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4 Tips to Help LGBTQ+ Couples Navigate the Surrogacy Experience

Surrogacy

Make sure you are connected to a surrogate through a reputable organization so you are confident in her health, experience and lifestyle choices.

— Brittany Fisher

Everyone deserves a chance to build a family. However, for many LGBTQ+ couples, the traditional way of having a baby isn’t always available to hopeful parents, and that’s where surrogacy comes into play. Every journey to parenthood is unique, and surrogacy is no different.

 

Whether this is your first time as an intended parent or you have taken this road before, there is no “one-size-fits-all” surrogacy story. Here are a few helpful tips on preparing for the highs and lows of this rewarding experience, explaining surrogacy to children and creating a circle of support with your loved ones.

 

The Surrogacy Process: What to Expect

 

Every surrogacy situation is different. Surrogate mothers, egg and sperm donors are selfless individuals dedicated to helping others build loving families. First and foremost, surrogacy is a legal contract. Different states have different levels of regulations and protections, some more structured and others more relaxed.

 

Make sure you are connected to a surrogate through a reputable organization so you are confident in her health, experience and lifestyle choices.

 

Growing Your Family: Explaining Surrogacy

 

When talking to your children about surrogacy, start by expressing pride in how you are building your family. Surrogacy is nothing to be shy or ashamed of, but it’s important you only share what you are comfortable sharing. If the surrogate mother is open to it, consider introducing her to your children so they have a chance to get to know her. Encourage them to ask questions and be as honest and transparent as you can while answering them.

 

Depending on the age of your children, you may have to have this conversation several times throughout the surrogacy process. Be patient and empower them to share in your excitement. It may even be helpful to find books that can help them better understand the situation. Ultimately, your kids are going to feel as comfortable as they think you feel. If you display love and excitement, those are the priorities your kids will emphasize, too.

 

Circle of Support: Getting Loved Ones Involved

 

Some people in your life simply won’t understand your relationship with a surrogate. It’s important that you normalize the situation as much as you can now, so that the baby being grown won’t feel excluded or ostracized when they are older. Surround yourself with people who are supportive and easy to talk to.

 

From the very beginning — the moment of conception — this is your baby. Your friends and family members may have some well-meaning, but personal, questions. For example, they may wonder:

  • How the baby was conceived. Some people may be curious to know if the baby came into being the “old fashioned” way. This is a good opportunity to explain that many doctors are involved and the process is very clinical.
  • How much the process costs. Asking questions about the cost of surrogacy is extremely personal. You can sidestep the question with a response like “having a baby is priceless to us,” or you can very bluntly let the asker know that question is impolite. With the costs of the surrogate and the implantation procedure, you are looking at more than $100kfor a surrogacy.
  • How can they help and support you. Becoming a parent is a unique experience, but there are some common threads that weave through all parent journeys. Encourage them to include you in some. Even though you aren’t carrying the baby, they can ask to see ultrasound pictures, help you and your family eat healthier meals and, of course, offer to babysit when the time comes!

 

Preparing Your Home

 

As you prepare to welcome your baby into your home, you’ll need to take steps to babyproof your living space. Protect outlets and sharp corners, secure heavy items like bookcases and televisions, and purchase gates for your stairs. Now is also the time to declutter. Not only can clutter be a hazard for you and your baby, but you’ll need to make space for any new baby-related items.

 

After decluttering your home, give it a thorough cleaning as well. If you have any hard-to-remove stains on your furniture, bring in a furniture cleaner to remove them. Simply search for “furniture cleaning services near me” or visit sites like Angie for reviews and customer feedback. Make sure to ask for an estimate and for referrals from past customers.

 

The road ahead will be filled with joy and excitement, but also a little anxiety, too. This is especially true if you have children and other family members to prepare for this emotional journey. LGBTQ+ couples can try out some of these tips to help make them navigate the surrogacy experience with their friends, families and other loved ones.

 

The Pennsylvania Equality Project is dedicated to fighting for LGBTQ civil rights in Pennsylvania. Sign up as a volunteer today.

Drinking Alone

Alcohol Rehab Help

‘Drinking a beer or a glass of wine by yourself every now and then doesn’t mean you’re an alcoholic. However, you should be mindful of how many drinks you’re consuming and how frequently you reach for one. Drinking alone could potentially be a symptom of a larger issue that you’ll need to address — especially if it’s heavy drinking.’

AnnaMarie Houlis

Begin your journey toward lasting recovery: (855) 772-9047

What Does it Mean When You Drink Alone?

More than 65 million people in the United States report binge drinking alcohol in the last month, which is almost half of alcohol users. Moreover, as many as 14.4 million adults cope with alcohol use disorder (AUD). AUD, more commonly known as alcoholism, is a chronic relapsing brain disease that develops due to alcohol abuse or dependency on alcohol. Given an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol intake, many alcoholics find themselves drinking alone. If you or someone you know is consuming alcoholic beverages while alone, there may be an issue. Drinking alone doesn’t necessarily denote an alcohol problem. Many people enjoy an alcoholic beverage to themselves every now and then, with or without company. Here’s what you need to know about drinking alone — and when it’s time to seek professional help:

For more information, read the full article here.

How to Reconnect with Your Partner After the Birth of Your Baby

Same Sex Female Couple

[Image Source: Unsplash]

Having a deep and stress-reducing talk in the evening — while listening to music and spending time with the baby — that ends in comfort and encouragement will reinforce that you’re a team.

Brittany Fisher

Before couples have children, they are usually incredibly excited about the upcoming birth and the idea of creating a family together. They make all the preparations together, and the experience can bring them closer together. However, after the baby is born, the focus of the mother’s attention is on their baby, who needs permanent care. As a result, this can make their partner feel shoved to the side, which causes feelings of resentment and hurt because they feel like they are not as loved anymore.

To help you and your partner navigate this new time, the Pennsylvania Equality Project offers the following tips.

Find the Time to Rekindle Your Sparkle

Knowing how to reconnect as a couple after the baby can be difficult, but putting in a bit of work and effort will pay off big time and long-term. The following guide will offer you a few tips on finding time to connect after having a baby so you could rekindle the spark of your relationship.

Go on a Date

Welcoming a baby might be life-changing, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a happy couple anymore. Professional Momma notes getting out of the house together, even for an hour, can help you rekindle that spark. Try to do this at least weekly, and if you don’t have a babysitter, ask a friend, your parents, or a family member to help you.

Although it may seem very difficult at first to leave the baby with someone, remember that the time you spend outside with your partner will improve your relationship. Try to avoid mentioning the baby or stressful topics during the date, but talk about other shared interests.

Have a Daily Stress-Reducing Conversation

​Stress from a job, work commute, and a fussy baby can leave you feeling overwhelmed and emotional. Couples who can talk about the frustrations of their day, as separate from the partnership, have a chance to vent, gain support, and show empathy for one another. Feeling understood and heard helps diminish any unwanted tension that can otherwise smuggle into the relationship. Having a deep and stress-reducing talk in the evening — while listening to music and spending time with the baby — that ends in comfort and encouragement will reinforce that you’re a team.

Do Something You Love Together

Doing something with your partner might be one of the most basic things you could do to reconnect and rekindle your romance. It may be watching a TV show you both like, taking a class together, playing a favorite game, finishing a project you started, or just walking around the neighborhood on the weekend while grandma watches the baby. No matter the activity, as long as the two of you enjoy it, it can bring you closer together.

You should also keep the romance alive as it is an essential part of the relationship. Even if you and your partner don’t have a lot of time for sex, you can still find ways to make sure there is a level of intimacy in your relationship. Leave a handwritten note for your partner, try to find moments to snuggle up while talking or watching a movie, just cuddle together, or wear a flirty gown that can also be used as a nursing nightgown — these small gestures can mean the world for your partner, which will inevitably bring you together even more.

Appreciate the Effort of Each Other

Some couples might compare who is working harder or doing more, but you two will probably double the efforts to manage extra responsibilities when having a baby. Still, it is not a competition or a way to take support from each other. Actually, if you’re burnt out and stressed because of all the responsibilities, then you should ask for help directly.

It’s possible that if you feel undervalued, your partner might be as well. Thus, a few words of appreciation and encouragement could go a long way, so make sure you save a moment of your time every day to show how much you appreciate your partner. As Elite Daily points out, a short and sweet note or social media post can be a simple but powerful way to express your gratitude.

Healthy Families Work Together

The family dynamic should feel like you are part of the same team, working for the same goal. Going on dates, spending time doing something you love, showing appreciation, and healthy communication can help you feel united once again.

 

NY Gov & HRC Pres Should Resign

Biden and Cuomo

President Joe Biden has already called on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign. the president’s action has nothing to do with political parties and everything to do with the allegations and investigation against the governor. The Attorney general’s report is clear about the complaint. we stand with the president. 

 

On Tuesday, August 3, 2021, President Joe Biden called on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign from office over allegations of sexual misconduct while serving as Governor. The New York Attorney General’s office conducted a thorough investigation of the alleged incidents. According to the Huffington Post,

“The New York attorney general’s office on Tuesday released a bombshell report detailing its investigation into allegations against the Democratic governor, and David appears to have played a significant role in Cuomo’s efforts to discredit his accusers. The report — which is based on conversations with 179 people and more than 74,000 pieces of evidence, including emails, texts, photos and audio files — concluded that Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and violated federal and state laws.”

With the preponderance of the evidence against him, and with the full weight of the New York Attorney General’s office bearing down on him, Governor Cuomo should immediately resign as New York Governor. This is not merely my own personal opinion, it is the opinion of the Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania Equality Project. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a crime and given the number of women who are prepared to testify against him, the Governor’s time in office is almost up. However, New York Governor Cuomo does not stand alone in terms of the allegations in the Attorney General’s report.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) with HRC President Alphonso David
Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) with HRC President Alphonso David

Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign, served as Governor Cuomo’s counsel from 2015 – 2019. He was or should have been fully aware of the incidents that Governor Cuomo had committed. If his claims that he didn’t know what was going on with the Governor are true, then he wasn’t a very effective counsel. David is accused in his official capacity of trying to cover up the allegations of sexual harassment as they were unfolding. He was simultaneously serving as HRC President at the time. Again, according to Huffington Post,

“The report states, for example, that David provided a confidential file to Cuomo’s top aides, which they used to discredit one of his accusers, Lindsey Boylan. The former Cuomo staffer has accused the governor of sexual harassment including an unsolicited kiss in his office and an invitation to play strip poker on a government airplane.

The report also states that David was involved in discussions about calling and secretly recording a conversation between a former Cuomo staffer and another Cuomo accuser named Kaitlin, who has not provided her last name. Kaitlin claims that in 2016, the governor grabbed her at a fundraiser and put her into a dance pose for photographers, and then two days later, had his staff reach out to her to offer her a job.”

Both Alphonso David and Andrew Cuomo have lost the respect of their staff members, and the people who entrusted them. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has refused to accept any more campaign funds from the HRC until David resigns from his post. The HRC needs new leadership. New York needs new leadership. The allegations are simply too overwhelming for either of these men to remain in their respective positions. Women should not have to fear that men in power will harass or abuse them, whether on or off the clock. Furthermore, women should not have to fear that their reputations will be damaged by attorneys who protect only the interests of other men in power without considering the people they are harming.

One more point needs to be made abundantly clear. Our organization is not calling on just Democrats to resign. These allegations are not about political parties. We simultaneous believe that Rep. Matt Gaetz should resign from Congress. Sexually exploitative behavior and harassment is unacceptable for lawyers, governors, Congressional leaders, and HRC Presidents.

Resource Page Update

Our Resources pages are getting a new look

If you have visited our Resource pages, you may have noticed that there are some irregularities in the look of the pages. We at the Pennsylvania Equality Project are working diligently to improve the presentation and design of the pages. Next to each business title, we will be adding the location of the business; if a company is purely an online experience, we will indicate that too. All businesses are now being asked whether they are LGBTQ+ affirming. Those that respond yes to that question in writing will have a star next to their business name.

 

One other major change we are making is to add more categories. We want to be sure that you can find the company that provides the service or product you are looking for, and we realized that several categories had been omitted. One of those categories is “Dog and Pet Training.” We are so excited to add this particular category because in time, our community drop in center in Meadville could have emotional support dogs present. Here is a small snippet from one website: “The Ultimate Guide to Training Your Dog.

 

Getting a puppy is one of the most exciting and wholesome decisions that you can make. Dogs make wonderful companions and will be the most loving creatures you ever interact with. But, while you might want to spend all of your time playing with and marveling at how cute your new puppy is, you will eventually need to train them. 

 

Training a puppy can be a smooth ride or a difficult task. This generally depends on the breed and temperament of the puppy. For first time dog owners, it is often surprising just how much of an individual personality your dog has. 

 

Training a puppy can sometimes feel weird as it’s difficult to say no to those big puppy-dog eyes. You will want to let them get away with anything. But, training your puppy is just as important for them as it is for you. Being able to allow your dog off their leash and roam around without worrying about them running off, stopping them from running into a road, and stopping them from jumping up at people are all essential. So training your puppy is an absolute must.

 

It is our hope that you enjoy the entire website, answer surveys as they are posted, and be sure to take a look at the ACTION page now and then for updates.

 

In Solidarity,

David

View point

5 Things You Should Stop Doing Right Now to Improve Your Personal Life

Stop Doing Right now

This article was written by Julie Morris. The views in this blogpost are strictly hers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Pennsylvania Equality Project or its Board of Directors. (Copyright, December, 2020)

We all go through times in our lives when we struggle. But if you find yourself in a personal rut that you just can’t seem to dig your way out of, you need to make some changes in your life. By getting rid of the habits that hinder your growth and happiness, you’ll find your relationships with others will also be much improved.

 

Stop Neglecting Your Health

 

Research from the Journal of Consumer Research shows that Americans associate busyness and stress with prestige and status. However, taking the time to slow down for self-care is extremely important for your emotional, mental, and physical health. Schedule downtime to relax and rejuvenate your mind and body, and be sure to get enough quality sleep. Additionally, you should remove toxic people and other obvious stressors from your life. You should also eat healthfully and exercise regularly to fuel and strengthen your body. Devoting time to yourself is essential for your happiness and overall well-being.

 

In addition to following a good exercise plan, you should also develop a healthy diet. This includes avoiding refined carbs and processed sugars and, instead, focusing on whole and fresh food whenever possible. A major component of health that people often overlook is the state of their home. A cluttered and dark home can lead to its occupants feeling stressed and anxious. By thoroughly cleaning,  removing clutter, and adding natural light, you can reduce the negativity and tension you may be feeling in your home.

 

Stop Looking to Others for Happiness

 

If you expect your romantic partner to make you happy, find it difficult to be alone, or seem to take every little thing anyone says too personally, you need to become more self-reliant and confident in yourself. Without self-reliance, you can never be consistently happy in your life. Instead of waiting for others to make you happy (or wallowing when they don’t), take charge of your life and your emotions. Do things that you truly enjoy every day. Celebrate adversity and learn to face challenges with a positive outlook. Think of obstacles as opportunities to become stronger and more self-reliant. As you become more confident in yourself, you will find your relationships with others will be strengthened as well.

 

Stop Avoiding Uncomfortable Topics

 

When you are in a relationship, don’t avoid conversations that make you uncomfortable. For example, couples should talk about death. You and your spouse should have a will, a living will, and life insurance. Your spouse should know how you feel about life-sustaining treatment and organ donation, and visa-versa. Though it might seem morbid, you can pre-plan and pay for your funeral now. Don’t burden your spouse and family with making funeral arrangements in their time of grief. Handling it now can alleviate their future stress and give you peace of mind.

 

Differing opinions and problems concerning child-rearing, finances, and intimacy are also uncomfortable topics that many couples try to avoid. However, according to the American Psychology Association, open honest communication — even when it’s difficult — is key to a happy, successful relationship.

 

Stop Waiting for the Perfect Time

 

No time is going to be perfect to get married, change your career path, go back to school, or have a baby. If you keep putting off the things you want to do, you are never going to reach your goals. If you want to do something, instead of making excuses why it can’t happen, devise a plan to make it happen. Life is too short to wait around for perfect timing.

 

Stop Dwelling on the Past

 

Don’t get stuck in the past. All of us have had situations in our lives where we could have done something differently. But don’t get so hung up on those moments that you can’t find happiness in the present or look toward the future. Spend less time reflecting on things that you can’t change. Instead, learn from your failures and mistakes, and consider them as valuable lessons for future endeavors.

 

Negative habits and tendencies in your thinking can seriously diminish your overall quality of life. By making simple changes and getting away from bad habits, you can become the best version of yourself. And when you are happy and confident in yourself, you will attract positive people and healthy relationships in your life.

 

Photo via Unsplash

Equality Act

As President of the Pennsylvania Equality Project, I signed onto this letter calling on the US House and Senate to pass the Equality Act. Presently, Pennsylvania lacks cohesive, statewide law that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The LGBTQ+ community should have the same protections from discrimination under the law. We have joined a coalition of other organizations, listed below, who seek an end to discrimination for housing, credit, education, lodging, and all other public accommodations.

 

new-pride-flag-01

 

LGBTQ State and Local Groups Praise the Introduction of the Equality Act and Call for Its Immediate Passage


We, the undersigned, a coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) state and local organizations, make the following statement in response to the introduction of the Equality Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

 

The Equality Act is a significant step forward for the LGBTQ community, and we are committed to mobilizing our communities to urge Congress to swiftly pass this important bill. We’ll be working in these lawmakers’ backyards to make sure they know this is about people, not politics. 

 

The Equality Act, a landmark LGBTQ nondiscrimination and civil rights bill, would update existing federal laws to protect people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Like all people, LGBTQ Americans need to access legal services and go to the store, bank, hospital, and other public places. The Equality Act would strengthen existing protections for everyone, including women and people of color, by updating the public spaces and services covered in current law. It would also codify the recent Supreme Court decision in Bostock by explicitly stating that existing federal civil rights laws that prohibit sex discrimination also protect LGBTQ people. The Equality Act is a vital next step in ensuring the promise of equal opportunity and freedom is provided to all of us, regardless of what state, city, or town we call home.

 

Although 21 states and more than 330 cities have passed LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, half of LGBTQ people live in the 29 states that still lack express, comprehensive statewide laws. As organizations working in the states and cities that LGBTQ people call home, we know this patchwork of protections is unsustainable and leaves too many people behind. 

 

This isn’t just about federal politics—it’s about people, including our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and fellow worshippers in cities and states outside of Washington, D.C. We are hearing from Americans in communities across the country, and they are demanding their leaders prioritize passing the Equality Act. America is ready. From California to New York to Alaska to Florida, we, the organizations working directly with the people of this country, remain united in our efforts to finish the job. We compel Congress to act now to protect the people who elected them.

 

The need for comprehensive protections for the LGBTQ community is clear. Including LGBTQ Americans in civil rights protections would mark the most sweeping legislative victory for LGBTQ people in American history. The Equality Act will immeasurably improve the day-to-day lives of LGBTQ community members in every zip code and bring the nation closer to its promise of liberty and justice for all. As state and local organizations, we commit to doing our part to ensure the public’s demand for passage of the Equality Act is heard all across the country.

 

A future is in sight where no American in any part of the country is left vulnerable to discrimination because of who they are or who they love. We stand united to make it so.

 

Affirmations

Alaskans Together for Equality

All Under One Roof LGBT Advocates of Southeastern Idaho

Atlanta Pride Committee

Basic Rights Oregon

Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center

Brave Space Alliance

Brooklyn Community Pride Center

Campaign for Southern Equality

CANDLE

Center on Halsted

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

Colors+

Compass LGBTQ Community Center

Damien Center

Eastern PA Trans Equity Project

Equal Rights Washington

Equality Arizona

Equality California

Equality Community Center

Equality Delaware

Equality Florida

Equality Illinois

Equality Kansas

Equality Maine

Equality Michigan

Equality Nevada

Equality New Mexico

Equality North Carolina

Equality Ohio Education Fund

Equality South Dakota

Equality Texas

Equality Utah

Equality Virginia

Erie County Democratic Party LGBTQIA+ Caucus

Erie Mayor’s LGBTQIA+ Advisory Council

Erie Sisters and Brothers

Fair Wisconsin

Fairness Alliance and Information Resources of New York, Inc. (FAIRNY)

Fairness Campaign

Fairness West Virginia

Forum for Equality

Four Corners Rainbow Youth Center

Freedom Oklahoma

FreeState Justice

Full Spectrum Health LCC

Garden State Equality

Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center

Georgia Equality

Grand Rapids Pride Center

Great Lakes Bay Pride

Greater Erie Alliance for Equality (GEAE)

Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation

Henderson Equality Center

Hillcrest Children’s Center

Hudson Pride Center

Identity, Inc.

Indiana Youth Group

Inside Out Youth Services

Jackson Pride Center

Jacksonville Coalition for Equality 

JASMYN

Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition

LGBT Center of Raleigh

LGBT+ Center Orlando, Inc.

LGBTQ Center of Bay County

LGBTQ+ Allies Lake County

Louisiana Trans Advocates

Mass Equality

Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition

Montana Human Rights Network

Nashville LGBT Chamber

New Hampshire Stonewall Democrats

NEW Pride Agenda

North County LGBTQ Resource Center

North Dakota Human Rights Coalition

Northwest Arkansas Equality, Inc.

NW PA Pride Alliance

Oasis Center Inc

Oklahomans for Equality

One Colorado

ONE Community

One Iowa

One-n-ten

Out Boulder County

OUT MetroWest

OutCenter of Southwest Michigan

OutFront Kalamazoo

OutFront Minnesota

OutNebraska

Panhandle Equality

Pennsylvania Equality Project

Pennsylvania Youth Congress

PFLAG Hastings

PFLAG Nashville

PGH Equality Center

Phoenix Pride

Pride Center of New Jersey

Pride Center of Staten Island

Pride Center West Texas

Pride Community Services Organization

PROMO

Queer Connect, Inc.

QWELL Community Foundation

Rainbow Center

Rainbow Rose Center

Resource Center
Rural Outright

Ryan Sallans, Inc.

Sacramento LGBT Community Center

SAGE Metro Detroit

SAVE

Seacoast Outright

Shippensburg University Pride Center

Silver State Equality

SOJOURN

Southwest Center

Spencer Pride, Inc.

St. Pete Pride

Stonewall Columbus

Tennessee Equality Project

The Alaska Center Education Fund

The DC Center for the LGBT Community

The Human Rights Alliance Santa Fe

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

The LGBT Center of Greater Reading

The LGBTQ+ Community Center of Southern Nevada

The LOFT LGBTQ+ Community Center

The Pride Center at Equality Park

The Source LGBT+ Center

The Spahr Center

The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative

Time Out Youth

TransAction NH

TransFamily of NWPA

TransFamily Support Services

Transgender Michigan

TransOhio

Triangle Community Center

Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance (UGLA)

Washington County Gay Straight Alliance, Inc.

Waves Ahead Corp

Western Montana LGBTQ+ Community Center

William Way LGBT Community Center

Wyoming Equality

Youth OUTright WNC Inc

 

Coping with Covid 19

Cope with Change COVID

The content that appears in this article was written by Jennifer Scott. We are quite grateful for her to serve as a guest contributor to our blog. If you would like to be a guest contributor to our blog, please email David Moore at info@paequality.com for details. 

How to Cope With Change During COVID-19

As humans evolve as a species, we are inclined to favor stability and consistency. On a primitive level, we are happiest when we can easily predict the world around us. This means that any change can be a major source of anxiety; but when that change is something as world-rocking and stress-inducing as a pandemic, that anxiety can quickly become overwhelming.

 

Moments like these require resources, community, and support. The Pennsylvania Equality Project hopes to be one such resource for the LGBTQ+ community. To that end, here’s a look at how to cope with the changes that the pandemic has brought to our lives:

 

Career Change and Job Loss

 

The pandemic has upended nearly every industry in some form or another, and people from all walks of life have felt the repercussions. For some, this has meant fewer hours, or even a complete loss of income. Searching for a job in the midst of a pandemic can be a serious challenge; however, there are tools you can use to make things easier.

 

For example, starting a freelance career can help you make some extra money while expanding your skills and keeping your resume fresh. This could also be a great opportunity to consider a career change. If your previous career wasn’t satisfying or fulfilling, you might want to consider something like teaching or nursing. Going back to school during a pandemic might not appeal to you at first, but remember: There are plenty of online programs that allow you to learn virtually, from the safety of your own home. For example, if you’ve been inspired to join the ranks of healthcare heroes as a nurse, you can easily pursue a new career while still keeping your day job. Whether you need a master’s or a bachelor’s, there’s a degree program that can help you specialize and become a healthcare professional.

 

You may also be struggling with the transition to remote work. Although working from home is great for many, it’s not a one-size-fits-all work solution. If you’re not thriving, take some time to make sure you’re using good remote work habits like getting dressed each day and having a consistent morning routine.

 

Loss of Community

 

Since the start of the pandemic, loneliness has reached unprecedented levels. Social gatherings have lost their simplicity and spontaneity, and even the most low-risk in-person gatherings can come with a miasma of guilt. In the balancing game between isolation and sickness, it can feel like there are no favorable outcomes.

 

That’s why it’s so important, now more than ever, to find a community willing to overcome these challenges and provide support. For example, you might consider talking to friends about forming a bubble. Be sure to have a frank conversation about rules and expectations in order to ensure everyone’s on the same page when bubbling up.

 

If you’re spiritually or religiously inclined, now could be a good time to seek out some sort of faith-based community. Many people in the LGBTQ+ community have a challenging history with religion, but would like to find an outlet for their spiritual needs where they are welcomed and accepted without reservation. If you’re in this position, take a look at our list of affirming churches. Many offer virtual services and other socially-distanced ways to find support during the pandemic.

 

Slowing Down

 

Finally, the pandemic has changed the ways we think about our plans and the future. For example, if you had been thinking about taking a long trip somewhere or moving cross-country, you might have put that plan on hold. However, there are many positives to plans being put on hold – even if it wouldn’t have been your first choice.

 

This may give you the time you need to fully think the idea out. After some time you might refine your idea, come up with something better, or come to the conclusion that it wasn’t the right call to begin with. If the plan was time-sensitive, it’s easy to feel robbed – give yourself room to grieve, and then practice acceptance. This pandemic has taken many things from us too intangible to properly name – but that doesn’t make them any less real, or their loss any less painful.

 

Although we’re still figuring out the best techniques for vaccine distribution, the finish line is in sight. Soon, this will be behind us and we can move forward into our post-pandemic lives. Give yourself grace as you navigate life in the meantime: You deserve it.

 

Are you a member of the LGBTQ+ community in need of support? Check out our resources page.

 

Photo Credit: Pexels

Ways to De-stress

Ways to Destress

Many people decide to take their hobbies to the next level by turning them into a legitimate business. However, it’s important to remember that starting a business isn’t as simple as stating, “I’m going to start a business!”

Julie Morris

4 Hobbies to Take Up to Learn New Skills and De-Stress

 

Hobbies are a great way to unwind and de-stress after a long day. It’s important to find an activity that you genuinely enjoy doing for the sake of doing it. However, finding the right hobby can sometimes feel impossible. Check out some hobbies you can try below.

 

1. Spend Time With Animals

 

If you are an animal lover, consider volunteering at an animal shelter. Volunteering is a proven wayto boost your mental health. You’ll also see instant results through the change in an animal’s personality as you spend time with them. You can even take it a step further and dedicate time to helping train dogs.

 

Dog training requires a certain amount of patience and dedication but can be extremely rewarding, especially when your furry friend masters a difficult trick. You’ll feel like a proud parent. Remember to start with basic commands, then build into more complicated tricks. Rover.com, a pet care services site, notes some basic command terms to boost your dog-training skills.

 

“Useful in so many situations, “sit” is often the first command dogs learn,” the site advises. “In fact, most dogs “sit” on their own, so all you have to do is connect the command to the behavior.” You can practice on your dog or work with clients.

 

 

2. Pick Up an Instrument

 

Few things are as satisfying as mastering a song you have been practicing for days. Playing music is a great way to build confidence and relax. Learning an instrument even leads to asharper memory and improved cognitive functions. You may want to start with some formal lessons to learn the basics. However, once you’re feeling comfortable there are plenty of online resources and videos to help you build your skills.

 

Do not be discouraged if you have never picked up an instrument before. In fact, learning an instrument as an adult for the first time can be easier than as a child. Plus, you’ll still get the same mental benefits as someone who’s played since childhood after justa few months of playing, according to National Geographic.

 

 

3. Learn a New Language

 

In today’s incredibly globalized world, knowing a second language is incredibly useful. It is an amazing way to connect with other cultures and people you might not otherwise be able to. Not to mention, it looks good ona resume.

 

There are many ways to learn a new language today. Business Insider recommendsdownloading an app or taking classes online. Remember, that language is about communication and you will get more out of actually talking to someone than staying isolated. Try and seek out a fluent speaker to practice conversing. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to find someone who’s excited to be able to practice with you.

 

4. Practice Your Photography Skills

 

Photography is a lot more complicated than snapping a quick picture with your phone. Learning to use a real camera is a skill that can impress all your friends. Even if you plan on using aDSLR camera, there will still be a learning curve. You will take a lot of mediocre photos before you capture a winning image.

 

Beginner photographers are encouraged to jump right into it andexperiment with the camera. As you begin to get comfortable with how the camera works, turn towards manuals and tutorials to expand your skills. If you are really looking for a challenge, you can even invest in some editing software and learn to edit your images to create something truly spectacular.

 

Hobbies and Business

 

Many people decide to take their hobbies to the next level by turning them into a legitimate business. However, it’s important to remember that starting a business isn’t as simple as stating, “I’m going to start a business!” You need to make a plan, select a business structure (for example, many people choose to create an LLC), and find funding. Ensure this is something you want to do before you start.

 

Remember to Have Fun

 

Hobbies are a great way to learn a new skill, but remember to choose something you enjoy and are able to relax doing. If you find yourself stressing out over your progress, it may be time to seek out something new.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

How Couples Can Thrive Throughout Major Changes

Cat for PEP Blogpost 041420

Blog post courtesy of Julie Morris

 

Figuring out a new normal? All across the globe, people are adjusting to an entirely different way of life, at least for the short term. Big changes can put a serious strain on relationships, but can couples thrive in this new environment? Here are a few resources you can use to keep your relationship in good shape while social distancing.

 

Talk It Out

 

Open communication is an absolute must. If you spend a ton of time together but constantly hide how you’re feeling, you can easily wind up resenting each other. With that in mind, here are some communication tips to explore.

 

4 Major Relationship Communication Mistakes That Ruin Love

5 Communication Skills Every Couple Should Develop

17 Funny Questions to Get to Know Your Partner Better

 

Focus on Self-Care

 

Major changes can put your mental and physical health in a precarious spot. Focus on self-care measures you can take to keep yourself and your significant other well.

 

Pair Care: 20 Self-Care Activities for Couples

Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19

How to Create Your Home Meditation Room

Easy Immune System Self-Care Tips to Use Every Day

 

Give Each Other Space

 

Staying in place can lead to a ton of time together. Although this can be great, it can also get exhausting. Here’s how to know when you need some downtime, and how to get it without hurting your loved one’s feelings:

 

10 Little Signs That It’s Time to Give Yourself Some ‘You’ Time

How to Give Your Partner Space When There Is None

15 Best Books of 2020

 

Learn Something New Together

 

One great way to strengthen your relationship and make this a productive time is to learn something new together. Here are a few things you can learn as a pair.

10 Tips to Learn Any Language from an Expert

Acroyoga Explained and Tips for Beginners

60 Healthy Dinner Ideas for Two

 

Any major life change can challenge a relationship. With a proactive approach, however, you can take this head-on and grow as a couple. Take the changes as they come and learn how to navigate them as a team.

 

Photo Credit: Unsplash