World AIDS Day

AIDS_ribbon-08-1024x1024Today is World AIDS Day which always falls on the first day of December every year. It is a day where people worldwide unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.

Globally, there are an estimated 36.7 million people who have the HIV virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, over 35 million people have died from HIV or AIDS. This is one of the most destructive pandemics in history. Thankfully, there have been scientific advancements in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect the people living with HIV, and we understand much more about the condition these days. Despite this, people continue to be diagnosed with HIV, people don’t know the facts on how to protect themselves and others, and there are still stigmas and discrimination in regards to the people living with the virus.

World AIDS Day is important because it reminds us that HIV has not gone away. There’s still a vital need to raise money and increase awareness surrounding the virus.

What can you do?

Show solidarity with people living with HIV on World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon. You can also donate towards HIV treatment research and education. Or, if you need a fun coffee pick-me-up you can go to Starbucks and they’ll donate 25 cents if you order one of the following drinks:  Peppermint Mocha, Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, Caramel Brulée Latte or Eggnog Latte. So go get your holiday drink and sparkle on!

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What not to say after the first Hello

This past weekend I was out and about much more than I normally am since I had a few extra days off and no marathon to train for. Also, the weather could not be more perfect. I took advantage and explored many areas of the city. I got to see many lights on trees, sip some hot cider at Christkindlmarket, and I even visited my old stompin’ grounds Holiday Club to dance the night away to 80’s hits. While out and about, I also got to meet a few new friendly faces. One in particular struck me as extra-odd and has inspired me to write a little bit about what not to say when you first meet someone.

I’m talking we literally just met, face to face, for the first time. He introduces himself, I already forgot his name, and he starts telling me about what he does and asks me the same. Everything’s fine and dandy, I love talking about what I studied in school or what jobs I have. And I enjoy learning about other people as well; I enjoy networking and growing my social circle. Oh that’s a cool job, I say. I hear that’s a great company to work for.

Then he drops the bomb

The songs didn’t stop playing, the dancing continued on around us, but I took a double look at this guy. What did you just say? You’ve never kissed anyone before? You’re a virgin? How old are you? And why are you telling me this? Of all things, to a perfect stranger.

But then again maybe it’s how he weeds people out. Perhaps there will be one person out of a hundred or a few hundred who’d be like “OH me too!” Okay, maybe more like one out of a few thousand. I know because I’ve been in his shoes. Or close. I was a virgin for a long time (many years), and I also was waiting for marriage (yes, that’s what he told me). But I don’t think I walked around at a bar telling people that. It’s just not a topic that comes to mind when I first meet someone. I’m thinking that’s something that shouldn’t be addressed until you establish and both agree on dating exclusively. Not sure if he thought there was a chance of dating or not, but whatever chance there was burned up once he told me that.

And me, being the ultra-honest female I am, gave him some pointers and feedback afterwards. I told him in the future to keep the facts of his sex life private upon first meeting someone. No one needs to know your entire life story after saying hi at a bar or in a social setting. Not sure he appreciated the feedback, but I told him I was trying to help him out. For the next time he meets a beautiful woman. 😉

You’re welcome!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever heard upon meeting someone new? I know this doesn’t just go one-way, and that it can be applied to men and women alike.

Porn and how it destroys lives

What do you think of when you hear the word porn?

girl-in-white-dress-2571411_1920Don’t be shy, we’ve all seen it one way or another. And even if we don’t actively watch it, we’re aware of what it is. Do you call it art? Visual stimulation? A movie? Whatever it is to you, I’m going to talk about how it destroys people’s lives today. Yes, this may seem harsh, but it destroyed mine and I’m here to tell you how.

I was married to a person who I thought only had eyes for me. That is, until I found out he watched porn regularly. I didn’t find out because he told me or I caught him. No, that would’ve been too easy. And, to be honest, the idea of him watching porn didn’t bother me until it destroyed our relationship and the life we were trying to build together.

I watched the way he saw our sexual relationship transform from reality to fantasy over time. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and he had completely different sexual expectations, but gradually he kept bringing up the same oddball requests. As any normal human being would do, I would consider fulfilling his desires, and even try best I could, but I kept falling short. I just wasn’t into what it was he was looking for.

The problem wasn’t so much that I couldn’t deliver what it was my husband wanted, instead it was that what he wanted wasn’t realistic. Instead, it was what the magical world of pornography portrays as sex. And I’m here to tell you, porn is not sex. Porn is fantasy. Porn creates an unrealistic expectation of sex. And it destroys lives.

I also had sexual desires that weren’t always fulfilled by my husband. I would tell him certain things that I would like him to do, things he had done once before but stopped doing once we were married. And while I found myself frustrated, I never sought the answer anywhere else. I just utilized the tools at my disposal (i.e. myself) and made do with what my husband was willing to partake in.

face-848537_1920I tried my best to keep things interesting in the bedroom, in hopes that we could keep our passions alive. But over time, this felt very one-sided. And it became increasingly common for him to become frustrated with me and my inability to fulfill his unrealistic expectations. I started despising the porn, and started praying for change.

And change happened. God answered my prayers in the form of my husband seeking the answers to his desires in other people. At the time, all I could see was my life, our life, being completely destroyed though. This marriage we tried to build together came crumbling down. All thanks to pornography and the belief that what is meant to be fake was mistakenly taken as real. God freed me from this world of distortion that I was trapped in. And every day I thank Him for it.

How do you see porn? Do you think it affects people as much as I do?

 

Safe Sex

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The term safe sex gets thrown around a lot and is used loosely and misunderstood in today’s society. Most people hear safe sex and think only about pregnancy prevention. Full disclosure, that was me in my twenties. Since I was in a committed long-term relationship, my biggest concern was pregnancy. But safe sex is more than just preventing a mini-me.

Teen pregnancies are decreasing over the last several years, but STD rates are increasing. So good job on preventing those babies, but now you have to deal with that syphilis. Here are some options to prevent both babies and those dreaded diseases:

The book "<a href="http://boyopress.com/protect-yourself/" target="_blank">Protect Yourself: Venereal Disease Posters of World War II</a>" by Ryan Mungia looks back at the posters designed to discourage military members from putting themselves at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases during World War II.

  1. Abstinence. Not only for the ultra-conservative, religious type. Avoiding sex will also avoid all the possible effects of it. Treat your body like a temple, and keep the gate closed until you’re ready. But you may get lonely/bored of masturbation. I made it 23 years living the life of abstinence, and turned out okay (sorta).
  2. Physical Protection. I.e. condoms or diaphragms. Condoms are one-time use and are about 98% effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs when used correctly and ALL THE TIME. While they aren’t 100%, 98% is better than zero. Diaphragms are a little different. They are reusable for up to 2 years but shouldn’t be worn for more than 24 hours at a time. The nice part about them is that you can insert them prior to sex and not worry about it until later on. The only thing is they don’t protect against STIs, only pregnancy. So if you use a diaphragm, you have to use another form of protection to protect against STIs. They are 88% effective against pregnancy with typical use, which means that extra protection wouldn’t be a bad idea to get that percentage higher.
  3. Hormonal Protection. I.e. birth control pill. Birth control is just that: it protects you against pregnancy but does nothing against those diseases. They are about 91% effective with typical use, as long as you take them every day around the same time. Miss a dose? You better have a backup plan! I was on birth control for about ten years through my twenties, at first to control my cycle, then mainly to prevent pregnancy. For me, it was 100% effective. #kidfree
  4. Family planning. So, normally people will track their ovulations when planning to have a baby. But I have taken this to the next level and actually track my ovulations to plan to not become pregnant. I now generally know when I will ovulate and I’m sure to avoid sex for the days surrounding my ovulation (5 days before and a day after). This adds to the other forms of protection I’m using, and together it is basically 100% protection against pregnancy.

As you can see, the best way to prevent disease is abstinence. But for those of us who aren’t nuns, using a condom correctly is the next best option. Another option is to just to stick to foreplay and oral sex. No matter what, be sure to not sleep with anyone who has genital sores, a rash, discharge, or other symptoms. Hygiene is important: wash up before and after sex! Also, get a Hepatits B vaccine.

How do you prevent pregnancy? And STDs? Do you feel awkward yet? Do you hate condoms as much as I do? Share your thoughts below.