‘LOL’ Pumas Are Here And Your Kids Are Going To Want Some

Puma has joined forces with L.O.L. Surprise and launched an entire collection around the popular toys

If you are a parent with youngish children you are all too familiar with L.O.L. Surprise!, an insanely popular collection of dolls, dollhouses, play sets, pets, scooters – -literally everything imaginable — that launched in 2016. Now, just in time for the holidays, the L.O.L. franchise has joined forces with Puma to launch a collaborative collection of shoes and apparel your little L.O.L. fan is going to flip out over. We have to admit, we are majorly crushing over it.

The exclusive Puma X L.O.L. Surprise collection launched on Friday at Kids Foot Locker and Puma stores nationwide. Per a press release fan favorites, Diva and Queen Bee, are “the two fashionable characters are the muses behind the collection.”

PUMA
PUMA

“Introducing the PUMA x L.O.L. SURPRISE! collection, featuring L.O.L. Surprise™ fan favorites, M.C. Swag and Queen Bee,” Puma announced on their website. “This kids’ collection was made to stand out, featuring bright kicks and bold apparel for the biggest personalities out there. With fun graphic prints, pops of color, and signature added details, this collection is ready to play.”

PUMA
PUMA

The brand posted a totally on point video of the collection, featuring a bunch of truly sassy, stylish and downright hip little people dancing around and looking cool as cucumbers rocking the collection. In another video posted earlier, actress Tahani Anderson shows off the pieces of the collection.

For example, Diva is featured in the PUMA®Future Rider x Diva sneaker, “with her signature pink bow and a playful black-and-white cheetah print, along with light green accents and pink glitter highlights throughout.” Queen Bee fans will be pleased with the PUMA®Cali Sport x Queen Beesneaker, “which includes a striking metallic gold accent color with a pop of pink against a black and white design.”

PUMA

The collection also includes a bunch of  bold graphic T-shirts and leggings, decorated in the splashy, bright and signature colors of the L.O.L. Surprise!™ brand as well as graphics of  Diva and Queen Bee.

The PUMA®x L.O.L. Surprise!™ collection ranges in price from $22 to $75. To give you an idea about pricing, a pair of leggings or t-shirt will run you in the mid-twenties, while the sneakers cost anywhere from $55 to $75 depending on style and size. Pieces can be ordered online or shopped for in stores at Puma or any of the Foot Locker family stores, including Kids Foot Locker, Foot Locker, Champs Sports, Footaction and Eastbay.

PUMA

Unfortunately, the line is only available in toddler to junior sizes, so adult fans are out of luck. However, you can live vicariously through your little ones by ponying up this holiday season.

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I’m Not Adventurous And I’m Done Apologizing For It

I went to the grocery store and bought a pine scented candle and couldn’t wait to get home and light it. It was the highlight of my day, and I don’t care if that makes me look like I need to go on more adventures and have more life experiences.

I’m a 45-year-old woman and I know myself by now — I’m happiest when I’m doing something simple, eating something simple, and in the company of people who get my love of fast food without any dipping sauces. I’m a ketchup girl through and through.

I’m the one who will show up to your gathering with onion dip made out of Lipton soup mix and sour cream, because I love that over any fancy little appetizer that takes hours and a million dollars to make.

I’m not here to be fancy, and I have no problem watching a cheesy rom-com over a documentary. Going to bed early and falling asleep to the Lifetime Channel is a happening Friday night for me. I decorate my home with Amazon and Target finds, and I don’t feel the need to keep up with anyone as far as trips, kids’ summer vacations, or the latest electronics.

I’ve always been this way — excited about making a banana smoothie with a new blender, looking forward all week to ordering pizza on Friday night, changing my sheets to flannel in the winter. 

People have laughed at me and made fun of me (in the most loving way) for it. I’ve never longed to travel far and wide. I don’t crave adventure. I will never bungee jump, dive on a cliff into pink waters, or snorkel. I love my routines and I don’t have the slightest desire to learn another language.

There was a long time in my life when I felt self conscious for being so simple. It seemed like everyone around me wanted more, and I was happy to stop at the grocery store on the way home and try a new recipe. 

Simple things delight me. They fill my soul. I have no desire to glow up my life in order to feel like I’m doing more. And I’m done apologizing for it.

You can keep your fruit-tini whatever the hell it is because I’m not a big drinker. Give me a Diet Coke and I’m just as happy as my sisters sipping on homemade mojitos or expensive champagne or drinks with cucumber and lavender squeezed into them.

A trip to Target does count as “me” time. I don’t need a day at the spa or to go have a whole weekend getaway to feel refreshed. I mean, those things are wonderful; don’t get me wrong. But I love taking a drive by myself, not being on anyone else’s time, and staring at the Christmas ornaments.

I’m not into fancy restaurants. I hate small plates, and everyone that knows me doesn’t even suggest I accompany them to such nonsense. I want to be fed and see all my food at the same time. I like free refills. I don’t care how well the pea shoots are displayed with that sliver of raw beef and a brown drizzle that resembles baby poo; pass me a burger with a large fry. Load it up with bacon and cheddar. I don’t care if it’s been aged for ten years in the cellar that also grows rare rose buds. Keep the pine nuts off my pizza. The only topping I want is extra cheese. Maybe some pepperoni if I need some meat. But I want no part of having root veggies, fruit, or aioli on my ‘za. 

I buy my clothes from the establishment that has things I like. Sometimes that’s at Walmart and other times I’ll take a spin around Nordstrom. I don’t care about the label on the top if the top looks good on me.

I’m a no-name hoarder. Do you know how much money you can save when there isn’t a Nabisco or Kraft on the box? It’s a shit ton — I don’t care if it embarrasses my kiddos. 

Fancy trips and all-inclusive resorts aren’t my thing. Sure, they’re fun and all, but I’m happy at a Hampton Inn with a hot tub, a fluffy towel, and a big television. I don’t need room service, chocolates under the pillow, or Eggs Benedict waiting at my door. I’d rather go to the drive-thru and pop off on a sausage egg and cheese any day.

I pass on the pricy manicures because I adore my press-ons. And guess what? You can do them at home watching your rom-com while eating your off-brand ice cream and have a hell of a good time.

I don’t use expensive products on my hair. I adore my Pantene. Also, I color it myself out of a box dye from the grocery store and feel just as good as I do when I go to the salon.

My dream day is to have a morning romp (quickies are my fav, let’s not get elaborate), go for a run, and listen to a crass podcast, then hit up a diner where the grease tastes delicious. After that, napping and mindless television are in order.

To some, I’m boring. I don’t care.

Other people have called me low-maintenance. That’s not the way to describe me either. I adore all the things you aren’t “supposed” to like such as The Golden Arches, soda in the morning versus fancy coffee, television that may make me lose a few IQ points, and cheap leggings. 

All the messages like “live your best life” and “do the thing you are afraid to do” give us this sense we are supposed to be on fire at every turn. We are supposed to try new things all the time and we are downright boring and wrong for wanting to hit a chain pizza joint instead of trying the new place that serves sweet potato and ricotta pizza.

Sure, that’s all fine and good if being adventurous makes you happy, but for me, I’ll take the simple, non-trendy, never-glamorous things in life and be just fine. I mean, when Wendy’s came out with their pretzel bun, I went straight away to try it and the happiness I got from that trip lasted. It made me happier than that time I spent forty dollars on the fancy potato-and-endive thing at a new restaurant that opened in the city near me.

I’ve canceled plans so I could stay in my pajamas and move furniture around. And I’d rather chow down on some nachos with my girlfriends at our favorite Mexican place than go to a club or hike a mountain.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to binge watch Dawson’s Creek on my weekend without my kiddos and order my extra cheese pizza. 

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I’m Married To A Celebrity — Here’s What Our Life Is Like

Most people have a preconceived idea about what it means to be a Hollywood celebrity, but I can tell you it’s not what you think. I know because I am married to one.

Now before you go rolling your eyes and passing out the judgment, know that I am not writing this to complain in any way. I knew exactly what I was getting into when I married my husband, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just want to set the record straight about the image people have let everyone know that “celebrities” are real people too.

Honestly, my husband is not an A-level celebrity, but he has a long resume and has earned credible recognition in his field of work. People recognize his face and voice on a regular basis. And people would be surprised to know that for the most part, we live a regular, boring life in the suburbs like most of you.

My husband is the simplest, most humble person I have ever met. He prefers a home cooked meal over a fancy restaurant, his favorite place is snuggled up in his own bed, and his favorite thing to do is work out in the garage by himself. The way he sees it he is just a guy with a job that he loves that happens to be in the public eye.

But this is not your typical 9-to-5 job with set hours, benefits and paid vacation time. This is a roller coaster of a career that is completely unpredictable and full of rejection. There is no telling when or where or for how long the next job will be. And there is no way to determine when it will come up. He can get a phone call and have to hop on a plane within the next 24 hours and we just have to go with it. Or there can be no work for months and months at a time.

Emma McIntyre/Getty

Fortunately and unfortunately, my husband is away from home a lot. He travels a lot and even when he is working locally the days are very long, often 14+ hours. And he usually doesn’t know what time his call time will be till the day before. He doesn’t get to request certain days off, or to be finished by a certain time, and there are no sick days. When he is working, his schedule is completely dependent on the production schedule and we just have to work with it.

We try really hard to not go more than a couple of weeks without seeing each other. If I can, I will travel to where he is, or he tries to come home for a few days whenever he’s able. But that is not always up to us. We have gone as long as six weeks without seeing each. Productions are all over the country and also international. He could be filming in Canada one week and have to hop on a plane to North Carolina the next, and I’m lucky if he’s able to make it home over the weekend.

From time to time I get to travel with him, which was tons of fun before kids, but not so much since having kids. My first born traveled a ton of places and has been on more planes than most adults, and my youngest already has a stamp on his passport. But having kids in school and activities makes all of us traveling together nearly impossible. And family vacations are usually a last minute, weekend trip.

As his wife, I always have to be prepared and plan for things as if he won’t be here. It can be a challenge to transition from him being home full time to not being here at all for weeks at a time. But not always having him around makes me very aware of how much I appreciate how active he is as a husband and a father when he is home.

With him being gone so much, that means the majority of the day-to-day parenting lands on me, and that can be a little overwhelming at times. It also sometimes means my career has to take a back seat. So when he is away for a long time I have to remind myself that he hates it just as much as I do.

Frederick M. Brown/Getty

I don’t have maids and nannies helping me around the house. Yes I do the cooking, yes I do the cleaning (in my Nicki Minaj voice …I couldn’t help myself). The way our house functions is pretty normal. There is always a mess somewhere, you can find unfolded laundry in at least two rooms, and someone is always yelling or crying. When school is in session, I feel like a taxi driver for my kids, and the “witching hour” between dinner and bedtime is usually total chaos.

The thing I like the least is when people judge me because they think they know me. They make certain assumptions about me, my husband, and our lifestyle. These people are usually complete strangers and rarely get under my skin. But with a quick internet search I can find a treasure trove of internet trolls judging my marriage, parenting skills, and life choices.

Are there perks? Yes, of course. For one, my husband gets to make a living and support our family doing something he loves. We live a simple, comfortable life and our children are happy and well adjusted. And although we are mostly homebodies, some of these “Hollywood” events can be quite fun. I love to have a reason to get out of my mom uniform and put on some makeup and something fancy and go somewhere to have adult conversations with “fancy” people.

For the most part, we can go out and about and live a regular, uninterrupted life. However, it’s not uncommon to run into people that recognize him and ask for pictures or an autograph. And I always find it funny how people will try to catch me off to the side and whisper to ask me if he is who they think he is. But once people get past the celebrity and get to know us, they are surprised to find out we are just regular, everyday people.

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I Was Raised In An Orthodox Religion: Here’s How I Learned To Rethink Modesty

Being raised in an orthodox religion, I was taught from a very young age that my body was a temple and it was my responsibility to keep it covered up. I knew the word “modesty” by the time I was six years old. And what exactly did that mean? Modesty meant that my hemlines touched my kneecap, maybe just the top of it if I was feeling a bit rebellious. My shoulders were always covered, nothing low-cut, nothing too-tight. Modesty was a measurement of outward commitment to my religious beliefs. Furthermore, it was my responsibility to make sure that men and boys did not have impure thoughts.

After experiencing a faith transition as an adult, I found myself sorting, shedding, and scraping some of my beliefs, but modesty was one that I still was not able to categorize in a nice, neat little pile of keep, save, or donate. It didn’t fit anywhere on the shelf. I couldn’t hang it in my closet of mishmash.

I am still working on examining, pushing past, accepting and letting go of some unhealthy conditioning of orthodoxy that exists within. A pattern of thoughts race through my mind each time I put on a dress that is a little shorter than I had become accustomed to.

Will they think my dress is immodest?

Will they think it shows too much of my legs?

Will they think I make bad decisions?

Will they think less of me?

Am I less of a person?

Am I unworthy?

The thought of what I was inadvertently exemplifying to my kids with these thought patterns has kept me up at night. The thought that my girls could grow to think these things about themselves was painful and heart-wrenching. The thought that my boys could grow up judging a girl’s worth on what she wore was just as painful and heart-wrenching. I became determined to break the cycle of the modesty trap.

Examining why modesty was so tied in my mind to my inherent worth as a person has been a journey. A long, rough path. This is an effect of purity culture, which is heavily present in many orthodox religious communities. More importantly, I found myself asking: What can I do to move past the teachings that equate my individual worth with how my body is covered or not covered? How can I model and teach a healthy view of modesty?

And soon, new pattern became scripted in my mind.

I am not my legs.

I am not my hemline.

I am not my calves.

I am not the tightness of my dress.

Or where it grazes my thigh.

I am me. A whole person. Not what I wear. Not how I look. Not how I dress.

I am me, who feels great about how she presents herself to the world.

And suddenly, I found my own meaning of modesty that I could comfortably pack into my closet of mishmash.

So, this year, I look back and acknowledge; I never would have worn a dress that fell on my mid-thigh, a dress that showed my legs, with heels that accented my calves, especially not for family photos.

And this year …

… I did.

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Let’s Discuss The Smiley Face Killer

Trigger warning: violence

There is no denying science (unless you live in Donald Trump Land, of course). Fact, logic, and common sense have a place in our daily lives. Recently, I listened to a podcast called Crime Junkie — specifically, its 13th episode, “Conspiracy: The Smiley Face Killer.” Like other crime podcasts I’ve listened to, this one held my attention as Criminal, Serial and Embedded did.

The story explores some 40-plus unsolved murders of young white and Asian men with the same cause of death: drowning. The men were all drugged with gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB — also known as the “date rape drug”) and found along with the murderer’s “calling card”: a smiley face nearby.

Serial killers typically have a clear pattern. The FBI reports, “serial murder is defined by the FBI as two or more killings separated by a span of time. A majority of serial killings are sexually motivated. Serial murders are relatively rare. Fewer than one percent of homicides during a given year are committed by serial killers.”

When we think of serial killers, most of us think about Ted Bundy who killed women in the ’70s in multiple states; he was caught and confessed. Or Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed and confessed to killing 17 people, some of whom he kept in his freezer (all of his victims were killed in the Milwaukee area where he lived). Then there is Samuel Little, who confessed to killing 93 people across 16 states over the span of 35 years.

My point is this: just because every single detail within these 40 murders is not identical, that does not change the fact that this is the work of a serial killer — science, common sense, and all of these other serial killers have given us enough bodies to see the patterns left behind by the Smiley Face Killer. With the serial killers above, they’ve been caught, confessed, and we have their face to associate with the murders, some solved and some unsolved (e.g., the victims’ bodies were never found). If you’re like me, and you’ve watched enough episodes of Criminal Minds, you know enough to know that anything is possible in the mind of a killer, especially a serial killer. 

What we don’t have with the Smiley Face Killer is a solid suspect, only theories.

The killings happened between 2005-2017, all with the same, eerily similar details: college-aged white or Asian men, found drowned in a body of water, drunk and with GHB in their system, and smiley face graffiti found at most of the murder sites — either new or old — near their bodies. In the case of the Smiley Face Killer, Rolling Stone magazine contributor Nile Cappello took a closer look and noted, “According to a 2015 report by the Center for Disease Control, the two leading causes of death for white males under the age of 44 are accidents and suicide, respectively. A fact sheet by the CDC shows that men ages 18-34 are most likely to binge-drink, that binge-drinking is twice as common among men as it is among women, and that its risks include unintentional injuries.” This is why investigators often didn’t look further than “accidental drowning” as an explanation for these deaths. What this point leaves out, however, is the presence of GHB in the victims’ systems.

In their book, Case Studies in Drowning Forensics, NYPD detective, Kevin Gannon (who investigated the cases in early 2005) and professor of criminal justice Dr. Lee Gilbertson take the cases of six of the men, and deep dive into the circumstances surrounding their deaths. Reporter Bruce Vielmetti for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel states, “Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte believe hundreds of college-aged men found drowned around the country since 1997 were victims of homicides orchestrated by a group that left smiley face symbols near where the men went into the water, mostly rivers.” A group — not just one single murderer.

By the time the podcast ended, I was left confused — puzzled, really — as to how one could think these murders are a conspiracy. What I do not believe is that these murders were done by a group of serial killers, The Smiley Face Serial Killers, a cell of men who were coordinated enough to orchestrate the murders of these men. I do believe the victims’ families need justice, their murders need to be solved, and that there is only one person responsible for their deaths — not many. But whether you agree with my assessment or not, there’s one question that remains … and that question is, who?

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How To Know If You’re ‘Trauma-Bonded’ In Your Relationship

You’ve probably never heard of trauma bonding, which usually occurs in the context of domestic violence. One partner, usually a narcissist, puts the other through a cycle of high highs and low lows, resulting in an ugly, abusive relationship that keeps the other person bonded to them. Trauma bonding usually starts with a bang: with total infatuation, with a whirlwind relationship. The narcissist showers the other person with love and affection.

And then it slams to a halt.

Suddenly the same person who showered you with love and attention is distant, cold, and abusive. You’re baffled, confused, and hurt. But then that same love and infatuation returns! It’s a brutal cycle, “a bond that forms due to intense, emotional experiences,” says Thought Catalog. Because of that intermittent reinforcement, the traumatized person keeps returning, hoping for a return to that first phase of love and attention. The narcissist doles it out intermittently, explains Psychology Today.

The Complex PTSD Foundation says that this intermittent reinforcement creates “a strong hormonal and chemical bond.” As Blessing Manifesting says on Instagram, “Healthy relationships give you a steady supply of dopamine. Trauma bonding withholds it, then gives it a sharp increase.” These chemical reinforcements make trauma-bonded relationships so hard to leave, even when the abused is staring their own abuse in the face.

Signs Of Trauma Bonding

Here are some signs that your relationship is based on trauma bonding, rather than a healthy give-and-take:

This person reminds you of some toxic relationship you’ve had in the past. The Complex PTSD Foundation points out that people involved in trauma bonding often have traumatic relationships in their pasts. If you had “attachment trauma” as a child, you’ll tend to act out the same pattern as an adult, seeking subconsciously to heal your own childhood wound: if I can only make it work with them, then I will be worthy of mom/dad’s love. 

You know the person is manipulating you, but you can’t let go. Thought Catalog says that intellectually, you may know you’re being mistreated; you may know this person is manipulative and even narcissistic; you may even be able to label their behavior as abusive. However, when you get it together to leave, they reel you back in with more affection and love. It’s this intermittent cycle again that makes trauma bonding so hard to break. It doesn’t make you weak. It means you’re bonded on a chemical and hormonal level, and that bond is reinforced through childhood wounds.

You justify behavior you know is wrong—and often blame yourself for it. You’ll find yourself saying things like, If I had done the dishes, he wouldn’t have to rage at me like this. Anyway, he had a bad childhood. The Complex PTSD Foundation says this is a major sign of trauma bonding: because you want that affection again, you’re willing to excuse behavior that would send you begging a friend, sibling, or child to leave a relationship. Because of your own trauma wound from your childhood, you may have learned to associate being loved with being compliant, and if you weren’t compliant, you were “bad,” says Psych Central. Therefore, you stuff down your anger and resentment at your partner’s abuse, the way you did with your parents’ abuse, in order to continue to get love and affection.

How To Let Go And Get Help

It’s very, very hard to sever trauma-bonded relationships, because of the nature of trauma bonding. When you start to leave, you’re immediately drawn back. The system of rewards and punishments, doled out without rhyme or reason, keeps you hoping for the reward. No matter how debased you are, there’s always a hope for the return to that infatuation phase when the abuser will shower you with love.

But you are being abused. 

The first step: therapy, therapy, therapy. Can’t afford therapy? 7Cups, an online therapy service, offers free volunteer “listeners” 24/7. They aren’t certified, but they’re an outside ear that may give you some perspective on your relationship. But you need more than a listener—that’s a stopgap. You need a real therapist who can look you in the eye and help you make a plan to get out.

Everything from the Complex PTSD Association to TalkSpace to Psychology Today recommends going no-contact. If kids are involved and you can’t go no-contact, keep it minimal. You need time to recover and heal and break the cycle. If you go back, you are not weak. You are not a failure. You can pick up and try again. Trauma bonding is very, very difficult to break, and while that’s not an excuse for returning, it doesn’t make you a bad person if you do cave to those hormones and chemicals and have to repeat the cycle of leaving again. Just take what you learned and do it again. 

Psychology Today recommends developing a support network of people (you know, all those people who were telling you to leave the abusive relationship in the first place). They need to help you stay away from your abuser and support you as you make new goals and move forward in your life. Remember how your abuser was your whole world? You need new people to fill it.

You also need to “challenge yourself to do new things,” says the Complex PTSD Association. You need not only new people, but new things to fill the void your abuser has left. Take a class, start a new hobby… this will help you begin a new identity away from that person, and help to distract you from the loss of that relationship.

Letting Go Is Hard.

It’s difficult to extricate yourself from a trauma bond, and it’s important that you don’t blame yourself for falling into the trap of trauma bonding. It comes from a complex interplay between past abuse and the need for validation, between hormones and chemicals of all kinds.

With the help of friends and a good therapist, you don’t need to be involved in this abuse anymore. It will be hard. It will take a long time. But you can break free.

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I Let My Teenagers Get As Many Piercings As They Want Because It’s Their Body

When I was a little girl, I wanted my ears pierced in the worst way. My father said no. While all my middle school friends wore fun earrings, I would make my own fake earrings with little plastic circles from toys or metal fittings I’d find in my dad’s tool box because they looked more believable than the clip on earrings on the ‘80s.

When I was finally allowed to get them pierced, I wasn’t allowed to wear dangly earrings or hoops. I could only wear tiny studs.

In 8th grade, I wanted to cut my hair short. I showed my parents a picture of the haircut I was dying for — it was asymmetrical and went from earlobe length on one side and gradually got longer on the other side.

They both said no, I could get it cut to my shoulders and that was about all they would allow.

I wanted to wear faded ripped jeans to school; I couldn’t.

I wanted to wear shorts; that was a no.

I wanted to wear makeup and that was an absolute no.

I ended up sneaking the makeup in my backpack and putting it on during the bus ride to school. I’d change my clothes too. Then, the bus driver told my parents what I was up to.

After that, I’d just do it in the girls’ bathroom and spend the bus ride home taking off the makeup.

It wasn’t until the middle of my high school years after my parents divorced that my mother became more relaxed and let me do what I want with my looks.

I was filled with so much anxiety up until that point — it was my body, my life, and it literally didn’t affect them at all. It wasn’t as if I was doing anything wrong. They were trying to control my looks because of the way it would make them look.

How twisted is that?

So, when my daughter came to me and said she wanted her nose pierced, I drove her there.

When she wanted a slit shaved in her eyebrow a few years ago, I took her to the salon. As the woman was prepping her in the chair to be waxed and shaved, she started going off about how  much she hated the look and didn’t understand why anyone would do that to themselves.

She had no regard for the teenager who was sitting right in front of her and had just asked her to shave the slit. Her opinion was more important in her mind.

My inner kid came out — the one who always felt so suppressed and controlled about how she was supposed to look. Let me tell you, mixed with Mama Bear, it wasn’t pretty. I told her (not very kindly, I have to admit) it didn’t have an effect on her and everyone has their own unique style and if she could just do her job, that’d be great.

Then, my daughter wanted piercings up one ear, so she did that too.

Her hair has been black, blue, and red. Last summer, my sister bleached it for her and gave her pink highlights.

Then she chopped it all off.

She likes to wear glitter under her eyes, and last year went through a phase where she had henna freckles all the time.

These days, she wears wing eyeliner everyday and likes fake eyelashes and that bright colored matte eyeshadow.

A few weeks ago, she asked if she could get her belly button pierced. She’d worked to earn the money and said she’d call and make the appointment.

I took her there a few days later. Then, we went out for a Diet Coke and she was blissfully happy. 

My daughter is independent. And while I need her to ask permission to do some things — like go to a friend’s house or use my credit card to order a shirt — she doesn’t have to ask me if it’s okay if she does something to her body.

Obviously, I can say that because you have to be a certain age or have your parents’ permission to do something permanent like get a tattoo or have plastic surgery, which I agree with. These things are going to last your whole life and the tat you want at 15  (which is how old my daughter is) might not read well when you’re 65, but there are plenty of great, fake alternatives that I’m all for. (She and her brother have done a ton of those by the way).

My point is, a piercing, a makeup trend, a haircut or color, an outfit — all of these things are a form of self expression, and I want my kids to be free to choose what they wear and how they decorate their body. It’s theirs, not mine. 

 I fully believe in letting them decide what they want to do with themselves and their looks as soon as they are able to express it, which is why my sons walked around with painted toenails and fingernails for years when they were younger. And why I didn’t pierce my daughter’s ears until she came to me and asked me if she could have them done. 

I literally couldn’t care less what anyone walking by them thinks. They reserve the right to do what they want when it comes to piercing and the like — which is why my oldest son came home the other day with both his ears pierced. He knew he didn’t have to ask me if it was okay, he just went out and did it on the spur of the moment because he wanted to, and he knows that’s how we do it in this family.

With three teenagers in my house, I never know what look they are going to want to represent or what style they are going to be into next. The good news is, I don’t have to do anything except sit back and let them be themselves.

The last thing I’m going to do is tell my kids they can’t wear earrings, shave their head, or color their hair if that’s what makes them happy. I have a feeling they find a way to make it happen because they can be stubborn like that. 

Just ask my tattling-ass bus driver.

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How Dax Shepard’s Relapse Is Saving My Sobriety

Dax Shepard relapsed after 16 years of sobriety, and it’s all I can think about. I don’t know him and he doesn’t know me, but in our sober community, when we hear of someone “going back out” as we say, the emotions it brings to the surface are real and raw.

I have always admired Dax’s courage for being so open about his experience in AA and his journey in recovery as a celebrity. He is an alcoholic and cocaine addict. In his podcast, Armchair Expert, he doesn’t tiptoe around terms or verbiage. It’s uncomfortable to come out publicly as being sober; you can’t unsqueeze that tube of toothpaste.

The stigma associated with addiction is never going to go away as long as we tiptoe around the topic and continue to attribute it with shame. How can we as a society expect to make progress when someone like Trump attempted to use the presidential debate as a platform to attack Hunter Biden’s disease of addiction, hoping it would reflect poorly on his father?

Trump tried to use information about Hunter’s addiction issues as a political weapon, insinuating that this should be a source of shame to his father, Joe Biden. To that, Vice President Biden compassionately responded, “My son, like a lot of people, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem. He’s overtaken it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him.” Biden’s son is likely continually working on his addiction, as a lifelong journey, and isn’t necessarily “fixed.”

I’m grateful for Biden’s response; it took the power away from Trump’s attempts to bully and patronize and took away the scariness of shame by openly talking about what Hunter has faced and continues to work on. We addicts and alcoholics need to hear messages of support; our survival depends on it.

Recently, I too have been more open and vulnerable, even sharing my experience with sobriety on a podcast and in numerous published articles. I am far from a celebrity, but putting something out there publicly is terrifying, especially when the odds are stacked against us that we will “fail.” By putting it out into the universe, we are welcoming your opinion, even when we don’t want to hear it. We are seeking pats on the back and to hear others say, “Wow, you’re amazing!” I also choose to be honest in the hopes that this message reaches others who are struggling, so they know they aren’t alone—especially other moms. Addiction is the one of the loneliest places a human can live, but it doesn’t mean that anyone has to face it alone.

We never want to have to do what Dax Shepard did on his podcast, Armchair Expert, when he admitted he had relapsed after 16 years of sobriety. I was angry to hear about it, but not for any of the reasons that make sense. I never wanted to have more time in sobriety than Dax Shepard. I really hoped for him to continue on, his 16 years as a reference point to my seven. If he can slip, then I could slip, and I don’t like that. The dangerous possibility is uncomfortable. So I’ll be mad at Dax for reminding me that each day we have in recovery is precious. Because that anger feels easier than fear.

In Dax’s podcast, he discussed his hesitation in coming forward. He was terrified of “starting back at Day 1.” With a single slip, all time acquired is lost. He feared by starting at the beginning, he’d just go out in a blaze of alcohol-and-cocaine-induced glory. Never being able to commit to something halfway, I completely understood his thinking. If I’m going to relapse, I will do it with my poison of choice, and I will go harder and farther than ever before. This is why most addicts die of this disease. We want to go right up to the edge without falling off—except we don’t know how or when to stop running.

Luckily, while he was abusing opioids, Dax didn’t relapse with alcohol or cocaine, which was his brain’s way of allowing him this “hall pass” into a new addiction. None of this will make any sense unless you yourself have an addicted brain or love someone who does.

We are master manipulators and gas lighters. The survival of our addiction depends on the elaborate nature of our lies and our immorality. Dax said that ultimately the thing that got him to finally come clean was all the lying. The palpable feeling of loneliness and guilt he experienced while accepting a 16-year chip in AA, while he was high. When we use or drink, it is never just one lie. It is a million lies, all intertwined and entangled to support a singular purpose in life, which is feeding our addiction.

My instinct is to embrace my anger at Dax, and the world’s reaction, and my situation. But the reality is, my anger is a way to hide my fear. And the truth is, I need the fear. The fear is my reminder of how far I have come, and of how easily I could slip.

There will be people within our sober community that will judge Dax for his choices, and they are free to do so. But that’s not how I stay sober. I stay sober by listening to alcoholics like Dax Shepard humble themselves so vulnerably and honestly on the world’s stage. I stay sober by hearing him admit all the ways he tried to convince himself he was exempt from the cunning nature of this disease. I stay sober because a fellow alcoholic had the courage not only to admit his mistakes, but to get up and start all over again.

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The ‘Sober Mom Squad’ Is An Online Community For Moms Who Don’t Drink

Moms who are committed to their sobriety are superheroes to me. In my lifetime, my mother, who was addicted to cocaine, never lived a life of sobriety — and I never knew her as someone not addicted to drugs. We lived through a cycle of her getting clean and then relapsing. We lived through medical detoxes, halfway houses, and prison visits. Despite it, she never won her battle with staying clean.

But there are moms across the country who are committed to staying sober for themselves and their children, and not leaning on alcohol or other substances to get them through their day. And there are moms out there helping other moms stay clean, to remind us all that being sober is healthy and cool — and the best choice for families, and for surviving this pandemic. Four moms heard and saw the increased pressure to just have a drink, a call which added another kind of pressure to recovering moms. To help fight the urge to do so, to fight for their sobriety, an online community of moms in recovery was born: The Sober Mom Squad.

I spoke with founder Emily Paulson, and hosts Jessica Landon, Michelle Smith, Celeste Yvonne, and Jen Elizabeth: women with very different stories of recovery, who are connected not only because of their sobriety, but their desire to stay clean for their children and to be supports for other moms who want to stay sober, especially now during COVID-19.

When a person is addicted to a substance — whether it is a drug or alcohol — and they get clean, there is a 40-60% chance that they will relapse at least once before they can maintain sobriety. With the emotional rollercoaster we’ve come to know as COVID-19, the anxiety, fear, loneliness, and boredom coupled with isolation, and being at home stuck with family, it’s sort of the perfect storm to relapse. What if there was a virtual network that you could plug into, every single day if you needed to, to find a community of moms who want to maintain their sobriety? That’s exactly the call that Emily Paulson heard from moms across the country, moms who were stuck at home but still very committed to maintaining their sobriety.

Emily recalls what led her to create the Sober Mom Squad: she had women reaching out to her who were saying they thought they were social drinkers, but then being home they found themselves drinking more. Emily put herself on Instagram, and found more connections there. “We had a free meetup, we started having Zoom calls, and we started talking,” she says. “Our connection was that we were moms who wanted to get sober.” With over 1,500 Instagram followers, the Sober Mom Squad is providing a resource to moms right in their own homes, allowing them to remain connected to moms who want the same — to stay sober. 

Today, the Sober Mom Squad has a $12 membership program that includes additional resources from suggested sobriety, parenting, and other podcasts, to special discounts on products and services. But the Sober Mom Squad gives moms hope, value, and courage for free. Every Wednesday, there’s a no-cost meeting for moms online who want to find support now.

When anyone — but especially a mom — wants help to stay clean, to push back the urge (and succeed) at not drinking, we should empathize and celebrate her. But social media is a beast. Jessica notes, “Definitely, the jokey alcohol memes have infiltrated the internet since COVID-19 started and it has dangerously helped women (mostly moms) justify the amount they’re drinking and implies that it’s okay to do to cope with kids.”

She goes on to say that the memes explicitly encourage functioning alcoholism, and can also trigger someone vulnerable and struggling or perpetuate an addiction someone is already dying from. “We need to see alcohol for what it is,” Jessica states, “a highly addictive and physically deleterious drug that kills more people annually than all other drugs combined.”

I hope we all know, as moms, that we are superheroes — even on the days we feel like our powers have dimmed slightly. In the span of what felt like overnight, life changed drastically for so many. Some of us went from moms who leave the house to go to work to being home all day with our kids. Others went from having the day to plan and manage accordingly before going to pick up the kids from school or their after-school care, to being with our kids and spouses all day, mandated to not go beyond the four walls in our own homes. Is it any wonder that the urge to drink is strong, and we are struggling? No one can be blamed for searching for ways to cope. But now more than ever, little eyes are firmly upon us.

Sober Mom Squad host and mom, Celeste, says, “I quit drinking when my oldest was three, but it amazes me how much they are watching what we do. Even at that young age, my son would ask me about my ‘mommy juice’ and it pained me to know the life I was leading wasn’t something I wished on anyone, especially my children. If I was going to lead by example, I knew I needed to make some big changes. And now, three years later, I am so glad I did.”

If there is one thing the Sober Mom Squad team wants you to know, it’s this: “If a mom is using and finding it hard to quit, please know that you are not alone! I believe the most important first step is having the courage to admit to yourself that the way you are living isn’t serving you anymore. Then reach out to other moms who are sober now and let us support and love you on your journey!” says Jen.

The COVID-19 mantra “we are all in this together” is one that these fierce and courageous mamas are living daily.

There are communities out there like the Sober Mom Squad, ready to help. “We will always be heroes in the eyes of our kids,” Emily shares. Let that continue to fuel your superpowers.

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The RBG ‘Dissent Collar’ Is Back At Banana Republic

And 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the International Center for Research on Women

The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s “Dissent Collar” is being re-released by Banana Republic with a new name fitting the champion of women’s rights and gender equality: the Notorious Necklace.

Ginsburg, the second woman in history to sit on the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court and often referred to as “The Notorious RBG,” died Sept. 18 after a battle with cancer. As we continue to mourn her death, Banana Republic decided to bring back its original black-and-white beaded necklace given to her at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards, which she won in 2012.

Banana Republic

The sequined accessory, often worn by Ginsberg as a symbol of her disagreement with the majority opinion on Supreme Court cases, got its name after she sat down with Katie Couric for a 2014 interview. “This is my dissenting collar. It looks fitting for dissent,” she said.

“You know, the standard robe is made for a man because it has a place for the shirt to show, and the tie. So, Sandra Day O’Connor and I thought it would be appropriate if we included as part of our robe something typical of a woman,” Justice Ginsburg told the Washington Post in 2009.

Banana Republic officially renamed it the Dissent Collar Necklace in 2019, with 50 percent of the retail price donated to the American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project.

Banana Republic

“Banana Republic feels this is an opportunity to benefit the advancement of women’s rights as a continuation of the brand’s commitment to champion equality,” the company said in a statement, per Fashionista.

“Originally released in 2012, we’re reissuing this special necklace with its sparkling glass stones and a velvet tie,” the retailer said on its website.

While the necklace became a symbol of her dissents, it became famous when she took to the bench following Donald Trump’s election in 2016. “I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president… For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that,” she told the New York Times in July before the election.

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg later told her granddaughter, the week before her death.

The necklace, which is now available for preorder until its official launch on Nov. 30, will be sold for $98 with 100 percent of the proceeds being donated to the International Center for Research on Women, an organization that honored RBG with its Champions for Change award in 2016.

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