Southern cooking is known for its rich flavors, whether sweet or savory. Many times, those flavors come from some of the most unhealthy ingredients we could possibly consume. But that doesn't mean you have to give up your favorite comfort foods. Check out this list of substitutions that will have you enjoying your favorite guilty pleasures, minus the guilt.
Want to make great gravy or cream-based sauce? Soy milk or rice milk might lack the consistency you need, but almond milk hits it on the nose. For many of us who are lactose intolerant (and ignoring it), southern cooking is often followed by a stomachache. Avoid the pain and sub in this dairy-free milk.
Southern cooking requires butter for almost everything, but again, if lactose is your enemy, butter can do you in after a large portion. Grab some vegan butter for no changes in taste, but better feelings after consumption.
I know you bacon lovers are giving me the evil eye right now, but turkey is a much leaner option than pork. If you'd like to spare yourself some fat and calories, it smells and tastes just as good.
This is a great alternative for fatty dips and dressings. It's traditionally made with tahini, lemon, garlic, chives, and sometimes avocado, which means that you can make your own at home! Feel free to also use it as a substitution for mayo on sandwiches. Check out this quick and easy recipe from Thug Kitchen.
Nuts and Raisins
I would say that this is a great substitute for southern snacks like huge slices of pound cake, but since we both know that we're going to eat the cake anyway, we can at least add some ingredients of substance to our southern sweets. Nuts and raisins are great additions to cookies, with nuts adding healthy fat and raisins giving you a boost of sweetness without the processed sugar.
We know how addictive processed sugar is, yet we're white sugaring our tea like no tomorrow. Let's stop this! You can sweeten your tea, your baked goods, and even your cereal with a little honey, and it's much better for you. There are also processed versions of honey that aren't as good for you, so your best bet is to look for raw honey.
Substitute quinoa the next time you're cooking some delicious rice and (almond milk-based) gravy. Rice isn't a pure protein, but quinoa is, and it will fill you up much faster. Throw in some of your favorite herbs or veggies and you've just recreated a super healthy southern...
For the first time in the 200 year existence of the AME Church, a historic climate resolution was presented pledging to "support climate policies that will protect families, create healthy and safe communities, and build a clean energy future." In conjunction with Blessed Tomorrow, the church released a statement announcing the resolution along with resources, enabling other AME churches to share and inspire other church and community members to do their part to enact climate change.
The resolution came as a result of the AME church's 50th annual conference which brought together nearly 30,000 AME clergy and community members. President of AME Church's Council of Bishops, John White said, “We believe it is our duty to commit to taking action and promoting solutions that will help make our families and communities healthier and stronger.”
Finding solutions is key to combating the serious damage associated with climate change and its effects on the health of black people globally. With blacks consistently listed as most at risk for chronic respiratory illnesses and leading the statistics of suffering from lung cancer, more than any other demographic, dangerous emissions have already proven to have a detrimental effect on the health and well-being of our people. As Bishop White put it, “damage to our climate puts the health of children, elderly, and those with chronic illnesses at greater risk and disproportionately impacts African Americans.”
The AME Church's mission of ministering to all people serves as the driving force behind the new climate change initiative.
AME Bishop Vashti McKenzie said, “Climate is not just our issue; it’s everybody’s issue.”
As long as climate change goes unaddressed, it will continue to plague our communities and have ravaging effects on the sustainability of life for future generations. The shift towards clean, safe energy is one that we all should be more proactive about. Thanks to the historic move from the AME church, we can assume that we are headed in a better direction towards making that happen.
Download the AME Church Climate Resolution to find out ways to make climate change a priority in your life and help make the world better for all of us.
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It won't give you the ability to breath fire, but dragon fruit will remind you of some rare and mythical fruit from a fairytale about a goddess who outwits her evil adversary. It's also my new favorite superfood because of the cool benefits that its peculiar frame packs.
The blossoming of this lurid creature is a tale of adventure and allure all its own. Jay Ruskey, dragon fruit cultivator and owner of Good Land Organics describes the fruit as a "night-blooming cactus that likes to climb up the stalks of trees, then stick its branches out while being supported by its host. The emergence, from the bud to flower to fruit, is an extremely rapid process, about 40 days."
Once the flower is pollinated, blooms, base swells and the petals eventually dry up, the fruit appears. It grows until it turns a bright pink or yellow color. Then it's finally ready to pick.
The taste is like a delicious combination of kiwi, pear and strawberry with a hint of melon. It has a great texture to add to smoothies, cocktails and acai bowls.
Some health benefits of dragon fruit:
1. Packed with antioxidants: Betalains, Hydroxycinnamates and Flavonoids. These help to protect lipoprotein from becoming oxidized or damaged, promote anti-cancer activity, and are linked to better brain health and a reduced risk of heart disease.
2. It’s one of the most phytonutrient-dense fruits around, which helps fight disease.
3. Supports weight loss, the body's digestive system and anti-aging.
4. One dragon fruit has all the daily fiber you need.
5. Aids in eliminating acne and helps treat sunburned skin.
What's your favorite superfood? Let us know in the comments below!
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I think #BlackGirlMagic in the kitchen needs a moment of its own. It's nothing short of amazing how these women can transform simple ingredients from the earth — well, mostly — and create beautifully-crafted, decadent dishes. From vegan to flexitarian, these black women can be found cooking up a storm and sharing their masterpieces for us to drool over and replicate with hopes of similar success.
Here are 11 black women chefs to follow:
1. Chef Lauren Von Der Pool
Who's hungry #NEWORLEANS? #AvocadoToast anyone?
A photo posted by I AM Chef Lauren Von Der Pool (@queenofgreen) on Jun 30, 2016 at 7:29am PDT
2. Chef Latham Thomas
Glow Foods- Rooftop Garden Greens and edible flowers and herbs. Straight out of Soho, NYC. Just picked these and have a few pounds more, wrapped in cloths in the fridge. It's growing so abundantly. So glad I don't have to go to the Farmer's Market and pay $12 for a 1/4 pound of greens and lettuces. We are so blessed to stay hooked up all summer with such a variety. I will be making seasoning salts, marinades, pickled veggies and special summer dishes and sharing tips on green kitchen and the summer- stay tuned. #glowfoods #summergreens #vegan #salad #edibleflowers #herbs #greens
A photo posted by Latham Thomas (@glowmaven) on Jun 1, 2016 at 11:17am PDT
3. Chef Ahki
Thanks to everyone who joined me on Live stream and periscope yesterday for Sunday dinner👍🏼
A photo posted by Chef Ahki (@chefahki) on Mar 21, 2016 at 11:31am PDT
4. Chef Carla Hall
I'm gonna get my daily dose of oatmeal in one way or another. This is my I'm-running-out-the-door-but-I-can-still-eat- well version. #quakerflats #RefreshAndRenew #breakfast #snack
A photo posted by Carla Hall (@carlaphall) on May 10, 2016 at 6:29pm PDT
5. Chef Yoli Ouiya
Tiny cleansing salad: cucumber, red pepper, red cabbage, carrots, celery, water chestnuts, sunflower seeds, collards. #WellthyHome #WHHamptons ....... #Montauk #Hamptons #salad #foodie #foodgram #travel #cleaneating #food #travelgram #healthyeating #nofilter
A photo posted by Yoli Ouiya (@yoliouiya) on Aug 1, 2015 at 2:21pm PDT
6. Chef Dee
Let's call it "the lunch special" Lemon Grass glazed Chicken with brown Jasmine rice and stir fry Veg #ijustcantstopchefingitup
A photo posted by Chef_of_the_year🍴🔪#Zphi (@chefdee305) on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:19am PST
7. Chef Kay Kay
Teriyaki Salmon #postworkoutmeal
A photo posted by Kayla Greer (@chefkaykay) on Jun 28, 2016 at 8:30pm PDT
8. Chef Angela
#Buttermilk brines are the way and the light. Juicy, tender, seasoned all the way through. You have probably tried buttermilk for fried #chicken, now try it for #bbqchicken! 🔥🔥🔥 #kitchenista #Chicken #grilled #smoked #bbq #bbqsauce #marinade #brine
A photo posted by The Kitchenista Diaries (@thekitchenista) on Jul 5, 2016 at 7:38pm PDT
9. Chef Alisa Reynolds
Return of the Mac @my2centsla
A photo posted by My2Cents (@my2centsla) on Jun 9, 2014 at 3:55pm PDT
10. Chef Q
I ask for #strength and #God gave me difficulties to make me strong. I asked for #Wisdom and God gave me problems to solve. I asked for #Prosperity and God gave me a #Brain and #Brawn to work. I asked for #Courage and God gave me #Danger to #Overcome. I asked for #Love and God gave me #Troubled people to #Help. I asked for #Favors and God gave me #Opportunities I asked for #Forgiveness and He did. I asked Him to shine thru me and He is. #CantYouSeeIt #KeepWatching #Oprah #HaveOne #Cajun #Shrimp #DevilEggs #TBT #Chefism #TBCE #1000plate #ChefLife #Mayweather #Chef #BeYou
A photo posted by CHEF Q (@chefism) on Jun 30, 2016 at 9:46pm PDT
11. Chef Sunny Anderson
Sunny's Easy Braised Tomato Chicken and Spinach with Fettuccine. #sunnyrecipeyo look it up xo. One Pan Plan! Pasta served in a pie pan. Sue me.
A photo posted by Sunny Anderson (@sunnyanderson) on Feb 25, 2015 at 11:23am PST
Who are your favorite chefs to follow? Please share in the comments below!
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Trap music is a saga of a gritty, motivational truth. Although some may listen to Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka, (early) T.I., 2 Chainz, Future, Migos or Jeezy for the soulful synths, snares, 808s, and country grammar, others listen for the tales of struggle to triumph.
While mainstream trap music might be detached from its roots having become new wave EDM, bona fide trap music still manages to be celebrated, in social settings where all can rap along, and even at the most intimate and spiritual of yoga sessions. Undoubtedly, music can (and does, from my own recollection) shape the way we experience moments, make memories or aspire to be our highest selves.
Such was the case when I found myself rapping to lyrics I had recited many times before and nodding my head to beats that accompanied the pound of the bass, which made the floor vibrate from under me. When I first took Brandon Copeland's Trap Yoga class last summer, I knew I was going to get more than I had signed up for. I sat in the perfect spot next to a fan, which I soon learned was a heater. And by the end of the class I was dripping in sweat and wondering if I could find his playlist somewhere on Soundcloud.
Since then, the 26-year-old yoga enthusiast and now owner of Khepera Wellness Yoga studio, Brandon Copeland, has continued teaching yoga to both beginners and vets, prescribing trap for wellness and healing. I sat down with Copeland to discuss his approach to yoga, building the black community and his response to the killings of unarmed black men by police officers.
Blavity: What is Trap Yoga?
Brandon Copeland: Trap Yoga is a power yoga class held at my studio, Khepera Wellness, in Washington D.C. that incorporates trap music with movement. I came up with the idea from my own practice and love for all things trap music. I realized that when I was not in the studios around the city which mostly played Zen music or mainstream by white artists or Asian [artists], I listened to my favorite music — hip-hop and rap. I found that the intense work that I was doing on the mat in my particular style of yoga, 'Rocket,' was best inspired by the music hustlers I listen to. Being an ATLien, trap music was naturally the motivation I used. When I mentioned the #TrapYoga classes on my Instagram people responded so powerfully that I had to create the experience for everyone.
B: How does trap music inspire your practice?
BC: Trap music has always helped me work harder. There is something about the way that the music is produced that draws out the best of me. I like how artists connect with the soul of the listener. Aspirations, hard work, and the problems of life are the content that fills dope, heavy beats. When I hear trap music, I want to be better, do better. I feel the same way on the mat. I am consistently using what I already have to get what I need and have to recognize that my circumstances do not determine the outcome of my life. The journey is the destination in trap music and in yoga, especially in power yoga. Of course we all want a million dollars and the perfect handstand. Hustlers and yogis realize that the journey to those things teaches you much more about yourself than gaining them ever will.
B: How did your practice become your full-time profession?
BC: I couldn’t stop teaching. I started out skeptically, taking one class off of the suggestion of my son’s mother. After taking Ashtanga yoga I was hooked. I kept taking classes and eventually was volunteering at the studio, checking people in, cleaning the space, learning the trade. I was able to turn that ‘internship’ into attending the studio, Yoga District: Bloomingdale, teacher training. After I finished the training in 2012, I was nervous about not being up to par and limited my classes to teaching on Howard’s campus to friends in dorms, on the Yard, basically anywhere a mat could unfold. After about a year, I began teaching in studios around the area and really growing into who I am, on and off the mat. I felt the gaping hole of being the only black person in most classes and not feeling blackness as a major part of the studio life. I became determined to change the scene and attract people like me that would love the practice AND the sense community that black people vibrate highest in.
B: You’re also a full-time dad. How important is it that you pass your practice on to your son?
BC: It’s of the utmost importance to me to pass on the effects of wellness practice to my son. More so than just being a yogi, I want him to understand that his happiness, clarity and well-being are his highest priorities. Yoga is just a tool that I use to bring peace to my life. I know that it is a powerful tool that does the same for many people but we all are different. Some people feel the same feeling of connection to life through running or knitting or making music or whatever. I use yoga to show him physically that he can strengthen, heal and calm himself. How he chooses to do that as he grows, through yoga or capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian martial art he practices) is up to him. I just want him to be happy and to know how to allow happiness to flow from the light he shares with the world, however he chooses to share it. Actually, I hope that he learns meditation from me and makes that a major part of his life. Being able to meditate proficiently is the reason we practice yoga in the first place.
B: How important is community to you?
BC: Community is life. The people around you inspire you and actually give you life. Being a part of the black community contributes to how I view many things. Influencing the black community determines what kinds of moves and decisions I make with my business. It is a dream of mine to inspire other black people to do wellness practices together on a mainstream level. I want yoga to be a “black family thing” and not just a “white girl thing,” like I often hear from brothers and sisters who have not taken the practice themselves. I could have very easily kept my little mat and weird sounding poses (ArdhaBaddhaPadmaPaschimottanasa) to myself. It was not very cool to be doing yoga on the Yard at Howard when I first started. My love for my community compelled me to share the magic of yoga with my peers, despite the jeers and stares and occasional comments. Community is how we have survived and thrived as a people. I can’t help but recognize: I am because we are.
B: That said: What has your response been to the police brutality that's resulted in the most recent murders of innocent black men within our communities?
BC: I'm doing a few classes at my studio in response to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, along with the countless deaths we've seen. Trauma relief. I'd like for people to understand that yoga is used to heal and not a result of being healed.
B: How did you come up with the concept for Khepera Wellness Yoga Studio?
BC: I came up with Khepera Wellness in my Egyptian Philosophy class at Howard. The concept of Khepera is spontaneous evolution. I was sitting in class studying the Egyptian creation story and realized that, like all of the Egyptian concepts regarding nature and Ma’at, it was a story as much about me as the deities that represent different ideas. Khepera is the anthropomorphized concept of evolution. Khepera helped Ra, the sun god, produce himself from Nun or chaos as a form of pure energy. When I read the story, I felt a connection with my yoga practice. When I first began to practice, I was freaking out about the birth of my son. I was a junior at Howard then and felt completely hopeless and lost before I discovered yoga. From that chaos in my life I became a strong and dedicated father. I thought of all of the Black people faced with chaos every day that had not discovered yoga or wellness and recognized that we all have that pure energy within us. I wanted to bring that beautiful light out of my beautiful people and the concept of Khepera represented yoga’s role in my life doing just that: Helping me shine brighter. I named the studio Khepera Wellness because I believe that returning to the source in your own life is the best way to produce your best self. We do that in our classes and do our best to live by the mantra: Evolve Your Self.
B: What yoga mantra do you live by?
BC: “All is coming.” The whole statement is “Practice and all is coming,” but I live by the last 3 words. It reminds me that God and life are bigger than me. It reminds me to live fearlessly and to know that at some point, my connection with existence, God, or All is becoming clearer and clearer.
B: What can people expect from you in the near future?
BC: MORE TRAP YOGA. I will be offering my online courses in the fall and am working on a few different series and workshops. I’ll be doing a lot of programming with schools in the Washington D.C. area and will be working with more athletes in the coming months. I am in the process of organizing Trap Yoga brunches and other social events that help weld the power of yoga with the power of the black experience. You can always keep up with me, holla at me, or sign up for classes (best option) by visiting our website, www.kheperawellness.com or following @BrandoFlows (personal) and @KheperaWellness (business) on our Instagram and Facebook. I am always open for ideas and partnerships that help spread our message and offer opportunities for more black people to get on the yoga mat.
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Summer is clearly here (and not going anywhere for a while). Temperatures are steadily rising, your trips offshore have been planned and paid for, and Drake's album is the current soundtrack to your life.
This season is when things come into fruition. The word solstice means "standing of the sun," and it represents coming into completeness. During summer, all living things become abundant and beautiful, and we're reminded that nature is our first home, our sustenance.If you're thrilled by the longer days and shorter nights, now is your time to take full advantage.
Although pool parties, "bottomless mimosa" brunches and music festivals are a must, they can do a number on our physical and spiritual health. It's important not to forget to take care of ourselves even when we're young and just enjoying life. Take advantage of the daylight hours, but don't forget to charge up with these counterbalancing activities.
A bonfire is a great opportunity to meet up with friends or spend a quiet moment with yourself. A fire can represent your burning desire to fulfill your purpose and accomplish goals or even offer your protection from unwanted energies. A bonfire will allow you to soak up the sun all day and give the best view of the moon at night. Take this time to embrace the seasonal changes that occur in all aspects of life.
Grounding (walking barefoot in nature) during warm summer days can be very rewarding. Grounding has several health benefits, and being in tuned mentally, physically and spiritually can promote creativity and inner peace. All the sunshine will increase your daily dose of vitamin D.
There's no better time to perform a sun salutation than during the summer months. There's power in the poses. Learning different ways to move and bend your body can represent your determination to learn and maneuver through life with perseverance. Take a yoga class to revitalize. Summer is a great time to commit to increasing quality of life, and yoga promotes balance and evolution.
Focus on your self-development
Now is a good time to start a new habit or to reassess the areas that you need to work on. Life is just a series of obstacles — but really they're opportunities — to affirm continuous learning and growth.
Refresh your wardrobe
It's hot, and summer colors to live by are sun-kissed yellows and fiery reds. Repurpose worn-out jeans and old sweaters. Take this opportunity to purge your closet of unwanted items to make room for new things. Seasonal cleaning is good for decluttering your mind and your life, and it even relieves stress.
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Yoga isn't this new and trendy thing to me. It was an elective I picked up in community college. I didn't expect to be good at it. I didn't expect to feel less fatigue as a result. I didn't do it to get in shape or to be more flexible. I didn't read books about the Kemetic backstory of the practice or do the research to learn who Paramahansa Yogananda was.
It started out as a class to get me one semester elective closer to transferring to a 4-year school. But it turned into three semesters and later became both the practice I live by and my method of self-transformation. Since I began learning about and practicing different styles of yoga I've been introduced to mantras.
What is a mantra?
Simply put, a mantra is a sacred spoken word, utterance or phrase that connects one to awareness and encourages enlightenment. Mantras are believed to be spiritually transformative and promote clear thinking and deep meditation.
It was Nikola Tesla that said, "If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration." To that end, imagine how impactful intention is. When you amplify that intention with words and conviction, you alter your reality.
What is a mantra used for?
According to the Yoga Journal, a mantra is used in both physical and spiritual realms, having meaningful functions that "instill within the reciter a particular spiritual doctrine and to serve as a vehicle for meditation."
Here are seven mantras to know:
Meaning: The sound of the universe. It's the first, original vibration, representing the birth, death and re-birth process.
According to MindBodyGreen, the modern adaptation of chanting the sound Om has been proven to bring us into harmonic resonance with the universe. (Om vibrates at 432 Hertz, a natural musical pitch, as opposed to 440 Hertz, the frequency of most modern music.)
2. Sat Nam
Meaning: True name. It's a call to your higher self.
This mantra strengthens the divine consciousness in everyone. It's used as a greeting as well as the mantra for Kundalini Yoga exercises. To inhale is to breathe in Sat, or truth, and to exhale Nam, or your true name, self.
3. Aad Guray Nameh,
Jugaad Guray Nameh,
Sat Guray Nameh,
Siri Guru Dav-vay Nameh
Meaning: I bow to the primal Source of Creation,
I bow to the truth that has existed throughout the ages,
I bow to True Wisdom,
I bow to the Great Divine Wisdom
This mantra is for guidance and protection. Yogi Bhajan taught that this mantra should always be chanted three times in a row.
Meaning: Creative infinity, a name of God.
I just recently learned this mantra. It's used to generate and cultivate creative energy. It's the mantra of prosperity. It's great if you need encouraging energy for new beginnings, developing new habits or taking on new projects. It's the easiest way to add richness to your life.
5. Ong Namo
Guru Dev Namo
Meaning: I call upon the Divine Wisdom,
I call upon the divine teacher that is within.
Yogi Bhajan taught this ancient yogic mantra as a tool to relate instantly to the divine teacher within. It is most often used to tune in before Kundalini Yoga classes, to center us and to spiritually guide both the teacher and the students during the class.
Meaning: Sustainer, Liberator, Enlgihtener, Infinite, Destroyer, Creator, Nameless, Desireless
This mantra is used to break through deep-seated blocks. According to Yogi Bhajan, it helps to "cleanse the subconscious mind" and "it balances the hemispheres of the brain, bringing compassion and patience to the one who meditates on it."
7. Om Mani Padme Hum
Meaning: It's kind of hard to put into words but its meaning is profound.
These six syllables help to bring the person who recites them into pure understanding.
In a lecture given by His Holiness The Dalai Lama of Tibet at the Kalmuck Mongolian Buddhist Center in New Jersey, he says "in dependence on the practice which is in indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech and mind into the pure body, speech and mind of a Buddha." and in Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says, “So in this way recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom. The path of these six perfections is the path walked by all the Buddhas of the three times. What could then be more meaningful than to say the mantra and accomplish the six perfections?”
It's said you should not seek Buddhahood outside of yourself; the substances for the achievement of Buddhahood are within. Let your life mantra mirror the one within.
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Meditation is so many things. It's being present, it's cultivating creativity, it's stillness, it's peace, it's pure and blissful.
Solitude is often freeing, a luxury that many take for granted. There is so much power in silencing the outside world. Focusing inward allows you to find peace and piece of mind. That said, I find myself in the most quiet corners of my home. There, I read, reflect, lift up my prayers and quiet the chatter long enough to reach a place where there are no worries, because there are no thoughts.
In the beginning, when I was just learning how to set my intentions and after (when I do my best brainstorming), I'd find myself distracted searching through YouTube and Spotify. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that guided meditations narrated by some guy speaking in an English accent wouldn't do. I found "soothing soundscapes" comparable to imitation crab: It was just not the same thing. Underwhelmed and unenthused, I compiled a list of my own.
Before retreating into a place of quietude, I like to begin with a calming and relaxing meditative mix and finish with the same mix, a sort of opening and closing routine. This guided playlist, I hope, lifts your spirit effortlessly and helps you to stay present, in the moment and open.
What songs do you use for your meditation mix? Let me know in the comments below!
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Dr. Foyekemi Ikyaator likes to make things happen. The 32-year-old saw her community in need, and decided to jump into action. Earlier this year, she and her husband opened the Life Savers Emergency Room to aid Houston's underserved community.
The 24-hour facility is independent of a hospital, but still provides quality medical care. Its biggest selling point is the no-wait policy. On average, patients will receive treatment within 5 minutes of checking in, according to their website.
Excessive wait times is one of the main reasons Dr. Ikyaator opened Life Savers.
“I worked in a few ERs in Houston and often I’d get to work and there are 15-20 patients in the waiting room waiting on me,” Ikyaator told KUT News' podcast. “There are patients in the ER waiting to be admitted. There are patients who are admitted and can’t get a bed upstairs, so they’re taking up space.”
Life Savers Emergency Room comes with its own a pharmacy, radiology equipment, and onsite laboratory. The facility eliminates the hassle, so doctors can focus on what really matters – our health.
For more info on Life Savers Emergency Room, visit their website.
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As you get older, you start to care less about how many friends you have and more about the quality of the people you keep in your circle. Inevitably, you reach a point when it's necessary to excommunicate yourself from a certain person or group that doesn't align with the vision that you have for your life or the person you aspire to be.
But no break-up is an easy break-up, even friendships.
I have yet to fully comprehend how to go about this, as I am still in the process of unlearning old habits and cultivating new ones. In doing so, I've been faced with the very ugly truth about how I've handled situations like these in the past. I've made the mistake of 1) trying to repair the friendship by compromising myself and my own happiness just off the strength of history, 2) completely invalidating my own feelings in the process, while 3) avoiding the problem completely. This only led to miscommunication on both ends, which then led to a brutally awkward silence. Too much silence leaves room for interpretation and mixed feelings, and too much of that can cause resentment as time goes on.
No matter how long I've known a person, the fact is there are only three things that are constant: Time, change and love. With respect for all three, it's important to acknowledge change when it happens and at least try to understand that with time things change with or without our permission. It can be a hard pill to swallow and it might take some time going down. If you love yourself and the person (or people) involved you owe it to yourself to be honest about how you feel. To that end, I realized I needed to pay more attention to how my friendships actually made me feel and what they're supposed to feel like.
This is how I managed to eliminate unreliable, confrontational friends and unbalanced relationships the healthy way:
Acknowledge when you've done all that you can do
This might be the hardest stage because most of us may never get to this point. In fact, it may take a very long time to reach this point. If you're like me, you feel like there's always something that can be done. There's something that can be said, a gesture or remedy to cure whatever it is plaguing your perfectly healthy friendship. Surely friendships, like people, catch the flu and simply need an extra dose of care and attention. There's nothing that a girl's night out, shopping date or movie night and take-out can't fix, right? Wrong. When you feel like you're forcing it, trust me, you are. At that point you really need to reevaluate what energy you're putting out and what's being reciprocated.
Voice how you feel
Don't go ghost on your friend and then switch up and begin acting like everything is good when you guys do occasionally speak. That's the easiest way to ruin a great friendship. And if you have mutual friends or are in group settings often, it makes things awkward for everyone. Calmly and carefully state exactly how you feel and why you feel that way. (And if your friend fails to see where you're coming from or refuses to accept your point of view, that's ok. This process is for you!)
Listen and accept
To be honest, direct and unfiltered honesty might not always the received well when emotions are involved. If you're willing to dish it out, be ready to receive it. Consider your friend's side and what they might be feeling. Be prepared to listen as much, if not more, when it's your friend's turn to talk. This is your best opportunity to learn why this friendship no longer serves you and might lead to many of the answers you need for your own closure.
Simply say that you are no longer interested in being friends
It's hardly simple, but it's a part of being an adult. This doesn't mean that the two of you can't be cordial and speak when you see each other. In fact, this might be the best thing you can do for your friend and yourself. Allowing people to be who they truly are without judgement is a crucial part of surrounding yourself with like-minded people. When you keep in mind where you want to go in life and can identify what it takes to get there, you better understand why everyone can't go along for the ride. There should be no misplaced guilt. Friendships have life cycles. You could tell your friend that you no longer feel like the two of you share similar interests or that you might be in two different places in your lives.
I'm a strong believer in allowing life to unfold before you, and that with good intention things work themselves out. Always be committed to being the best version of yourself without apology. That requires letting things — and people — go. If nothing else, remember: It worked out for Beyoncé.
How have you ended unhealthy friendships in the past? Let us know how in the comments below!
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As someone who loves love, I can understand how and why rebound relationships work for some. But I have never been the rebound or the rebounding party in any type of 'situationship.' I know that some people are seemingly unfazed by one relationship and effortlessly blossom in the next. I can't. It takes me quite a while to get into a relationship and just as long to get over it.
According to Psychology Today, a rebound relationship is “a relationship that is initiated shortly after a romantic breakup — before the feelings about the former relationship have been resolved.” And although "studies indicate that while some rebound relationships can be successful," it's also believed that others can cause pain to all parties involved.
I get it. There are instances when old friendships outgrow new lovers, new relationships outlive strained lovers and, with time, there's the possibility you could wake up next to someone you find to be a complete stranger all of a sudden.
To argue that your happiness should come second to another person's would be doing yourself a disservice. You can't be the mascot for happiness and forget you, too, need love and affection. Moreover, allowing your happiness to be contingent upon a "significant other's" actions is all the more reason to understand when you're truly ready for a relationship or just looking to avoid loneliness (or worse, your own issues.)
Which is why adopting a puppy is probably better than getting into a rebound relationship. There are so many health benefits that come with caring for an animal, and it'll probably add value to your life in ways you never even thought.
Here's why you're better off getting the puppy (if you're ready, willing and able):
Love and affection
They love you to death, literally. They're loyal, affectionate and are at the door waiting to welcome you home— no matter what kind of day you've had. Puppies make you feel wanted. They provide consistency. You don't have to demand that they have these qualities because it's just in their DNA. You don't have to teach them how to love you or how to be there for you when you need them.
Because you are the world to them they depend on you for food, shelter and companionship. That's a lot of responsibility, but that sense of being needed can be comforting. It allows you to care for something — and it's needs — aside from your own. And you can expect to be tested. Dogs have personalities, too! They might not listen, do what they want to do or piss you off by breaking house rules. But dealing with them appropriately, how you respond to those things, is also a part of taking responsibility. Having a pet can teach you to be patient, mindful and considerate.
Those who have pets are more likely to be motivated to exercise. The need to take care of your pup by taking them out for a walk, jog or run encourages you to lead a healthier lifestyle. And even if working out isn't your thing, and you'd rather take your pup to the dog park to play with other pups, that's fine, too. Gain 10 pounds and see if your dog cares. Probably not. A few pounds gained, a few pounds lost, your pup will love you either way.
Other health benefits
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets. The findings showed that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They're more likely to be less stressed and easily recover from sickness faster that non-pet owners. Can you say that about any of your exes?
When you get to scolding your dog about something they did wrong, he's not going to yell back. He'll just look at you with the "are you finished or are you done" face and walk away. And when you realize you ought to laugh at yourself for yelling at your dog when it wasn't that serious, you'll indirectly learn to control your emotions. Because sometimes we all get all bent out of shape trying to convince others that their actions upset us, only to later come to the conclusion that scolding and yelling resolves nothing and isn't a constructive way to communicate.
When you just need someone to be there and listen, no judgement, that's what a puppy can give you. They won't pretend to listen or flat out ignore you.
Helpful for meeting new people
Having a doggie improves your social skills. When you take your dog to the park, to outdoor cafés or with you to run errands, you can be sure you'll be paid a compliment or two. Who knows, a simple compliment could lead you to someone who's datable.
Avoid hurting someone else in the process
Most importantly, getting a puppy and not jumping into a new relationship will keep you from hurting someone else in the process. Great friends make good rebounds, but once that rebound relationship has run its course you've also lost yourself a really close friend. And if they were someone who came into your life and instantaneously became your rebound partner, congratulations! You've probably come to the realization you didn't actually like this person, and instead you we're lonely, comfortable jumping from one emotional attachment to the next.
I'm not saying that rebound relationships don't serve a purpose, I'm simply saying there are alternatives to jumping out of one relationship and into another. There are many ways to deal with unloading your emotional baggage that don't include getting other people involved or jeopardizing your integrity.
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Everything about summer makes you want to retreat to a tropical oasis with sun, sand, palm trees and plenty of fresh and exotic fruits. If you're sick of snacking on the same things, give a fresh papaya a try. Bright and beautiful in color, papaya should smell subtly sweet and offer a faint floral aroma (if you know how to pick them). And the taste? Comparable to a fig and melon fusion.
Moreover, papaya has quite a bit of health benefits with high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, cardiovascular health benefits, blood strengthening and anti-inflammatory properties, just to name a few.
Here are several ways to put a papaya spin on your favorite warm-weather snacks.
Papaya Spring Rolls
Papaya and Mango Salsa
Roasted Papaya with Brown Sugar
Papaya and Coconut Sorbet
What's your favorite tropical fruit? Let us know in the comments below.
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