Obama’s Foreign Policy Nightmares

President Obama has certainly had his work cut out for him on the foreign policy front as of late.  Between the situation in the Ukraine (especially with the recent downing of the Malayasian passanger jet) and the renewed conflict in Gaza, it has been a tough road the past week or so.  Obama needs to be very careful how he handles both situations.  Unfortunately, in both instances he is stuck between a rock and hard place.  There is no good solution, no right answer, no way to really make anyone happy.

As of right now, regarding both the conflicts in the Ukraine and in Gaza, Secretary of State John Kerry has been calling for a ceasefire.  That seems to be what other world leaders are pushing for as well.  However, any ceasefire that may come to fruition is not likely to last very long.  It would be a temporary fix at best.  And unfortunately other attempts to address these conflicts haven’t been very effective.  Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t seem to be very willing to cooperate, and the economic sanctions the U.S. has launched against Russia aren’t doing much.  And after months of negotiations, talks between Israeli’s and Palestinian’s fell apart under Secretary Kerry’s mediation.

A critical problem seems to be that the Obama administration has no real strategy for how to deal with these two situations.  They are just kind of saying, “Well let’s try this next,” instead of trying to really understand the key players in these conflicts and what it is that they want (or don’t want).  Of course, things happen unexpectedly–like the downing of Malayasian Airlines Flight 17–and you have to deal with them as best you can when they occur.  But I feel like so far the Obama administration has handled things very slopily.  Yes, there are significant issues that Obama is dealing with here at home (a whole plethora of them) that are taking up a lot of his time and attention, but Obama needs to be more involved in these conflicts.  Otherwise he risks allowing them to spiral out of control on his watch.

However, it is more important than ever that the United States works with other countries to address these conflicts–and all future conflicts.  We have to pressure other world leaders to be more aggressive.  The United States remains a superpower and as such is considered the leader on global issues (whether fair or not), but in today’s very complicated world, we simply need more help.  And the Obama administration needs to make it very clear to other world leaders that the only way to bring about any kind of effective solutions to these conflicts is if there is rock solid international solidarity behind any actions that are taken.

I don’t see the situation in the Ukraine having huge implications for the future of our world, but I do feel that way about Gaza.  Gaza is just one of the many conflicts in this region, but it is the most important one.  I think that something really drastic and devasting is going to happen, likely within the next few years.  And it will be a total game-changer.  But the one good thing that may come out of it (that will hopefully come out of it) is a lasting peace.

The legacy Obama leaves behind will deal largely with how he handled critical foreign policy issues like the conflicts in the Ukraine and Gaza.  Right now, he isn’t doing so great.  Could it be that he has already started to check out because he has only a year-and-a-half left of his second term?  I surely hope not, and I doubt that is the case.  I think he is just exhausted and probably feels somewhat defeated, because no matter what he does, nothing ever seems to get better.  Plus, he has dealt with a combination of years of fighting the GOP over absolutely EVERYTHING, dealing with very complex and important domestic issues (like healthcare reform, immigration and gun violence, just to name a few), and having to confront the many global issues that have heightened during his presidency.  He hasn’t had it easy. No matter who was in office right now, they would struggle under these circumstances.  But let’s hope that Obama can persevere, because we need a strong world leader now more than ever.

Back from a Surprise Break

If I still have any readers of this blog, I’m sure you’re aware that I haven’t posted in a looooong time.  That hasn’t been intentional. As is the case from time to time, life got in the way. Lots of changes have happened in my life recently–some good, some not as good–and it has been difficult for me to find the time and/or motivation to blog. I even seriously considered giving up on this blog.  In fact, I hadn’t even visited my own website in months!  Pretty pathetic, right?  So today, I checked it out for the first time in a while.  It was almost like I was a new visitor.  And when I read through some of the pages at the top of the website it reminded me of why I started this blog to begin with:  because I truly believe that our generation will change the world in a very positive and powerful way.  My passion has been reawakened, and I’m sorry that I lost faith for a while.  I’m sorry that I doubted our generation’s destiny.  And it doesn’t matter to me if only a few people read this blog.  If you visit this blog and are inspired but what I’ve written, then I’ve done something.  I’ve made an impact, and that is my goal.  I want to inspire and empower our generation to fight for a better future.  So if even just 10 people are inspired by my words, then I’ve succeeded.

If you have stuck with me these past several months, I sincerely appreciate it.  I am so grateful for those of you that take the time to check out my little blog.  It really does mean the world to me.  It’s hard to know if anyone reads what you put out there, and every now and again I will get an email from a reader who had visited my blog and I’m so appreciative of that.  So thank you–thank you so very, very much.

A lot has happened in the U.S. and around the world the past several months, most of which has been bad.  It seems like our world and our country are headed down a dangerous path of destruction.  We live in a very complex world at a very challenging time, to say the very least.  If you didn’t believe that we are in the throws of a crisis before, I’m sure you do now.  It is daunting to think about all the problems we face–and it seems like everyday things just get worse.  But there is hope, and if there is any positive to come from this crisis, it is that this crisis is presenting us with an incredible opportunity to change the world for the better.

We can have a better future.  If we believe that we are capable of creating a more peaceful, progressive and sustainable world, then we can.  But we have to believe that first.  It upsets me when I hear people say that there is no hope…there is always hope.  Without hope, humanity would have never made it this far.  I know it sounds cliche but it’s true.  Hope, optimism and a giant dose of dogged determination are some of our greatest assests right now.  And that is where our generation shines.  Millennials have all the tools we need to be a changing force for the good.  It is about time we start utilizing them.

I’m going to leave you with my favorite quote by a true bad-ass and revolutionary, Thomas Paine.  He was a passionate fighter for democracy who believed that a better world was possible, and without him it is not very likely that our country would exist.  His powerful words in his most famous pamphelt, Common Sense, helped spread the revolutionary fervor that was sweeping the colonies in 1776.  In fact, it was one of the final sparks to the Revolution itself.  If Paine were alive today he would probably be a rebel rouser once again–relentlessly imploring our politicians and American citizens to step up and fight for a better country and a better world.  Needless to say, his contributions to history are priceless, and in the American Crisis No. 1, he wrote possibly one of the truest statements ever made:  “We have it within our power to begin the world over again.”  Yes we do, Mr. Paine.  We must certainly do.




Leaked UN Report Warns Climate Change Nearing the Point of No Return

A leaked UN report about climate change warns that the window to address this urgent issue is quickly closing. According to the report, failing to address climate change within the next 15 years would make it nearly impossible to solve. By 2030, if serious action isn’t taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions we would have to literally start sucking the greenhouse gases out of the air. The biggest problem with this is that we currently do not possess the technology to take those kinds of drastic measures. Developing that kind of technology would take years (that we don’t have) and would also be extremely expensive–far more expensive than it would be to take aggressive action on climate change starting now.

According to the Times, the report finds that stopping climate change over the coming decade will still mean major economic and ecological damage — but it’s far tamer than what could come down the road. The current goal is to limit global temperature increases to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels. The hope is that by beginning now, economic and ecological effects will come on gradually, mitigating their impact.

This is so scary. Like really, really scary. Climate change may not seem so dire right now to us here in the United States because it is actually the people living in the developing world who will feel the really serious effects of it first. This is mainly because many countries in the developing world are in regions where the effects of climate change will be most severe. Also, we have the means to deal with the effects of climate change far better than they do. But we have had our butts kicked by climate change lately as well–severe storms (both tropical and winter), severe droughts and floods, out of control forest fires, dangerous hot and cold weather. Just one single isolated incident isn’t enough to blame climate change. But when these extreme weather events keep happening with more frequency and more intensity (and they absolutely have been), it gets to the point where you have to acknowledge the common denominator: climate change.

I will never understand why some people refuse to believe that climate change is real–and is mainly caused by human behavior. This issue, more than any other, will be paramount in our generation’s legacy. We must take action on this issue NOW! We can reverse some the damage and slow it down, but we have to start acting now and we have to act aggressively. More than anything, think about future generations. What will their world look like if we do nothing? Is it a risk we’re willing to take–to not act on this issue because there is the slightest chance (about 3-5 percent) that climate change isn’t a serious problem? What if it really is this severe (and it is)? Without a doubt, our inaction will significantly impact the future–especially for those generations who come after us. They can’t do anything about this issue right now, but we can. So don’t we owe it to them to start taking aggressive action against climate change starting now?

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink

A new report was just released that details the financial struggles of American women today. The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink is an annual report conducted by A Woman’s Nation, a non-profit started by Maria Shriver. This year, A Woman’s Nation partnered with the Center for American Progress for the third installment of this report that combines “fresh academic research; groundbreaking poll results; authentic photojournalism; stories from the front lines and the trenches; and essays from box-office celebrities, experts, and leaders” to highlight the important issue of women and the economy.

Today, women make up half the workforce and account for two-thirds of the primary or co-breadwinners of the family. In addition, women in the Millennial Generation are the first in history to hold more post-secondary degrees than their male counterparts. Yet working women, compared to working men, struggle far more financially. It is an economic burden not just on the women themselves, but also our entire country. Just closing the wage gap between men and women would cut the poverty rate in half for working women and add nearly half a trillion dollars to the national economy. And because many working women are single mothers, it would also bring millions of children out of poverty.

Here are a few excerpts from the Executive Summary of the report:

The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink focuses the conversation on what working women need now to be successful in today’s economy, where women are powerful, but also powerless. Identifying why that is, why it matters, and what we as a nation can do about it is the mission of this report. What women need now is a country that supports the reality of women’s dual roles as by far the majority of the nation’s caregivers and breadwinners. At its heart, The Shriver Report is a call to the nation to modernize its relationship with women in order not only to strengthen our economy, but also to make it work better for everyone.

The report details a set of public policies that, if adopted, would boost women’s potential as breadwinners: a higher minimum wage, improved access to work and income supports, and better opportunities to access medium- and high-paying jobs. Additionally, women need policies that support their breadwinning and caregiving responsibilities. An overwhelming 96 percent of single mothers in our poll say paid leave is the workplace policy that would help them most, and nearly 80 percent of Americans say the government should expand access to high-quality, affordable child care.

And this infographic below provides some insight into the gains women have made over the last 40-plus years, and how far will still need to go.


If you have a Kindle, you can buy the report for free through today (January 15th) by going here.

Health & Fitness 2014

So have you started your New Year’s diet? I always find it so funny how the first weekly ads of the year for grocery stores have all the “diet” foods on sale. Stuff like Special K, Smart Ones frozen dinners, Lean Cuisine frozen dinners, Slim Fast, etc. And Target has their exercise equipment and work out clothing on sale. Yep, many people start the New Year off with the goal of getting in shape. But the sad fact is that the vast majority of folks will be good for 2-3 weeks and then stop exercising and eating healthy altogether…until bathing suit season when they get back on the fitness wagon for another two weeks–that is until they realize that it takes longer than two weeks to achieve their desired beach body results.

Last year I had a goal of exercising regularly and eating better because I had just turned 30 and I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle. I wrote two long blog posts about my past experiences with “getting in shape”, the lessons I learned from these experiences, and I how I finally found the trick (for me) to sticking with living a healthy lifestyle (you can read those blog posts here). But now that the New Year is upon us, and I’m sure some of you want to get into shape and live healthier this year, I thought I would write another health and fitness post. Keep in mind that I am not a certified trainer or nutritionist. While I am quite knowledgeable of the do’s and don’t’s for exercise and nutrition, I am not an expert in any way, shape or form. You should always consult a doctor before you make any major changes to your diet or begin a new exercise regimen. Below, I offer you my humble advice on how to successfully live healthier in the coming year (and beyond).

My biggest piece of advice is to not stress over it. Setting goals is good because it keeps you in check, but be reasonable with your goals and don’t get too bummed out if you don’t hit your goal(s). As long as you are making progress you are on the right track. Don’t give up because you only lost 12 lbs and you wanted to lose 15 lbs. Many times people set goals that aren’t quite attainable (at least without the help of trainers and nutritionists) and when they don’t hit their goal they get discouraged and give up. Again, if you made progress you are doing something right. Maybe you could change some things that would aid you in hitting your goal. But don’t stress too much about it. Stress causes the body to produce extra amounts of a hormone called cortisol (known as the stress hormone), which in turn causes your body to hold onto extra water and fat, and can increase your appetite as well (especially for high-carb foods). And that in turn affects the number you see when you step on the scale.

Also, the second week can often be frustrating because your body is responding to your new diet and exercise routine (the decrease in calories taken in and the increase in calories burned), so it naturally produces more of–you guess it–cortisol. Thus, when you weigh yourself and the scale says that you haven’t lost any weight (or, gasp, that you have actually gained a pound or two), it is misleading. You’re fine. Keep doing what you’re doing. If you are eating less calories (and less fat) and exercising regularly, it is basically impossible for you to not lose weight. And of course, doing both of those things leads to healthier living overall.

Another thing to remember is to not compare yourself to others. Everyone’s body is different, and everyone’s body responds differently to weight loss. I tend to carry weight in my thighs, hips and buttocks region, but I have always had a flat belly. For other women, it is the opposite. It’s frustrating for me when I do hundreds of squats and lunges every week, and I run several miles every week, I do resistance and interval training on a regular basis, and yet I still have some fat around my butt and hips. It’s like I just can’t get rid of it! Granted it isn’t a lot of fat but I feel like with all the work I do I should be more toned in that region. But other women constantly tell me how they would kill to have my flat, toned stomach. Everyone’s genetic make-up is different and the fact is that the vast majority of us aren’t ever going to look like a swimsuit model–no matter what we do or how hard we work out (also, keep in mind that most magazines photoshop the hell out of the models/celebrities that grace their covers–so even they don’t look that good). Comparing yourself to others is a waste of time, and most likely will cause you to become discouraged and give up. I know it is hard not to do (I still find myself doing it from time to time), but you have to try your best to break that terrible habit.

One of the most important things you can do to make sure you don’t get discouraged is to be realistic about the amount of work you will have to put in to get the results you desire. If you haven’t worked out in ages, have a terrible diet and have several extra lbs to lose, don’t think you can buy a DVD that promises to give you flat abs or shrink your thighs in only 7 minutes a day and come bathing suit season you’ll look like a Sports Illustrated model. No, honey–it’s going to take much longer than 7 minutes every day for you to lose weight and get into shape. It will take about an hour every day and a drastic change to your diet. Losing weight isn’t easy. It’s hard work and it requires an incredible amount of commitment from you. Be prepared for that. Set realistic goals, and if you find that you aren’t going to make your initial goal, modify it. Just don’t give up!

When you do hit your goal(s), however, it is nice to reward yourself. But make it something like buying those killer heels you’ve had your eye on for months, or treating yourself to a day at the spa (I don’t really know what guys would reward themselves with…the new Play Station?). Try not to do something like binge eat for an entire weekend. If you want to reward yourself with a big piece of chocolate cake or a serving of chicken tenders and french fries, then go for it. Just don’t eat bad at every meal the whole day. You can be bad in moderation. In fact, you want to make sure you aren’t completely cutting out “bad” food because more than likely you won’t be able to maintain a diet like that (remember–be realistic!). Eating bad every now again isn’t going to set you back. The key is to not overindulge, and try to be healthy most of the time. I live by the 80/20 rule–80 percent of the time I eat healthy, and 20 percent of the time I eat whatever the hell I want. Some days it’s 50/50, some days it’s 100 percent healthy. So overall, my diet balances out to about 80/20. This way I’m not depriving myself, and that makes it much easier to maintain a healthy diet. You don’t have to eat healthy foods 100 percent of the time, but keep in mind that your diet is more important to your overall health and your ability to lose weight than is exercise.

Finally, the key for my success has been focusing on being healthy rather than being a certain weight. When I stopped worrying about the number on the scale, or what size my jeans were, and focused instead on just being a healthy person, I found it easier to be successful. No longer were my workouts motivated by looking good in a bathing suit. I was motivated because exercising is a healthy lifestyle habit, and being healthy is important to me. Make your health your motivation. It isn’t a rule that if you are thin then you are in good health, or vice versa. If you eat healthy and exercise regularly, you are going to get healthier (and if you are overweight then you will lose some of the extra unwanted lbs). Not everyone can be a size two, and not all size two’s are healthier than size 14′s. Focus on your health, not your weight. I promise you it will make a difference in your success.

Here are some quick guidelines to aid you in your new healthier lifestyle endeavor:

  • If you want to lose weight you will need to cut calories, but you don’t want to cut them down too much.  For women, try to keep your caloric intake at around 1,200 per day; for men, 1,800.  Going below that will cause your metabolism to slow and you wont’ lose as much weight.  Plus your body will go into starvation mode and start producing more of the lovely cortisol hormone.  The more calories you burn, the more food you need to eat.  So if you start training harder, eat more.
  • For a healthy, balanced diet try to stick with lots of fruits and vegetables; lean proteins (fish, poultry); legumes; healthy oils; whole wheat and low fat dairy. Strictly limit fatty meats (pork and red meat); refined sugars (white bread, white rice, candy); fried food and high fat, high calorie desserts/sweets.
  • Try to get 45 minute to 1 hour of exercise 5-6 days per week, but don’t just do one type of exercise (e.g. only cardio)–mix it up with cardio, resistance training, weight training and high intensity interval training (HIIT).   Only doing one type of exercise (especially ones that target the same muscles/muscle groups over and over again) is ineffective because your body gets used to it.  Ever heard of muscle memory?  It’s a real thing.  Mix it up for better results.
  • Try to get a decent amount of sleep.  Most adults need at least 6-7 hours of sleep each night.  Being tired will slow your metabolism and that, of course, will hurt your weight loss efforts (the higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn throughout the day).
  • A good de-stressing mechanism is meditation.  You don’t have to meditate for hours like a Buddhist Monk to get value out of your meditation.  Just ten minutes a day is all you really need.  Look online for some tips on how to meditate, as well as for some free meditation techniques you can use.  It really does help.
  • Remember to focus on your health, not your weight.  In fact, I would recommend getting rid of your scale.  You’ll know you’re losing weight/toning up by how your clothes fit.  If you absolutely must weigh yourself, only do it once every couple of weeks, and do it at the same time of day (the best time is first thing after you get up in the morning–it provides the most accurate reading).

As I stated above, getting into shape/losing weight/dramatically changing your lifestyle habits is not easy.  It takes a lot of commitment, dedication, patience and resolve.  But being a healthier, fit person makes it all worthwhile.  Be patient, be realistic and stay committed.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.


What is said below is exactly what I have been preaching on this blog. Millennials need to take a stand. Other generations–particularly the Boomers–aren’t doing us any favors. All they are doing is making things worse, and yes I do believe that they hope we will remain complacent to the insane amount of damage they are doing to our country and to the world. It is pretty obvious they don’t give a rat’s ass about our future.

It is our time to change the world. If we don’t do it, who will? If we don’t do it now, then when? It must be us and we must begin now. The legacy our generation leaves will undoubtedly revolve around how we choose to handle the issues we are facing RIGHT NOW! Don’t give up on changing our government, don’t give up on changing our country, and don’t give up on changing the world. We can do it. But we must believe that we can. I believe we can…do you? You do? That’s great, cause it’s high time we start to give’em hell!!!


Happy New Year

Another year has come to an end, and honestly, I’m quite glad.  It was a rough ending to 2013 for me.  On the first of December–my birthday–I broke my little toe in my left foot (actually it was my metatarsal that broke). You wouldn’t think that a broken little toe would be that big of a deal, but it hurt like a bitch when I broke it. And over 4 weeks later I’m still unable to put all my weight on that toe (which means I haven’t been able to run or workout at all–and that has been really frustrating).

Then, soon after I broke my toe, my grandfather’s health began to fade.  Sadly, he passed away on December 21st.  It happened fairly quickly–we had figured he would make it through the holidays, but he had different plans. And if Christmas isn’t stressful enough, this ordeal just added a great deal to that stress.  The last week-and-a-half has been pretty rough, so I’m more than ready for 2014 to begin. Even though 2013 was a pretty good year for me, I’m looking forward to a new year so I can really get to work on some ideas I would like to put into motion.

For our country and for the world, however, 2013 wasn’t such a great year.  The partisanship in government reached new heights, but there was a surprising budget compromise at the end of the year. While it was good to see our leaders finally working together, I’m not sure that the budget deal that was struck was really the best for our country–particularly in the long term.  Hopefully our leaders will continue working together to find common ground on the many pertinent issues facing our country and the world, but considering 2014 is an election year, I’m not too confident that they will.

Overall, it will be interesting to see what 2014 has in store for the world.  Just as I did last year, I am once again going to post the yearly prediction for 2014 from Numerology.com. This year will be ruled by the number 7, which is the most introspective number in numerology.  If this prediction rings true, 2014 could bring a lot of changes–both bad and good.

2014 is the year when we become aware — aware of the destructive nature and the inherent danger that exist in a world of extremes. We will begin to see a trend this year, through all areas of human life, to search for ways to bring us together. There will be people in power who change overnight, and institutions that will reconsider their ideologies, giving us hope … but we will also see the negative forces become more desperate and violent.


The number 7 rules the year 2014 — it is a 7 Universal Year, because 2 + 0 + 1 + 4 = 7. The number 7 is analytical and self-examining. It starts a turnaround as, even the mind, as cold as it is, recognizes that duality doesn’t benefit anyone.


But other numbers play a role too… In the chart below, which breaks down the year 2014, the numbers in the upper half show the positive influences of this 7 Universal Year, which are found by continuously adding the digits in a pyramid-like system. The numbers in the lower half show the negative influences, and are the result of subtracting. They are therefore mirrors of each other. The strongest relationship any one number in this chart has, is with its mirrored partner.

The Numbers of 2014

The 9 at the top represents compassion and empathy, while the negative influence of its mirrored partner, the 1 at the bottom, reflects egotism and cruelty. The contrast is obvious and appropriate. The 3 and the 6 in the upper half tell us that art and communication (3), and a deepening sense of responsibility (6) will be the primary channels through which the energy of the 9 flows in 2014, while their mirrored partners, the hostile 1 and the sly 2, oppose them. The 5 represents a big change or shocking and unexpected event around October or November of 2014, caused in large part by miscommunication (the 3 below it).


A matter of extremes

Since the year 2008 — the first year of this current nine-year epicycle that runs through 2016 — we’ve been experiencing an extreme increase in polarization. This schism affects the human race across the globe. Whether political, social, economic, environmental, or religious, our positions tend to be more and more black and white. Gray, the color of compromise, is no longer in-vogue.


Polarization is the quintessence of a climaxing force delivered to us precisely on schedule by this nine-year cycle. It’s a natural, if difficult and painful, part of our evolution. As a species, we are young and immature, given to rebel and push the envelope. We have created long-term instability in our environment, economy, and social structure because we can’t see beyond the desire for instant and superficial satisfaction.


Extremes continue to rule during this nine-year cycle, after which we enter a new nine-year cycle that is dominated by information. The 2017 – 2026 epicycle will see the end of many centuries of long-held secrets. No one will be able to hide then, no institution will be able to hold on to its secrets. Light will shine on everything, and symbolize the most dramatic change in history.

Well, whether you think that numerology is a bunch of hooey or not, you have to admit that these last few years have been dominated by extremes. So if the next cycle is to be dominated by information, I wonder what secrets could be uncovered. And when these secrets are disclosed, how will that change our world? It’s both scary and exciting. I for one am looking forward to 2017.

But for now we have to deal with 2014, which will probably end up being another rough year as we deal with a big midterm election in November. But on a personal level, I sincerely hope you all find happiness, love, prosperity and peace during the year. I am so grateful to all of you who take the time to read my little blog, and I hope that my writing inspires you in some way to want to make our world a better place. That is, after all, our generation’s destiny.

Always remember the wise words of Thomas Paine: “We have it within our power to begin the world over again.” Whether it’s your own personal world or the world at large, we always have the power to create new beginnings. And there is no better time for new beginnings than the New Year.

Millennial Women Paid Nearly the Same as Millennial Men

There is some good news for Millennial women–we are getting paid almost as much as our male counterparts.  According to a new Pew Research Center study, women between the ages of 25 and 34 (almost all Millennial) are being paid 93 percent of what their male peers are being paid.  This is up from 67 percent since 1980 and it is the narrowest wage gap in history.

This isn’t so shocking since women in the Millennial generation are more educated than are the men.  In 2013, 38 percent of Millennial women held at least a Bachelor’s degree, compared to 31 percent of Millennial men.  Furthermore, Millennial women are more likely to be in the workforce:  the study found that 74 percent of women between 25 and 34 were in the labor force in 2012, compared with just 70 percent of young men.  Overall, according to Pew analysis of U.S. Census Data, the gender gap in salaries has narrowed since 1980 as median hourly wages for women increased 25 percent and decreased 4 percent for men.

There was some bad news, however.  Once women have children, the wage gap widens, and women are still finding it difficult to balance their family life with their careers. According to the study, 51 percent of working women with children younger than 18 said their family responsibilities have impeded their career advancement, compared with 16 percent of men.  When women have children, their participation in the workforce oftentimes declines.  Having children naturally leads to career path interruptions as women take maternity leave, cut down their hours, and even temporarily leave the workforce.  It isn’t surprising then that 59 percent of Millennial women agree that “Being a working parent makes it harder to advance in a job or career” compared to just 19 percent of Millennial Men.

Furthermore, analysis going back to 1980 suggests that the gender gap in earnings may increase for Millennial women as it has for earlier cohorts of young women.  After looking at the most recent cohorts of young women, the authors of the study found that by the time women reached their mid-30s, their earnings relative to those of men began to fall further behind, even if they had started out ahead of the previous cohort of young women. In other words, as Millennial women age, the gender gap in earnings will increase.  This is probably because men aren’t as likely to be held back in their careers due to having children, and because they are more likely than women to want to be top executives.

Ultimately, this study proves that women are making progress, but also that women still have a ways to go.  The fact that 61 percent of Millennial women say they want to be a boss/top manager one day–the highest percentage among all generations–is encouraging.  And the recent appointment of a women CEO of an automotive company proves that women continue to make important gains in the business world.  But the sad fact remains that out of all the top Fortune 500 companies, only 23 are headed by women. And despite the record number of women in Congress today, women continue to be far outnumbered by men in government.

The other night I was watching NBC Nightly News and the reporter noted that companies that are run by women make 50 percent more profits than companies run by men.  They didn’t get into the details of this statistic (like how they compared the companies and their earnings) but I don’t doubt that it’s true.   I also recall a recent story on one of the television news magazines (I think it was 60 Minutes) where they discussed why the majority of the top ranking CIA officials are women, and why their best operatives are women–because women possess a certain skills set that makes them better equipped for the job than men.  And when the government shut-down a couple of months ago, it was women in Congress who first came together and started working on a compromise.  I think women have proven that–in most cases–we are more than capable of doing the same jobs as men.

Just think about how far women have come in such a short amount of time.  It was less than 100 years ago that women gained the right to vote.  It wasn’t until the 1960′s-1970′s that women started going to college and entering the workforce in much higher numbers then they had previously.  And really, it was women in the Baby Boomer generation–just two generations removed from Millennials–that began to consistently break the proverbial glass ceiling.  So essentially, it is really only over the last 40-50 years that women have aggressively made gains in equality. And today, women in the youngest adult generation are more educated than their male peers and make-up a larger percentage of the workforce than their male peers, and the companies run by women are more profitable than those run by men.  So it took just 50 years for women to start kicking ass.  How long have men been in charge?  Like thousands of years, right?  And it only took women about 50 years to start surpassing them. Pretty impressive in my humble opinion.

It appears we are well on the way to a more equal society, but there is still substantial progress to be made.   Women in the Millennial Generation have an amazing opportunity to make significant gains in gender equality not just here in the United States but globally as well–more so than any other generation of women in history.  Hopefully, we will take full advantage of it, because the time has come for girls to run the world.  And there is no doubt that if we did the world would be a very different place–in a good way of course.



Farewell Madiba

There are very few people whose purpose in life is to help uplift humanity in profound ways.  Sadly, we lost one of those beautiful, amazing souls today.  He was a man who wasn’t afraid of his destiny, despite the difficult circumstances he would endure to fulfill it.  He was a beloved leader, a freedom fighter, a fervent believer in equality and fairness, and he undoubtedly made our world a better place.  While his extraordinary life journey came to an end today, his legacy will live on forever.  Thank you, Dr. Mandela.  Thank you ever so much.  May you rest in eternal peace.

“It always seems impossible until it is done.”


What Pain Do You Want?

A little over a week ago, I came across an inspiring article at the Huffington Post.   Without getting too personal, I couldn’t have read this article at a better time.  I needed to hear exactly what the author had written.

Today is my 31st birthday, and as I begin my 32nd year of life, I now understand that I am going to have to go through a considerable amount of pain if I ever want to be make my dreams a reality.  I think deep down I already knew this, but I hadn’t really confronted that reality yet–honestly I don’t think I was ready.  Now, I am ready to suffer.  I have copied and pasted the whole article below.  Please read it, and I hope you will be as inspired by it as I was.

Everybody wants what feels good. Everyone wants to live a care-free, happy and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money and be popular and well-respected and admired and a total baller to the point that people part like the Red Sea when you walk into the room.


Everybody wants that — it’s easy to want that.


If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.


Everyone wants that. So what’s the point?


What’s more interesting to me is what pain do you want? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives end up.


Everybody wants to have an amazing job and financial independence — but not everyone is willing to suffer through 60-hour work weeks, long commutes, obnoxious paperwork, to navigate arbitrary corporate hierarchies and the blasé confines of an infinite cubicle hell. People want to be rich without the risk, with the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate wealth.


Everybody wants to have great sex and an awesome relationship — but not everyone is willing to go through the tough communication, the awkward silences, the hurt feelings and the emotional psychodrama to get there. And so they settle. They settle and wonder “What if?” for years and years and until the question morphs from “What if?” into “What for?” And when the lawyers go home and the alimony check is in the mail they say, “What was it all for?” If not for their lowered standards and expectations for themselves 20 years prior, then what for?


Because happiness requires struggle. You can only avoid pain for so long before it comes roaring back to life.


At the core of all human behavior, the good feelings we all want are more or less the same. Therefore what we get out of life is not determined by the good feelings we desire but by what bad feelings we’re willing to sustain.


“Nothing good in life comes easy,” we’ve been told that a hundred times before. The good things in life we accomplish are defined by where we enjoy the suffering, where we enjoy the struggle.


People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately love the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.


People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to love the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not. Some people are wired for that sort of pain, and those are the ones who succeed.


People want a boyfriend or girlfriend. But you don’t end up attracting amazing peoplewithout loving the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building the sexual tension that never gets released, and staring blankly at a phone that never rings. It’s part of the game of love. You can’t win if you don’t play.


What determines your success is “What pain do you want to sustain?”


I wrote in an article last week that I’ve always loved the idea of being a surfer, yet I’ve never made consistent effort to surf regularly. Truth is: I don’t enjoy the pain that comes with paddling until my arms go numb and having water shot up my nose repeatedly. It’s not for me. The cost outweighs the benefit. And that’s fine.


On the other hand, I am willing to live out of a suitcase for months on end, to stammer around in a foreign language for hours with people who speak no English to try and buy a cell phone, to get lost in new cities over and over and over again. Because that’s the sort of pain and stress I enjoy sustaining. That’s where my passion lies, not just in the pleasures, but in the stress and pain.


There’s a lot of self development advice out there that says, “You’ve just got to want it enough!”


That’s only partly true. Everybody wants something. And everybody wants something badly enough. They just aren’t being honest with themselves about what they actually want that bad.


If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want the six pack, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs. If you want the yacht, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business moves, and the possibility of pissing off a person or ten.


If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.


So I ask you, “How are you willing to suffer?”


Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns.


Choose how you are willing to suffer.


Because that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have the same answer.


The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?


Because that answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.


So what’s it going to be?


Mark Manson is an entrepreneur, author and world traveler. He writes on how people can improve their emotional and dating lives, as well as social commentary and various life experiences at MarkManson.net.