May 2020

The Value of Solitude in the COVID-19 Age
Solitude can present a unique opportunity for spiritual, mental, and emotional growth, and what better time to experience it than during a pandemic.

Solitude can present a unique opportunity for spiritual, mental, and emotional growth, and what better time to experience it than during a pandemic.

Humans find a lot of value in community, especially sharing spiritual experiences with others. Nearly every major religion integrates communal fellowship into its traditions. However, they also stress the need for solitude in deepening one’s spiritual life. With the coronavirus pandemic forcing billions of people to stay inside their homes, the potential for solitude is at an all-time high. If effectively harnessed, it can present a unique opportunity for spiritual, mental, and emotional growth.

Examples of Solitude From World Religions

For those seeking spiritual enrichment in solitude, plenty of examples exist. The Tanakh mentions Moses, Elijah, and Jacob meeting alone with God. In Islam, Muhammad’s first revelation occurred when he was alone in the cave of Hira just outside of Mecca. The Bible’s New Testament describes Jesus frequently going into the wilderness by himself to pray.

There are more examples outside of the major Abrahamic religions. Buddha is said to have meditated under the Bodhi tree for several weeks. Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, said that “he who meditates in solitude attains supreme bliss.” Some Neopagans embrace solitary practice instead of joining covens or other groups. Patti Washington, a historian and pagan high priestess, explains that some Wiccans don’t live near any covens and others benefit from setting their own pace and avoiding covens’ interpersonal dynamics.

Why We May Avoid Solitude

In a piece for The Atlantic, journalist Brent Crane observes that most humans try their best to avoid solitude. “It has been considered an inconvenience, something to avoid, a punishment, a realm of loners,” he comments. Humans are social beings, thanks to thousands of years of evolution. Recognizing strength, safety, and better survival odds in numbers, our earliest ancestors lived in small tribes containing several families. Without the protection of a larger group, social outcasts would have been more likely to die from animal attacks, lack of shelter, or starvation.

It’s easy to conflate solitude with loneliness, especially when solitude isn’t deliberately chosen. For some, their busy schedules make it impossible to savor a few quiet moments alone. Others try to avoid their chaotic inner lives: minds filled with anxiety, regret, fear, worry, or other things that make them uncomfortable. Whether it’s a throwback to ancestral fears is uncertain, but being alone can be a significant source of stress.

An Opportunity for Growth

Indeed, too much isolation can harm our physical and mental health. In small doses, however, it can be beneficial. Vox’s Sigal Samuel describes it as a skill. “Lean into it,” she advises, then draws examples from people who’ve dealt with involuntary isolation. “You have to learn how to deal with yourself,” says Keith Lamar, an American man who has spent 27 years in solitary confinement. Professor and researcher Matthew Bowker adds that making the most of being alone can “generate meaningful and valuable experiences in the internal world.”

Being plunged into social isolation while sheltering in place isn’t easy. Recognizing our discomfort is key: Observing and sitting with the emotion is vital, but it’s important to stay detached. Emotions bring with them sensations, and those sensations can and do pass.

Reconnecting with our internal world during periods of solitude is beneficial, but experts warn against completely disconnecting from outside reality. Sensory awareness and grounding techniques are useful for combating anxiety. Keeping track of something in our outside environment can also help ground us, such as rainfall, temperatures, or the birds outside our windows. Routines also help us stay connected and provide structure to our days.

Remembering Purpose in Your Solitude

People all over the world are struggling with pandemic-related isolation. Rather than running from solitude, learning to embrace it can improve our lives. Balancing time spent alone with engaging in technology is a useful strategy to process our discomfort, find relief when we need it, and remain connected with those who matter to us most.

Storage Solutions To Make Cohabitation Easier
First and foremost, cohabitation means figuring out how to organize your shared space and store your personal belongings.

First and foremost, cohabitation means figuring out how to organize your shared space and store your personal belongings.

The decision to move in with your partner is a big one. Outside of what this means for the next step of your relationship, cohabitation can also create a number of new and unusual obstacles that need to be overcome. Above all, you need to figure out what to do with all of your stuff. These days, it is more common for couples to rent a space together than purchase a home. If you’re in this situation, it means you’ll need to be both practical and creative when it comes to finding sensible storage solutions. Consider these tips to develop your own strategy.

Cohabitation 101: Eliminate in Advance

There is no getting around the need to condense and get rid of a lot of stuff before you and your partner share a space. Whether you’re moving into a new spot or you’re making room for your partner’s arrival, you definitely want to eliminate a lot of clutter in advance. Take a look at your possessions and ask yourself what items will serve a purpose in the future. Should you be holding onto old mementos or photos of exes now that your space is shared with someone new?

Getting rid of items from your past can be both painful and liberating. While you don’t have to completely erase what has come before to make the transition to cohabitation, you’ll find that tossing out the junk frees and invigorates your spirit in exciting ways.

Include Personal Space

Personal space is vital to the health and longevity of a relationship. It doesn’t matter that you live in a shoebox apartment in Manhattan, you need to learn how to divide the space in an even way. While most of your home will be shared spaces, you can easily find spots to dedicate to personal pursuits. If you like to read and write, put a desk in the corner of the bedroom where you can go to engage in your passions. When your partner prefers using her Saturday morning for meditation, try and give her time and distance.

There will be some trial and error involved in this part of cohabitation. Don’t be surprised if you both feel restricted in some ways at first. As you learn each other’s rhythms, it will become much easier to figure out how to best give personal space when needed.

Consider Decor Before You Store

Helping a partner feel welcomed in a new space can also be challenging. If you’ve lived in your apartment for years, it is going to undoubtedly feel like “your” space. To change this, work on the decor before you start packing things away. Take down whatever you have hanging on the walls and discuss what you both think would look best moving forward. This will help your partner feel a sense of ownership over the space and offer a few practical places to store items in the open before you pack them away.

Tackle a Project Together

Every home is unique when it comes to storage. Maybe your apartment is lacking in closets or your house doesn’t have an attic, basement, or garage. A great way to discover sensible storage solutions is by tackling an improvement project together after your partner moves in. Dedicate a weekend to building shelves or expanding an existing closet. This can offer you an array of new options for where to place items and bring you closer together in the home you will now be sharing.

Cohabitation can be scary and exhilarating. Though you probably have a number of concerns about the future, it is best to remember you can accomplish great things when you approach the tasks as a team. With time and patience, you’ll both learn how you can make a shared space feel like a home you are building together.

Staying Grounded During Upsetting Times
Especially during this time of pandemic, it can be easy to feel less grounded and unsettled, so consider these suggestions for regaining focus.

Especially during this time of pandemic, it can be easy to feel less grounded and unsettled, so consider these suggestions for regaining focus.

Life can easily throw some surprises your way when you least expect it. If you find yourself distracted all the time with a total lack of focus, it could be because you’re not feeling as grounded as you normally are. This happens to almost everyone from time to time, so there is no need to get frustrated with what you’re experiencing. From suddenly becoming less coordinated to finding yourself daydreaming more often than not, there are a number of reasons feeling ungrounded can impact your daily routine.

Though it might come as a surprise, there are many different ways for you to stay grounded and feel stable again. All you need to do is take a moment to explore some of these simple practices and see what tactics can bring you back to reality when you need the help.

Get Up and Move

Exercise can do wonders for a restless spirit. When you can’t gather your thoughts or feel totally unfocused, a bit of physical fitness might be able to help. On one hand, taking advantage of this idea can be a fantastic way to focus your mind on a very specific task. When you start running, lifting, or spinning, it can force your body to start producing hormones like serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter associated with sensations of contentment and well-being. Adding exercise to your routine can also help you find stability with a consistent activity on your schedule.

Fitness can also be something of a distraction from whatever is distracting you. Though you might struggle to find a way to stay grounded when you’re thinking too hard about your current state, it becomes a lot easier when you dive fully into a specific task. You don’t need to hit the gym to make this happen, either. Go out for a run, do some yoga in your living room, or do whatever else helps you to find your center when you need grounding.

Connect to Your Surroundings

Some people experience feelings of not being grounded in more intense ways than others. If you feel like you’re totally disassociated from what’s happening around you, then you can take more immediate action through a few simple ideas. The next time you start feeling upset, take a moment to breathe and look around the room you are in. Slowly take note of items in the room as your gaze passes them, focusing on physical attributes like color, size, shape, and texture.

You may even find it useful to move about the space and touch items, if possible. Often, when we don’t feel grounded, it is because we are lost in our minds on some level. By giving yourself time to connect with the physical properties of the world around you, it can help to put you back in touch with reality. Some people find counting can also help in this situation. Count each item in the room as you notice it, and you may find the repetitive nature of the task puts you back in a state of contentment before long.

Discover Personal Meaning

Finding meaning can also prove invaluable when you feel lost and not grounded. If you are at work or school when you start feeling these sensations, a great way to ground yourself again is by taking a look at a picture or memento that holds meaning to you. Gaze at pictures of family, friends, pets, or places that elicit positive emotions in you. This is another simple tactic that may refresh your mind and aid you during this time.

Though feeling lost in life can be troubling, there are many ways to regain your composure and move forward. Learn what techniques work best for your needs, and you may discover the perfect way to ground yourself when you feel unwell.


To Your Health! Combating Stress Before Your Wedding
Effectively combating stress during the wedding planning process is essential so that you remain healthy and keep your immune system strong.

Effectively combating stress during the wedding planning process is essential so that you remain healthy and keep your immune system strong.

Let’s face it: Wedding planning is both fun and stressful. You have budgets to follow, vendors to hire, deadlines to meet, and details to wrangle before you can pull your big day together. Illness makes achieving these goals more difficult, so it’s important to do what you can to remain healthy. Stress is often a contributing factor when we get sick, so combating stress can help you stay healthy in the months before you tie the knot.

Good or Bad Stress?

Medical professionals describe two types of stress: good stress and bad stress. The former, also called eustress, can prepare us to handle positive events and challenges. Healthline lists several examples, including starting a new job, having a child, purchasing a home, and of course, getting married. Nervous excitement is a telltale sign that you’re experiencing eustress, and the key is making it work for you. Healthline suggests getting regular exercise, trying new activities, and edging yourself out of your comfort zone. These practices can help you use the extra motivation and energy to accomplish your goals.

Stress and Your Health

When many people talk about stress and its negative impacts on health, they’re referring to distress.’s body and health section mentions several common stress-related health issues such as sleep disturbances, fatigue, weakened immunity, mental health issues, and even heart disease. Distress also puts people at risk for gastrointestinal disorders, headaches, teeth grinding, strokes, and eating disorders.

Just like positive stress, the negative kind also manifests emotionally. It usually kicks in when we perceive that the demands on us are greater than our ability to handle them. We experience symptoms such as a faster heart rate and rapid breathing, but Mayo Clinic describes other physical responses such as blood sugar spikes, decreased hunger, and altered immune responses. When experienced repeatedly over a long time, it increases the probability of getting sick.

Tips for Combating Stress

Bad stress can come from many sources. Global News’ Meghan Collie reveals that workplace-related stress is so common that the World Health Organization considers job burnout as an official medical diagnosis. Planning a wedding can feel like a full-time job, especially with so many to-dos and deadlines. It, too, can lead to burnout for the same reason: the demands placed on us appearing greater than what we can handle.

Brides writer Stefania Sainato offers several useful suggestions for combating stress related to your nuptials. First, you and your partner should decide on the three most important aspects of your event and tackle those first. Deadlines are another stress-inducing detail, so set reasonable ones for completing items on your wedding to-do list. That means including some extra time for emergencies or other unexpected events. Getting assistance from friends, family, and wedding party members helps you feel less overwhelmed. Finally, consider hiring professional help if you’ve got room for it in your budget. A professional planner or day-of coordinator can also ease your load and accomplish some of your planning tasks.

Self-Care in Stressful Times

While you’re taking steps for better wedding planning and combating stress, don’t forget about helpful self-care practices. Sainato stresses the importance of taking a break. Stepping away from planning lets you clear your mind and enjoy some well-deserved downtime with friends, family, and your partner. Exercise can help you release some of your pent-up anxiety, so choose fun activities that match your physical abilities. In the meantime, be sure to get plenty of sleep and eat a well-balanced diet with a wide range of nutritious food.

Whether good or bad, planning a wedding can increase your stress levels. There’s no shame in feeling overwhelmed, but you do have ways of fighting back. Recognizing when you’re stressed out and taking steps to mitigate it will help you stay healthy before and after the big day.

Plant a Garden and Watch Your Relationship Bloom
A perfect way to spend more quality time with your partner this time of year is to plant a garden together, among other do-it-yourself projects.

A perfect way to spend more quality time with your partner this time of year is to plant a garden together, among other do-it-yourself projects.

Tackling home projects with your spouse can be a wonderful way to spend your free time. As the weather gets nicer, you may feel inclined to bring some “do-it-yourself” projects outside. Dedicating time to a garden is a wonderful way to bond with your partner. In fact, a number of couples who have been together for decades have been able to do so by sharing in outdoor activities like gardening. If you think some fresh air and sunshine would be good for your relationship, here are a few projects to get your wheels turning.

Start With Weeds

Beginning a yard project requires a bit of preliminary work. Luckily, this phase is a great way to gauge how you and your partner will work together on more complicated tasks. Try dedicating an afternoon to weeding the garden. Depending on the last time someone did any work to the property, removing all of the weeds and unwanted growth can take a good chunk of time. Still, you won’t be able to plant anything or spruce up the yard without first taking on this task.

Plant the Garden and Wait

Perhaps the easiest way to spend time together outdoors is by planting an actual garden. If you’ve already got the space for it, then you essentially need to focus on seeding the ground. The process of selecting what plants to grow can be a fun activity in and of itself. Take a trip to a local nursery or hardware store and see what’s available. Research which plants will be best to grow during this particular time of year, and cultivate a selection of flowers, fruits, and veggies that will make your property look spectacular.

Build a Shed

For couples who are looking for something a bit more involved than simply planting and tending to a garden, you can build a shed. If you’re planning on spending a considerable amount of time outside in the future, then you’ll need a convenient place to store all of your tools and equipment. Bringing these items into your home can be a messy decision, and a shed helps you avoid crowding your house with tools. Many stores sell DIY kits for sheds, so all you need to do is invest in the tools and select the right spot in your yard for it.

Focus on Little Details

Curb appeal is important to many homeowners. Whether you plan on selling your house in a few years or you simply want neighbors to notice your hard work, dedicating time to the little details of your home’s exterior can work wonders. The mailbox, for example, can be painted or fixed up to be a more appealing feature. The trim on your house can also be updated to give the color of your home a bit more pop. Take a look at your house and see which details you might be able to improve upon.

Create a Shady Spot

If you have enough space on your property, you might want to dedicate time to a project that creates a spot of shade. On hot summer days, sitting in direct sunlight for too long can be both dangerous and exhausting. Think about planting a tree or building a structure like a gazebo on your property. This will provide a simple spot where you and members of your family can go when they’re looking to enjoy the outdoors and still have a bit of respite from the harsh rays of sunlight.

When you are looking for ways to spend time with your significant other and commit to a common goal, working on your yard can be the perfect fit, especially planting a garden. Find a project you both agree on and discover how you can strengthen your bond by committing to a variety of do-it-yourself endeavors.

Grooms: How To Take Better Care of Yourselves
Preliminary data indicate grooms may be at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19, as men tend to have poorer health habits compared to women.

Preliminary data indicate grooms may be at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19, as men tend to have poorer health habits compared to women.

The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be more fatal to men. CNN reported on March 24 that males make up 70% of those who died from coronavirus complications in Italy and 54% of total COVID-19 deaths in South Korea. Yet even without a global virus outbreak, taking care of oneself should be a top priority, especially for men who seem to have poorer health habits compared to women. While grooms are figuring out what to do next about their upcoming weddings, practicing healthy habits can ensure that they’re around to say “I do.”

Why More Men Are Dying From COVID-19

Medical professionals are trying to determine why more men have succumbed to COVID-19. Scientists haven’t determined any concrete causes, according to The Guardian, but they have some theories that may fit the facts. Unhealthy behaviors seem to be the key to higher death rates: More men smoke, drink, and don’t practice healthy habits such as handwashing. Men are less likely to seek medical attention when they are ill. MDLinx reveals that they’re diagnosed at higher rates with serious health conditions:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Chronic heart failure
  • Lung cancer

Grooms and General Risk Factors

British Columbia’s Centre for Disease Control explains that people with chronic illnesses are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 complications. However, they also face a generally greater risk of dying earlier. That contributes to Canadian men’s lower life expectancies: 79 years versus 83 years for Canadian women. Harvard Health mentions that more men are employed in high-risk occupations such as construction, the military, and firefighting. Canadian men are three times more likely to successfully commit suicide, less likely to have significant social connections, and less likely to seek mental health treatment.

Staying Healthy and Beating the Odds

Understanding your risk factors is important. But don’t worry: This article won’t turn into a lecture or sound like a 1950s educational film. What grooms can do, however, is focus on potential ways to maintain or improve their health. Harvard Health suggests choosing one goal to tackle first rather than trying to make a ton of lifestyle changes at once, so pick something attainable right now. Simple steps are a great way to begin your journey, and many helpful resources are available to get you started:

  • If you use tobacco, take steps to quit. Several provinces and territories offer free accessible support for going nicotine-free.
  • People who drink alcohol should do so in moderation. If you’re concerned about addiction, check out this treatment guide from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction.
  • The Canadian government offers a food guide snapshot, plus some tips on how to shop and eat better.
  • New to exercise? Sports medicine expert Andrew Lavender provides several suggestions to get started as a beginner.
  • The Loop lists several national and provincial mental health resources.

If you’re dealing with food insecurity due to COVID-19, try Food Banks Canada’s food bank search. Each provincial and territorial government operates social assistance and welfare programs. Also, California-based Dignity Health supplies several tips for eating well if you lack regular access to fresh, healthy food.

Your Journey, Your Choices, Your Health

Life is precious. Besides your quality of life and goals, there are friends and loved ones who care and would love to see you stick around for a long time. Grooms also have a wedding to look forward to, whether or not COVID-19 has delayed their plans. Remember that change won’t happen overnight: This isn’t a race to see how quickly you can accomplish your goals. Nobody’s expecting you to become musclebound or become a whiz at CrossFit. If your first benchmark is eating one piece of fruit each day, that’s fine. The bottom line: Take care of yourself. The world needs you.

Growing Together Instead of Growing Apart
While it can be common to worry about growing apart as your life and relationship evolve, there are active steps you can take to help you grow together.

While it can be common to worry about growing apart as your life and relationship evolve, there are active steps you can take to help you grow together.

Relationships can be tricky. While finding a suitable romantic partner can be complicated in and of itself, the struggle doesn’t stop the moment you meet your match. In fact, the longer you’re with the same partner, the more likely it is you’ll encounter new and unusual issues you hadn’t anticipated. One common problem for long-term couples is growing apart as the years go on. Though a common fear for many, there are many simple ways to focus your efforts and learn to grow together and strengthen your existing bond instead.

Spend Time Alone

When you first meet a potential romantic partner, it can compel you to want to spend each and every moment with this person. As the years go on and your relationship grows, you begin to take the other person for granted in subtle ways. Sitting around the house together and staring at your phones might seem like you are spending time together, but you’re technically just occupying the same space at the same time. To keep your relationship strong, there must be a concerted effort to spend meaningful time with each other.

Life is going to take you both in very different directions, and it is important to find activities you enjoy doing alone, or without your partner. However, if you don’t actively dedicate time in your schedule to each other, your relationship will start to fizzle away. Sit down together on a weekly basis and have a “check-in” about your week. This creates an excuse to talk to each other about work, school, or whatever activities you take part in separately. Having a vested interest in your partner’s life helps to reduce the odds of distance growing between you.

Fight When You Need To Fight

Many people have strong reactions about whether or not fights are healthy in a relationship. While newer couples tend to shy away from arguments, studies have shown that a bit of fighting can be incredibly helpful for relationships of all types. While you definitely don’t want to argue over every little thing, a fight is an opportunity to work through an issue that is bothering you. When you constantly avoid arguments because you fear they will upset the peace, you’re really shoving down your emotions until they explode out of you in less healthy ways.

One key to understanding arguments is learning how to admit your mistakes. Saying “I’m sorry” is definitely key, but an empty apology is about as useful as a toothbrush with no bristles. Don’t apologize just to end an argument. Instead, take a look at what your partner is pointing out and try to own whatever issues are being addressed. The more you both acknowledge each other’s frustrations, the easier it is to find meaningful solutions for the future to help lower the odds of the same issue repeating time and time again.

Work Together

The healthiest relationships are typically made up of two people who know how to work together for a common goal. Sadly, there are plenty of circumstances in which you might feel your partner is not in your corner and vice versa. During these moments, it is crucial to remind yourself that your significant other is not your enemy. Though you might not see eye to eye, you need to think about what matters in the moment. At the end of the day, all successful relationships consist of two individuals who know how to work together.

No matter how long you have been with your significant other, growing apart can be a very real concern at any stage of your relationship. To avoid drifting from the person you love, you must take active steps to spend more meaningful time together. By making this effort to connect, you can reduce the odds of the passage of time pushing you farther away from each other.

Tackle Healthy Eating as a Couple
Committing to and making a plan for healthy eating with your partner can increase the chance of success and help you stick to your goals.

Committing to and making a plan for healthy eating with your partner can increase the chance of success and help you stick to your goals.

Living a healthy lifestyle is easier said than done. While most people understand the importance of a balanced diet and regular exercise, having the motivation to commit to these choices when faced with financial constraints and fatigue from work can be difficult. Luckily, it is far more likely for you to stick with healthy changes to your routine if you have someone by your side during the journey. By committing to healthy eating with your significant other, for example, you might be able to make the changes you desire. Consider these tactics and discover the most appropriate methods for reaching your goals.

Create a Healthy Eating Plan

First, you need to formulate a plan together. The goal of “healthy eating” is too vague and ill-defined to be a practical objective. Instead, approach the task from a pragmatic perspective. What do you hope to get from this experience? Perhaps you learned recently that your blood pressure is higher than it should be. This could be reason enough to adjust your diet and begin cutting out salty foods. Create a framework for your plan, and it will give you useful parameters to work within moving forward.

Shop Smart

After you develop a plan for how you’d like to prep meals, you need to make a list and hit the grocery store. One of the biggest challenges of healthy eating is going to the store without coming home with a bunch of junk food or items you don’t need. This is where you can use your partner to your advantage. If one of you has a stronger constitution when it comes to avoiding temptation, this should be the person tasked with shopping. When you both are bad at exercising restraint, go to the store together to remain focused.

Look at Better Options

Transitioning to healthy eating can be difficult for people who really enjoy specific, unhealthy foods. Cutting bacon out of your diet, for example, can be healthy for your heart. Sadly, bacon is really hard for people to say goodbye to. Instead of cutting it out completely, look into healthier alternatives. From turkey bacon to vegetarian strips, there are several ways to get the smoky, crisp experience of bacon without resorting to unhealthy habits. There are several fantastic resources for this online, so conduct a little research to find some healthier options.

Start the Day Together

One way to commit to a healthier routine is by eating breakfast together. Considered the most important meal of the day, what you eat in the morning sets the pace for what you consume later. If you eat a breakfast that does not satisfy you, then you might snack on empty carbs until lunch. Get the day started with a nourishing breakfast, and you can lay the groundwork you need to tackle whatever challenges await during your day.

Stay Strong

The whole point of getting into healthy eating habits with your partner is having someone you can turn to when you are having a low moment. After a particularly difficult day with a lot of strong emotions, you might feel tempted to break from your healthier habits. Instead of caving in, you can turn to your significant other for positive encouragement. Of course, you’ll also need to provide this support as well. As long as you know how to lean on each other, it can do wonders for your success.

There are countless reasons to think about living a healthier lifestyle, including healthy eating. Whether you’re trying to feel better, lose weight, or make more sensible decisions for your future, the trouble most people face is committing to the decision. By working with your partner on these wellness goals, you will increase your odds of success and commit to a rewarding challenge together.

Sacred Grounds: The Surprising Religious History of Coffee
The humble coffee bean has a surprising religious history that weaves together many fascinating tails and origin stories.

The humble coffee bean has a surprising religious history that weaves together many fascinating tails and origin stories.

Would you call your morning cup of coffee a mystical experience? In our quest to power up for the day, we probably don’t think about coffee’s origins. Yet this humble bean has a surprising religious history. It’s a fascinating and complex tale that began in Africa many centuries ago.

Coffee’s Ethiopian Origins

Coffee cultivation takes place in over 80 countries today, most of them located in tropical regions. One popular legend claims that an Ethiopian goat herder discovered the plant after noticing strange behavior out of his goats. After finding a green shrub decked with bright cherry-colored berries, he picked some of the fruit and brought it to a local monastery. The caffeine enabled the monks to stay awake, and the rest was history.

Except that it wasn’t really history.

Journalist Livia Gershon explains that the coffee plant did first grow wild in Ethiopia. However, the local tribespeople discovered it first. Thanks to its energizing properties, the bean was used as a sacrament in communal ceremonies. Hunters also imbibed it to stay alert and stave off hunger while seeking their prey. It eventually made its way to other parts of Africa, where other cultures found more uses for it. Some brewed a drink from the vivid red berries, while others roasted them in fat or chewed them without any prep. The Haya people of Tanzania even traded the beans as currency.

Java and Midnight Meditations

Just in case you thought the Ethiopian goat herder would get all the credit, there are two other myths about coffee’s origins. The Spruce‘s Lindsey Goodwin mentions one story in which a Sufi mystic finds and chews the berries during his journey through Ethiopia. Another tale claims that an exiled sheik on the verge of starvation discovered the plant in the wild. When he tossed the berries into his campfire, he fell in love with their aroma but found them too hard to chew. After trying to soften them in water, he drank the liquid and felt invigorated.

It’s hard to separate truth from myth, but we do know that Yemenite Sufi Muslims consumed coffee to keep alert during nighttime chanting rituals. Coffee eventually spread throughout the rest of the Muslim world, fueling Yemen’s economy for over 250 years. Many people drank it to stay awake during late-night Ramadan festivities, and coffeehouses sprung up to fuel the demand. More legends propagated about the bean’s origins, with some crediting Muhammed or the archangel Gabriel for gifting it to humanity.

Coffee Comes to Europe and America

Coffee was widely consumed in the Muslim world by the 1500s. Around this time, Europeans began encountering the drink during their travels. Although they found it bitter due to its initial lack of sugar, they loved its energizing effects. The drink soon came to Europe, where it was both loved and considered controversial. Just as in the Middle East, coffeehouses popped up in major cities throughout the continent. They became cultural centers and community meeting places, much like taverns were during America’s colonial era.

One often-repeated legend claims that several clerics asked Pope Clement VII to ban coffee, insisting that it was “Satan’s brew.” Yet when the pope tried coffee for himself, he enjoyed it so much that he gave it his blessing. From there, coffee came to the Americas, where early colonialists embraced the brew. “Coffee makes a man more reasonable, better able to concentrate and hardworking,” comments Laura Turner in the Washington Post. “No wonder people might see it going hand in hand with the Protestant work ethic.”

All Hail the Mighty Bean

Canada ranks third in the world for coffee consumption. For many of us, this bold brew is a must-have that fuels our bodies and minds. Whether or not we thank the divine for our daily drink, it certainly holds a revered place in our modern lives.

Handling Fights With Your Significant Other
Relationships are far from easy. Getting through difficult periods of strife is all about learning the right way to handle fights.

Relationships are far from easy. Getting through difficult periods of strife is all about learning the right way to handle fights.

Relationships are far from easy. While some might be simpler for you to manage than others, all of the connections you share with friends and family members need to be tended to every now and again. One of the most important bonds you share in life is with your significant other. Fights can disrupt the normal routine of a couple and sour plenty of experiences before the issue is resolved. Getting through difficult periods of strife is all about learning the right way to handle a fight.

There are several actions you should avoid when arguing with your partner. Consider these tips and discover how you can keep your fights to a minimum and civil all the while.

Respect Is Everything

Showing proper respect to your significant other is important when you want your relationship to stay healthy. Of course, this is not always easy. When you are in the middle of fights, you may not remember how crucial respect can be. The worst thing you can do is willingly and consciously show disrespect during a fight. Remember that every person has a different way of handling stress and coping with an argument. Respect your partner’s process, and it will be easier to find a resolution.

The Stakes Aren’t That High

Fighting has a way of making everything seem extreme. When you’ve been with your partner for long enough, you start to argue over the dumbest topics. Sometimes, you may even have the same point of view but are arguing anyway. When tensions are high, many people assume the stakes are also high. This creates an “all or nothing” mentality that can destroy your relationship by making it seem like any little fight is a cause for throwing your relationship away. Luckily, taking a step back before reacting can help you gain some perspective on the matter.

Let Go of Fights

Nothing is worse in a fight than when your significant other slings something at you from the past. Though plenty of couples “keep score” and hold to past transgressions, this is a very unhealthy habit. Throwing something at your partner from the past means those wounds were never healed. It is important to address topics that bother you as soon as possible, or else you may end up in a situation where you are constantly fighting over the same things.

Learn To Listen

A big mistake couples make frequently during fights is to fail to hear what the other is saying. When you both have a lot to get off your chests, you both need to hear each other. If you only argue your point of view and wait for your turn to speak, then you won’t be able to resolve any of the issues being brought up. Listening is a skill many people lack, so do your best to focus and put your emotions to the side as you do.

Find a Resolution

You may also find that many of your fights feel like they are going in circles. This is because plenty of couples constantly go back to the root of what caused the argument. While it is important to address the cause, you need to move past this and focus more on the resolution. How will you move forward, and what changes will each of you make? Thinking about the resolution will help you avoid an endless cycle of arguing the same points.

Relationships require a lot of work. No matter how strong the bond you share with your partner might be, you are going to argue now and again. What matters is how you move through the conflict. Take time to learn sensible ways of handling your fights, and see how you can use each disagreement as a way to strengthen your union for the future.