Loneliness is killing millions of American men. Heres why.

When I was 7, my best friend’s name was George.

He lived around the corner from me. George was tall and lanky. His elbows always akimbo, his cowlick stellar in its sheer verticality. He had an aquarium. He had a glow-in-the-dark board game. He had the 45 rpm of “Hang On, Sloopy,” and he was a Harry Nilsson fan, just like me. I can still recall his house, and all of the luminous joy it held, perfectly in my mind’s eye — all part of the frozen 7-year-old’s mosaic that exploded into pieces when my parents’ marriage failed.

After my parents split, George and I lived just an hour apart. But our parents weren’t willing to ensure that George and I stayed in regular contact. Once or twice a year, we were allowed a sleepover, and George always came to spend the night on my birthday. His visit was the one gift I asked for.

Then one day it ended. My mother simply said, “no more.” To this day, I don’t know what triggered that choice, but my guess is she was feeling vaguely uncomfortable that two boys, by then around 11 years old, were moving on to things more productive than comic books and sleepovers. I suspect she felt she could no longer sponsor something so … intense. From her perspective, it was unnaturally so.

With that decision, it wasn’t just my friendship with George that died. I lost my understanding of where close male friendships fit into my life.

The topic of male friendships remains largely undiscussed, but for American men, it can be a matter of life and death.

Niobe Way is a professor of applied psychology at New York University and the author of “Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection.” A number of years ago, she started asking teenage boys what their closest friendships meant to them and documenting what they had to say.

It seems that few scholars have thought to ask boys what was happening with their closest friendships because we assumed we already knew. We often confuse what is expected of men (traditional masculinity) with what they actually feel — and given enough time, they confuse the two as well. After a lifetime of being told how men “typically” experience emotion, the answer to the question “what do my closest friends mean to me” is lost to us.

Way’s research shows that boys in early adolescence express deeply fulfilling emotional connection and love for each other, but by the time they reach adulthood, that sense of connection evaporates.

This is a catastrophic loss; a loss we somehow assume men will simply adjust to. They do not. Millions of men are experiencing a sense of deep loss that haunts them even though they are engaged in fully realized romantic relationships, marriages, and families.

This epidemic of male loneliness is more than just melancholy. Research shows us it can actually be lethal.

In an article for the New Republic titled “The Lethality of Loneliness,” Judith Shulevitz writes (emphasis added):

Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking. A partial list of the physical diseases thought to be caused by or exacerbated by loneliness would include Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer — tumors can metastasize faster in lonely people.”

Loneliness can also affect the mortality rate more directly. Research also shows that between 1999 and 2010, suicide among men aged 50 and over rose by nearly 50%. The New York Times reports that “the suicide rate for middle-aged men was 27.3 deaths per 100,000, while for women it was 8.1 deaths per 100,000.”

The boys featured in Way’s book express, in their own words, a heartfelt emotional intimacy that many men can recall from their own youth.

Consider this quote from a 15-year-old boy named Justin:

“[My best friend and I] love each other … that’s it, you have this thing that is deep, so deep, it’s within you, you can’t explain it. It’s just a thing that you know that that person is that person and that is all that should be important in our friendship. I guess in life, sometimes two people can really, really understand each other and really have a trust, respect, and love for each other. It just happens, it’s human nature.”

This passionate and loving boy-to-boy connection occurs across class, race, and cultures. It is exclusive to neither white nor black, rich nor poor. It is universal and beautifully evident in the hundreds of interviews that Way conducted. These boys declare freely the love they feel for their closest friends. They use the word “love,” and they seem proud to do so.

But Justin also senses, even as it’s happening, the distancing that occurs as he matures and male intimacy becomes less accepted. He says this in his senior year, reflecting on how his relationships have changed since he was a freshman:

“I don’t know, maybe, not a lot, but I guess that best friends become close friends. So that’s basically the only thing that changed. It’s like best friends become close friends, close friends become general friends and then general friends become acquaintances. So they just, if there’s distance whether it’s, I don’t know, natural or whatever. You can say that, but it just happens that way.”

According to Way, this “natural” distancing is a lot more artificial than it is innate — a result of toxic judgments leveled against boys by their environment and society.

“Boys know by late adolescence that their close male friendships, and even their emotional acuity, put them at risk of being labeled girly, immature, or gay,” Way writes. “Thus, rather than focusing on who they are, they become obsessed with who they are not — they are not girls, little boys nor, in the case of heterosexual boys, are they gay.”

The result? “These boys mature into men who are autonomous, emotionally stoic, and isolated,” as Way puts it. In other words, the pressures of homophobia and toxic masculinity push boys into isolation until they become swept up in the epidemic of male loneliness that haunts the majority of American men.

Photo by Myriam/Pixabay.

It is a heartrending realization that even as men hunger for real connection in male relationships, we have been trained away from embracing it.

Since Americans hold emotional connection as a female trait, many reject it in boys, demanding that they “man up” and adopt a strict regimen of emotional independence and even isolation as proof they are real men. Behind the drumbeat message that real men are stoic and detached is the brutal fist of homophobia, ready to crush any boy who might show too much of the wrong kind of emotions.

We have been trained to choose surface level relationships or no relationships at all, sleepwalking through our lives out of fear that we will not be viewed as real men. We keep the loving natures that once came so naturally to us hidden and locked away. This training runs so deep, we’re no longer even conscious of it. And we pass this training on, men and women alike, to generation after generation of bright eyed, loving little boys.

When I was in my early 30s, I ran into George again.

He was working for a local newspaper and living in an apartment in Houston, where I visited him. To my surprise, he happily split up his comic collection (I had sold mine when I was 16 or so) and gave me half of his huge collection. It was an act of profound generosity, and I’m sure I was effusive in my thanks.

I ran into George again in my 40s. He had married and moved to California. On a business trip, I spent the night at his house. We fell into our old pattern of reading comic books and drawing while his wife hovered, declaring over and over how great it was that I was visiting. The next day I packed up and went home to New York feeling vaguely disconnected but happy.

About two years later, his wife called me, screaming and weeping. George had died.

To this day, I remain shocked. “Why didn’t I connect more” was my first thought. My second was how effusive his wife had been about my visit. So supportive. So happy for “George’s friend” to be there. I was never able to follow up after his death. I don’t even know what killed him, just an illness.

How is this possible? How did I sleepwalk through the chance to reconnect this friendship? I should have cared. I should have given a damn. Why didn’t I? Because somewhere, somehow, I was convinced that close friendships with boys are too painful?

Don’t parents understand? Don’t they know that we love each other? That our children’s hearts can be broken so profoundly that we will never rise to a love like that again?

The loss of my friendship with George set a pattern in my life that I am only now, decades later, finally conscious of.

I have walked past so many friendships. Sleepwalking past men as I went instead from woman to women, looking for everything I had lost. Looking instead in the realm of the romantic, the sexual. A false lead to a false solution. And in doing so, I have missed so many opportunities to live a fuller life.

Way’s work has given me the piece of the puzzle I was never conscious of. That the love I had felt for George and others — Troy, Jack, David, Bruce, and Kyle — was right and good and powerful and could move mountains. I didn’t realize what they were then. But I do now. That the slow withdrawing of those friendships from my life had not been a killing blow. Not quite. And that I’m back in the game of loving my friends. Fiercely.

So know it, guys: I love you all.

This piece was originally published by The Good Men Project and is reprinted here with permission.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/loneliness-is-killing-millions-of-american-men-here-s-why

Heres What Happens If Magnificent Bastard Mueller Gets Fired

Bob Mueller is famously nonchalant amid life’s toughest moments. Much of that public calm stems from the fact that he’s a Magnificent Bastard and, specifically, the lessons of December 11, 1968. That day, then Second Lieutenant Mueller’s squad—part of the Second Platoon, Hotel Company, Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment, the so-called “Magnificent Bastards”—was on patrol in Quang Tri Province when they came under heavy fire from as many as 200 North Vietnamese troops. They almost immediately began to take casualties.

Mueller organized a defensive perimeter and moved among his Marines, encouraging them to return fire; they fought for hours. At one point, Mueller led a fire team into enemy territory to retrieve a mortally wounded comrade. The rest of his unit survived, and he received a Bronze Star, with Valor, for his actions and leadership that day.

That day wasn’t Bob Mueller’s first time in combat, and it wouldn’t be his last. It wouldn’t even necessarily be his most consequential: Four months later, he was shot through the leg by an AK-47.

The time in Vietnam, though, gave him a hard-won perspective on the bureaucratic fights where he’d spend most of the rest of his career. He considers himself lucky to have survived Vietnam—and his life of public service ever since stems, in part, from that gratitude. His college classmate David Hackett never got the chance to come home, and he speaks regularly of Hackett’s sacrifice.

Even in Mueller’s toughest moments stateside—the months after 9/11, when he was FBI director, and the 2004 hospital showdown that brought him and Jim Comey eyeball to eyeball with the Bush administration—he’s evinced a certain calm amid Washington’s slings and arrows. As FBI director, even facing the daily fears of terrorism, spy plots, and cyberattacks, he used to joke, “I’m getting a lot more sleep now than I ever did in Vietnam.”

Still, you have to wonder how well Mueller is sleeping these days. It’s hard to imagine that he has faced a more challenging—or more potentially consequential—week than this past one, which has seen a steady series of attacks from the Trump administration and congressional Republicans on both his own investigation and the two institutions that he devoted almost his entire life to serving, the FBI and the Justice Department.

So let’s do a quick review of recent developments in Washington and then consider a question that has yet to get a thorough airing in the coverage of the Russia investigation and its attendant sideshows: What would happen to the investigation if Mueller were to be fired?

First, the recent barrage of developments. It’s hard to keep the hits straight; they’ve come so quickly and we’ve grown so desensitized to major, Earth-moving news stories coming and going ephemerally in the Trump Age. Just in the past 10 days, we’ve seen news that Mueller’s team has interviewed the sitting attorney general, Jeff Sessions, as well as the former FBI director Jim Comey, and begun to talk to the White House about interviewing the president himself—all signs that Mueller’s efforts are reaching a critical moment.

Then there was the news that last summer, in June, President Trump ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller as special counsel—a power that doesn’t technically belong to McGahn—and that McGahn resisted, saying that he’d resign rather than begin to implement the order, a powerful sign that the president’s own lawyer saw a corrupt intent behind the president’s direction.

On Capitol Hill, we’ve borne witness to a fantastical pas de deux between congressmembers Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff, the top Republican and top Democrat respectively on the House Intelligence Committee, as Nunes—who last year breathlessly reported that he uncovered evidence of “deep state” malfeasance against President Trump and rushed to the White House to brief the president, only to later admit that his evidence itself came from the White House, an incident that so compromised his own integrity that he was forced to the sidelines of the Russia investigation—now claims to have singlehandedly uncovered a vast government conspiracy underway at the FBI and the Justice Department.

And he’s managed to explain the entire plot in a four-page memo that the House is moving, in perhaps a literally never-before-used protocol, to force to be declassified. The Trump appointees inside the Justice Department say doing so would compromise critical classified information and would be “extraordinarily reckless,” but the White House, which is currently reviewing the memo, doesn’t appear to agree. (As he was leaving the House chamber after his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, Trump was overheard saying that he believed the memo should be released “100 percent.”)

Schiff, meanwhile, has a competing memo that purportedly disputes almost all aspects of Nunes’ memo, but for equally complicated reasons his won’t be released, meaning that Nunes’ claims will, when they’re made public, be all but undisputed publicly. All of the controversy appears to have something to do with the FBI and the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign—and perhaps the presidency—and, in response, Nunes’s committee majority has informed the minority Democrats that it has now launched an amorphous and ill-defined investigation into both the department and the bureau.

Then there was the last-minute announcement from the White House, on Monday night, that they would not enforce a new round of sanctions against Russia—sanctions required by Congress, which overwhelmingly passed the legislation—and also whiffed on creating a list of targeted Russia business leaders, cribbing a list of the country’s richest from Forbes magazine instead.

Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s deputy director, abruptly announced his departure from the bureau on Monday.

Pete Marovich/Getty Images

And don’t forget the week in the life of Andy McCabe.

First came news that FBI director Chris Wray threatened to resign if pressured to fire deputy director McCabe, a longtime Twitter target of Trump, and then the bombshell that McCabe—a longtime veteran of the FBI and a career nonpartisan law-enforcement agent—was asked directly by President Trump who he voted for (McCabe’s answer: He didn’t vote), and that Trump, separately, also berated McCabe in a telephone call and gratuitously insulted his wife. (McCabe’s answer: “OK, sir.”)

McCabe announced his retirement early Monday, perhaps because the Justice Department inspector general is questioning whether he tried to abide by the Justice Department’s own guidelines on investigating politically sensitive matters close to an election by slowing the examination of Anthony Weiner’s laptop in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

If you’re confused about how the GOP could be criticizing McCabe for appearing to aid Hillary Clinton’s campaign when deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein’s memo accusing Jim Comey and the FBI of treating her unfairly was the purported basis for his firing by Trump last May, well, you’re not alone—this investigation increasingly appears to be taking America through the looking glass.

The Nunes memo is particularly significant because it appears to target Rosenstein, a Trump appointee who now controls the strings of Mueller’s investigation at the Justice Department.

Following Jeff Sessions’ recusal from Russia-related matters, Rosenstein—a career prosecutor who was originally appointed as a US Attorney by George W. Bush—appointed Mueller as a “special counsel” using special Justice Department regulations, known as 28 C.F.R. § 600.4-600.10, that were implemented after the Independent Counsel Act expired following Bill Clinton’s presidency. The Independent Counsel Act, the law that spawned Ken Starr, was seen as too independent and unaccountable.

The special counsel rules bring the investigators under closer supervision by the Justice Department—but still narrowly limit the ways and criteria by which a special counsel can be removed. Rosenstein could only remove Mueller for “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest,” or “other good cause,” and there’s no sign that Rosenstein believes any of that is likely; last month he specifically defended Mueller’s investigation thus far and said he believes Mueller “is running his office appropriately.”

Rosenstein—who signed the increasingly infamous memo last spring arguing that Comey had compromised the FBI’s reputation with the Clinton email investigation and had to be fired so that the bureau could be rebuilt—understands that this document appeared to undermine his own integrity, and that his reputation is now inexorably linked with defending Mueller’s probe and independence.

Given the Republican, Trump-appointed Rosenstein’s reluctance to act to remove Mueller—himself a registered Republican who served all three of the most recent GOP presidents for almost every day of the 20 years of their administrations—there are increasing signs that the Trump administration might be moving toward smearing Rosenstein’s reputation or ousting him directly.

How exactly they can accomplish that—and just which Justice Department official is willing to add his or her name to the history books to stand alongside Robert Bork, the executioner in Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre”—is unclear.

Likewise, it’s not entirely clear how much firing Mueller would affect the probe, which has been underway for more than a year now—it was launched in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign—and has already resulted in guilty pleas or charges against the president’s former campaign chairman, the White House national security adviser, and two other aides.

But given the turmoil and tumult in Washington, it doesn’t mean that Trump won’t try.

So what would firing Mueller look like?

By all accounts, Donald Trump is within his presidential prerogatives to order the firing of Mueller—but it wouldn’t necessarily be easy. If Rosenstein refuses a direct order from Trump to fire Mueller and is fired or resigns instead, the task would fall to Rachel Brand, the No. 3 official at Justice, who would face the same dilemma—fire Mueller or leave office. And on down the line until Trump finds someone willing to do his bidding.

Certainly every person in that Justice Department hierarchy has already spent time thinking through what would happen if he or she got the phone call ordering a firing. They have all certainly played out various scenarios, and perhaps even discussed with staffs about where their red lines would be and what action they would take in such a historic moment.

The reports last week that White House counsel Donald McGahn threatened to resign rather than implement Trump’s order to fire Mueller make it inexorably more difficult for anyone to give the order now. The news that McGahn told the President that he’d resign gives any Justice Department official ordered to fire Mueller by the White House the knowledge that none other than the White House’s top lawyer suspects there might be corrupt intent behind such a directive—meaning that it is tantamount to obstruction of justice and, by definition, unlawful. Such knowledge makes it much harder to be willing to be the one who signs the letter firing the special counsel, who despite all the partisan political muddying of the waters is a legend inside “Main Justice” and seen by effectively everyone outside of the GOP fever swamp as an apolitical straight arrow.

And the Justice Department has a much deeper bench now than it did in the Nixon days.

Most people don’t realize that during Watergate, in the midst of the Saturday Night Massacre, Robert Bork—as solicitor general, the No. 3 official, who became acting attorney general after the resignation of attorney general Elliot Richardson and deputy attorney general William Ruckelshaus—was actually pressured by Richardson and Ruckelshaus to do Nixon’s bidding and fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. At the time, the Justice Department’s line of succession was only three deep: If Bork resigned too, it wasn’t clear who would lead the department, and Richardson feared outright chaos.

Today, though, there are no such concerns. The line of succession is effectively infinite—though it’s complicated by how few Senate-confirmed officials are in place at the department right now. Thus each official, in turn, could decide solely based on his or her conscience and how he or she wants to be viewed by history.

Weighing on whomever was forced to make the decision to fire Mueller is a pile of evidence that didn’t exist last summer when McGahn’s dramatic showdown played out without the public’s knowledge: Mueller’s investigation, through the guilty pleas of George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, has established clear evidence of contacts between Russian officials and Trump campaign aides—thereby establishing that his case is not, as the president has labeled it, a capitalized “Witch Hunt.”

President Trump may have a difficult time finding a Justice Department official willing to fire Mueller.

Cheriss May/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Trump could also try two other, more direct paths to forestall the investigation, each of which would be tremendously controversial in its own way: He could invoke his own Article II powers as president to attempt to fire Mueller directly—which would almost certainly get disputed in court, since the special counsel regulations grant the firing power exclusively to the attorney general or acting attorney general. He could also attempt to pardon all the targets of Mueller’s investigation. Such pardons, though, wouldn’t stop state or local prosecutors from pursuing their own charges—and, indeed, Mueller’s team appears to be leaving bread crumbs in their case work for just such investigations—and it wouldn’t stop Mueller from writing a report that could be handed over to the Justice Department to be turned over to Congress for public debate and possible impeachment proceedings.

Either move—a direct firing or public pardons—would likely also ignite a political firestorm in Washington, though there’s little evidence that a red line exists among Republicans on Capitol Hill that they won’t let Trump barge right past. However, with a narrow one-vote majority in the Senate and midterm elections approaching quickly, Republicans can’t afford to lose much ground without paralyzing their Capitol Hill agenda for this year and risking their congressional majorities in November.

Trump’s best path to ridding himself of the meddlesome FBI director and slowly reining in the investigation might come instead from removing Rosenstein or Sessions and appointing a new deputy attorney general or attorney general.

Rosenstein is overseeing the case—serving as the acting attorney general in the Russia matter—because Jeff Sessions himself is a a potential target of the investigation, having met secretly with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign and then conveniently forgetting about those encounters during his confirmation process. If Sessions resigns, the next attorney general—presuming he or she is also not compromised by the Russia investigation—would be able to take control of the investigation back from Rosenstein and either fire Mueller or box in his investigation. Similarly, a replacement for Rosenstein might be more compliant to Trump’s wishes too. It is not widely understood that Mueller’s team has to keep Rosenstein, as acting attorney general, in the loop and ask permission for each additional investigative avenue it wants to pursue.

Regardless, though, the removal of Mueller wouldn’t necessarily stop the case in its tracks. Whoever was responsible for that firing could appoint another special counsel, for one thing; it was, in fact, the work of Archibald Cox’s successor, Leon Jaworski, that led to some of the most significant court findings in the Watergate scandal.

Even if there was no successor forthcoming, the case and investigation could and probably would continue on its own as a regular FBI inquiry.

Starting an investigation at the FBI is a formal process, requiring agents to demonstrate evidence of a criminal predicate to move to what’s known as a “full field” investigation, and, similarly, closing an investigation requires a formal decision to “decline” charges. The “Mueller probe” isn’t actually a single case; at this point there are multiple independent investigations underway, including into Paul Manafort and Rick Gates’ former business dealings, into the campaign’s separate dealings with Russian officials, and into possible obstruction of justice around Jim Comey’s firing.

Some of those cases were well underway before Mueller took over—it was, in fact, the early work of investigators that led to the guilty pleas last fall of George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn—and others have been launched since. All would and could continue without him. Without Mueller, the assigned FBI agents would return to the Washington Field Office and the prosecution would be placed, most likely, under the supervision of either the US attorney in DC or the Eastern District of Virginia, where the court cases are already playing out.

Perhaps the key lesson of Mueller’s investigation thus far has been that at every step, Mueller and his investigative dream team have known more and been further ahead in their process than the public anticipated or realized. At every stage, Mueller has surprised the public and witnesses before him with his depth of knowledge and detail—and he shocked the public with news last fall that Papadopoulos had been arrested, been cooperating, and pleaded guilty, all without a single hint of a leak. The news last week that Comey himself had testified before Mueller’s team weeks earlier continues the pattern that even amid the most scrutinized investigation in history, Mueller is moving methodically forward, with cards up his sleeve to play.

There’s no reason to believe, in fact, that Mueller—who has surrounded himself with some of the most thoughtful minds of the Justice Department, including Michael Dreeban, arguably the country’s top appellate lawyer, whose career has focused on looking down the road at how cases might play out months or even years later—hasn’t been organizing his investigation since day one with the expectation that he’d someday be fired and worked to ensure that this, his final chapter in a lifetime of public service at the Justice Department, won’t be curtailed before it has gotten to what Mueller calls “ground truth.”

A quarter century ago, when Mueller first ended up in Washington as the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division during the George H.W. Bush administration, his aide David Margolis—a lifelong Justice Department official who came to be seen as Main Justice’s conscience until his death in 2016 after more than 50 years of service—cautioned Mueller to pick and choose his battles. If he didn’t, Margolis warned, Mueller would get chewed up by the partisan and bureaucratic bickering of the capitol. Mueller, thinking back to those days in the jungles of Vietnam, fixed Margolis with an icy stare that would become all too familiar to a generation of prosecutors and FBI agents. He replied, “I don’t bruise easily.”

In the 25 years since, including 12 years atop the FBI, Mueller has given no indication that he’s changed. And even today as special counsel, he’s still likely getting more sleep than he did in Vietnam.

Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) is a contributing editor for WIRED and the author of The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller’s FBI. He can be reached at garrett.graff@gmail.com.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/heres-what-happens-if-magnificent-bastard-mueller-gets-fired/

Last Song and Dance Cover

Last Song and Dance by Christopher Woods

Story Summary

LAST SONG AND DANCE is an illustrated novel which tells the grim story of Cy Sullivan, failed alcoholic author who has returned to his hometown after years of scandal and disgrace, not in triumph but simply to die. He has but a week to compose his great American novella, Curse of the Blue Nun which he structures in relation to the seven days of creation in the Book of Genesis. A surrealist bible of sorts–but unlike the original, this one does not purport to be true.

Stylistic influences/parodies run the gamut from biblical parables, Shakespeare to various 20th century modernists—Joyce, Faulkner, Samuel Beckett, William Burroughs etc as well as film noir, supernatural horror and even Fellini. I employed a number of voices ranging from erudite to jail house slang to hillbilly (my Kentucky voice) so it’s a veritable literary collage. The artist at Bookfuel did a great job with my visual designs which were primarily inspired from Gustave Dore although it concludes with a pastiche of Grant Wood’s American Gothic which is quite nice. While this all sounds rather heavy and artistically over the top, Last Song and Dance is very much a black comedy which takes nothing seriously including itself or its failed author. The LSD initials of the title are appropriate given the hallucinatory quality of much of the writing. I believe there is a potential cult audience but as of today, it’s only sold three copies and there is no browsing on these sales sites nor is it visually displayed on Bookfuel’s site which is primarily genre or non fiction/ self help that sort of thing so it’s a bit of an orphan as such…

Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2BBqONP

San Francisco Book Review – 5 Stars

Christopher Woods has penned a curious yarn in the Last Song and Dance. The book is written in a unique style unlike any other. It addresses a chaotic set of contentious characters who dare to be noticed, each with an eagerness for confrontation. With wonderful black ink drawings that capture the mood of the characters of the story, the author paints an ominous narrative. Last Song can be compared to Sanctuary by Paul Monette for its imagery and imaginative style. Many of the illustrations feature symbolic references to the plot that add intrigue to the story, forcing you to reflect on the meaning of certain passages. Much of the narrative reads like dialogue, but conveys a meaning of reaching into the mind of the character. The storyline is complex, with a variety of characters who seem to share certain traits.

The storyline focuses on tested confrontations. Although these keep the reader busy, they add depth to the plot. It’s a little misdirected in places, giving the reader a chance to compare that part with other parts. This tends to function like a red herring in a mystery. You cannot tell if it’s a blooper or a ploy until you finish it. Sorry—no spoilers!

Christopher Woods does a fine job at depicting the characters with verbiage, the illustrations bringing them to life. The intricacy with which the characters are woven into the plot shows us only glimpses of what’s to come, kind of like a foreshadowing of events. The reader must do a lot of work to put the story together in his or her mind as he or she reads. This provides an overall aura of mystery, motivating the reader to keep turning the pages. And the text flows along fast, making it easy reading.

If you want to sit down and read something to contemplate and capture your attention, then you’ve come to the right work. Last Song kind of reads like a fairy tale or fable, yet some of the characters are using profanity that would not be appropriate for children under 18, and the characters appear to engage in behavior that would also not suit young readers.

Reviewed By: D. Wayne Dworsky

Last Song and Dance

We Picked Out The 5 Juiciest Tidbits From The Official Trump Burn Book

Just when you thought 2018 was already doomed to be a series of unfortunate events, it came through with something I have literally written my own version dreamed of: an Official Trump Burn Book. Award-winning journalist/my new idol, Michael Wolff spent the last year hanging around the White House and collecting all the hot goss for his book which is based on hours of recorded tape from people in the Trump Administration spilling the GD tea.

NY Mag covered an excerpted version of the book yesterday, and due to high demand, the book was released ahead of schedule this morning. We picked out the five juiciest tidbits from it, so you don’t have to like, read a whole book. You literally could not be more welcome.

Trump Might Low-Key Have Dementia

Apparently, a Trump associate talked some shit to Reince Priebus and said that a meeting with Trump is mostly just him repeating himself over and over again. Like, he straight up tells a story and then retells it again 10 minutes later, because he has forgotten that he already told it. You know who else does that? My 90 year-old grandma with dementia – God bless her soul. Casual reminder that Trump is in possession of the launch codes for nuclear weapons. Cool cool cool.

Trump’s Crush on Putin is Unrequited

I mean, it’s pretty obvious that Putin is just using Trump to get to his true crush, World Domination, but seeing this in writing was v satisfying. Human scab, Steve Bannon told Roger Ailes that Trump, “went to Russia and (he) thought he was going to meet Putin. But Putin couldn’t give a shit about him. So he’s kept trying.” So, Putin straight up ghosted Trump, and then Trump kept texting. Literally pathetic.

Ivanka Has A Tight Five About Daddy’s Comb-Over

This book is riddled with people who are supposed to be Trump’s confidantes straight up dishing out his biggest secrets. Clearly no one told him to trust no bitch. You’d think at least his family would have his back, but it turns out even Ivanka is in on the shit talking. Apparently she has a bit about Trump’s pile of unconditioned pubes comb-over that she uses as her go-to joke at social gatherings. She describes it as “an absolutely clean pate — a contained island after scalp-reduction ­surgery — surrounded by a furry circle of hair around the sides and front, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray.” She could use some tighter joke structure and stronger punchlines, but the fact that she’s willing to tell all about how her dad’s toupee is the nastiest skank bitch she’s ever met is enough for us.

Rumor Has It Trump Can Barely Read

It’s no secret that Trump’s ideal day is a golden shower  marathon, and that he can’t be bothered with things like books, newspapers or anything that requires a fifth-grade reading level or higher. But according to people at the White House, getting Trump to read literally anything is next to impossible, and some are legit concerned that he is semi-illiterate. He won’t even skim, let alone process information given to him. Like, he can’t even handle . Sure, I’ve written dozens of papers on books I’ve never read, but I’m not the fucking president.

Actual footage of the Trump administration talking about his reading skills:

Trump Eats McDonald’s Because He’s Afraid of Being Poisoned

Lol. We’ve already covered Trump’s disgusting daily McDonald’s order – which you can read here – but now we know why he puts his body through it. Unfortunately it’s not to slowly poison himself. In fact, it’s the opposite. Trump is extremely paranoid that someone is going to poison him – which like, fair – so he likes to get his food from Mcy D’s, because then nobody knows it’s for him and it comes pre-made. Should someone tell him that McDonalds itself is literal poison? Nah, let’s keep that as our little secret.

Heads up, you need to keep up with the news. It’s not cute anymore. That’s why we’ve created a 5x weekly newsletter called The ‘Sup that will explain all the news of the week in a hilarious af way. Because if we weren’t laughing, we’d be crying. Sign up for The ‘Sup now!

Read more: http://www.betches.com/juciest-parts-of-fire-and-fury

Barack Obama Shares His Favorite Books And Songs From 2017

Former U.S. President Barack Obama has been closing out 2017 by trying to lift Americans’ spirits.

Earlier this week, Obama tweeted a list of uplifting news stories to remind Americans about “what went right” in 2017 ― a year that saw political upheaval, natural disasters and some of the worst mass shootings in modern American history.

On New Year’s Eve, Obama took a moment to share the best books he read and songs he listened to over the past year.

“During my presidency, I started a tradition of sharing my reading lists and playlists. It was a nice way to reflect on the works that resonated with me and lift up authors and artists from around the world,” Obama wrote in a post shared on Facebook. “With some extra time on my hands this year to catch up, I wanted to share the books and music that I enjoyed most.”

Take a look at the list below:

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/barack-obama-favorite-books-songs-2017_us_5a49a21be4b0b0e5a7a79ab1

You Dont Need Him To Be Whole

Vladislav Muslakov

I know you think you need him. You think you need to hear his heartbeat every night in order to fall asleep. You think you need to see his smile every day in order to feel like this life is worth living for. You think you need his arms around you, in order to feel safe and appreciated.

But the truth is, all you need is you.

I know you’re rolling your eyes now. I can see it, because I would have done the exact same thing. I know you’re about to stop reading this. You’re about to scoff at these words, with your hands on your hips, laughing at my daftness. But I have been there. Trust me.

I have been so deeply in love it felt like a lifeline. An addiction. Like this world wasn’t a world without him in mine. He was my breathing tube. My oxygen. My nutrients. My muscles. He was my days and nights, my darkness and my light.

He ruled my world. But that’s where I went wrong. It was my world. It was my life. It was my universe. Not his.

He was the daydream that turned into my reality. He was the thing from fairytales and story books that I used to giggle at, dumbfounded that a girl needed a man to save her. I was never going to be like, I told myself. I was strong enough, to not need anyone.

But then he came into my world and turned it into a sun. And he came into my universe and turned it into a galaxy. I was just like you. Hopelessly in love. So addicted to the feeling of him against my body. So overwhelmed with the safety I felt when his hand was wrapped in mine. I was so intoxicated by the bliss, that I forget how to be on my own. I forgot how to be me, by myself. I forgot how to be my own human being.

And that was my downfall.

Before he walked into my heart, I was me. I was Lauren. I didn’t need anyone but my friends and my family. I slept soundly at night by myself in my twin sized bed. I had everything that I had always known. But when I felt myself falling for him, I had no idea who I was anymore. I was just his girl. And I would have died happy being that.

When it ended, I had lost my sense of identity. He was always smarter than me, a better talker, a better musician, a better human being. I didn’t have what he had. I didn’t have that kind of charisma.

I thought I had nothing without him. And I honestly thought I was nothing.

But little by little, I reunited with friends I had ignored since my ex had been in my life. I learned to laugh, without him laughing beside me. I learned how to smile, without glancing over to make sure he was smiling too. I learned how to be me, without him.

It wasn’t easy. This kind of ordeal is never easy. But it’s not impossible.

If you would have told me that I would ever be happy without him five years ago, I would have laughed in your face. I would have told you that you were crazy. That he was all I needed. That we would be together forever.

But, here I am. Years later. Happier. By myself. Owning myself. Knowing and learning more about myself. Laughing. And smiling.

I smile without him now. You can too. 

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/lauren-jarvis-gibson/2018/01/you-dont-need-him-to-be-whole/

Murray’s brother-in-law reaches South Pole

Image copyright Antarctic Gurkha
Image caption Scott Sears arrived at the South Pole on Christmas Day

Tennis star Andy Murray’s brother-in-law believes he has become the youngest person to reach the South Pole solo.

Scott Sears, a lieutenant in the First Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles, pulled a sled and supplies for 38 days through 150mph winds in temperatures of -50c.

His 702-mile trek ended at the South Pole on Christmas Day, more than 12 days sooner than he had anticipated.

The Guinness Book of Records has yet to confirm whether the 27-year-old’s feat will make it into the record books.

Lt Sears, from east London, is the brother of Murray’s wife, Kim.

From a family of tennis players, he played the sport on the international circuit until the age of 19. Several years later, he went on to join the Army.

‘Not one more step’

The first part of the journey from Hercules Inlet where sea ice meets land in Antarctica is considered the most dangerous part, as the ground is riddled with crevasses.

Travelling alone meant Lt Sears was not roped up to a teammate who could stop him falling down them, and he used skis to cross the ice instead.

In a blog post from his five-week expedition, he described unexpectedly hitting a wall with just 38km (24 miles) to go on Christmas Eve, his penultimate day.

“I couldn’t have asked for better weather but well and truly hit a wall midway through the day,” he wrote.

“I’ve never experienced anything like it, I would take a couple of steps and just stop, everything was just saying ‘no more, not one more step’.

“It was bizarre as I’ve genuinely been feeling pretty good.”

But after some juice, biltong, chocolate and music on his iPod, he was back on his way.

That night, Lt Sears hung his socks up as makeshift stockings, but said he feared Santa might give them a miss because of the “state and stench” of them.

The following day, he reached the pole in blue skies, and wrote saying he was “absolutely chuffed to pieces”.

He told the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday that he expected it would take a few weeks for the experience to sink in.

“I’ve been alone in a tent for nearly six weeks so it’s all a bit overwhelming,” he said.

“I can’t wait to have a shower and get some food in me. I’ve been dreaming about it since day three!”

Image copyright PA
Image caption Scott Sears with his sister, Kim

Judy Murray, Andy’s mother, congratulated him, tweeting: “Well done Scott Sears – (brother of Andys wife Kim) youngest person to reach the South Pole on a solo mission. Got there on Christmas Day……”

Lt Sears has raised more than £33,500 for the Gurkha Welfare Trust to help rebuild schools in Gorkha, Nepal, which was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42491607

the prize cover

The Prize by Geoffrey M. Cooper

Book Summary

What does it take to win a Nobel Prize? Deceit, fraud, even murder? Set in the competitive world of cutting-edge medical research, The Prize is a science thriller in which jealousy over the discovery of a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease leads to fraud, betrayal and violence.

Pam Weller makes the discovery of a lifetime when she finds a drug with the potential for treating Alzheimer’s. But her success threatens the supremacy of Eric Prescott, a leading figure in Alzheimer’s research. Lusting relentlessly for the Nobel Prize, Prescott fears that Pam’s work will derail his ambitions. He seduces one of Pam’s research fellows and enlists her in a plot to brand Pam a fraud and steal her discovery. But when an investigation threatens to uncover their plot, Prescott kills his co-conspirator and fakes a suicide that places the blame squarely on Pam. Leading Pam into a world where nothing is real, except threats to her career, her freedom and even her life.

In a novel of intrigue and suspense, The Prize explores the human side of science and drug discovery, exposing the pressures and ambitions that can drive the betrayal of scientific ethics and lead to fraud in medical research.

Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2DJmePo

Kirkus Reviews

Three scientists strive to find the cure for Alzheimer’s in Cooper’s (The Cell: A Molecular Approach, 2015, etc.) scientific thriller.

Forty-seven-year-old Eric Prescott is an accomplished scientist specializing in Alzheimer’s disease research at the Institute for Advanced Neuroscience in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The novel opens with a conversation between Eric and some scientists after he accepts the Lasker Award for “seminal research in elucidating the basis of Alzheimer’s disease.” Eric’s arrogance is apparent when one of the Karolinska Institute professors on the Nobel Committee, Alfred Bergner, recommends that Prescott speak to another scientist, Pamela Weller: “Prescott was steaming. Did Bergner seriously think this woman was some kind of competition?” Pam is a faculty member in the Langmere Institute for Neurological Disease at Harvard University. When her research results in what may be the key to the cure, Holly Singer, one of her postdocs, teams up with Eric to claim the breakthrough as their own, and they take extreme measures to ensure their place in history and receive the Nobel Prize. The omniscient narration makes each major character’s intentions clear: Pam wants to make a difference, Eric wants fame, and Holly wants to establish herself as a respected voice in the scientific community. One of the highlights of this book is how comfortably Cooper manages to find a balance in presenting difficult scientific topics in an easy-to-follow narrative, as when Holly explains a cell culture: “They’re cells that were triggered to start producing Alzheimer’s plaque. You can see the plaques have formed and the cells are beginning to die.” The characters do come off as a little one-dimensional, however, and the book might have benefited from additional back story, such as how Pam became so interested in Alzheimer’s research. Nonetheless, this is an engrossing read; in one particularly suspenseful moment, a character awaits the results of putting Nembutal in another’s wine.

An intense story about ruthlessness in the scientific community.

He Just Wanted What Was Best For Me

God & Man

When we met, he told me how much he adored me for being so ambitious, so independent.

“You’re not like other girls. You’re so smart and strong. You’ve accomplished so much. I can actually have a conversation with you!”

I was young and I didn’t know that men who said things like this, were not men you should have around. I brushed it off because he was right. I was smart and strong, and his opinions about me didn’t matter to me. He was a witty law undergrad, and he made me laugh. I enjoyed his company. Pretty soon we were dating.

I continued being the girl he claimed to adore, only a more extreme version. I steamed ahead with my own successes, while emotionally supporting him as he quit his job to pursue his dreams. We talked about building a future together. I helped him start his dream business, a box gym, and having been a strategist at one of the biggest global gym chains, I was able to talk him through the process, step by step. Having spent much of my career coming up with names for businesses, I did the same for him. I built his brand, developed his strategy. I held him while he sobbed at night over the erratic nature of entrepreneur-life, comforted him through the fickle nature of customer retention, pulled out charts and graphs to show him that this was a predictable part of the startup phase.

“Nobody turns profits immediately,” I reassured him. “It’s going to be okay.”

I took control of the parts of the business he couldn’t, often without him knowing, because I didn’t want him to stress out further. Because I had experience that he didn’t. Because he was childlike and fragile, despite his muscle and brawn, and I wanted to protect him.

Because I wanted what was best for him.

But I wasn’t super woman. I was working a full-time job, writing books at night, maintaining my own part-time business, pursuing my own dreams. The macro- and micro-managing took its toll on me. At some point, I suggested he take over the parts of his business I was handling, or make me a partner in it. Like a strong, accomplished woman would do.

He got angry.

“I didn’t ask you to help with any of it,” he snapped.

This was the first time I felt reality tilt. I distinctly remembered him asking me to come up with a name for his gym, to find a designer to design his logo, to set up his website. Because he had never had a proper job or bank account, we ran all his digital ads through my credit card. My address was listed as the primary address on all his email servers, his Google alerts, his business and search ratings. To this day, six years post our break up, they still are. Why?

We’d been in his car when he said it. It was a sweltering summer’s day, and we were turning into Strand Street near the Cathedral in Cape Town. I was busy putting the exchange servers for his email into his phone.

“Is it working now?” he asked.

“Yes. It’s working.”

“Thank you so much,” he replied. “I don’t know what I’d do without you, my lioness.”

That’s what he used to call me. Lioness.

On another occasion, he would interrupt me while I was at work with a phone call.

“How do I get a sign made in the shape of our logo?”

It would take me an hour to tell him which printers to go to. To ask for something called a ‘die-cut’. To choose a light wood, so that it could be mounted. I reminded him of his Pantone, so that his colors would all match up.

“Thank you, my lioness. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

After that day, when I’d asked him for some help, some acknowledgment, he started distancing himself from me. I would hear from his friends that he’d say, “She’s just not much of a homemaker. She’s a little bit… crazy.”

He was right. I was too busy running half his business, as well as my own. Winning awards, writing a book that would go on to get four and five star reviews. Managing his emotions.

It left little time to care too much about cushions and vases. And honestly? It was making me a bit mad. I would collapse on weekends, exhausted.

“Why do you sleep so much?” he’d ask. “Are you depressed?”

Sometimes I wondered if we occupied the same reality.

He came from a wealthy family. His father had bought him his first home, and hired an interior designer to decorate it. He’d never worked three jobs. He’d never really had a proper job, to be fair. I was sympathetic. He just didn’t understand, I told myself.

I cried. A lot. Mostly on my own, but sometimes I’d cry in front of him.

“Why are you so emotional?” he started saying.

“You really shouldn’t drink that much Coke Light.”

“You look ridiculous in those glasses.”

“Are you really wearing those pants?”

He’d look at my body in a bikini, push his lips to one side.

I was tiny. Shrinking. Inside and out.

So small, I’d stopped questioning what was going on.

So small, I’d started believing him.

He in turn, got bigger every day, pushing heavier weights, downing Creatine protein shakes, obsessively staring at himself in mirrors.

“Maybe if I stop eating avo I can cut some calories…?” I mumbled.

But he’d tuned out, absorbed in his phone, editing pictures of himself. Choosing a filter for Instagram that would make his abs look the most cut.

“You should really stop posting pictures of yourself on the internet,” he said to me at some point. “You’re starting to look a bit vain.”

One night, on a weekend trip to attend the wedding of close friends, we were eating dinner, and he finished his food before me. Suddenly he stormed out of the room, slamming plates, doors.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, concerned. “Are you okay?”

I didn’t finish my dinner. I got into bed and stared back of his head. I hated myself for chewing so loudly that I’d pushed away the man I loved.

I resolved to chew softer. To be quieter.

I started speaking less and running excessively.

Ten kilometers became twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen.

Twice a week became three, four, five.

“Running doesn’t make you thin,” he said. “Only strength training makes you thin.”

I’d been a runner long before I met him. Exercise had been a source of joy for me, a way for me to reconnect with my body.

“But I run because I love it.”

He’d snorted.

“Might as well not bother.”

At home, I would stare at myself in the mirror.

I’d spent much of my life dealing with body issues and eating disorders, something running had soothed and solved. Had it all been a waste of time? At lunches with his family, I’d stare at his sister’s shoulder blades, poking out of her skin like coat hangers; a tiny, delicate pterodactyl in Country Road dresses.

“Men actually find strong women sexy,” he’d say, directly contradicting himself.

His sister would peck at her food, pushing it around her plate.

“Are you really going to have another piece of cake?” he’d say to me.

I began dissociating, detaching from the endless emotional push and pull.

“I just want to help you. I just want what’s best for you,” he’d say.

I believed him. I needed help. Faced with the apparent disaster that was me, I’d cry.

I’d cry and cry and cry.

“I think you should see a psychologist,” he said. “It’s clear that you have problems. You have pain you need to deal with.”

At this point, I believed him. The pain was real.

I went to a psychologist, who told me that he was toxic, his behavior controlling. This wasn’t what I wanted to hear, though. I was the problem, I explained. So I stopped going to the psychologist. But my boyfriend did not like this.

“You really need to sort yourself out,” he said. “It’s those friends of yours, they’re a bad influence.”

I’d long lost the will to argue. I began seeing my best friend in secret.

“I’m glad you’re not hanging out with her anymore. Let’s face it, she’s a slut. You know I’m only saying this because I love you, right? Because I’m concerned for you.”

“I know,” I said, through tears. “I know.”

My gran died a month before her 99th birthday.

He didn’t come with me to the funeral. He went to gym, instead.

“I’m going for a new PB today,” he’d texted me that morning. “I’ll let you know how it goes.”

When I called him on my way home, I asked if he could help me carry a chair I’d retrieved from her room in the retirement village, a keepsake by which to remember her.

He was waiting outside my apartment when I returned.

“I smashed the workout!” he said. “Record time. How was the funeral?”

I can’t remember what I said. What do you say?

When we got inside, I opened the balcony door so my cat could go outside. He stepped out and found an ashtray. I’d smoked a joint a few nights earlier, with my now secret bestie, trying to ease my grief. Trying to sleep better. Trying to get by. What happened next is a blur.

He erupted into a rage. He smashed the ashtray, pushed open the door, stormed out of the house.

He yelled something, I can’t remember what. I remember feeling fear; physical, emotional. There was swearing. I tugged at his arms, he shrugged me off. I stood in front of his car as he tried to drive away. He revved his engine, me sprawled across the bonnet.

“Just talk to me,” I pleaded.

We were that couple. Neighbours peered out of their windows. After he drove away, he refused to take my calls for two weeks. When he finally did, he was the one sitting crying in my lounge.

“I don’t think I can do this,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been chosen, by God. Like, this gym is my calling. I need to focus on it.”

And just like that, I realized I wasn’t the crazy person.

He still runs his gym. The other day I saw he put up a post, thanking everyone who’d helped him get to where he is. My name isn’t listed there. Like so many women who’ve built the careers of men, I’d been erased.

It’s okay. I doubt he did it maliciously.

He probably just wanted what was best for me.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/alexandra-van-tonder/2017/12/he-just-wanted-what-was-best-for-me/

30 Self-Care Resolutions To Make Before The New Year Starts

Hermes Rivera

1. Challenges are good for you — you learn a lot more about yourself when you overcome them. Accept not everything will be easy or straightforward.

2. Share your happiness with everyone around you. Encourage those you love to do the same with you.

3. Take the time to observe before reacting. It will make a huge difference.

4. Don’t make too many self-regulating goals at once. Take it slow. If you want to be healthier, spend less money, and find a job that will make you happier — prioritize them and then target them one at a time. Once you focus on one thing, everything else will start falling into place.

5. If you feel surrounded by people who pressure you into behaviors you want to cut out of your life in the new year, you need to distance yourself from these people too.

6. Limit your time and energy to only those who will help be a better person.

7. Go outside of your comfort zone. You feel a greater sense of confidence and self-esteem when you accomplish things (even really tiny things) that are outside of your norm.

8. Make goals for the day, for the week, for the whole month, and then for the whole next year. Make them manageable and concise, and don’t look to others to see what they’re trying to accomplish. These are just for you.

9. Change the language you use to talk about yourself. If you find yourself beating yourself up over tiny things, take a step back and reevaluate how you’re treating yourself. Say your thoughts out loud — if you’d never say those words to a loved one, change it into something honest, but still constructive.

10. You will be disappointed. And anyone who isn’t there for you during your wins should be cut out of your life.

11. Feel what you feel. Suppressing your feelings will only cause them to resurface at a more stressful or inconvenient time. Process your feelings whenever you need to.

12. Ask for help AND ask for what you want, always.

13. Spend a couple minutes a day paying mindful attention to your body. Take three deep breaths and breathe into your abdomen.

14. Re-read a book or re-watch a movie you love. Studies have shown that re-experiencing something as simple as a really good book or a funny movie can help soothe nerves and alleviate your anxiety.

15. You don’t have to process everything that’s going on in the world at once. Twitter/the internet makes it very easy to feel overwhelmed and like you’re drowning. You’re allowed to unplug and take your time.

16. Let go of your grudges. They are holding you back, even if you don’t realize it.

17. If you can, forgive the people you’re holding a grudge against. Acknowledge to yourself that you’ve been hurt and that you feel angry. Work through it slowly and methodically. Set yourself free from these feelings of resentment.

18. Take a moment to reevaluate everything that didn’t necessarily go your way this past year. It will be hard, but in order to move on you need to analyze your past productively in order to move forward.

19. Remember: You do not need to go out and drink every night.

20. Remember: You will feel worse if you sit alone at home every night. Find balance in your social life.

21. If you don’t have one already, spend time figuring out a creative outlet for yourself. Whether it’s writing in your free time, filling in those adult coloring books, or learning how to knit. Something to challenge another part of your brain.

22. Keep track of the compliments other people give to you. Write them down, screenshot sweet texts, etc. Re-read them when you’re feeling low.

23. If you have problems with procrastination, start out with writing your to-do list down on paper. Tackle the things that are time sensitive first. After, move on to the ones you really dread taking care of. Finish with simple tasks that aren’t a burden, things like: “Take a shower” or “Eat dinner.”

24. Begin holding yourself more accountable.

25. Start saying “no” to things without feeling compelled to follow up with an excuse or explanation. If you’re serious about wanting to prioritize important things in your life, you need to become comfortable with the idea that “no” is sometimes all that needs to be said.

26. Become more aware of what triggers your stress. When you feel your anxiety coming on, analyze your surroundings. Start recording your environment and state of mind when you feel overwhelmed. Are there any consistencies?

27. Take more control over the direction your life is headed in. If you feel like you’re just floating by, go out of your way to start doing things that matter to you. Start small and then work your way up to bigger goals.

28. Stop spending money on physical items and start spending it on experiences.

29. Understand that if this year has been rough, there’s still a chance to turn it around. But don’t put too much pressure on yourself to change everything at once — start with the most pressing issues you’re dealing with and pick away at them. Soon your current problems won’t seem that daunting.

30. Don’t feel overwhelmed if you feel like you can’t accomplish all of these resolutions in the new year. Take it slow. Pick out which ones matter the most to you. The important thing is to care of yourself first.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/january-nelson/2017/12/30-self-care-resolutions-to-make-before-the-new-year-starts/