “

Back in the car, Harden tells GMA that she summoned all of her preparation and research on breathing and prenatal exercises to trust her body.

“This baby was coming out of me one way or another,” she said.

“I either needed to, for lack of a better word, get on board with what was happening and just allow my body to do what it was doing or I could fight it tooth and nail, which didn’t seem like it was going to be helpful.”

– Emily Geller Hardman

And then, they were two.

“I was just feeling a lot of pressure,” recounted Hardman. “So instinctually, I just put my hands down and then I felt the head and immediately after that, she flew out in the next contraction. I caught her and brought her up to my chest and I said, ‘There’s the baby.’ “

In one fell swoop, out came a beautiful and healthy Rosemary Claire. An ambulance arrived 10 minutes later to transport them to the hospital for some much-need R & R.

Preparation creates courage

Amazingly, Hardman downplays any stress from the wild birth. Instead, she credits being an opera singer and especially the work she put in to being ready for the moment.

“You have to perform at a high level under stress, so you’re used to those types of situations and having to focus on what you’re doing and not how you’re doing.”

– Emily Geller Hardman

Much of that comes from her belief that childbirth is a process a mother should own.

“I think I’m really lucky in a lot of ways, but I do view birthing babies as a natural process, and that for the most part, it doesn’t need a lot of intervention,” she says. 

Hardman’s wild story shows that however a woman chooses to give birth — and whatever unexpected bumps happen along the way — it’s a process to own and savour.

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The Truth Behind Victoria Beckham’s Plastic Surgery Will Change The Way You Think About Her

By | Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, plastic surgery, self-esteem, stories, Victoria Beckham

If your name is Posh, you’re likely expected to uphold rigorous standards whenever you go for the rest of your life. Victoria Beckham has yet to let us down. 

During her effervescent breakout with the Spice Girls, she developed a reputation as a poised, high-achieving woman of immense class, attitude, and sophistication. Only, it’s been north of twenty-five years, and she keeps raising the bar. From an outsider’s perspective, she’s blessed with everything: an adorable family of four, a scintillating fashion empire, a gorgeous husband, and a musical legacy that’ll remain unmatched. 

Yet, underneath the success and the self-assuredness lies a world of vulnerabilities and insecurities. While penning a letter to her younger self in Vogue, Posh Spice didn’t hold back on shedding light on the complexities of her image and how she still struggles with embracing self-love

You might say it’s easy for someone like Victoria to seamlessly accept herself, but her admission — and subsequent regret — of plastic surgery indicates that nothing is as simple as it seems. 

Victoria regrets getting a boob job and not “embracing her imperfections”

Victoria hadn’t always been the absolute picture of English opulence, genteelness, and old-school glamor. She’d once been young and callow, unsure of her place in the world and how she’d go on to attack the opportunities that laid in her way. The Vogue letter addressed to her 18-year-old self describes young Vic as “not the prettiest, or the thinnest, or the best at dancing at the Laine Theatre Arts college.” 

She’d expressed a thorough interest in dance at an early age, and so her parents arranged for her to be sent to a performing arts boarding school in Surrey. Unfortunately, she realized at her über-competitive school that she wasn’t as skillful or remarkable as she’d been led to believe. The environment was cutthroat, the peer group was industrious and ambitious, and Victoria found herself faintly dwelling in the middle of the pack. She begged to return home, explaining that she wasn’t “good enough” to keep abreast, but her dad urged her to keep her head high and continue working hard. “Dad got on the phone: “Stay there, prove everyone wrong.”

And I should probably say, don’t mess with your boobs. All those years I denied it – stupid. A sign of insecurity. Just celebrate what you’ve got.

Victoria Beckham to Vogue

She felt inferior in every which way — the “bad acne,” being “too plump”. Her fellow classmates relentlessly bullied her by throwing soggy tissues and old Coke cans at her for not sporting the most fashionable gear. Yet, these agonizing experiences only helped Victoria grow a thick skin and endure the scrutiny that would befall her life in just a few short years. 

Adult Victoria advises her younger self to “embrace your perfections” and not spend every waking minute obsessing over her appearance. The complexion will “sort itself out,” the perm will disappear, and your weight will stop fluctuating and become stable. There’s no reason to adhere to the latest diet fad, whether it’s eating “Super Noodles” or drinking green juice. 18-year-old Victoria should instead let her skin breathe and wear less make-up; be more confident in her natural beauty and her ability to shine regardless of how she manages to look on a specific day. 

That’s when Victoria acknowledges the veracity of a story she’d spent years denying — that she’d had plastic surgery. 

It’s taken her a long time to feel okay and be “comfortable in her own skin”

Like anyone else, Victoria hasn’t had the most straightforward journey with building inner strength, especially when it comes to earthly vanity concerns. 

However, what’s dissimilar about her situation is that she’s essentially perceived as the pinnacle of poshness and perfection. The audience actively positions her as the impeccable ideal to which they can aspire. As a result, she has to deal with the additional pressure of establishing the norm, setting the trend, and blazing a trail for others seeking to follow in her footsteps. 

Victoria has no qualms about imparting style advice — for example, “wear sunglasses a lot”; they “turn a nothing-outfit into something quite pulled together and cool” — but she doesn’t want to precipitate a whirlwind of anxiety, self-loathing, or timidness among young women. She knows all too well what it’s like to face an upheaval of apprehensive, self-hating emotions and think yourself lacking here, there, and everywhere. 

I see my imperfections and flaws and I smile: it’s who I am and I’m not going to try to change that. It’s taken me a long, long time to recognise that by 45 years old, actually I’m all right.

Victoria Beckham to Harper’s Bazaar

What’s not entirely known to the public is how the “Posh Spice” nickname was a device for promotion and didn’t accurately describe Victoria’s own stance on fashion or etiquette. The name originated from her reserved nature, her choice of designer outfits, and her affinity for “high-heeled footwear.” It’s unfortunate that those characteristics are attributed to only the wealthy and the upper-class because, in the twenty-five years since the Spice Girl phenomenon, everyone has gained the ability to adopt them. “I was young and shy, and being Posh helped me find my style and confidence, and my voice,” she told ET.

If assuming a more dignified, “posh” identity empowers you to stand tall with pride and conviction, so be it. However, it’s not necessarily going to resolve your issues with self-esteem and wariness. It took Victoria a long time before coming to grips with her innate face, body, and exterior. She still doesn’t think of herself as beautiful; she promptly tells Harper’s Bazaar,“No, absolutely not. But I make the best of what I have.”

Plastic surgery or other permanent cosmetic procedures aren’t a long-term resolution for your troubles; they are but a temporary balm. That’s not to say that these practices shouldn’t be considered at all, especially amidst medical considerations, but that there’s more to life than living up to these exacting beauty standards. Victoria realized over the years that her family and work come before her vanity and fashion, that she’s far more content to be prioritizing the attention to other areas. 

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Self-acceptance is an uphill battle, but it’ll come

The biggest takeaway from her evolution over the last twenty-five years is that you can’t afford to pick at the silliest of things. It’s a natural, undeniable tendency to some extent, but as you mature and come across beautiful, oftentimes contrasting discoveries about yourself, it’s best just to let the worries slide and start to accept yourself as you are. “When you get older, you learn how to be comfortable in your own skin,” said the former Spice Girl. 

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Woman Asked Out On A Date By Childhood Bully Has Best Response

By | apologizing, bullying, dating, Food for thought, stories, uplifting news

Years of bullying about her looks led Louisa Manning to an eating disorder. But eight years later, she finally got her revenge on one of the worst bullies and earned a long-overdue apology.

They called her ‘manbeast’

For three long and painful years, cruel students at Louisa Manning’s school called her a “manbeast.” They bullied the then 12-year-old for her weight and body hair (the mean nickname was a play on her last name).

As a result, Manning stumbled into an eating disorder that lasted several years where she’d eat little more than an apple a day.

Bully does a 180

Fast forward eight years and Manning had grown into her body. She’d shed the weight and tamed the body hair.

While studying at Oxford University in England something absolutely wild happened: one of the worst perpetrators of the bullying at school asked her out on a date.

Now 22, Manning told Buzzfeed News that this particular boy had bullied her for “being ugly.”

“I was pretty pissed off he asked me out, to be honest,” she said. “It really made me angry that now I’m attractive, he instantly wants to jump into bed with me.”

But instead of telling the guy to bugger off, she accepted the date.

My gut instinct was to say no. but then I realiZed what a brilliant opportunity it was, and after bouncing ideas off a friend for a few hours, we came up with an idea.

Louisa Manning

A ghosting we can all get behind

Manning’s bright idea was to meet the guy for dinner at a restaurant and not show up.

But more than subjecting the guy to the annoyance of ghosting, she had a waitress at the restaurant leave the guy a photo of Manning when she was 12 and a handwritten note.

The note read:

“Hey [name obscured],

So sorry I can’t join you tonight.

Remember year 8, when I was fat and you made fun of my weight? No? I do – I spent the following three years eating less than an apple a day. So I’ve decided to skip dinner.

Remember the monobrow you mocked? The hairy legs you were disgusted by? Remember how every day for three years, you and your friends called me Manbeast? No perhaps you don’t – or you wouldn’t have seen how I look eight years later and deemed me f*ckable enough to treat me like a human being.

I thought I’d send you this as a reminder. Next time you think of me, picture that girl in this photo, because she’s the one who just stood you up.


Long-overdue apology

Manning posted all of this to Facebook, though the posts have since been taken down. She also posted an apology from the guy that’s worth hearing out.

“I’m so shocked, I actually got an apology,” she said. “It’s 10 years too late and really if he’d intended to apologize he should have done so when I bumped into him last weekend rather than asking me out for dinner first, but it’s still an apology and it’s still amazing I got one.”

It’s never too late to say sorry

Kids can be so mean, can’t they? Manning was simply growing up and was relentlessly bullied for her looks. In the end, she turned out great (Oxford!!), but those years of frustration and an eating disorder are ones she cannot get back.

This is a reminder not only to be kind to others whatever your age, but also that a heartfelt apology, even if years have passed, is better than not apologizing at all.

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Shaq Surprises Struggling Mom Who Couldn’t Afford School Supplies For Kids

By | celebs, Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, Shaquille O'Neal

Apparently, NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal’s heart is as big as one can expect for a man of his size.

He bought a laptop for a struggling mom

Shaquille O’Neal is known for his thunderous dunks (including ones that broke the backboard), winning four NBA championships and his often-hilarious mid-game analysis on TNT. But he’s becoming known for something else — acts of kindness.

Shaq’s latest good deed was revealed on the podcast, “Million Dollaz Worth of Game.” On the show, he explained how he purchased a computer for a mother who couldn’t afford school laptops for her kids.

“I got you,” Shaq recalled saying while at the cash register, according to ESPN.

He realized his privileged position

Shaq added that after a career as an NBA star and a current analyst, the price of a computer makes little financial impact on him, so it was worth doing what he could to help.

“$1,500 ain’t nothing to me but — mom trying to help her babies go to school. … do it,” he added.

My motto lately is it could be worse, and that could be you.

Shaquille O’Neal

Shaq is a do gooder

This is far from the only act of kindness to go viral for Shaq. He paid for the funeral of an 18-year-old Florida teenager who was shot and killed, as well as for an 11-year-old Louisiana boy who died in a car crash.

And this isn’t even the first time Shaq has purchased a laptop for an unsuspecting stranger. In early 2020, an Atlanta man gave the 7-footer condolences for the loss of his sister Ayesha Harrison Jex as well as former teammate Kobe Bryant, so Shaq bought him a computer.

“I like y’all, so get the nicest one in here and I’ll pay for it,” the man recalled Shaq saying.

Share the wealth

Shaq unquestionably worked hard to become as wealthy as he is today, but what he rightfully realizes is that others are not as fortunate and could use an uplift. Hopefully, he continues carrying out these random acts of kindness and inspires others to follow suit.

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Teen Skips Graduation Because Parents Can’t Make It – His Manager Steps In

By | everyday heroes, Food for thought, inspring, leadership, stories, uplifting news

There are certain rites of passage that one looks forward to for years upon years before the moment even occurs. For example, walking across the stage and finally receiving your high-school diploma.

A close call

Timothy Harrison thought that he was going to miss his graduation ceremony, and so he decided to go to work as usual at Waffle House in Center Point, Alabama instead. When his manager Cedric Hampton saw Timothy show up for his 7 AM shift on graduation day, he was shocked.

The manager asked his employee of just only over one month what he was doing there and why he wasn’t attending graduation.

Harrison revealed that his mother could not get off of work to go and also that he did not have tickets or a ride to the ceremony. Additionally, he had been working during the rehearsal where they gave out the cap and gowns, so he did not have those mandatory items for participation.

“I didn’t have a way to get there,” Timothy said. “I didn’t have a plan.”

Support from loved ones

Recognizing both the importance of this moment for Harrison and the fact that the young employee wanted to participate in his milestone moment, Hampton stepped in to help.

“This is once in a lifetime, and he knew it.”

– Cedric Hampton, Waffle House Manager

Hampton decided right then and there that he was going to get Timothy to graduation, and so the Waffle House staff launched into action and made it happen.

The Waffle House employees distributed the tasks necessary to get Timothy to grad by 3 PM between them. Hampton told Harrison to get his paperwork and phone the school to let them know that he would be in attendance.

“I said I’d take care of the rest,” the Waffle House manager said. “We were going to make it work, no matter what.”

One staff member drove Timothy to his school, Woodlawn High School, to pick up his cap and gown. Then, the employees pooled approximately $50 and the assistant manager came in on her day off to go to Target and purchase Harrison’s outfit for the day.

“When I put on the clothes, that was a different feeling,” the excited teen said. “I don’t even know the words. A million dollars? It was the best feeling.”

“His smile lit up the room. You could see how important this was to him. It’s something I’ll always remember.”

– Cedric Hampton

Timothy made it to graduation and in the end received his high-school diploma with the rest of his graduating class.

While the Center Point Waffle House staff could not attend the graduation because of limited seating, the teammates did wait in the parking lot to congratulate Harrison after the ceremony. And they took photos with Timothy to commemorate the moment and celebrate the day.

More good news

After Timothy’s story went viral, more good news came his way. Lawson State Community College offered Timothy Harrison a full scholarship with books included. Timothy had been planning on joining the Army and going to school later on but thanks to Lawson State Community College’s gracious offer, he will be starting college there in the fall.

Happy endings

Some stories have a happy ending that provides comfort to the soul as they remind us of the possibilities of kindness amongst humankind. Waffle House employees went above and beyond for their colleague and friend when they were under no obligation to do so.

Timothy gained more than he had ever hoped for from the moment, turning one prospectively gloomy day into one that he will remember fondly for the rest of his life.

Pay it forward when and where you can, you could be changing someone’s day for the better, or even their life.

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7-Year-Old Swims In Strong Current For An Hour To Save Dad And Sister From Drowning

By | everyday heroes, family, Food for thought, rescue, uplifting news

When your life and the lives of your loved ones are in danger, there is really no telling how far a person can go. The possibilities are almost limitless. Love and survival are two of the strongest forces and intuitive modalities in the universe. When the fear of losing someone close to you presents itself, you go into action mode, and that’s exactly what one 7-year-old did to save his sister, father and himself.

Memorable Memorial Day

Steven Poust brought his two young children boating on St. John’s River in Jacksonville, Florida for some fishing fun over Memorial Day weekend. Steven anchored down the boat so that Abigail, 4, and Chase, 7, could enjoy some swimming.

Normally Abigail stays at the back of the boat, but because the current was so strong, Abigail had to let go. When Chase saw what happened to his sister, he immediately reacted, letting go as well so that Abigail would not drift. Except, as soon as he jumped in, Chase was stuck as well.

Steven jumped in after his children to save them.

“I told them I loved them because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.”

– Steven Poust

Steven explains, “I tried to stick with her as long as I could, and both of them really. I wore myself out. She drifted away from me.”

Chase to the rescue

Poust told Chase to swim to shore and get help while he would try to reach Abigail. Luckily, Abigail was wearing a life jacket, which kept her afloat.

Chase bravely swam to shore, taking an hour to get there. When asked by CNN affiliate WJXT if he got tired while swimming, Chase confirmed that he did, saying that he swam doggie paddle and floated on his back to conserve energy.

After Chase swam a mile to reach the shore, he ran to the nearest house for help, and help was officially on the way.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) was dispatched to the boat’s location but when they got there, they had to call in other agencies to help with the search. Steven and Abigail had drifted approximately one and a half to two miles away from the boat.

The ideal outcome

JFRD Spokesperson Eric Prosswimmer said at a news conference, “We had every resource we could have possibly had coming quickly and we’re happy to say all three have been recovered, and all three are doing well.”

“We couldn’t ask for a better outcome,” PostSwimmer adds.

Chase Poust is being hailed internationally as a hero and rightfully so. The exceptionally courageous 7-year-old swam a mile by himself on a rescue mission to save his family.

 “We’re here. By the grace of God, we’re here.”

– Steven Poust

Survival instinct

Chase embarked upon a solo journey to save his family and himself. We are all capable of doing incredible things. There are unlikely heroes everywhere. Never underestimate a human being with the power to love and survive. They just might come through when you least expect it.

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How Tiger Woods’ Ex-Wife Is Doing, 11 Years After Their Scandalous Divorce

By | Elin Nordegren, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, stories, Tiger Woods

The world will never forget Tiger Woods’ cheating allegations. 

It was the moment in time that forever tarnished the athlete’s reputation. Up until then, he’d been known as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, figures in golf. There’s a reason why he’s broken innumerable records and is number one in PGA Tour wins alongside Sam Snead — he’s simply phenomenal.  He also managed to carve out a unique place in what is traditionally known as a stomping ground for rich white men. 

That’s not to say that Tiger Woods isn’t considered a superb sportsman anymore, but a lot of discourse around his career does revolve around the affairs scandal that spanned between 2009 and 2010. The news dominated mainstream media for a solid year or so, resulting in the divorce between Tiger and his wife, Elin Nordegren. 

While the allegations have been scrutinized to death, there isn’t a lot of information out there on the current dynamic between Tiger and his ex-wife Elin Nordegren. So it’s worthwhile to take a step back, look into the former couple’s sweet beginnings, and examine how their relationship has evolved over the years:

Tiger Woods’s wife Elin had “had no interest” in him when they first met

Elin Nordegren was born on January 1, 1980, in Stockholm, Sweden to Barbro Holmberg and Thomas Nordegren. Her mother, Barbro, had been the Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy in Sweden between 2003 and 2006, and also served as the governor of Gavleborg County for seven years. Elin’s father, Thomas Nordegren, is a political journalist and writer; he also worked in Washington D.C. for some time as a bureau chief. Her siblings include elder brother Axel and twin sister Josefin.

Though Elin hails from a prominent, well-established family in Sweden, she didn’t necessarily grow up with a silver spoon in her mouth. She and her sister had to work to earn their pocket money. They worked as cashiers through the summers to pay for school. Erin also did some modeling work in the early 2000s, landing a cover on Cafe Sport magazine at just 20 years old. 

Elin Nordegren young

She’d been working at a retail clothing store when she met Mia Parnevik, the wife of Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik. Mia immediately took a liking to Elin and offered her a position as nanny to her children. Elin accepted and moved to the U.S. with the family as that’s where they were primarily situated. In the U.S., Elin would accompany the family to numerous golf tournaments, turning heads wherever she went. 

She met Tiger at The Open Championship in 2001, and though he was smitten with her from the get-go, Elin “had no interest in Tiger, and he was OK with that,” as per Mia Parnevik. Elin told People magazine that she had her “opinions about celebrities,” but Tiger made her think they were more similar than expected.

I got convinced that we were a lot alike and agreed to a date. The biggest reason I fell for him was because we had a lot of fun together.

Elin Nordegren to PEOPLE

Elin had been seeing someone at the time and wasn’t particularly keen on beginning a long-term relationship with anyone. She was also focused on going to school to become a child psychologist. Yet Tiger convinced her to give him a chance. In November 2003, Elin accompanied Tiger to the President’s Cup in South Africa. The two became engaged during a four-day stay at the Shamwari Game Reserve the same month. 

Tiger Woods Elin
(David Cannon/Getty)

The two tied the knot a year later, on October 5, 2004, at the luxurious Sandy Lane resort in Barbados. Tiger went all out for the nuptials; he rented the entire estate, including three golf courses and 110-odd rooms, and ended up paying approximately $2 million for the mind-boggling venue. The couple went on to have two children in nearly six years of marriage: daughter Sam Alexis, born in 2007, and son Charlie Axel, born in 2009. 

She was accused of being physically violent towards Tiger after learning about his “transgressions”

The first of the accusations surfaced in a National Enquirer report that alleged that the golfer had taken part in an extramarital dalliance with New York City nightclub owner Rachel Uchitel. Though Uchitel denied the news, it soon became apparent that there was more to the story. According to HBO’s Tiger Woods documentary, Tiger had Uchitel call Elin to assure her there was nothing going on. 

Only, the situation got murkier when Tiger became involved in a car accident on November 27, 2009, a few weeks after the Enquirer article. He crashed into a fire hydrant, a tree, and several hedges near his mansion in Florida and suffered facial injuries as a result. The press jumped to speculate on how the accident occurred, with many theories looping in Elin as the potential perpetrator. The documentary confirmed that Elin had confronted Tiger the same night about his affair with Uchitel, so tensions were running high between the married couple. Some theories stated that Elin had been “chasing Woods with a golf club at the time of the crash and smashed the back windows of the vehicle,” as per The Los Angeles Times

Both Tiger and Elin denied these rumors vehemently, and Tiger claimed full responsibility for the collision. “My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me,” he said in the statement. 

Elin told People that “there was never any violence inside or outside our home,” adding that the speculation that she could have inflicted violence on him is “truly ridiculous.”

The apparent tryst with Rachel Uchitel was only the tip of the iceberg. Over the next couple of months, a dozen or so women came forward claiming to have slept with the married golfer. Tiger Woods owned up to these “transgressions” and stated that he’s “far short of perfect.”

He reaffirmed his love for Elin and wrote, “Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.,” once again dismissing the malicious gossip about his car accident. He also announced that he would take time off of professional golf to try to salvage his marriage. 

These efforts didn’t come to fruition, and Elin filed for divorce shortly. The two finalized their divorce at the Bay County Circuit Court in Panama City, Florida, on 23 August 2010, with Elin receiving $100 million in the settlement. 

If there is no trust between the parents, I think it is better for the children that the parents split up. I am now going to do my very best to show them that alone and happy is better than being in a relationship where there is no trust.

Elin Nordegren to PEOPLE

She has “moved on” and is in a “good place” with Tiger

Though the adultery scandal generated widespread global interest at the turn of the decade, the gossip has subsided in the years since — giving both Elin and Tiger enough space to begin their lives anew in some form or the other. One can only imagine the hardship Elin must have faced amidst the media circus; to have to endure the judgment and the gossip through no choice of her own. She’d become an overnight “spectacle,” someone to be mocked and ridiculed simply for existing. 

It’s no wonder Elin didn’t want to have anything to do with Tiger in the wake of the scandal. Following the divorce, she bought a 1920s-era mansion in Florida and demolished it to build an innovative new structure from the ground up — inadvertently giving way to a rather pointed metaphor of her life. She fulfilled her dream of going to college and getting a degree in psychology. She graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, in May 2014, earning the distinction for Outstanding Senior. She said in an interview that education “is always what [she] wanted” and is proud to set an example for her children about following your passions no matter what. 

She has fallen in and out of love a few times since Tiger as well. She dated late coal tycoon billionaire Chris Cline between 2011 and 2016, and began a relationship with former NFLer Jordan Cameron in early 2019. In June 13, 2019, it was reported that the two were expecting their first baby. Elin gave birth to her third child, a son, in October 2019 and is still believed to be dating Jordan. 

Elin Nordegren Jordan Cameron

Elin has been fiercely private about her life post-Tiger, but the few interviews she’s given reveal a great deal about the evolution of their relationship. In a 2010 interview, Elin disclosed that she’d never suspected Tiger of cheating on her. In fact, the whole state of affairs proved to be an absolute shock. 

I’m so embarrassed that I never suspected — not a one. […] Forgiveness takes time…I am going to be completely honest and tell you that I am working on it. I know I will have to come to forgiveness and acceptance of what has happened for me to go on and be happy in the future. 

Elin Nordegren to PEOPLE

At the same time, she’s committed to making it work with Tiger as co-parents to their two young children. The Swedish mother-of-three made it clear eleven years ago that she wanted the children to be close with Tiger. “I will always have a working parenting relationship with Tiger,” she asserted. 

I have moved on, and I am in a good place. Our relationship is centered around our children, and we are doing really good — we really are. He is a great father. 

Elin Nordegren to PEOPLE

All unpleasant situations eventually end

Elin’s development over the last ten years speaks volumes about her sense of self and maturity. She’d been a young mother of two when her entire world crumbled and she had to reckon with a betrayal of the most extreme kind. But the Swedish psychology kept her head down and focused on her priorities. 

The scandal and the subsequent divorce empowered her to fulfill her dreams and invest in education. Yet, she also has enough room in her heart to maintain a cordial rapport with Tiger, if only for the sake of their children. We need to remember that all situations, no matter how pleasant and testing, have an expiry date. If we can cope with them thoughtfully and patiently, they too shall pass, and we’ll be able to climb back up to the surface and gain a fresh perspective on our life.

The Truth Behind Lil Kim’s “New Face” Will Change The Way You Think About Her

By | dating, emotional health, family, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, lil kim, mental health, Motivation, stories

Lil’ Kim is undoubtedly one of the brightest, most influential women in hip-hop, yet her legacy remains controversial for one reason or the other.

For the past twenty-five years, she’s been pushing the boundaries as a female rapper and breaking records in the process. She’s considered to have pioneered mainstream sex-positive feminism in hip-hop and has carved a path for many contemporary artists, including Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, and Kash Doll. In addition to her unique sound and lyrical matter, she’s known for her breathtaking, flamboyant fashion style and advocacy work for various causes. 

While she’s been an inspiring figure in more than many ways, she’s also let her fans down in others. The rapper, also known as Kimberly Jones, was convicted of three counts of conspiracy and one count of perjury on Marcy 17, 2005. She’d been caught lying to a federal grand jury about not having seen her friends at a scene of a 2001 gun shooting — a testimony that was subsequently proven wrong via video surveillance footage. Kim served twelve months in prison as a result. 

But lately, the criticism leveled at her isn’t about her past as a convict — it’s about her face. Here’s what we can learn from Lil’ Kim’s struggles with beauty and expectations:

Kim wanted to cover the injuries from an “abusive relationship”

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Lil’ Kim has been fielding criticisms and judgment about her face since the beginning of her career. In 2005, she went on a radio show and explained that she had had her nose broken during a physically abusive confrontation with an ex-boyfriend. Kim told the listeners that she, like many other women, had been part of a violent relationship that left her with a “broken nose, black eyes, all that stuff.”

The New York native revealed that she had to “fix her nose” not once but multiple times — every time she’d go through a procedure and come back to her boyfriend, he’d hit her again and send her reeling into a tangle of insecurities and self-loathing. It’s not just her face that was damaged as a result of these brutal attacks. Kim had to undergo multiple MRIs because “he beat me up so bad I couldn’t even move.” She also suffered from blood clots in her back. 

Kim was so tired of lying about her injuries, pretending they were “an allergic reaction,” and burying her bruises in makeup that she thought it would be better to get professional work done and wipe out those physical markings for once and for all. 

I kinda prayed the whole time. I didn’t know what to do. And it has a lot to do with my maturity too. It’s been times I was in the car with my ex-boyfriend and he punched me in my face and [I was] bleeding all over the car […] The doctor had to fix my nose [because] it was almost shattered. 

Lil’ Kim to The Source

The trauma led her to start her charitable organization, Lil’ Kim Cares, which does extraordinary work in raising awareness and funds for issues such as homelessness, child neglect, and violence against women. She’s also keen on showing that just because she’s a celebrity doesn’t mean that she doesn’t go through the same trials and tribulations as anyone else suffering from abuse. Like any other survivor, she has to muster up tons of courage to leave a toxic environment and learn to love herself again. 

Kim admitted she “cheated” with plastic surgery and didn’t think she was “good enough”

(Photo by Thaddaeus McAdams /FilmMagic)

It’s truly been an uphill battle for Kim to love herself, but she’s finally at a stage where she can do so to her heart’s content. It’s also crucial to note that Kim hasn’t always set a good example for her fans — she’s said and done things that have caused a tremendous amount of distrust and pain among her friends, family, and fans. 

Whereas the initial plastic surgery resulted from a violent altercation, Kim has admitted that she’s gotten more surgeries over the years by her own choice. She said she “cheated” and got several facial features “fixed up” as she pleased. In a 2000 interview, Lil’ Kim shared that she’s faced insecurities for as long as she could remember; her boyfriends kept cheating on her with “European-looking” women, the “long-hair type.” 

The mother-of-one said she felt like she couldn’t compete as a “regular black girl” and thought she wouldn’t ever be “good enough.” It’s not just former lovers that triggered feelings of doubt and shame in her; she also endured verbal humiliation at the hands of her father. She claimed, “It’s always been men putting me down, just like my dad.” 

To this day, when someone says I’m cute, I can’t see it. I don’t see it no matter what anybody says.

Lil’ Kim to Newsweek 

The continuous barrage of disapproval made its way to her head, and she felt like she had no choice but to turn to cosmetic surgery. Kim said, “It was like I could do nothing right, everything about me was wrong — my hair, my clothes, just me.” The fact that she’s getting condemned for conforming to the same expectations that were imposed on her in the first place is hypocrisy at its cruelest. Lil’ Kim likely didn’t ask to be saddled with the weight of these debilitating insecurities — they were drilled into her from a young age and were continually reinforced by the men in her life. 

Plastic surgery is a contentious issue that has neither wrong nor a right side. We have to trust women that they’re aware of the health implications and that they understand the full extent of what they’re choosing to undergo. It’s a massive, irreversible decision, and so it should be treated as such. As long as the person comes out on the other side feeling confident and beautiful, we don’t have the right to chide the person. 

At the same time, no one should feel so pressured to look a certain way that they perceive plastic surgery as a necessity, not a choice. Lil’ Kim couldn’t overcome her anxieties and had been fixated on her so-called imperfections for so long that the only way to get peace of mind was to go under the knife. It’s perhaps even more frustrating to see that her career is dominated by rumors of skin bleaching, lip injections, boob jobs, so on and forth when there are far more substantive points to discuss — including her run-is with law enforcement and her illustrious body of work. 

I’m a person who may get bored with my look sometimes. I love what God gave me, but sometimes I want to dress it up.

Lil’ Kim on One World Music Beat

Don’t let assumptions guide your judgment 

Sometimes it’s just best to see something and move on without asserting your opinion about it. People have been berating Kim for a long time — both before and after her plastic surgeries. If they had kept their assumptions at bay from the get-go, Kim wouldn’t have felt forced to go under the knife. 

Conventional beauty doesn’t determine the value of a person; what matters is the person behind the face and the work they’re doing to improve their lives and their collective society around them. Lil Kim has all but transformed the world of her hip-hop through her intuitive, thoughtful, and powerful music. Why must we let our presumptions drive our opinion of the artist? Especially since the artist herself had deeply personal and medical reasons to get many of these surgeries in the first place. Lil’ Kim has her own flaws, but choosing to love herself despite the criticisms shows endurance. And that’s something we can take away from her journey. 

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War Orphan Defies The Odds & Becomes A Prima Ballerina

By | Food for thought, goalcast originals, Motivational Videos

Most people told Michaela DePrince that life as a ballerina would bring a lot of heartbreak and rejection. But what Michaela faced in the ballet world was nothing compared to her shocking orphanage childhood. Labeled as “Devil’s Child”, Michaela was called “evil” because of her skin and given only the smallest scraps of food to survive. What horrific attack did Michaela survive? And how did she break free?