Why Don't More Women See Fitness as Key to Wellness? – Everyday Health, Inc. (blog)

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According to Everyday Health’s Special Report: State of Women’s Wellness 2017, 21 percent of those surveyed cited fitness as a factor that positively affects their personal wellness. Fitness ranked higher than other factors, such as relationships and financial security, but the vast majority of women said it had no effect on — or even negatively affected — their well-being. This suggests that many women either aren’t sure how fitness can practically improve their lives, or how to effectively make it part of their wellness routine.

The survey results are consistent with the fact that nearly 80 percent of adults don’t meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG) released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2008. According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), women are even less likely than men to meet the guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

Fact: Fitness Can Prevent Disease, Save Lives

Most of us know that exercise is good for you. People who are physically active tend to live longer and lower their risk for disease. On the other hand, the negative health implications of physical inactivity are significant — inadequate levels of exercise are associated with $117 billion in annual healthcare costs, according to data in a study published in 2015 in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 10 premature deaths in this country could be prevented by exercise. In terms of specific health conditions, physical activity could prevent:

The physical and mental health benefits of exercise include:

  • Preventing weight gain
  • Improving aerobic fitness, balance, and mobility
  • Improving bone and muscle health
  • Improving cognitive function and mental health
  • Lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease

There are also less obvious health benefits to physical activity, such as improving blood flow to the skin, which can stave off signs of aging; triggering the release of endorphins that promote positive emotions; and reducing the premenstrual symptoms of fatigue and depression.

Is Fitness a Challenge or an Opportunity? The Answer Is Both

Women surveyed by Everyday Health also ranked fitness as one of their top wellness challenges — along with factors such as stress and lack of sleep. This may be due, in part, to the reasons people commonly cite for not exercising, from not having enough time or access to resources such as parks and gyms, to a lack of motivation and confidence.

But for many individuals, health conditions that could benefit from varying levels of activity pose the greatest fitness challenge of all. Chronic conditions affect nearly half of all adults, according to the CDC, and managing a condition or illness was the top-ranked wellness challenge among women in the Everyday Health survey. The symptoms associated with chronic conditions, such as pain and fatigue, become obstacles to physical activity.

Case in Point: Psoriatic Disease and Fitness

As a senior editor at Everyday Health, I cover psoriatic disease — psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. There are 7.5 million Americans living with psoriasis, making it the most prevalent autoimmune disease in this country. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, approximately 30 percent of those people will develop psoriatic arthritis, which causes painful joint swelling and stiffness.

For people with psoriatic arthritis, physical activity can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Yet even light to moderate exercise can help maintain the muscle strength and joint mobility that are critical to managing the disease. Range-of-motion exercises, strength training, and endurance exercises may also be options, depending on the severity of the disease.

Researchers found that people with arthritis who did at least 45 minutes of moderate exercise a week were 80 percent more likely to maintain or even improve their physical function over two years, according to a study published in February 2017 in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

Exercise can also reduce the risk of developing comorbidities common to people with psoriatic disease, likely the result of systemic inflammation. According to a study published in December 2015 in the International Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, psoriatic arthritis is associated with an increased risk for conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The study cites related research recommending that patients review physical activity goals with their rheumatologist at least once yearly.

Beyond Psoriatic Disease: Fitness and Other Conditions

Apart from providing general health benefits, physical fitness can help manage many conditions other than psoriatic disease. Among them:

Rheumatoid Arthritis A review published in the Journal of Aging Research found that properly designed exercise programs increased muscle mass and improved physical function in rheumatoid arthritis patients without exacerbating the disease or joint damage.

Multiple Sclerosis According to research published in August 2016 in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, exercise has been associated with a reduced relapse rate, lower lesion volume, and improved mobility in people with multiple sclerosis.

Cancer A review published online in the journal Recent Results in Cancer Research found that the risk of breast cancer was 25 percent lower in women who were the most physically active compared with those who were least active. A study published in June 2016 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that leisure-time physical activity was associated with a lower risk of 13 types of cancer.

There’s no one-size-fits all formula for optimizing the role fitness plays in your wellness. To find the best fitness plan for you, the Personal Activity Guidelines suggest considering three factors. First, identify the benefits of physical activities that are of most value to you. Second, set personal goals that are realistic, safe, and planned out with your healthcare provider. Finally, develop the knowledge that you need to reach those fitness goals and guide your overall wellness.

Read More on Everyday Health:

8 Surprising Reasons to Get Up and Exercise Right Now

The Right Exercises Can Bring Psoriatic Arthritis Relief

6 Workout Secrets That Won’t Worsen Psoriasis

How to Exercise With Rheumatoid Arthritis

10 Best Exercises to Boost Wellness With Multiple Sclerosis

5 Good Reasons to Exercise if You’re Battling Breast Cancer or Worried About Getting It

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Why Personal Development Was Key To Building A Seven-Figure Business – HuffPost

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By Rudy Mawer Bellingham

Like many business owners and entrepreneurs, I would previously dip in and out of personal development courses, podcasts, seminars and books. However, in the past 12-18 months, I became hyper-focused and stayed consistent every single week. The results? I’ve probably had a more successful past 18 months than my last three or five years. And consistent personal development has been the key to my success.

Here’s a breakdown of why personal development is key, along with some of my top recommendations and general tips you can use to stay consistent and get your weekly dose.

Why and How Personal Development Helped Me Build a Multi-Million Dollar Business

Although I obviously needed to possess skills in my specific niche and other traits, the list of benefits my extensive personal development provided me is really endless, from helping me stay focused and motivated every day to keeping me more organized. I built vital relationships with highly influential public figures, clients new friends and key connections.

I was able to open my mind to achieve my true potential, allowing me to set much bigger goals. Having an unbeatable mind is a defining trait behind most of the world’s most successful people.

Different Forms of Personal Development

There are multiple forms of personal development, which is just an umbrella for developing yourself and aspects of your life. Topics include:

  • Leadership/management
  • Communication, social interaction, engagement, etc.
  • Habit forming goals, productivity
  • Goal setting
  • Motivation, focus, inspiration
  • Career, business, entrepreneurship

Like anything, there’s probably not one best method or subject to follow. You will get the best results from a diverse mix. For example, the type and context of personal development you pick should likely be tailored to your desired outcome, areas you need to improve on, the best format to match your learning style, etc. There are multiple learning styles or consumable platforms to pick from. And again, while you may have a main go-to, you should likely get a mix of multiple platforms.

Luckily, there’s now an endless library of personal development at your fingertips. With modern technology and the internet, you can really never be without a form of personal development to consume. Some of the best platforms to get you started include books, audiobooks/Audible, podcasts, YouTube, TED talks, live events, seminars and live feeds like Snapchat, Instagram stories, Facebook Live, etc.

Most Popular/Recommended Personal Development Listings

Like with most big topics, there are hundreds of experts and valuable resources. This shortlist is by no means complete. Below are some of my personal favorites, along with other top-rated authors, books or titles to get you started. From there, you can find what style and topics you love the most then venture down the endless rabbit hole of resources.

Top Personal Development Books or Audiobooks:

  • 10x by Grant Cardone
  • Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink, Leif Babin
  • The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • Relentless by Tim S. Grover
  • Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by Brian Tracy
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  • Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
  • The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris

How to Stay Consistent with Personal Development

Firstly and most importantly, it’s vital to find your preferred platform and topics you love. Just as with anything in life, you won’t be consistent (or you will have a much harder time) if the method doesn’t match your passions. I personally consume the majority of mine in Audiobook format, simply because it matches my personality and lifestyle and I can absorb it while traveling, performing minor tasks or while driving, etc.

Others may love to watch a one-hour presentation in video format per night or read 30-60 minutes of a book before bedtime. There’s no right or wrong. Just pick what you enjoy and can be most consistent with.

Now, if you want to go with the Audiobook route, sign up at Audible.com. For around $15 per month you get three books, giving you about 25-30 hours of content per month or one hour a day. If, like me, you move fast, play all books at 1.5x speed. It’s still easily consumable and throughout a year you will be able to listen to 50 books as opposed to around 35 — that’s a highly significant difference. I use several techniques to keep myself accountable and work on one book per week. I listen to books while traveling, doing house chores or simply when I am getting ready in the morning or at night. This alone gives you around one hour per day, allowing you to easily finish one book per week.

If you plan to read books, commit by first purchasing 3-5 popular books from the list or in a subcategory you think you’ll enjoy and reap the most benefits from. From there, commit to 30-60 minutes per day and then schedule a set time and make it happen.

Whichever platform you pick, the most important factor is always consistency. To start, set alarms or schedule in a 30-60 minute block per day. After around one, month it’ll be habitual. And after one year, the benefits and results will be crystal clear and astounding. The knowledge from these books has helped me more than double my productivity, set and achieve goals that are probably 10 times higher than what I would have in the past, improve the culture of my team and business and become a more well-renowned and understanding individual in general. I guarantee you will take away some amazing information you can’t find online, from how to develop a killer mindset to how to double your income with just a few small, yet genius tweaks and ideas.

Remember, you are the single best investment you will ever make in life.

Owner of RudyMawer.com, www.caplabs.com, 10xFitnessMarketing.com & real estate. Skilled in fitness, FB ads, funnel creation, marketing.

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7 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Today to Become a Better Person Tomorrow – Inc.com

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If you want to improve, you have to ask yourself the right questions.

Self-reflection is the key to all personal development. People tend to think it’s about reading the right self-help book, or attending a Tony Robbins seminar, but the truth is, personal development can happen in any moment, anytime, anywhere.

All you have to do is ask yourself the right questions, to get to the root of what’s holding you back.

As 2017 starts to come to an end, self-reflection is top-of-mind for me. I like to take the last two months of every year to really look back and audit how things went, what worked well, what didn’t–and most importantly, what I need to improve upon next in order to continue growing.

Here are some of the questions I like to ask myself at the end of every year, and questions I’d suggest as prompts to get you thinking about how you can continue to improve as well:

1. “What was I doing a year ago?”

A fun exercise that always helps keep things in perspective is to question what you were doing a year ago. 

A year ago, I was still living in Chicago. I had just left my 9-5 job and was very unsure of my future. Today, I live in Los Angeles and spend my days working with incredibly intelligent CEOs and highly successful serial entrepreneurs through my agency, Digital Press.

Looking back a single year reminds me that I have so much to be thankful for.

2. “Do I enjoy how I’m spending my time?”

If you’re not enjoying your day to day, no amount of money or external rewards will make you feel more fulfilled. 

As the year comes to a close, question what really makes you feel alive and what feels like a burden. Then, question how you can remove those burdens in the months to come.

3. “Who do I spend the most time with?”

I am such a firm believer that you are a direct reflection of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Ask yourself if you’re spending time with true friends, people who enrich your life, or casual friends, people always asking for more and giving you less. 

Your friends should be people who inspire you to become a better version of yourself.

4. “How is my money being spent?”

I see money as fuel. It’s what powers your airplane and allows you to do the things you want to do in life.

A lot of people forget that there are two ways to make more money. One is to work harder and earn more. The other is to spend less. (Consumerism tends to encourage us against the latter.)

Do a quick audit of your spending habits, and see if you can get some of those impulse purchases under control.

5. “What do I want to learn next?”

I find most people reach a plateau as soon as they stop being curious, and instead fixate on doing things purely for financial gain–or the approval of others.

But curiosity never leads you astray. 

Ask yourself what you want to learn next, what will make you grow beyond wherever you’re at currently, and then make decisions that allow you to nurture that curiosity. 

It will only lead to good things.

6. “How are my 5 buckets being filled?”

Each of us has 5 buckets which we fill with our time.

  • Career: what we do to earn a living for ourselves.
  • Fulfillment: what we do to feel more connected to ourselves.
  • Community: those who inspire our interests, teach us, etc.
  • Personal health: what we eat, how we exercise, etc.
  • Intimate relationships: significant other, close friends, family.

It’s worth taking time to question (on a regular basis) how each of these 5 buckets are being filled. Sometimes, you’ll find you are spending far too much time being social and too little time working toward a project or a goal. Or sometimes, you’ll find you haven’t spoken to your family in months because you’ve been so busy. 

Audit how your time is being spent, so that you can keep those 5 buckets as balanced as possible.

7. “How can I be more helpful–to those around me, and to myself?”

It’s taken me a long time to learn that if you can’t spend all your time trying to make everyone around you happy. 

You have to prioritize keeping yourself happy too.

Which is why it’s worth questioning both, simultaneously. 

What can you do to be more helpful to those around you? How can you be more encouraging, more patient? And at the same time, how can you do those same things toward yourself?

Personal development is an ongoing practice. It’s not a destination. It’s not something you do once and then you’re a “perfect person” for the rest of your life.

Personal development is your ability to continuously ask yourself these questions on a daily basis, and slowly improve over time.

Like water over rocks, who you are is sculpted over years and years.

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Things Women Who Left an Abusive Relationship Want You to … – Reader's Digest

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womanviktor gladkov 720/shutterstockAlways try to understand

Jill Dodd, former model, and designer behind the successful global brand ROXY, used to be a “pleasure wife” for one of the richest men in the world. She says, “On the surface it’s shocking, but once you understand the background it all makes sense.” Dodd also survived two abuse-filled marriages but has now been in a healthy marriage of 20 years. Dodd believes it’s important to consider how someone’s upbringing, past exposure to abuse, and emotional capabilities might influence her decisions. From the outside, you might think it’s obvious and simple to avoid pursuing a relationship with someone who is abusive. But it’s not clear for everyone.

Says Dodd: “I grew up in an oversexualized world where women are valued for their beauty instead of being valued for who they are on the inside.” There are plenty of eye-opening facts to know about domestic violence, according to experts, including the fact that it doesn’t have to be physical: Abuse comes in emotional and sexual forms as well.

Low self-esteem isn’t the sole or even primary reason someone becomes a victim, say women who’ve suffered abuse. Other factors include the ability to set boundaries, the resolve to say “no,” and a person’s relationship to authority figures. Dodd says, “If cruelty and bad behavior are familiar to you, you may feel comfortable being stomped over. You just don’t understand any other way, you don’t know how to set healthy boundaries.”

Domestic violence doesn’t always end when the victim makes good choices

“The pressure of fixing abusive relationships is often placed squarely on the victim’s shoulders, with the world still asking why victims don’t make better choices. How can you put up with that? Why do you stay? The truth is, domestic violence doesn’t always end when victims make good choices,” says Lizbeth Meredith, author of Pieces of Me: Rescuing my Kidnapped Daughters.

Meredith, a former domestic violence advocate, and juvenile probation supervisor is a survivor of domestic abuse. In an email, she wrote, “I left my husband after being strangled in front of my two little girls. I embraced poverty. I stayed in a shelter. I didn’t ever go back to him. I got orders of protection. And yet, the intimidation continued. When I got my bachelors degree and a terrific job at the same domestic violence agency I’d fled to, I didn’t kick up a fuss when I didn’t get child support. I colored in the lines, and four long tortuous years after I left my husband, he took our daughters while on a visitation and fled to another country (Greece). I learned that recovery is not about simply leaving, it’s about long-term safety, self-discovery, accepting the support of others, and learning how I got in the mess to begin with, and letting others know what red flags exist in relationships that I might steer clear of.”

Leaving is not as easy as you think it is

When someone hears about the horrors of domestic abuse, it makes sense to suggest an escape thinking it will end the pain. Unfortunately, many women say it’s more complicated than that. Just read this incredible tale of learning from domestic abuse. On average, a woman will leave and come back to an abusive relationship seven times before she is permanently gone, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline as reported by CNN. This statistic alone is a reason to stop assuming women in abusive relationships can and should “just leave.”

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“It’s rarely a once and done situation,” says Meredith. “There are so many reasons victims will leave and come back. The leaving takes planning. The leaving takes a support system. It takes determination to maintain the leaving.” Elizabeth Babcock, psychotherapist, and community advocate says, “Abusers often threaten their targets with financial, personal, and/or public ruin. They threaten to take and alienate the kids. They threaten whatever they believe will keep the target frozen in place and it often works.

Rationalization and justification plays a role

Abusive relationships are often steeped in deception from many influences—society, the partner and even the self. Babcock says, “Targets of abuse often rationalize their experience by convincing themselves that their partners don’t realize the harm they’re doing. I have worked with numerous abusers and every one has admitted to me that they are fully aware that they are hurting their partners; they do it purposefully because it gives them the control in the relationship that they want.” Dodd backs up this eye-opening information. She says, “You tend to justify bad behavior if you’re used to it.” Here are nine more signs that your partner may not be the right one.

Excruciating guilt and shame is involved

People unfamiliar with abusive relationships may underestimate the emotional complexity that healing can encompass. Dodd says, “Even if the acts that were done to them weren’t their fault, victims live with a residue of shame.” Dodd, who reports therapy and writing her book as cathartic experiences, said, “I’m healed to a good degree but I’m not completely healed.” This is where good friends can play an important role in your relationships.

Recovery can be a long and painful road

Isolation and loss of control are just two signs of an emotionally abusive partner. Many signs are silent and the journey to discovering them is hard. Survivor and domestic violence advocate Melissa Sachs says, “It took me almost five years to get out of my own head, my own pain, to finally see, to actually believe what I was seeing, to accept what I knew to be true, and even more time after that to leave for good.

Babcock told Reader’s Digest, “Targets of abuse don’t necessarily start with low self-esteem, but they go through an incremental brainwashing process in the relationship in which they become accustomed to accepting more and more damaging behavior from the partner. Living in these conditions over time has emotional and medical repercussions that take years to sort out once the target is out of the relationship. The process of personal rebuilding is a long one, complicated by the fact that most targets don’t leave until they absolutely have to, meaning they are as emotionally exhausted as they could possibly be at a time when they have to take on the massive project of rebuilding their lives, quite possibly while fearing for their continued safety.”

Domestic violence happens to women of all income levels

One common myth of domestic violence is that it primarily occurs in low-income families. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, told Cosmopolitan.com: “We receive over 22,000 calls a month. We hear from every socioeconomic class, every race, every education level, every geographic region. We’ve had doctors who have called us, women who call us and say they live in mansions and their husbands work on Wall Street and they don’t know how to get out because they don’t have the financial means to leave and they can’t talk about it to anyone because it’s the big secret in their social arena. One day we were having high call volume and I hopped on the line and there was a doctoral student calling me, and all she kept saying was, ‘How could I be so dumb? I’m working on a Ph.D.’ Domestic violence doesn’t say, ‘OK, you have a Ph.D., I’m not going to touch you.”

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Financial stability makes a difference

While domestic violence affects all socioeconomic classes, access to resources plays a big role in getting out. Dodd says, “If you have your own money you can always get out.” While this is helpful to keep in mind and strive for, achieving financial stability doesn’t’ always come easy—it can depend on education, job status, and employability, and it can take years to achieve. Victims become more vulnerable if they are linked to their abuser financially.

(Want an uplifiting story of surviving years of abuse?)

The Family Financial Education team at the University of Washington has done extensive research highlight the challenges survivors of domestic abuse face. In one brief, they noted that economic abuse is in it of itself a form of abuse that often goes unacknowledged. Meredith says, “When I left and took my girls I embraced poverty—I enrolled in the food stamps, stayed in the shelter. I thought that would be the end of the abuse.” In her case, it wasn’t. This fact alone deserves cultural recognition. To more resources on economic empowerment for survivors of abuse, go here.

Other women can relate

“You are not alone” is a cliché that gets tossed around. The reality is that sometimes we do have to go through things by ourselves but relief can be found in the knowledge that other survivors are out there. We might encounter other women who relate through reading books by survivors, participating in discussions in support groups or coming across helpful information social media. Melissa Sachs recently posted a quote on her Instagram account that says, “If I hadn’t been validated by other survivors, I may have stayed.” Sachs connected with other survivors on social media, finding solace in reading stories she could relate to. She says, “It helped me stop feeling so devastated.”

Searching for answers is a start

Jill Dodd cried for years. She says, “I cried so much I could not cry anymore. I wallowed in self-pity. Why God? Why did this happen? It wasn’t until I stopped crying and started searching for answers to slowly heal.” Of course, this is easier said than done but therapy, support groups and seeking out like-minded survivors who may understand can help. More resources can be found here.

Want to help a friend or family member who may be experiencing abuse? Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline here.

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8 Halloween Sex Tips That Make Dating After Divorce Less Spooky – HuffPost

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America is in the throes of a #metoo revolution this year as more women are opting to speak up about the harassment they have experienced with male authority figures at work, their assault experiences, and their ultimate fear of shaming, loss of employment and vengeful retribution. How seemingly fit and ironic that figures who once were as horrific and overpowering as a zombie on The Walking Dead show, are finally having their masks stripped by those women who are reporting they were tormented in October, the month of Halloween.

When hearing women and men’s stories in my therapy practice Center for Love and Sex, I am called upon again and again to help clients and their partners deal with past sexual boundary crossings, sexless marriages, and non-erotic routines, many of which played important roles in dissatisfied sexual relationships. This blog is for women as they prepare to head out in the dating world. This process can be so awkward, disheartening and downright embarrassing they seek help at CLS for support and guidance on taking those first steps back into sexual relationships.

For women who are beginning to date after a divorce, there are unique desires, concerns, and questions they have regarding their return to sexuality with a new partner(s).

Here are some guidelines to avoid tricks (both internally and externally) and discover some treats in the dating world:

1) Work on some mantras that you practice each day that complement what you find attractive about yourself. Body shaming and misogyny is unfortunately still alive and well in America, and in order to keep your Sex Esteem® strong you need to practice (just like lifting weights) that you’re beautiful, you’re sexy, you have gorgeous eyes, you’re smart, funny, exciting. You get the idea. Chase those internal ghosts from your headspace!

2) If you get the ‘why bother’s and plop down to watch another season of Girlfriends Guide to Divorce, ask yourself the magic wand wish question: If I had a magic wand what would I really want for myself in a relationship?

While no relationship is perfect (and some as we know are emotionally dead or downright abusive), you’re entitled to explore yourself and other people through new relationships. I challenge single clients to ask themselves what they want since so many are focused on how they aren’t (fill in the blank) enough for someone else. And by the way, I’m not saying wait for the one person who matches you on all your online profile qualities (research has shown that people don’t always partner with the person they thought they were looking for based on these characteristics). I’m just saying give yourself permission to do a personal inquiry and not wrap yourself up like a costumed mummy.

3) If you’ve had a long hiatus from your sexual pleasure (because, I know, the sexless marriage/relationship thing is real), begin by awakening your body with self-pleasuring. If it’s dancing that gets your groove back on, throw on some music or go out dancing with friends. Sign up for a social dance class that gets you moving with a partner without any expectations of romance, just some embodied fun.

Give yourself time to get to know yourself again, your erotic triggers, the best way to stroke yourself, what music turns you on and perhaps an erotic story to begin fantasizing again like an erotic person if that’s your thing. To learn more about erotic triggers, watch my filmed Sex Esteem® webshow at where else? The Museum of Sex, NYC.

Either by yourself or with a trusted friend, head out to a sex-toy shop to have a look- see on the latest gadgets that might bring you from a simmer to a boil. And if there are some longstanding issues that have kept you from enjoying sex, I encourage you to seek out a Certified Sex Therapist to do some healing work.

4) Online/off-line question.

So if the last time you dated, the only dating site was Match you’re in for a whole new world of apps and sites to explore. Get some fine photos of yourself close up, doing something you love doing like painting, cycling or hiking, both alone or with a friend who brings you joy (your eyes will shine). Remember that most people swipe right initially for looks and may swipe left for some arbitrary detail like what baseball team you love. So imagine online as a big, huge bar and you walk in. Who do you notice and what will someone notice about you. And before you accuse me of being superficial or shallow, remember visual cues are a primary erotic trigger for many people and it’s what can open a door. So whether it’s your smile, your eyes, or the way someone leans on the bar, or the a blazer they’re wearing, keep in mind of your energy and the confidence you bring as you notice others as well.

If you’re one of those people that prefers IRL (in real life) to URL (sites) begin by exploring clubs (health clubs, dance clubs, cycling clubs), free meet-ups, a yoga studio or a place of worship to meet new folks. Anthropologist Helen Fisher has written that those people you see in your ‘hood and routine on a regular basis, are the folks you’re more likely to strike up a conversation with (but you have to be there to begin it). Dress like you’re going to a fun party, it’ll pique someone’s gaze to come over and since you’re announcing I am approachable and open to some fun.

5) When you finally line up a date, if they’re from an online site or app, set up the date at public places like restaurants, local bar or a café. Besides finding out if you’re attracted to one another, you want to feel safe and able to have control over the pacing of the physicality. Always let a friend know where you’ll be and with whom as a backup safety practice, (you can always text the friend if you’re wanting to end the date early because you’re feeling uncomfortable by having her call you with an “emergency”), and to let her know if you’re changing venues. While many folks might think of this advice as overly cautious or a tip to give a young adult, I find that when you’re meeting folks online, you really have very little context for who they are.

6) Bring your A game to the date. Do NOT I repeat, do NOT talk about your divorce or ex on the first date. And try to pivot the conversation if your date veers that way as well. It’s a bit too ‘ghoulish’ as if you’re digging up skeletons of your past life. At these early stages, bring up topics that bring you joy, or excitement and passion so your energy is positive. The most attractive thing in a person is their confidence.

If you need to invest in your own energy by catching up on the latest news, a magazine article or an interesting movie/show, challenge yourself to immerse yourself in what excited you and what others might find intriguing. Ask your partner what they find most compelling about their field, or what baseball team they’re backing in the World Series. If your date is going off on a monologue, try to cut in gently and talk about yourself without waiting to be asked a question. You might then choose not to have a next date with them but at least you’re practicing yourconversation repartee.

7) If after several dates (you decide the number of dates, there is NO rule by the way) you decide you’d like to get between the sheets, figure out which particular sexual activities you’d be open for and then schedule a talk with your new partner BEFORE you head to the bedroom, or shower, or kitchen (no pressure, but you never know where folks like to get their groove on).

That’s right, you actually have to talk to this partner of what you’d be interested in exploring sexually, ask about their testing history, and what if any infections they’ve had and treated in the past. If you need an update on STI’s, a refresher on old and new barrier methods, or STI apps get yourself immersed by reading:

8) Lastly, enjoy your treat of pleasure this Halloween either with yourself or with a new partner in your dating journey.

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Priest help students gain confidence during awkward 'tween' years – Monroe News Star

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Find out how to download The News-Star app for your phone.

When Catholic priest Lijo Thomas came to the United States in 2010 from southern India, he had two goals.

One goal was to continue and complete his education. The other was to expand a program to help pre-teens gain confidence in themselves and develop positive self-esteem.

More: After years of abuse, faith leads man to help others struggling

Thomas developed D.R.E.A.M.S. — an acronym for Desire, Readiness, Empowerment, Action, and Mastery for Success — in 2003 in his home city of Kerala, India.

“D.R.E.A.M.S. is a holistic intervention and development program designed to help underprivileged teens reach their success in both school and life,” he said. “The project has been implemented mainly through summer camps, in school and after-school orientation programs.”

Thomas served as the assistant pastor of St. Matthew Catholic Church in Monroe after arriving in the United States. Upon completion of his studies, he moved to Bastrop in 2013. He now serves as the pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church.

He is the oldest of four brothers and said he wanted to become a priest and serve the people of God from a very early age. He is the only priest in his family.

 

More: After repeated loss, science teacher finds strength in faith

As a young child and teenager, Thomas suffered from a lack of self- confidence and self-esteem. As he grew older and gained knowledge through education, he came to the belief that building a child’s self-confidence and social skills can help them become successful and a better citizen.

“As I learned more, I realized that just by providing motivational speeches in schools or summer camps would not really help them change substantially,” he said.

So he started follow up programs that evolved into a 36-month program starting with sixth graders to help them better understand and better cope with the awkward “tween” years.

Later, he chose this as his doctoral research at the University of Louisiana, Monroe. He systematically developed this program as a theoretical model and scientifically evaluated the program impact both qualitatively and quantitatively.

“The study showed that there were significant improvements in the self-esteem, self-mastery, motivation, life orientation and engagement, academic achievements, personal and interpersonal behavior of those who participated in the D.R.E.A.M.S. program,” he said. “The statistical analysis identified that there were more significant positive changes in African American participants than others.”

“With that knowledge and through observations, studies and interactions with local educators, I was able to identify some of the crucial skills the students were missing in our teaching-learning process,” he said. “This prompted me, in collaboration with Maribeth Holzer, the math curriculum coordinator of Ouachita Parish School System, to work to redesigning the same D.R.E.A.M.S program for the children in the United States.”

 In July 2012, the first D.R.E.A.M.S project was implemented in Ouachita Junior High School, in Monroe and mainly focused on the development of their personal, interpersonal and leadership skills.

The first year focuses on personal development and self-esteem. The second year focuses on building and strengthening relationships with others, and the third focuses on becoming active leaders in their schools and community. After participants graduate from the program, they return as a mentor to new participants entering the program. Students that could benefit from the program are identified by school administrators and counselors of local schools. 

“The program is implemented through summer camps, quarterly one-day follow-up programs (Saturdays) and club meetings (monthly lunch break meetings). The whole group, roughly 35 to 40, would be divided into five or six small groups, and each group would be assigned to an adult and a youth mentor playing a key role in this program.

These meetings help the participants develop team building activities, receive guidance from guest speakers from the community, and through music, and fitness/yoga,” he said.

Thomas has been called back to India and will leave northeast Louisiana the first week of November.

“I hope to return each year for our annual Let Us Dream Conference at Louisiana Tech,” he said. 

A six-member board — John Boudreaux, Maribeth Holzer, Dr. Lorie Babin, Brandy Soileu, Johnson Kuriakose, Father Philip Pazhayakari — will carry the torch for Let US D.R.E.A.M. and its four projects.

“These people were selected for their strength and expertise,” Thomas said. “They have been instrumental in helping with the program, so I feel confident that they will work hard to continue where I left off. We also have a leadership team at each chapter level. Currently, we have DREAMS chapters in Monroe, Bastrop, Houston, and McAllen, Texas. We are currently in the process of expanding to two more cities this summer.”

“I will say my last mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Bastrop on Oct. 29, 2017,” he said. “The mass is at 10 a.m. and a farewell party is planned after the mass. I will introduce Father Joseph to the parishioners of St. Joseph’s on that day.

“The people of Monroe and Bastrop have welcomed me with open arms,” Thomassaid. “They loved me like family and have always been supportive of my dreams and initiatives. I will miss all and I would like to thank each and every one for their support and help over the years.”

 

Read or Share this story: http://www.thenewsstar.com/story/life/faith/2017/10/27/priest-help-students-gain-confidence-during-awkward-tween-years/804505001/

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Male infertility and you – Medical News Today

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Man looking depressed with girlfriend
Male infertility can be a heavy burden to bear.
Infertility is an issue that can deeply affect an individual and their relationship. Advice is most often focused toward women, so in this Spotlight feature, we focus on infertility in men and provide some science-based tips for dealing with it.

When the word “infertility” rears its worrisome head, most people first think about female infertility.

However, males are responsible for 20–30 percent of cases of infertility and “contribute to 50 percent of cases overall.”

Men and women tend to respond to the experience of infertility differently: historically, women have thought that men deal with the issue easier, but in reality, men are simply less likely to open up about their emotions.

Finding out that you are infertile can be a devastating experience. A man might feel less male and as if they have failed. Some men believe that their masculinity is wrapped up in their ability to give their partner a child, and so feeling that they have lost that ability can produce strong negative emotions.

What causes male infertility?

Firstly, it is worth defining infertility. The World Health Organization (WHO) define it as “the inability of a sexually active, non-contracepting couple to achieve pregnancy in 1 year.”

In the majority of cases, male infertility is due to abnormal sperm. Sometimes there are low numbers of sperm, while sometimes there are none at all. Or, the sperm may not be great swimmers or be deformed in some way.

These issues can be caused in a number of ways, including:

The list goes on. But often, there is no well-defined reason for the defective sperm. And in many cases, despite healthy sperm and no obvious issues with the partner’s reproductive health, conception remains difficult to achieve.

Crack a window and let some hope in

In some cases, it is impossible for a man to impregnate a woman, but this is relatively uncommon. In most situations, there is still a chance. If you have been trying for a particularly long time, it might feel as though there is no hope — but, generally, there is.

If you haven’t been to see an infertility specialist yet, you should consider it. They can pin down where the problem might lie and give general tips and advice. Talking with an expert also helps you to realize that you are not alone.

Also, there are options. For instance, many couples now conceive through in vitro fertilization (IVF). In fact, in the past 30 years, 1 million IVF babies have been born in the United States. It is vital to remember that there are other roads to be taken as you go through this troubling time.

The remainder of this article offers tips to deal with the emotional and practical side of infertility.

1. Get the facts

First and foremost, find out what’s going on. If you just think that you are infertile, or making a baby hasn’t happened despite a year or so of trying, it’s time to get checked. There is no point beginning a journey into sorrow without knowing if it’s even justified.

Go to an expert, and get your sperm tested. Ask questions. Read as much as you can. Understand what your particular issue is, and what that means for your chances of conception.

2. Make plans

One of the toughest parts of dealing with male infertility is not knowing how long it will last. Making plans where possible can help you to feel that you are still in charge.

Set targets and limits. With your partner, discuss what procedures you are prepared to go for, and what emotional and financial levels you can both handle. Pregnancy is often the result of repeated efforts, whether through natural intercourse or fertility treatment. It will help no one if you both end up as financially ruined, dessicated emotional husks.

Consider all options. Talk through all the options — adoption, IVF, or donor sperm. Understanding and talking about potential avenues will help should you face any setbacks further down the road — and if one thing doesn’t work, you’ll know what you’re trying next.

3. Take control

There are some scientifically proven ways to improve sperm quality. Often, the simple act of taking back some control can go a long way to help deal with infertility; it fights off that creeping sense of helplessness.

A selection of fruit
Eating right can improve both sperm quality and general well-being.

The following list is by no means exhaustive but provides some simple (and scientifically supported) measures that can be taken to give your sperm the best chance of meeting and greeting an egg.

Eat right. In short, lay off meat products and stock up on veg. Understanding the exact impacts of overall food intake is difficult, but a diet including lean meats, vegetables, legumes, and grains seems to improve sperm motility.

Maintain the right weight. There are fairly strong links between being overweight and male infertility. 

Reduce stress. No, I’m not kidding, even though it sounds like a joke. Infertility is stressing you out, which, in turn, might be making infertility worse. And sadly, the evidence says that it’s probably true. The section on coping strategies below offers some advice on minimizing the impact of stress…and breathe.

Get active. Although the link between physical fitness and sperm quality has not been definitively proven, being physically active will prevent obesity, which is certainly linked. Exercise also helps to relieve stress, so it’s worth getting sweaty. According to one study, bicycling for just 5 hours per week could do the trick.

It’s worth noting that there are a host of companies that offer “magic” pills and supplements to turn your sperm into tiny athletes, but, as I’m sure you are already aware, evidence for these types of products is lacking.

There are also some behaviors to avoid in order to improve sperm health:

  • smoking, as it lowers sperm count and increases the risk of misshapen sperm
  • alcohol, as it reduces testosterone production — it is therefore sensible to moderate drinking
  • don’t use lubricants during sex, as some may hinder sperm
  • keep your balls cool, as hot testicles, according to some studies, may be less efficient at producing sperm — so avoid hot tubs, tight underwear, and saunas

Speak with a doctor about medications that could interfere with sperm production, such as calcium channel blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, and anabolic steroids.

4. Talk about it

According to traditional stereotypes, men don’t like to talk about their problems. Although this stereotype does often hold true, it is not the case for everyone. As clichéd and trite as it might sound, “a problem shared is a problem halved.”

Keep communication channels open. You don’t have to broadcast it far and wide, but speak with someone: a doctor, a nurse, a friend, a counselor, a support group — anyone. It will ease your burden, and they might offer a new perspective.

If any of the following signs crop up regularly, it is important to talk with a doctor or counselor who is trained in infertility:

  • abusing drugs or alcohol
  • thoughts about harming yourself or others
  • becoming angry or abusive easily
  • losing interest in things that you once enjoyed
  • insomnia or sleeping much longer than usual

5. Develop healthy coping strategies

It’s easy to let stress build up until you crack. Some people handle it better than others, but everyone can let it get the better of them sometimes.

It is therefore important to find ways to loosen the stopcock every once in a while. The following coping strategies may help to keep your mind on the straight and narrow.

Man running with music on
Exercise can help to manage infertility physically and mentally.

Keep moving. It doesn’t matter what you do — be it weight lifting, running, swimming, or basketball — whatever it is, get sweaty a couple of times each week. Exercise has repeatedly been shown to help reduce stress. Moving about costs nothing, so take advantage.

Relax. Men, in general, are less likely to get a massage than women, but times are changing. Even if a massage isn’t something that you’d normally consider, it is a really good way to de-stress. Meditation and yoga are other good options.

For instance, a huge meta-analysis published in JAMA in 2014 concluded that:

Mindfulness meditation programs had moderate evidence of improved anxiety […] depression […] and pain.”

Sure, “moderate” doesn’t sound amazing, but in the context of a JAMA review, it means that a genuine, statistically significant effect was measured. So, if added alongside other coping mechanisms, it could really help.

Write. Not everyone is a natural author, and most people haven’t tried writing anything substantial since they were at school. However, no one is telling you that it needs to be published anywhere. The simple act of writing out your thoughts can help you to work through how you are feeling, and to start the process of dealing with it.

Whether you choose to write it and immediately set fire to it or keep it stored away for a future you to discover makes no difference. It is the act of writing itself that is important.

And this isn’t just another one of those wishy-washy interventions; “writing therapy” is a real thing. Otherwise known as written disclosure therapy, it is not used particularly widely, but there is some evidence to suggest that it can have positive effects on psychological well-being and even reduce blood pressure.

Cry. Again, the male stereotype dictates that we should never shed a tear — at least not when anyone is looking. But nowadays, plenty of men are prepared to cry every now and again. And, if you are in private and you know that you will not be disturbed, open the floodgates. It’s a genuine cathartic release.

Dr. Judith Orloff, who is a psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles with 20 years of clinical experience, writes, “Typically, after crying, our breathing and heart rate decrease, and we enter into a calmer biological and emotional state.”

Laugh. You can’t force it, and it may feel like the last thing on earth that you want to do — but it can help. It counts as exercise and stress relief at the same time. Put on a movie that you know will tickle you, or hang out with your friends for a bit. Don’t hide away in a darkened corner.

The last word

Infertility affects people in a range of different ways — both physically and emotionally. However you are dealing with it, it is important to remember that you are not alone and that there is help available. Keep active, talk, and treat your mind and body well.

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The Advice I Wish I Had Heard In My Sexless Marriage – HuffPost

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Into my late 20s, I found myself in a sexless marriage. After a passionate beginning, I had lost my libido. Gone. No sexual desire or even a fluttering in my genitals.

Feeling broken, I sought out ways to be fixed to look and act like I am supposed to: turned on, sexy, and wanting sex with my loving husband. I went to gynecologists, therapists and a variety of medical doctors who, maybe, hopefully, could point me towards a cure. Having an answer would mean I was fixable, that I could get back to normal.

But the answers I got — the answers of a science solely based on men — were not what I wanted to hear. “It’s normal for women to lose interest in sex in a committed relationship.” “Some pain during sex is normal.” “You’re fine medically and maybe you just don’t have a libido.”

Feeling dejected, I shut down, pulling away from my husband. In this tender place where we both needed each other’s support and love, our mutual silence tore us apart through shame, resentment and fear.

It was not until five years after my divorce — the inevitable next step from having lost the physical and emotional connection that had bound us in the first place — that I learned the truth that liberated my sexuality and paved the way for a fulfilling and nourishing sex life.

The truth that female sexuality runs differently than a man’s. And that is OK.

It was this insight and the advice to embrace it that helped me not only learn to enjoy sex, but also how to deepen sexual and emotional intimacy in a romantic relationship.

Although there are women who face legitimate difficulties with certain aspects of sex (e.g., lubrication, pain, orgasm), more often than not there is nothing wrong with women’s bodies. With the dearth of information pertaining to women’s arousal and its complexity, it’s easy for women to decide, erroneously, that they might be broken.

Female libido is simply different. A woman’s openness and desire for sex is highly dependent on her body’s arousal, or the process of getting turned on.

And that process is responsive (as opposed to spontaneous) to multi-level stimulation (physical, mental, psychological and emotional) as well as to the level of safety she feels around not being obligated to do something against her desire. When a woman is stimulated in the way that feels good to her and is on her terms (e.g., where she feels safe that her body, emotions and speed will be honored) and when she is paid attention to in a loving and caring way, she can become aroused. When she becomes aroused, her desire for sex emerges.

Her arousal is also non-linear. It’s undulating and wavering. It’s OK to have down times. Like a wave cresting then falling and building itself back up again, her arousal’s ups and downs are not signs of her brokenness, but of her body’s cyclical nature. It’s OK to experience a wide range of emotions during sex — from sadness and anguish to erotic bliss. In the end, her arousal has the potential to go high and long, if allowed to go at its natural pace.

When a woman honors her arousal process, it creates a virtuous cycle: When she feels safe to enjoy the stimulation and gets filled up on it, she becomes aroused. At which point, her desire emerges and becomes spontaneous as she becomes wanting, willing — and physically able — to share it with her partner. Her body wants sex, and fueled by desire, she is able to let herself go into deeper play, engagement and surrender (and orgasm) with her partner.

As a sex coach who works with women and couples around female sexual desire, I also see the vicious cycle play out in my clients.

It’s almost predictable: Pressured to meet her male partner’s arousal curve, the woman goes into penetration sex before she is fully aroused and she ends up not enjoying it, she often doesn’t speak up or is not met in her requests and she grows resentful; she wants less of any kind of sexual stimulation, she doesn’t speak up in fear of hurting her partner’s feelings but withdraws nevertheless; he starts demanding more sex or ends up withdrawing in his own shame. As the disconnect grows, the trust and the connection diminishes between the couple, further reducing her desire for sex and often increasing his demands.

This vicious cycle poisons the relationship with shame, fear and lack of trust, undercutting the intimacy and care the couple deeply need to connect sexually.

This pattern can be interrupted when couples understand the differences in sexual arousal and learn to approach these differences with curiosity, compassion and opportunity — not only to meet each other’s needs, but to expand what’s possible in sex with more play, nourishment and connection that her higher arousal brings about.

One couple I worked with, a man and a woman in their early 40s, struggled with mismatched libidos and finger pointing. She accused him of being obsessed with sex. He accused her of not wanting him at all. That’s is hardly the case today. In understanding and working with their different arousal patterns, they learned to expand her arousal and how to ride the waves of the experience. To this day, she prefers sex in the mornings almost every day.

This is the advice that I wished I’d known when I was married. Understanding my own arousal and its needs reframed all the times I felt guilty about needing time for my body to become aroused or broken not being able to reach orgasm (which I never could in my marriage). It helped me see how asking for slower touch was my way to attune to what my body needed and activate the senses. It explained why I wasn’t just turned on in my relationship.

It helped me see how I didn’t know how to come forward vulnerably and ask my husband for what I needed — building intimacy in the process — and instead I pulled away and went silent.

It explained why sex was painful for me, and how I allowed penetration before my body was ready (and before the cervix tilts upward as the vagina and uterus become engorged and push it up). It explained why I didn’t enjoy sexual touch right off the bat (sexual touch for women becomes pleasurable as arousal rises). And it helped me access self-compassion for all those times I felt broken and inadequate and retreated in shame.

Most critically, it helped me find what does work for my body and sexuality and access the kind of turn-on that nourishes and fulfills me — feeds sexual connection in my romantic relationship. The turn on that feels energizing and freeing — and deeply nourishing.

What we often see in the movies — a woman’s spontaneous desire to jump into sex — is also what we often experience at the start of a relationship. Neither are fake. What contributes to women’s high sexual desire in the beginning of a relationship is precisely that she is being stimulated by her wooing partner with attention, emotional connection, and goal-less physical touch such as spontaneous kissing, make-outs and cuddles — and that sets off her desire.

It takes the same kind of activities to spark a woman’s sexual desire in a long-term committed relationship: explorative touch that doesn’t obligate her to sex, spontaneous connection, dedicated time alone with each other, and the emotional safety that lets her know that it’s OK to be exactly how she is.

When a woman understands her own body and its arousal and honors it with approval, she can access the magic her body and sex can provide. When a couple can see challenges around sexual desire as an opportunity for discovery, growth and expansion, they can access the deeper intimacy of fulfilling, nourishing and orgasmically-blissful sexual connection.

…………………….

Join my free online live call and Q&A “Understanding Female Libido: What Couples Need to Know to Have Radically Fulfilling Sexon November 15, 2017 at 5pm PST/8pm EST. On this call geared towards women, men and couples, you’ll learn about the female arousal curve, what helps stoke arousal and what kills it, and what women and their partners can do to create more spontaneous sexual desire. Check out various free training videos on my YouTube channel.

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The Skills Challenge: How Four of the World's Best Workplaces Prepare Their Teams for the Future – Fortune

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Business challenges can vary by region, but one stands out the world over: The need to prepare the workforce for the future.

When PwC released its 20th CEO survey this year, 77% of corporate leaders agreed skills shortages pose a threat to growth. At the same time, more than half said they planned to add new hires who will all need integration into their new roles.

This is where the World’s Best Workplaces—recently announced by Fortune and Great Place to Work—offer some of the most valuable insight. These companies excel at creating agile, adaptive organizations on a global scale. And analysis of their programs found professional development was the top area separating them from their peers. Here are four examples of how the most respected international workplaces maximize the human potential of their employees.

Cisco: Employee development in real time

Cisco’s UK team members can search for mentors, job swaps and even long-term job rotations to expand their skills using an online Stretch Assignment Marketplace. The app, though, isn’t what makes professional development novel at this Best Workplace. Rather, it’s one part of a culture of continuous learning and development.

Cisco no longer conducts rated annual reviews, replacing them instead with regular conversations focused on performance, career direction, personal strengths and alignment with the wider team. Every quarter, groups of managers run through skills gaps, potential promotions and compensation decisions informed by the topics they discuss regularly with their staff members.

“The extent to which Cisco helps to develop their employees, not just with career development but with personal development, is outstanding,” said one team member. “So much investment goes into supporting and helping individuals develop as people and help their employees maximize their capability.’

Lessons from retraining 100,000 at DHL

Following the global financial crisis, a reorganization and the hiring of a new CEO, DHL undertook a massive training program to reengage its people and refocus them on the company’s customer service. By late 2011, after only 18 months, all of its 100,000-plus employees underwent a series of coursework that remains new team members’ introduction to the company.

The German logistics giant flies new hires to its air hub in Kentucky for interactive courses on the fundamentals of international shipping, the organization’s history and its culture, as well as job-specific training. For managers, this focuses heavily on transparent communication, feedback and clear goal setting.

According to one employee, this investment in professional development continues well afterward: “What makes DHL different, and a great place to work, is its focus on people. Here, we have abundant learning and development opportunities, from training, coaching, job attachment, best-practice sharing, to internal promotion. I always receive feedback from my superiors and am inspired to do my best work.”

Hands on at H&M

When H&M sponsored a TV series called Fashion Planet, staff members in the Netherlands styled the actors and served as extras on set. At press events and store openings, the company also taps employees for photography, hair styling and other duties to incorporate their interests into a work experience that extends beyond the shop floor.

Co-workers at various job levels in the UK have traveled to help colleagues set up new markets in India, the Philippines and Australia. Ninety percent of the sales advisers supporting the Australian project advanced into management positions when they returned. In Mexico, an internship program also fills corporate office vacancies with store staff wanting to explore other parts of the business.

“I found my dreams and goals in H&M. Even though every day is busy, everything I do is worth it when it comes to my goals and my future,” said one H&M associate in China.

Hilton: Preparing the next generation

In addition to supporting career development for its current workforce, Hilton Hotels and Resorts begins filling its talent pipeline at the earliest possible opportunity.

Last year, the organization hosted more than 100,000 young people at 1,260 career events worldwide. In Venice, Italy, one hotel brought in hundreds of students from professional high schools, graduates of a local university and trainees from a beauty college. Chefs, the spa manager and team members across the organization offered them general job-application tips while giving candid advice about the range of careers available in hospitality.

Like all of the World’s Best Workplaces, Hilton realizes that investments in employees are investments in its future. These organizations will grow even more competitive as their people explore their talents and adapt their skills to markets changing faster than ever.

Remarked one employee, “Hilton has given me opportunities to develop myself professionally and allows me to share my knowledge with many team members around the world. Hilton stimulates self-development and offers many varied ways of learning that go beyond your actual day-to-day job.”

Kim Peters and Tabitha Russell Wilhelmsen are Executive Vice President and Certification Program Manager, respectively, at Great Place to Work, the longtime research partner for FORTUNE’s annual list of 100 Best Companies to Work For and other Best Workplaces lists, including the World’s Best Workplaces.

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Women amputees on WhatsApp help each other find footwear and figure out marriage – Scroll.in

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When 25-year-old Antara Telang lost her right leg in a freak accident seven years ago and her doctors recommended getting a prosthetic leg, she had many questions. Would she be able to bathe while wearing her prosthetic leg? Would she be able to dance?

Her plastic surgeon who performed her amputation could only give her recovery-related information like how long it might take her to walk again and what brand of prosthetics she could consider using.

Telang, her friends and her family began to look for someone who had undergone an amputation, who might help Telang figure out what everyday life was going to be like. Her mother managed to contact a woman in her mid-thirties who had also had her leg amputated. As Telang recovered in hospital after her surgery, the woman came to meet her and demonstrated how her prosthetic leg worked. Telang remembers that meeting as an important part of her recovery because up till then she had not been able to visualise how her body would look and function without a leg.

“It was comforting to see someone with my condition in the flesh,” she said.

Six weeks after her surgery, Telang went to a prosthetic facility to get a new leg. The process involves a prosthetist, who is essentially a medical technician, examining the patient and then assembling various components of the prosthetic limb as per the patient’s needs. Once the prosthetic is made and fitted, prosthetists and physiotherapists help patients learn to use the limb.

Three months after her accident and one month after her first fitting with a prosthetist, Telang was able to walk with support. However, the prosthetists were unable to answer many of her questions about day-to-day life with a prosthetic limb.

For three years after her accident, Telang continued to go to college and carried on with daily activities thinking that she had to navigate life with disability on her own. Then, she found out about a Whatsapp group whose members are all women amputees.

Social media support

The group was created in 2013 with by Sneha Kale, Darshana Deshmukh and Manasi Joshi, who had never met each other but who had the same prosthetist and connected over Facebook. The group now has 14 members – women from Mumbai, other parts of Maharashtra and Bangalore.

Telang also met Kale through her prosthetist. As Telang had discovered, living with a physical disability in a world that mostly made for able-bodied people can be traumatic. For women, the experience of living with a physical disability is also qualitatively different from that of men. Women with physical disabilities have to deal with complications that may come with marriage, menstruation and pregnancy – problems that prosthetists, who are almost always men, find themselves ill-equipped to handle. Women amputees often look for advice rooted in experience and that is what some of them have found on this WhatsApp group.

Para badminton player Manasi Joshi, who helped start the WhatsApp group for women amputees. (Photo: Manasi Joshi/Facebook)
Para badminton player Manasi Joshi, who helped start the WhatsApp group for women amputees. (Photo: Manasi Joshi/Facebook)

According to Joshi, who has a prosthetic left leg and is an international para-badminton champion, the conversation on the group ranges from basic doubts regarding which brand of prosthetic to use to more tricky ones about how to deal with relationships and marriage. In fact, said Joshi, the group was formed because the three initial members wanted to discuss how they should go about creating profiles on matrimonial websites and whether they should specify that they are disabled.

Navigating relationships

Geeta Salunkhe is from a village in Jalgaon district in Maharashtra and had her leg amputated below the knee when she was fourteen months old. She said that she had grown up without being conscious of her disability. She had been especially fond of playing kho-kho and kabaddi as a child. She finished college with a diploma in computer engineering.

However, when her parents wanted her to get married, she found that offers for arranged marriage did not come her way. It was then that she became acutely aware that she was perceived as being different from other women and that there was still stigma attached to her physical disability.

According to Hema Subhash, founder of One Step At A Time, a support group in Bangalore for both men and women with amputations and orthopaedic disabilities, the idea of a disabled woman finding a partner is one that the world still finds astonishing. Subhash, who is also a member of the WhatsApp group, said that people still think that a woman is supposed to be the caregiver in a relationship. That a disabled woman would require care and demand it from a male partner does not fit popular ideas of relationships. A disabled man may be seen as someone to care for and may find a partner more easily.

Subhash recalled when a taxi driver, upon finding out that she is married, had asked her how much she had to pay her husband’s family.

Even the fiercely independent Salunkhe has been inspired by the women on the WhatsApp group who are confident, financially independent and in relationships.

“When men turn me down now, I am thankful because I know that these men are no good,” she said. “And I turn down the men who are considered prospective grooms for me because I don’t think they are good enough or qualified enough for me.”

The women also help each other build confidence in their bodies. They share stories and photographs of themselves doing things that others in the group may not have considered because of their disabilities – going for a trek, swimming or wearing skirts or shorts which reveal their prosthetic legs.

Shoes and other blues

Subash reveals that a frequent point of discussion on the group is shoes. People using prosthetic legs cannot wear heels or sandals with split-toes. They often tell each when they find suitable and nice-looking footwear.

The women also help each other negotiate uncomfortable situations. Joshi recalled when an autorickshaw driver who she had called for a ride referred to her as langdi – a derogatory word for lame – without realising that she was still on the phone line. She immediately messaged the group asking them what she should do when she saw the driver. With her friends’ encouragement, she confronted him making it clear that it was wrong of him to insult her, even though he denied doing so.

This informal group finds support and positivity to deal with their disabilities by sharing the big and little things.

“Darshana recently got married,” said Joshi. “She had put mehendi on her prosthetic leg and had sent us photos of it. It was quite beautiful.”

“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.

Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology – it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.

That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.

— Ruchir.

Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.

Ruchir, then, migrated to Mumbai for the next phase in his career. It was in the Maximum City that his belief in technology being the great leveller was reinforced. “The city’s infrastructure is a challenging one, Uber helped me navigate the city” says Ruchir. By using the VoiceOver features, Ruchir could call an Uber wherever he was and move around easily. He reached out to Uber to see if together they could spread the message of accessible technology. This partnership resulted in a video that captures the essence of Ruchir’s story: The World in Voices.

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It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.

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