My years of singleness have been a love affair I’m not ready to let go of.

Through them I’ve experienced pain and joy and gratitude and longing and overwhelming peace. I’ve learned key things about myself I never knew, and solidified my core characteristics. I’ve treasured this stage in my life and I like where I’m at. So why would I move on?

Well, I won’t.

A knee-jerk response at best, this stopped me in my tracks. Why do I feel so adamant and quick to jump on the defense? Even when the feeling that sparks my stubbornness is a good thing for me in this moment, why do I respond in this manner?

German poet Goethe said beginnings were burning invitations, and not to tarry. He urged, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

And like that, a million fridge magnets were born.

Don’t get me wrong, I love beginnings. I love how every April there are little yellow blossoms sewn on the forsythias outside my front window. I love how a New Year’s snow stretches out like a clean canvas and come September, I admit: I channel Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail and want to buy a bouquet of freshly-sharpened pencils.

But as romantic as starts are, I’ve learned firsthand, the hard way, that there’s also magic in a well-timed quit.

We have all been witness to somebody saying “I’m so OCD!” as a means to get a point across that he or she is very particular, detail-oriented and organized. Brands like Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics have been using this term as a way to market their products as something we ‘need.’

The media has also been throwing around this term, rather carelessly, as being a trait one would aspire to have instead of it being a serious disorder. For example, Khloe Kardashian has a regular segment on her website titled KHLO-C-D. During each segment she demonstrates to her followers how she organizes her cookie jar, packs for an upcoming trip or rearranges her closet. Is such branding an innocent advertising tool, or is it instead stigmatizing to those whom live with this disorder?

The truth is, using this term inaccurately can be quite offensive and hurtful to somebody living with actual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). What does it mean to have OCD? Tackling the myths of this serious disorder is the first step to decrease the inaccurate use of the term and bring awareness to those who are suffering.

Ah, the solo traveler – fearless, wise and free. She is someone who breaks society’s rules to fulfill her own zest for adventure. For some, there is nothing more liberating than the idea of venturing out to explore the unknown alone. For others, there is nothing more terrifying.

When I lived in Madrid for one incredible year, I challenged myself to travel solo at least once. So, one weekend I set off for the city of Porto in Lisbon. While I quickly learned that solo travel was not my personal favorite, I also learned a bit about why that may be.

Do you think you were made for solo travel? You might have been, if:

While we wish it were otherwise, most of us don’t have the luxury of pursuing our creative passions as a full-time job. Whether we love painting or pouring candles, writing or dancing, event planning or photography, the truth is that we don’t often make a living from those passions. Instead, we find pockets of time to shadow those desires on the weekends, the evenings, and often, when we could be sleeping. We read articles and books about our hobbies, and spend our money on the passion we love so dearly. But we aren’t waking up every morning to head to a studio or the craft room or the keyboard. Instead, we get up and work at jobs that don’t set our hearts aflame.

There were a lot of years where I bemoaned my lack of time to pursue my passion. I’m a writer at heart, a woman who comes alive with the tap of keys on the keyboard, a woman who could spend hours each day whittling down a paragraph until it sings with the vibrancy of power and precision. But for most of my adult life, I’ve been a writer in the margins, pulling out my laptop in the evenings or on the weekends, taking twenty minutes over lunch or an hour after work to finish an article or pen a chapter.

As troubling as it is, it’s not uncommon to hear someone negatively refer to another as being so bipolar.”  This term can be used as a way to conceptualize your boss’ behavior after he looses his cool during a meeting (no way it could be due to the recent missed deadlines … right?) or to describe your partner during a relationship dispute (again, I did nothing wrong … he is “bipolar”).

We all have that friend who is emotionally unpredictable, impulsive and just plain moody (we all know the type ), but does that mean they are suffering from the serious mental illness that is bipolar disorder? Not only can the incorrect and lax use of this word be offensive, but it also infers that those who are living with bipolar disorder have a choice in the matter. That could not be further from the truth.

What exactly does it mean to have (yes, have … not be) bipolar? Below, the common myths of this very serious disorder are discussed.

You can categorize failure any way you’d like: A malfunction of daily life, the flop of a once brilliant idea, the breakdown of a concept you believed in, but it’s all the same. This  didn’t work. Depending on how badly it didn’t work, you could still be cringing ten years from now.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Many of us spend so much time focusing on the catastrophe itself, we’re unable to step back and see these little fiascos for what they are: Tiny moments where we manufacture our lives. It’s like our life is an assembly line made up of experiences instead of machine parts. You can’t think of your disasters as failures because they are the very essence of maturity. They usher us in to the era of good decision making and wisdom.

The inner voice. The one that narrates and ponders and analyzes and dreams. It’s always there, guiding us through life and moving us along. And – like we’ve all heard before – it has tremendous power to shape our lives, depending on what we feed it.

While we’re aware how negative thoughts breed negative self-image, what about the thoughts that aren’t so easy to categorize as either negative or positive? What happens when our inner voices are littered with questions?

Is this dress flattering? Can I pull off this color? Would I look foolish if I tried something new?

As much as we all want to be confident, self-assured women, there’s a nagging little voice inside our head that tries to tell us we can’t be — that we’re inadequate, we’re weak, we’re unworthy. It’s one thing to be aware of our shortcomings, but quite another to be self-critical and demeaning toward ourselves because of them.

When we notice our thoughts becoming less than kind and supportive toward ourselves, though, what can we do? How do we banish self-doubt and manifest the strong women that we are?

Embrace.  The dictionary describes this seven-letter word as, “an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically.” Throughout every professional’s career, there are numerous stages that are positively embraced with open arms and a megawatt smile: The job offer, promotion, raise, title change, etc.

But in the years spliced between each of these hard-earned achievements is the sweat, tears, sleepless nights, frustrations and moments of hopelessness that can entice us to ignore the present and fantasize about what could be.

Our romantic lives have a unique way of exposing us – our vulnerabilities, our flaws, the things we hold most precious, the frailties in our ability to love – in ways that other types of relationships just don’t. If you think too hard about this, it’s actually quite scary and easy to see why no one would move forward at all!

The problem is, that’s not how we’re designed. We are made for relationships.

An obsession with the female form has existed for centuries across different cultures and geographic regions. An over-obsession with the female form without regard to personhood is self-objectification. Most of us are familiar with the idea of men seeing women as objects through behaviors such as catcalling or engaging in pornography, but what about women objectifying themselves, and even each other?

Two researchers define the matter as “regular exposure to objectifying experiences that socialize girls and women to engage in self-objectification, whereby they come to internalize this view of themselves as an object or collection of body parts” (Kroon & Perez).

In short, self-objectification is thinking of oneself as an object first and a person second.

Whether we’re afraid of public speaking, spiders, the death of a loved one, or something more unusual, we all hold on to certain fears that we resist facing. It’s natural to shrink from them, and some fears – like spiders – are just plain hard to be proactive about conquering.

Others, however, stem from half-truths we believe about ourselves or a situation, and they’re something we can work on.

Some people are energized when they enter a party, maintaining a posture of confidence as they approach each conversation. They remain self-assured and emboldened as they socialize throughout the evening. However, many people do not feel this sense of excitement when they approach large gatherings. Instead, a sense of insecurity and dread settles in at the mere thought of working the room at a party or business meeting.

Whether you are someone who is comfortable with large parties or someone who gets nervous at the thought of even attending one, we are wise to keep a few things in mind that are sure to help us work a room and intentionally connect with other people.

We all know that romantic relationships can come to end, but what about friendships? As we grow older and more distant from friends we used to hold dear, is it possible to end friendships in a healthy way? Life transitions such as moves, school, career changes, new relationships, and shifts in personal values and world-views are just a few of the things that can drive a wedge between friends.

All of these shifts are natural and even to be expected, however, knowing when we should fight to preserve a friendship and when it might be best to part ways can be difficult.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the ever-changing dynamics of friendships:

The alarm goes off from my bedside table and I blindly slap at it with my eyes still closed. My husband sleeps peacefully, blissfully. I pry my eyes open but snuggle deeper under the warm covers. I don’t see how it’s possible to get myself up and out the door to exercise before work – not when it’s so cold outside and this bed is so warm and soft. Nope. I just don’t feel like it. But tomorrow! Tomorrow I will leap gracefully out of bed, lace my running shoes up and be out the door with a flourish.

And here is where we find the problem. It’s something we all struggle to find and hold onto. It’s something that is often elusive and tricky to come by. This problem? Motivation. Do we really need it?

When I walked into the Sistine Chapel, I never imagined I’d walk out believing in God.

I never could have imagined it because I had never really wanted to believe in God. “Believers” had always seemed so boring to me, so vanilla, like they wore orthopedic shoes and followed all the rules. I wanted a life of kaleidoscope color and I was certain (or was until this moment) that God had nothing to offer me.

Down the street from me as a child, my neighbors had a tire swing; tied high in the tree, you had to crawl up, wiggle inside, and then let go before plummeting towards the ground with only a rope to catch you. Trust is a lot like that tire swing. As kids, we don’t think twice before jumping out of trees. Kids are unpretentious and their world is full of adventure with excitement around every corner. They haven’t yet experienced heartbreak, disappointment or developed routines. In a word, children know how to trust.

Somewhere along the way I have lost the trust that I once had as a child. Like most people, I’ve been rejected, lied to, heartbroken, and had my confidence stepped on. The world has a funny way of breaking down our confidence and that is when we begin to …