What Is Juneteenth and Why Is It so Important?

By | Food for thought, inspiring, purpose, self

Over the past few years, the holiday of Juneteenth has gained increasing prominence. While most people know that it commemorates the end of slavery and the freedom on formerly enslaved people, many are unfamiliar about the origins of the celebration. Not only is Juneteenth a way to honor Black American history but it also sheds light how the on past atrocities of slavery impacted the development of our country. And how this legacy continues to impact the modern life of Black Americans.

In this comprehensive guide to Juneteenth, learn more about this yearly holiday, why it’s important, and ways to celebrate.

What Is Juneteenth?

People attend Juneteenth, Black Independence Day

Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans. While the holiday has become much more widely known over the past decade, it has been celebrated in various forms since it was first observed in 1865.

Juneteenth is celebrated annually on June 19. The name Juneteenth comes from a combination of the words June and 19. The holiday is also known as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth National Independence Day, Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day. 

This date is special because while the Civil War had already ended, it was the date that over 250,000 enslaved people were freed from slavery in Texas.

Origins of the Juneteenth Holiday, Explained

The first Juneteenth celebration happened on June 19, 1865, the same day that the Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, to share the news that the Civil War was over, freeing the last enslaved Black Americans who lived there. Technically, they had already been freed on February 1, 1865, when President Abraham Lincoln approved the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. 

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Additionally, in 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which had also given the estimated 3 million people enslaved in the Confederate states their freedom. However, the Black Americans living in Texas had no idea that slavery had been abolished and the people enslaving them had no interest in telling them or ending the brutal practice.

Once the Union troops arrived to share the news of the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery (and enforce the order), the formerly enslaved people celebrated with food, song, dance, and other festivities. This celebration became an annual tradition among newly freed Black people that grew into the Juneteenth holiday we know today.

When did Juneteenth Become a Holiday?

Ninety-four-year-old activist and retired educator Opal Lee, known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth, speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden after he signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law in the East Room of the White Hous

Jubilee Day was first celebrated in 1865 after the news was delivered that salavery was no longer legal. The first official observances were held the next year in Texas and continued as an annual tradition. Soon the Juneteenth anniversary was being honored annually in other states as well. 

Is Juneteenth a Federal Holiday?

Yes, Juneteenth is a federal holiday, but becoming an official American holiday took years in the making. In 1980, Juneteenth was made a state holiday in Texas. In the years that followed, other states began to officially recognize the holiday as well. Increasingly, more and more people became aware of the celebration and the effort to make Juneteenth a federal holiday intensified. 

Finally, in the wake of the horrific killing of George Floyd at the hand of police officers, the massive protests that followed, and the ensuing attention his murder brought to issues of structural racism, by the order of President Joe Biden, Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021. Juneteenth became the 11th federal holiday, coming 38 years after the 10th—Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Day, which became an official holiday in 1983.

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Additionally, Juneteeth became a national holiday in large part due to the efforts of former teacher and racial justice advocate Opal Lee, who has been called the “grandmother of the movement” to get Juneteenth recognized on a national scale. The tenacious Texan campaigned to make Juneteenth a federal holiday for decades and her dream was finally realized June 19, 2021, when she was 94 years-old.

Where Is Juneteenth Celebrated?

Children at Juneteenth Celebration Marks Emancipation From Slavery

Juneteenth festivities occur in cities across America. A particularly big celebration happens each year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which has held Emancipation Day events since 1971. 

Other cities that hold impressive Juneteenth observances include Houston, Texas, where festivities have been held at Emancipation Park since 1872, drawing thousands of participants. Family friendly activities, concerts, and food keep attendees coming back each year to celebrate the abolition of slavery and Black American culture.

Philadelphia puts on an enormous parade to celebrate Emancipation Day that includes thousands of participants. Additionally, the festivities have included a Freedom Day March, art exhibits, and other events celebrating Black Americans and their history.

RELATED: Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday: How The Legendary Artist Helped Give MLK A National Holiday

In New Orleans, cultural events like film festivals and concerts dominate their Juneteenth celebrations. In Charleston, North Carolina, where many enslaved people first arrived in America, the Juneteenth Family Fest is held. Fireworks, drum lines, and a variety of musical performances are highlights of the yearly event.

Washington, DC, which made Juneteenth a city holiday beginning in 2004, also holds extensive celebrations. Events include dance, theater, and musical performances by Black artists and activities that celebrate and educate about Black American history.

Atlanta Georgia holds the Juneteenth Atlanta Parade and Music Festival annually to mark this holiday. Each year the festival has a new theme, fireworks displays, fun runs, genealogy sessions, and other activities. Multiple other cities also put on an annual Juneteenth music festival and parades, such as Denver, Colorado, and Memphis, Tennessee.

Primarily, Juneteenth is celebrated in the United States. However, other people and organizations throughout the world also observe the holiday to mark the end of slavery in America and honor the achievements and culture of Black Americans.

How Is Juneteeth Celebrated?

Young cheerleaders march during Juneteenth Parade

Early festivities include a range of events including prayer meetings, religious services, speeches, picnics, parties, dancing, and music. Today, similar activities continue to be popular ways to celebrate Juneteenth. Family gatherings are also commonly held to mark the occasion. Educational programming, sharing uplifting and positive quotes, and advocacy are also commonly a part of Emancipation Day activities.

Now that Juneteenth is a federal holiday, many people have the day off, which allows more people the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the anniversary and to attend and participate in Juneteenth events. 

What States in America Do Not Recognize Juneteenth?

49 of our 50 states recognize Emancipation Day. The outlier is South Dakota. Some efforts have been made to change this but so far they have been unsuccessful in getting a law passed to officially observe the holiday in the state. 

RELATED: Why Maya Angelou Stopped Speaking – and How She Found a Voice that Changed the World

However, while the holiday is now widely celebrated across the country, in some states, including Texas, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, it is illegal to teach about structural racism and critical-race theory in schools. This prohibition makes it challenging to teach about Juneteenth as much of the holiday’s lineage is directly tied to America’s history of slavery and the oppression of Black Americans.

Is Juneteenth a Paid Holiday?

Federal employees get Emancipation Day as a paid holiday. Businesses don’t have to give Juneteenth as a paid holiday or to pay overtime (time and a half) for those that have to work on that day. However, many employers do offer these benefits, particularly big companies, such as Nike and Target. 

Additionally some states (such as Texas, New York, Washington, and Illinois) and cities (such as Los Angeles) have made Juneteenth a paid holiday for their workers.

Why Is Juneteenth So Important?

Protester chant near the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. statue during a Juneteenth celebration

Juneteenth a important because it honors and draws attention to the truth about America’s history of racism and the legacy of slavery. At the same time, the holiday also celebrates the lives, achievements, and contributions of Black American and Black culture.

The holiday provides a yearly time to reflect on such figures as James Baldwin, Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, Oprah Winfrey, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Maya Angelou, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Sojourner Truth. It gives a chance to look at the challenges Black Americans have faced (and continue to face) as well as a moment to celebrate progress and positive thinking and strategies for the future.

Sometimes called “America’s second Independence Day,” Juneteenth provides a time to celebrate the end of slavery in America. The holiday looks to the future while also reflecting on the past, so that we never forget the struggles and injustice inflicted on enslaved peoples and the legacy of that pain and oppression that linger to this day on future generations and America’s culture at-large. Emancipation Day is also a moment to honor all the beauty, courage, and contributions of Black Americans.

tIn 1924, Their Land Was Taken Cause They Were Black – Today, Justice Was Served

“The Bullies Did Me a Favour” – Woman Cruelly Bullied for Her Appearance Gets the Last Laugh

By | Food for thought, inspiring, mental health, Motivation, purpose, self-development, stories, uplifting news

At age 12, Jade Colcombe, a girl from Tonypandy, Wales, was cruelly bullied by her classmates who teased her – and sometimes threatened her – every single day.

As her peers spent their time in class, making friends and hitting the books, Jade’s life was a living hell. Little did she know that the tables would turn.

Torment 101

She was taunted and harassed by her fellow classmates and would be told she looked like a man and was made fun of for her ‘tomboy’ fashion. She recalled to the Daily Mail that it would start right from the opening bell.

”I’d walk into the room and the ‘popular’ gang would sit and snigger just because I didn’t have expensive clothes or wear make-up,” she said.

I was called ‘buck-tooth’, because of my teeth, ‘Dalmatian’, because of my beauty spots and ‘man’ because the hair on my arm was dark and noticeable.

– Jade Colcombe

“There have been times where I just felt like breaking down and crying.”

Desperate, she’d skip school and fake illness to avoid the torment. However, when it was clear it wouldn’t stop, the straight-A student quit school for a different one.

Sadly, the torment continued at her new school, with kids teasing her clothes and calling her ugly. For Colcombe, that was rock bottom.

“At my lowest point, I refused to talk to anyone because I feared that they would just laugh at me,” she admitted.

She found a new stage

Ironically, her family and friends urged Colcombe to enter the ‘Miss Radiant Photogenic UK’ pageant to help her build up her confidence and prove her haters wrong. With nothing to lose, she entered and, amazingly, won. Just like that, a switch was flipped and a queen was born.

Shortly after, Colcombe won the Miss Supermodel Great Britain title at Dream Street’s Miss United Kingdom pageant.

With that, the quiet girl had found her voice.

“For the first time at Miss UK, I actually spoke in front of an audience without getting upset or really nervous about it.”

Colcombe says that she has one special thank you for her success.

“To be honest, the bullies did me a favor.”

And now that I am entering national pageants all over the UK, I really feel like I’ve beat those bullies and proved them wrong.

– Jade Colcombe

Lean into your greatness

Next up for Colcombe: climbing 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Noah’s Ark – a children’s hospital in Wales. The cause holds a special place in her heart: Her little sister Lexi, who has an incurable form of epilepsy, was saved by doctors at the hospital after suffering several seizures.

While climbing the world’s highest free-standing mountain is a tall task, Colcombe says that she’s already conquered the worst.

I beat my bullies, so with the support of my family, beating Kilimanjaro should be no problem.

– Jade Colcombe

No one should go through what Colcombe did. Sometimes children can be really cruel. However, past that struggle is the giant inside you. With help from family and friends, one timid girl tapped into a force stronger than any taunts or teases, and now she’s unstoppable.

Whether it’s your skin color, weight, or age, don’t let anyone make you feel less than the force of nature you are.

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Look beyond appearances

Physical beauty is nothing compared to a good heart.

The Truth Behind Janet Jackson’s Pregnancy At The Age of 50

By | challenging, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, mindset, parenting, purpose, stories

Though Janet Jackson isn’t a hot topic of discussion these days, no one can deny that she’s one of the most famous pop singers of all time. People forget that she’s still a thriving artist who’s continuing to release singles, produce albums, and perform for her fans whenever she has the chance. Instead of cherishing her artistry and dynamic stage presence, the media and the public continue to put her through the wringer. 

Janet’s public reputation is mostly dominated by her controversial performance at the Superbowl 2004 half-time show — an incident that spoke to the double standards prevalent in society and the entertainment industry. Yet the singer also grabbed headlines in 2017 when it was announced that she’d become a mother to her son Eissa. 

Celebrities having babies is hardly a newsworthy item, but Janet’s age made her pregnancy a subject of intense discussion and speculation. Instead of celebrating a woman’s journey through pregnancy and motherhood, the media chose to sensationalize the story, which, in turn, had adverse effects of its own. 

This is why it’s crucial to examine Janet Jackson’s evolution over the last few years and take notes on how the media portrayed a massive chapter in her life. 

Janet thinks it was a “gift” to give birth at age 50

Janet did what many think it’s impossible — conceive at nearly fifty years old. At the time, she was married to businessman Wissam Al Mana and, by all public accounts, was able to get pregnant naturally. She never divulged to the media whether she had been on any kind of fertility treatment but as far as one can tell, the pregnancy was smooth. Janet’s representatives also confirmed shortly after Eissa’s birth that the delivery was “stress-free.” 

Though the whole situation was as simple as it could, it didn’t stop the tabloids from jumping into conclusions and cooking up crazy theories about her pregnancy. But Janet herself has never concerned herself with revealing the truth or dismissing the information. To her, it’s God’s greatest gift that she was able to get pregnant at such an age. 

When asked about when she feels the most beautiful, Janet said:

I feel most beautiful when I’m with my son, because of the gift that God has given me and that he allowed me to do so at that age.

Janet Jackson to InStyle

Janet also credited her trainer for helping her body adapt to a pregnancy at her age. Janet is someone who achieved fame as a teenager, and therefore had to spend the majority of her life in the public eye. It’s not a surprise that she got caught up in body image issues and began to feel self-conscious about most of her features. But welcoming a baby into the world reiterated what truly mattered and that she couldn’t afford to waste even a second on these trivial details. 

Shortly after Eissa’s birth, Janet separated from her husband. Being a working single mother meant that she had to find time for her child no matter what. Janet said the hectic showbiz life can become overwhelming for any artist but being able to hold her son at the end of the day makes everything just a little better. She added:

love is limitless […] day after day and night after night, holding my baby in my arms, i am at peace. i am blessed. i feel bliss. in those moments, all is right with the world.

Janet Jackson to Billboard

Yet the media made a mess of the whole pregnancy

Janet’s pregnancy may have brought a world of joy into her life but the media’s approach to covering this news story has been riddled with missteps. From the onset, they’ve been treating the pregnancy as some sort of a massive mystery that needs to be dissected to no end. Articles were written about the various scenarios that could’ve been made the pregnancy possible. Doctors were called, fertility experts weighed in, and women were told that anything was possible as long as they believed. 

The problem with such immense and fruitless speculation is that, ultimately, that’s all it is. Speculation doesn’t lead to any concrete evidence or answers. Janet herself has chosen not to share how she was able to get pregnant at 49, and she’s entitled to maintaining her privacy. Given that the media didn’t have any hard proof over how this pregnancy took place, they should’ve dropped it and let Janet be. 

Instead, they pushed hard at the story, coming up with theories, drawing up hypotheticals, and offering false hope to other women desperately hoping to get pregnant. Women struggling with fertility would read the story and begin to wonder a range of things. Starting from “Is there something wrong with my body that Janet could get pregnant and I couldn’t?” to “It’s going to happen to me as well.” 

The first thought reflects shame, something that exacerbates the stigma around older moms, whereas the second feeling of confidence might be setting you up for failure. Both shame and confidence can have a negative affect here, so it’s key to offer no certainties when covering such sensitive stories. 

At the end of the day, it’s about having realistic expectations when looking at celebrities. Janet very well may have frozen her eggs or gone through IVF but it’s not for the public or the media to speculate. If she’s not choosing to share it, then there must be a reason behind that.  We can’t dictate our own lives based on what celebrities may or may not have done. 

Be practical about life’s biggest decisions

Janet’s lucky enough to be experiencing young motherhood in her fifties; most women are not going to be as fortunate as her. Some might strike lightning but many are going to fail and will have to look through alternative options. Such is this thing we call life. 

But what’s important to remember is that we cannot sensationalize celebrities and their life stories. We can try to emulate their courage, their determination, and passion, but when it comes to life’s biggest decisions, you’re going to have to be cautious and practical. Just because something’s worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you, and vice versa: just because something hasn’t worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’s not going work for you. You’re your own person, and your most significant moments cannot be boiled down to a tabloid article. So the next time you hear opinions about Janet’s pregnancy, just be happy for the woman and carry on. 

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Why Dolly Parton Had To Fight For Her 54-Year Marriage With Carl Thomas Dean

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, marriage, parenting, purpose, stories

When we think of Dolly Parton, we think of big blonde hair, a buxom figure, and for the initiated, her 1973 hit, “Jolene,” in which she pleads timelessly with another woman, “please don’t steal my man.”

In reality, however, Dolly is a whole lot more than hair and an ample bosom, and her husband happens to be among the devoted few. Not to mention, she’s a living legend with a voice like none other. Born in 1946 to a poor, working class family in a one-room shack in Tennessee, Dolly was the fourth of 12 children. Today, she’s pushing 75 and her life’s been anything but a straight, smooth line. But that’s why we love her.

For instance, Parton never had kids, but few people know it was because of health issues. And then you have her elusive husband, Carl Dean. They got married in 1966, and have been together 54 years now—that’s over half a century.

Dean, retired from running an asphalt business, has chosen to remain totally out of the public eye, leading some to question whether Dolly has ever been unfaithful, or if Dean is even a real person! Yet Dolly has has often shared how she feels his avoidance of the limelight is actually key to their long lasting relationship. They’ve had their own little private paradise all these years. Of course, nothing is perfect.

In sickness and in health: trouble in paradise

Although Dolly and Carl have been happily married for far longer than most, the pair have seen really tough times–as is the case in most longterm relationships. Dolly opened up to Closer Weekly about a truly harrowing time in her life that put significant strain on her marriage.

It began with Dolly going through several years of severe and painful gynecological problems in the early 80s. She suffered from endometriosis, a condition which eventually required her to undergo a partial hysterectomy, which meant the couple could never have their own children.

Upon learning this news, Parton was plunged into deep depression. She even went through a period when she contemplated suicide.

It was an awful time for me. Every day I thought, ‘I wish I had the nerve to kill myself.’

“Sometimes God just has to smack you down,” Dolly has said of that time in her life. “He was almost saying, ‘Sit your pretty little ass down because we have to deal with some stuff!’”

It’s exactly this unique mix of faith, resilience, good humour and self-love that makes Dolly Parton who she is as an artist, but as also as a human being. But alas, being human, she did make a few mistakes along the way–just like the rest of us.

Dolly’s emotional affair led to guilt

Dolly went through hell trying to cope with her infertility and all the feelings it brought up in her marriage. It was already hard enough to maintain a healthy connection with Dean during this period, but to make matters even worse, Dolly admits she had an ‘emotional affair.’ While the affair never got physical, she still experienced overwhelming guilt. In fact, she regretted it so deeply that the whole thing only contributed to her struggle with suicidal thinking.

“I looked at [the gun] a long time,” she said. Then, just as I
picked it up, just to hold it, and look at it for a moment, our little dog,
Popeye, came running up the stairs. The tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to
reality, I suddenly froze and I put the gun down…Now that I’ve gone through
that terrible moment, I can certainly understand the possibilities, even for
someone solid like me, if the pain gets bad enough.”

How Dolly turned her life around (hint: children)

Above all else, Dolly believes it was faith that ultimately saved her marriage. The country legend has relied on her faith to get her through every hardship she’s ever faced. Speaking of her family and her upbringing, she later shared, “Our faith is the most important thing to all of us. It was the key to our survival.”

Of course, Dolly has hardly surrendered passively to the faith that’s helped her survive and thrive. For starters, in spite of never having had any children of her own, there has been no shortage of children in her life.

She and Carl started by helping raise several of Parton’s younger siblings, which led her nieces and nephews to dub her “Aunt Granny.” Later, her great-nieces and great-nephews added “GeeGee” to the mix. “I’ve loved their kids just like they’re my grandkids, and now I’ve got great-grand-kids!” Parton has said. “I often think, it just wasn’t meant for me to have kids, so everybody’s kids can be mine.”

Fun fact: she’s also Miley Cyrus’s godmother!

Dolly has also gone one further, and dedicated her life to helping children outside of her family—a fact only diehard fans know much about. She acts as a ‘BenevolAunt‘ to many children through her non-profit, the Imagination Library, an organization that promotes the joys of literacy to young children.

Each month, the Library mails a free book to children who are registered. Enrolment can start at birth and last until a child turns five. In this context, she is pleased to say that children know her as “The Book Lady,” and think of her as a Mother Goose or Fairy Godmother figure. “I’m like a cartoon character – my voice is little and I’m an excitable little person like them! I’m very childlike in that way, in my nature.”

The Imagination Library encourages a love of reading, an awareness of human diversity, and a promotion of self-esteem. Dolly has recalled how her father never had a chance to learn to read and write, so the importance of literacy is near and dear to her heart. All proceeds from her first children’s album, I Believe in You (2017), went to her passion project, and she even wrote a children’s book, I Am a Rainbow, which has also been included in the program. One might say that Dolly Parton, AKA “The Book Lady,” is mother to many. Hers is truly a labour of love.

And there you have it. Dolly Parton’s life may not be cookie cutter perfect, yet she is surrounded with love: love of family, love of children, and love of her long time husband and best friend. “We’re really proud of our marriage. It’s the first for both of us. And the last,” Parton said, in 2011.

In 2016, she announced that she and her husband would renew their vows in honour of their 50th wedding anniversary. In a later statement she affirmed, “If I had it to do all over, I’d do it all over again, and we did. I’m dragging him kicking and screaming into the next 50 years.”

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How To Combat Body Image Issues Without Actually Changing Your Body

By | challenging, emotional health, Food for thought, goalcast originals, mental health, purpose, stories

When coronavirus lockdown and social restrictions were announced in Germany, my first reaction was that it wouldn’t cause a huge change to my lifestyle. I have a fairly simple life, I work as a freelancer in my home office and cafes, I spend lots of time in solitude and my social calendar is fairly low-profile.

Yes, I’d miss the small things that are part of my routine, but this was a good excuse to deepen my meditation practice and step-up for those in need of emotional support. Then it dawned on me: the gym’s closed. My sacred space between the dumbbells and the squat racks, out of bounds, for months.

There may appear to be a conflict for a meditation teacher and coach who emphasizes our identity is not linked to the body. Whilst I’d love to profess I knew I’d miss the gym exclusively for the mental health benefits (of which there are many) I also knew it was going to challenge my relationship with my body, a familiar foe from the past.

Bigorexia, body image, and self-worth

I’ve been a regular gym-goer for over 10 years. The longest I’ve spent without going to the gym in this time was just under two months, when I first moved to Berlin. I’ve grappled with various issues in my relationship to exercise; from unintentionally punishing my body, to obsessively trying to get as muscular and defined as (super)humanly possible.

It’s a risk that comes with a hobby linked to the way you look. Combined with Hollywood images of the hyper-jacked, from Chris Evans to Hugh Jackman, and links between physical appearance and self-worth, it’s no surprise body image issues are a huge cause of emotional distress.

Women are most commonly associated with bodily insecurity, though eating disorders in men have risen 70 percent, and 45 percent of men said they’ve experienced “bigorexia,” the term given to an obsession with muscle-building. With the lack of gym access, high levels of stress, change to routine, and comfort eating, lockdown has created what Mayo Clinic psychologist Leslie Sim refers to as a “perfect storm” for body image issues.

Gyms are open again in Berlin, and it’s good to be back. However, towards the end of the three months’ with no access, the return of familiar thinking-patterns and feelings towards my body (not to mention the genuinely noticeable change in how my body felt and looked) led me to return to a familiar issue with a fresh perspective.

So what’s the link with body image and identity, and how do we develop a skillful approach that will benefit, not hinder, spiritual growth?

Judgment and the root of body image

This body, too: Such is its nature, such is its future, such its unavoidable fate.” — Kāyagatāsati Sutta

To identify with the body means mistaking our physical structure as who we are. The process of mindfulness, meditation, and spiritual growth is to understand that who we are is much wider and more extensive than the confines of the body itself. From this perspective, the body can be compared to a vessel which provides a “home” for your individual, unique expression of consciousness.

When we identify with the physical body, we might become attached to its sensations, emotions, and sense of separation. Body image issues arise when we place our inherent value on our physical appearance. Suddenly, self-worth is linked to the way the body looks.

Such a hierarchy of values is largely dictated by a culture that pervades the collective psyche with images of bodily perfection and unattainable beauty standards. From Hollywood to the advertising and beauty industries, the message is clear: here’s the way you should look, and good looks are the recipe to happiness and success.

This creates a vicious cycle of judgment. We judge the value of our appearance and, perhaps unconsciously, do the same to others. The body becomes objectified, a malleable object to sculpt, censor, change, to fit the standards that exist outside of ourselves.

In doing so, it’s possible to lose all appreciation for the gifts the body bestows — legs that move us from one place to the other, a heart that beats for a lifetime, a stomach that extracts nourishment from the food we eat, lungs that inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, eyes that see the beauty of the world… these are overlooked and obscured by one determining factor: physical appearance.

Developing a healthy relationship with the body

The body is a beautiful thing: it’s incredibly intelligent, wise, and adaptable. Having undergone a lot of work to improve my relationship with my body, I can tell you meditation is a powerful tool. I can also tell you that saying “you are not your body” as a seeming antidote offers very little value. It’s one thing knowing this, but it doesn’t offer a practical solution to what can be a very invasive and life-altering challenge.

I believe in making spiritual practice practical and accessible. So here are 5 steps I find helpful in improving your relationship with your body:

  1. Challenge judgmental thoughts: Mindfulness allows you to gain greater clarity on your thoughts. Notice how often judgemental thoughts arise: remember, they aren’t truths, but inherited thoughts from cultural values. When these thoughts arise, as well as observing them, challenge them gently. I challenge thoughts by reframing my self-talk in the same manner I would talk to a close friend.
  2. Meditate on the feeling of the body: Use meditation to simply sit and notice the rich universe of sensations that ebb and flow throughout the body. See if you can notice without labeling “good” or “bad” or “pleasant” or “unpleasant.” See how the body communicates and sense its aliveness. You can sample this now: close your eyes, breathe deeply, and spend a few moments paying attention to the sensations in your hands.
  3. Communicate with the body: You might feel a bit silly, but this works. One of my big breakthroughs came during meditation. I instinctively started an inner-dialogue with my body, and apologies for the way I’d been treating it. I was taking it for granted, exercising excessively, and taking little time to send appreciation. When I said the words “I’m sorry, thank you for all you do for me,” I burst into tears — my body responded to my apology and expression of gratitude with a chorus of chills.
  4. Develop a mindset of fascination: When viewed through the perspective of physical appearance, we look at the body with a judgemental eye, scanning its contours and curves looking for imperfection. Instead, see if you can shift your mindset to one of fascination. Explore the magic of the body: how it heals, how it provides you with the nutrients you need to stay alive. If you sense a change in your appearance, try and apply the same mindset. For example, “ah, look at how my body has adapted to less exercise.”
  5. Send loving-kindness towards your body: The loving-kindness meditation is a powerful, heart-opening practice. In meditation, I found a shift in the way I connected to my body when I visualized a bright, white light (representing unconditional love) throughout my body, whilst extending gratitude for all it offers.

Learning to change your relationship is a slow process, which involves exploring the body from the perspective of gratitude and fascination. Though it may seem irrational to be concerned about physical appearance during a global pandemic, body image issues are one of the most prevalent and pervasive causes of emotional distress – so be easy on yourself.

Rather than aiming to sculpt your body to perfection or learn to love your physical appearance, aim to gradually improve your relationship over time. Listen to your body’s form of communication. Be inquisitive. Sooner or later, this leads to greater harmony, connection, and gratitude, as you become receptive to the body’s inherent wisdom.

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How Jane Fonda Rewrote Her Life With a Third Act

By | Food for thought, inspiring, jane fonda, purpose, self, self-development

The year is 2019, and 81-year-old, two-time Oscar-winner Jane Fonda is being arrested for the fourth week in a row. Her crime? “Non-violent disobedience.”

While being arrested, Jane takes the time to thank the BAFTAs for her lifetime achievement award– she will not make it to the awards ceremony, because she is protesting climate change outside the Capitol Building.

This is the same year that 16-year-old Greta Thunberg was named Time’s Person of the Year for leading a global movement of climate strikes protesting the same issue.

But Grace and Frankie star Jane Fonda’s history as an activist stretches back four decades. She has been both loved and hated for her dedication to her principles, but remains passionate about the issues she supports today as she was when she began her journey. 

Today, we see activists marching the streets of America and the entire world on the single topic of climate change, but Fonda’s colorful journey is one to explore. 

How did she become such a fearless crusader?

Jane’s first act of activism

As the daughter of Hollywood royalty (her dad was Oscar-winner Henry Fonda of 12 Angry Men, On Golden Pond), Jane grew up in the spotlight before owning it herself.

She built a career as a starlet and sex symbol by starring in films like The Chase and Barbarella, but though she was born in the shadow of her father’s success, Jane has always been determined to blaze her own path.

Jane made her first public display of activism during the Vietnam war, using her high profile to bring attention to the causes she was passionate about– and faced major backlash for doing so. Despite this, she forged a critically-acclaimed career, winning her first Oscar and refusing to star in movies that she didn’t feel held value for the public. This decision led to her second Oscar win, for a film about a Vietnam vet’s struggles.

Jane then branched out into comedies, starring in the hit movie 9 to 5 with close friend (and future Grace and Frankie co-star Lily Tomlin) and built a work-out video empire.

Then she announced her retirement. Things seemed over for Jane– but that was far from the truth.

Second act: learning from her mistakes

Jane Fonda became known as “Hanoi Jane” for her Vietnam activism and many say this was by far the most overboard she has ever gone to raise awareness of an issue she supports. In fact, this is where she started to gain enemies toward her activism. 

In 1970, Jane was falsely arrested for drug trafficking and detained, although her bag contained only vitamins. It was a moment that would set the tone for her future protests and arrests.

Jane’s loyalty to the USA has been questioned for many years. Many see her alleged “Anti-War” protests as “Anti-American” because she seemed to blatantly speak against the U.S. Soldiers

In later years, Jane has reflected upon and apologized for posing in the iconic picture:

I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an anti-aircraft gun, which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless.

Jane Fonda to Barbara Walters

Second act: Growing from mistakes

Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

The mistakes she made in her youth have led Jane to be more informed and to think more carefully and critically about the causes she supports.

Today, she is still out and about doing marches and “Fire Drills” to raise awareness of climate change, with support from other famous friends like Joaquin Phoenix and Ted Danson.

Jane has said in numerous interviews that she doesn’t care to get arrested as many times as it takes to make her point, while acknowledging that her privilege as a celebrity affords her the ability to do so. Spoken like a true activist.

Though critics of Fonda say she goes overboard with her statements and actions, those closest to her say that her activism is what keeps demons at bay and keeps her going and youthful.

It’s time for a third act

“I divided my life into three acts of 30 years each because every 30 years, I tend to change.”

Jane Fonda, HBO

Jane emerged from retirement in 2005, reinvigorated by years of experience out of the celebrity world. In addition to acclaimed performances on the stage and in film, Jane and best friend Lily co-starred in 7 seasons of Grace and Frankie. The show follows two best friends whose marriages have abruptly ended due to their husbands’ infidelity, as is all about them rediscovering their joie de vivre.

As Jane told HBO, “At the beginning of my third act, I realized — holy sh*t — I don’t know who I am. I was 60 and thought, I have maybe 30 more years. Third acts are important and can pull the rest together. So, I went about studying myself, which meant studying my parents and grandparents. Those are the people who determine who you are — who you then spend the rest of your life healing from. One of the things I hope people come away feeling is a need to examine their lives.” 

This is a profound personal development statement that rings true to most all people of any age and in any stage of life.

Through this realization, Jane has made peace with herself, ending her marriage and embracing her third act as a single woman.

I’m single, which makes me very happy.

Jane Fonda, Vanity Fair

She has also gone deep into contributing to the following charities: 

  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes
  • Elton John AIDS Foundation
  • Heifer International
  • Los Angeles LGBT Center
  • Oceana
  • Peace Over Violence
  • V-Day

What we can learn from Jane

While not everyone agrees with Jane’s personal beliefs or motivations, we can all learn from her approach– fearlessly embracing her opinions and living in accordance with them, whatever the cost.

One of the rights we all hold dear is the right to speak our opinion, and to be heard. This is not a right to be heard if and only if you support one cause or the other, but a right that we all possess. We can see that Jane Fonda simply followed what her heart believed, and that can be interpreted many ways. 

Jane’s story teaches us that our story doesn’t end when we are struggling or when we reach a certain age. Through each act of her life, she experienced highs and lows, made mistakes and learned from them.

In your second and third acts, you, too, can grow and adapt while still being true to the beliefs and convictions that make up the core of who you are.

I love mistakes because it’s the only way you learn. You don’t learn from successes; you don’t learn from awards; you don’t learn from celebrity; you only learn from wounds and scars and mistakes and failures. And that’s the truth.

Jane Fonda, Flaunt Magazine

Who Was Mister Rogers Really When the Cameras Turned Off?

By | empowering, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, mr rogers, profile, purpose, stories

Fred Rogers was beloved by millions as the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the iconic PBS series that ran for a staggering amount of time – from 1968 to 2001.

Though he was known for being warm, generous, and having so much love to give – Mister Rogers came to that place from pretty dark and lonely beginnings.

Mister Rogers’ lonely childhood

Fred Rogers wasn’t encouraged to share his emotions growing up, which caused him to withdraw a bit from those around him. He felt a great deal of loneliness as a child– something that would drive him to make children across the world feel less lonely as an adult.

Many believe his early puppet character of Daniel Tiger was a way to release those bottled up emotions, which he carried into adulthood.

“Fred was a very sensitive person, and tears were available to him. I used to say, ‘You’re my liberated man, and I think it’s just wonderful’… We never got mad at each other that much — that we could express well,” his wife Joanne told the L.A. Times. “We just got quiet. Both of us handled it that way, and that’s not the best way. It’s good to yell sometimes.”

That the same can be said for Daniel Tiger, who is described as having “a gentle vulnerability… He is shy, yet he is able to talk openly about his feelings and concerns when his caring friends give him loving support and help him feel more confident.”

Before Mister Rogers, there was Fred

Rogers may have been emotionally trapped as a child, but he was not unloved. His mother knit all his sweaters herself– including all those he wore on the show later in life.

He reflected on this often, and shared his momther’s impact with viewers. “This is a picture of my mother. She knits the sweaters that I wear when we have our television visits. I just wanted you to see her picture and to look very carefully at the beautiful work that she does with her knitting,” he said while the camera zoomed in on a photo of his mother and then close-ups of several sweaters.

“That’s one of the ways that she has of saying that she loves somebody. She uses needle, yarn and her own hands to knit the sweaters. When I put on one of these sweaters, it helps me to think of my mother. I guess that’s the best thing about things — it reminds you of people.”

Those sweaters are now in the Smithsonian Museum!

His first inspiration

While Fred Rogers loved his family and his home, his life was not easy growing up. According to the Fred Rogers Center, he was “overweight, somewhat shy, and introverted.”

He also suffered from asthma, which meant he couldn’t go out and play as often as his friends, which also led to him feeling isolated growing up. 

Shades of his future life were seen during talks with his grandfather, who would say things like “Freddie, you make my day very special.”

But it was another phrase that Rogers remembered from his grandfather, “I like you just the way you are,” which became one of Mr. Rogers’ most known phrases for young children.

His musical passion

The puppeteer and ordained minister from Pennsylvania also had a degree in music composition, Though Rogers is most widely known for his TV show, the puppeteer and ordained minister from Pennsylvania also had a degree in music composition.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, watched by millions of children, was a platform for Rogers to use kindness and compassion to teach children about feelings, current events, and how to deal with other challenging things they may face throughout their lives.

Music played a big part in how he taught, and Rogers would write hundreds of songs that made their way onto his show and help in his relating to children.

When it came to parenting and handling youngsters, his wife Joanne said, “He had a patience the likes of which I greatly admired but couldn’t emulate.”

Fred Rogers’ impact on children went beyond just TV

Rogers was champion of children in general and PBS, the network where his show aired, too. In 1969, he even testified before a Senate subcommittee that was considering cutting funding for public television.

“This is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he is unique… I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health,” he said in his testimony.

The funding was maintained, thanks to Mr. Rogers’ sincerity and conviction!

I feel that those of us in television are chosen to be servants. It doesn’t matter what our particular job, we are chosen to help meet the deeper needs of those who watch and listen – day and night!

What we can learn from Mister Rogers

Fred Rogers’ story is proof that living according to your convictions is the greatest power we can have.

Even on a personal level, Mister Rogers impacted many individuals, like journalist Tom Junod– who profiled Rogers for Esquire, and was so inspired by Rogers’ genuine heart that his perspective on life utterly shifted. While keeping this bigger mission in mind, Rogers never lost sight of the people in front of him who were in need.

By being authentic and never giving up the fight for what he believed in, Fed Rogers changed the lives of millions of children. Beyond Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the $20 million worth of funding he acquired helped bring Sesame Street to PBS.

Like Mister Rogers, we can all take the things that trouble us and turn them into a drive for change. Being honest about what we want and who we are is the surest path to our dreams.

One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self.

Mister Rogers

More inspiring celebrities:

Meghan Markle Shares Cake With Waiting Children in New Zealand, Reminds Us That Kind Gestures Don’t Have to Be Grand

By | authenticity, Celebrities, Food for thought, inspiration, Inspiring Stories, purpose


We’ve been watching the royal tour of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they make appearances throughout Australia and New Zealand with Meghan Markle’s growing bump along for the ride — but we can’t get over the constant reminders of what simply awesome human beings they are, aside from being glamorous royals.

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Meghan and Harry had just been lunching at a cute café in the Lyall Bay neighbourhood, and as would be expected when royals come to visit, there was a spread of cakes laid out for the royal couple.

Despite eating for two, Meghan made sure to gather a bunch of the cake with her when they left and she handed out the treats to a group of children that had gathered outside to greet the twosome.

Café owner Bronwyn Kelly told Newstalk ZB that before the royals had visited, she and the restaurant’s chef were going to serve morning tea with “some really delicious yummy little baking treats, which will offer some good local New Zealand products.”

There was seemingly a lot more to enjoy than they could finish, and when Meghan left the café and saw the kids waiting outside, she ran back inside and asked for the cakes that were not eaten to share with the children, according to the Daily Mail. The kids from nearby Houghton Valley School had gathered just outside in hopes of seeing the famous pair, and were delighted to get some cake.

Because they are the sweetest, the duke and duchess also stopped to chat with the children. “They asked us what our names were and also they were really nice and just talked normally to us,” one of the students told TV NZ.


“My legs were shaking so much,” another added.

According to Stuff NZ., one boy was so overwhelmed that he began crying and Meghan came over personally to comfort him.

They are going to be the best parents ever, but they also just seem like really good people to spend time with!


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Transformation doesn’t just happen. It takes a plan and a support system. This how-to guide is full of the top wisdom, tips, exercises, and success stories to inspire an old dream or create a new one.

Check out a teaser of what’s inside.

Hero of the Week: This Man Is Rescuing Street Cows by Driving Them to Safety on the Back of His Motorbike

By | Food for thought, Good News, inspirational, Inspiring Stories, kindness, love, purpose

In Kathmandu, Nepal, many cows are abandoned by their owners when they’re no longer of use to them. This careless abandonment results in thousands of stray, helpless cows left to roam the streets of the capital city.

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Thankfully, one man has made it his mission to bring these cows to safety — to date, he’s rescued over 166 cows. R.B. Neupane has taken it upon himself to create a makeshift sanctuary for the abandoned cows but he couldn’t afford a transport truck. That didn’t stop him though.

RELATED: Hurricane Florence Hero Volunteer Rescues Abandoned Dogs Moments Before They Drown in Locked Cage

Here’s the kick: Neupane transports the cows one-by-one, by driving them out of the city on the back of his motorbike.

“Earth is common for all, everyone has the right to live,” Neupane tells BBC Reel, “There were many organizations looking for dogs, but there were no organizations for cows. That’s why I started working for them.”


The biker now cares for nearly 200 cows — all of which he has rescued from the streets of Nepal.

“The cows and calves are left on the street when they are of no more use to their owners. If the cow gets old or stops giving milk they leave the cows on the street and when the bull calves are born, they are considered of no use as they don’t give birth.” Neupane explains sadly.

Raising awareness

While he’s doing his best to combat the stray cow problem in Nepal, Neupane told BBC Reel that there are currently over 8,000 abandoned cows across Nepal.

Because of this, Neupane has also organized dozens of campaigns to raise awareness and encourage the people of Nepal to care more carefully for their cows. This awareness has also resulted in outpours of residents visiting the sanctuary bearing vegetables, treats and other goods to help the cows along.

While taking care of the rescued cattle gives his life purpose, he does hope the government will eventually intervene to help. The cow is the national animal of Nepal and Neupane has hope that they will one day wake up and help rescue the lives of these innocent cows and calves.

In the meantime, Neupane and his fleet of volunteers will continue to do what they can by transporting as many cows as possible on the back of his motorbike.


Reconnect with your dreams and jumpstart your personal transformation with Goalcast’s new inspirational ebook, Explore Your Potential: Start the Journey to Your Dream Life.

Transformation doesn’t just happen. It takes a plan and a support system. This how-to guide is full of the top wisdom, tips, exercises, and success stories to inspire an old dream or create a new one.

Check out a teaser of what’s inside.

This Little Known Story of Steve Buscemi and 9/11 Completely Blew Us Away

By | Celebrities, Food for thought, inspirational, Inspiring Stories, purpose

It’s almost impossible to believe that it’s been 17 years since Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Where were you when you heard the news? For most people, the answer to that question is something along the lines of: hovered around the TV at the office, or listening to the breaking news on the radio while commuting to work.


For actor Steve Buscemi though, the answer is quite different.

Buscemi, the eccentric oddball we’ve all come to love, seems to have been in the entertainment industry for as long as we can remember, but the character actor has not always worked in the entertainment industry. In fact, his previous career couldn’t be further away from Hollywood.

From 1980 to 1984, Buscemi worked as a firefighter for the FDNY — one of the most demanding departments in the world.

Steve Buscemi in the 80s. Credit: HBO

Despite retiring from the fire department to pursue acting a lengthy 17 years prior, when Buscemi became aware of what had happened to the Twin Towers, his firefighting instinct kicked right in.

He spent the subsequent week doing 12-hour shifts to help his former colleagues at the firehouse try and locate bodies of missing people despite the fact that he hadn’t had anything to do with that world for nearly two decades.

He didn’t want any recognition. In fact, he flat out refused interviews all together. When he did speak out on his courageous actions, he simply said: “It was a privilege to be able to do it.

Steve Buscemi and his FDNY team. Credit: HBO

“It was great to connect with the firehouse I used to work with and with some of the guys I worked alongside. And it was enormously helpful for me because while I was working, I didn’t really think about it as much, feel it as much.

“It wasn’t until I stopped that I really felt the full impact of what had happened. It would have been much harder for me to get through it if I hadn’t been able to do that.”

Buscemi has since worked with director Liza Garbus to produce an HBO documentary to inspire others to join the FDNY and create awareness of the profession in general.

By way of firsthand accounts from past and present firemen, A Good Job explores the trials and tribulations of working in one of the world’s most demanding fire departments. See the trailer below:

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Reconnect with your dreams and jumpstart your personal transformation with Goalcast’s new inspirational ebook, Explore Your Potential: Start the Journey to Your Dream Life.

Transformation doesn’t just happen. It takes a plan and a support system. This how-to guide is full of the top wisdom, tips, exercises, and success stories to inspire an old dream or create a new one.

Check out a teaser of what’s inside.