Daily Inspiration: Humans of New York

Humans of New York is a blog that displays the unique stories of people from all walks of life. Brandon Stanton, the creator, gets people to open up and divulge a page of their autobiographies.

In this episode a woman talks about how she pushed herself to stand out in a traditional family where girls were not celebrated. In doing so, she takes pride in her achievements and ability to live outside the box.

For more episodes visit Humans of New York Facebook.

Kansas Offers Opportunity For Student Loan Repayment

Student loan debt is no stranger to higher education seekers. As the demand for education has increased over the years, so has the price; leaving millions of people in debt and scrambling to make ends meet. According to the Pew Research Center, Americans owed more than $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.

These loans are great avenues for people to get a degree, that simply can’t afford it. The government has found ways to make repayment of federal loans more manageable through income driven repayment plans and public service forgiveness. Private loans operate under the specific terms of the lender. If you fall under hard times with repayment some options include: refinancing, forbearance and bankruptcy.

Kansas is offering another repayment option. The Kansas Department of Commerce is inviting young people to find a better solution to their debt problems with the Rural Opportunity Zones program.

There’s something special about life in rural Kansas. Something authentic and wholesome. Something that makes it the ideal place to live, work and raise a family. And thanks to the new Rural Opportunity Zones program, there’s never been a better time than now to make rural Kansas your new home. If you’re looking for lower cost of living and better quality of life, Kansas is your best choice.

Rural Opportunity Zones are 77 counties that have been authorized to offer one or both of the following financial incentives to new full-time residents:

  • Kansas income tax waivers for up to five years
  • Student loan repayments up to $15,000

In this instance, one hand washes the other. Counties offer a chance to eradicate debt, while bringing new life to areas that have been declining since 2010. Small town life, isn’t necessarily idyllic to those graduating from college but great things can come from unexpected places. Kansas could prove to be an amazing opportunity to gain experience, save money, life comfortably and pay off debt.

To qualify for student loan repayment one must establish residency in a qualified county after July 1, 2011, hold a degree (associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s) and have an outstanding balance. For more information on this program visit Rural Opportunity Zones.


Dealing With It: Trauma

Trauma is a surreal aspect of life that comes in varying degrees. The average person should expect to experience at least one thing that leaves a permanent scar. Radical events such as death, abuse or neglect can change a persons perception of reality.

Surviving the tragedy is a journey within itself. Confusion, resentment, stress and hopelessness are a few emotions that plague the mind and body in the time afterward. The incident must be handled ‘properly’ and within a reasonable amount of time because resurfacing at another point in life is imminent. Post-traumatic stress disorder is the most immediate response to an event and it varies in severity and the length of time it is experienced. Repression and suppression are also common ways to deal with trauma.

Eventually these defense mechanisms fail. When your feelings begin to have a direct impact on your life it is time to put it behind you. Here are some things to keep in mind when beginning your journey:

1.Know That You Are Not Alone

It is easy to believe that you are the only person dealing with this type of situation. That is 100% never the case. There is someone, somewhere who can relate to your issues and has felt the same feelings you have, even in the same order. Go online or get a self help book pertaining to your issue and see what is out there. Do not isolate yourself.

2. Be Honest About Your Feelings

Identifying exactly how you feel is how you start the healing process. Whether you are angry, sad, horrified or completely avoiding the situation; it is important to be able to feel it. Talking about these feelings is the easiest way to figure this out. Finding a trustworthy person to talk to  is essential. This may include a professional or someone in your life that you know will listen without judging.

3. Accept What Has Happened

Denial is dangerous. After being honest about your feelings, acceptance is key. It is almost instinctual to want to protect ourselves from things that are painful. Starting the journey to  finding out why it happened or letting your mind begin to process the events is progressive no matter how painful.

4. Confrontation

Treading carefully with this step is very important. For some, sealing the deal with closure means confronting the person or thing responsible for their pain. If you are going with the confrontation route, know that it will most likely blow the trauma wide open (so be prepared). It is important to remember that the person themselves probably will not provide closure for the event; the confrontation itself can provide closure.

5. Making What You Have Work For You

Depending on the circumstances for your event this may be the beginning to the last step. Some may be able to do all of the above and move on, others are not so lucky. If you are unable to get closure from another person or thing surrounding the event or are still having trouble coping- seek further measures. These are precisely what support groups, counseling and forums are for. Keep working at it and take your time. Leave your heart and mind open to finding new avenues that work for you.

The end goal when dealing with any trauma is to find peace within. It requires a great deal of patience and being honest with yourself and others around you. Allowing yourself to fall into a pit of despair is tolerable but only for a certain amount of time. Get control. It is possible to move forward and to live a fruitful life. When you are armed with the tools to combat these events, progress is undeniable. Trauma does not have to turn your life into a battlefield and it definitely does not have define you.




Perils of the Blame Game

Now that I barely made it through the conquest of adolescence and rattled my way through young adulthood, I’ve settled semi-comfortably into the mid 20’s life. It seems easier to appreciate all the wonderful gifts life has to offer. This recognition only results with the growth from trying to conquer all of life’s sticky situations. Something that seems to have escaped us is the  whole notion- ‘life sucks but suck it up and when you [foil] up. . .be accountable’ concept. In the real world, nobody, likes to admit fault or wrong doing. People more than likely walk around with a permanently pointed finger affixed to inflict blame.

Blame. It’s a word that is bound to have people upset in one sitting or another. What does blame really mean?screenshot 2014-12-06 at 9.27.03 am

When you hear someone use this word in context it is usually associated with a negative connotation. Blaming someone does not automatically condemn the accused of any wrong doing. In fact, when used it’s almost counter intuitive to its definition. Blame in a sentence sort of sounds like: “No one wants to take responsibility for what actually happened so they have used me as a scapegoat.”  People might often associate this personality flaw with millennials, hippies or any other degenerate category. It is easier if you don’t think of this as a type of person but the kind of person that the accountability lesson may miss all together.

The quality of your life is dependent on this singular choice that you make. The victim, in this respect has an affliction with the world; life seems to just be happening without any control over their circumstances. This is certainly a phase that every individual experiences. That sense of hopelessness is a part of conditioning yourself on how to handle the challenges you bring upon yourself or those that are actually out of your control. The common thought is that after you have been through enough situations and successfully maneuvered your way through the strife, the load becomes easier. After all, life never stops ‘happening’. But with age- responsibilities grow, mistakes have larger consequences and life is generally more unforgiving.

This is where the victim becomes stagnant. Those who peg themselves victims are settling for a life of disservice. The functionality of this person does not extend beyond the problems that have surfaced and eventually they compound one another. Incessant blame can lead to guilt, depression or something even more harmful- a disassociated state. When the blame game mentality persists with age, your youth can no longer save you from the inability to connect adult decisions.

This inability can rob you of being able to enjoy the simple, beautiful things that make life worth living. You lose the adventure of waking up and wandering into the unknown. You lose the excitement of the surprises and the general will to live to fight another day. Worst of all,  you deteriorate the relationships you have with those around you. The lesson of the blame game is not to say that the life of the victor is always glorious and therefore unburdened. It is only to determine that when you have assigned yourself as accountable for your own life, you are more likely to work toward what is right and maintain a sense of purpose that is not entirely selfish.

The lesson of the blame game is a potential antidote to its peril. If you don’t want to be locked in a box don’t swallow the keys.

For the Unheard Voices in Blended Families

Blended families are somewhat of a new wave in society. It is said that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce and in today’s society it has become more of a tradition to have a divorce party than to mourn the actual divorce. The days of divorce being extremely frowned upon are long gone. Get ready to usher in a new wave of families, the ever-changing blended family.

For members of these blended families finding new comfortable places for everyone can be unnerving and even repulsive depending on who you are asking. If you surf the internet you can find websites filled with advice on parenting, co-parenting, and semi-parenting alike. The long running joke about stepmonsters and monster-in-laws gradually gets nods of approval from all of those who have been in those types of situations. Usually sites will try to offer the “new” parent some suggestions on how to handle the unruly stepchild/ren that are seemingly hell-bent on making this union no more. It is seldom that sites address what a stepchild is to do when on the receiving end of a not so welcoming step parent.

WebMD has put together a one size fits all list of what to expect when parenting stepchildren that pertains specifically to younger children. This list includes: coming up with a parenting plan between spouses, not coming on too strong, not overstepping your boundaries-basic cookie cutter tips. They’re plenty of cliché tips on how to smooth over the beginner years where ignorance is most likely bliss. After settling in to a secure position, this family dynamic is sure to morph to make room for jealously, silent grudges, and years of repressed feelings that have finally been cleared for take off.

In theses instances where a stepchild has wandered into undisclosed territory- what happens next determines where the battle lines are drawn. The complications between a freshly married parent and dealing with an unruly spouse can be confusing. What is most interesting is their are very limited tips available on how to handle a spouse that has less than savory views of your children and treats them as such. It is an aspect of blended families that researchers and psychologists have yet to really divulge any relevant information.

The initial reaction would be to separate the parties, making sure no further contact is had. But that doesn’t necessarily yield a long-term solution. Short term solutions such as separation can lead to resentment and either the child or spouse feeling neglected. The common denominator between both parties would have to set boundaries. Choosing sides is never a realistic option and to combat that, a side may not be chosen. The expectation in this tactic is hoping that time will smooth things over. However, human nature tells us that all the time in the world does not heal all wounds. Ideally, one side will cave or the combating parties reach a solution.

There is no website that has specific advice that will cover all of  your  bases. For adult step-children (which is the only time you are likely to address the dilemma head on) the rules are a little different from when you were still a minor. Although you are bound by the nature of the relationship of your parent it doesn’t mean you have to suffer in silence.

Considering these tactics on all sides can make a better conversation:

  1. Make sure your problem is rational. In these types of situations, it is easy to create a situation that doesn’t necessarily exist. Tensions run high among family and step-family members that doesn’t always come from a forward thinking place.
  2. Speak directly and honestly. When addressing an issue, the truth really does set you free.
  3. Address all members involved. The best way to express your feelings is to make sure everyone knows. If people are still in the dark about how you feel, no one will know how to handle it.
  4. Come to terms with the situation. Analyze whether or not the you have reached a place of no return (this may require pride swallowing).
  5. Move on. Know when to let it go. Reconcile or walk away.

Needless to say, at the end of the day nothing is cut and dry. Weighing your options is probably the best thing to do. A light bulb is going to go off one way or another. The major lesson to learn in the new mix of blended families is that life is too short, things don’t last, and fulfillment is something that everyone seeks. Finding where you fit into this lesson determines how successful or unsuccessful your relationships with those around you will be.