Elitism in Health and Fitness Communities


Since I started making exercise a normal routine in my life, I have noticed two disturbing types of messages that are being relayed in the health and fitness industry. My critique is nothing new, but I hope to articulate it in a way that allows for us to reconsider the language we use when discussing topics of health and fitness.


The first issue is diet.


Some fitness gurus will use language that is extremely pretentious such as,








Okay, so it’s not that extreme, but I have personally interpreted it that way.


As a collective we should choose healthier eating options, but instead of advocating for healthier eating habits we should be advocating for food desert awareness, and understanding the fact that  communities of lower income do not have access to fresh foods. If you’re going to advocate for a healthier lifestyle, we need to acknowledge that access to the foods we eat, and the ability to afford it, are based on where we live.


The second issue is the correlation between physique and physical and mental health.


I’ve seen plenty of overweight people who have great cardio and are exceptionally strong/athletic, but you won’t see them on the thousands of “Body Transformation” Instagram accounts, who seem to only showcase underwear and bikini models. What I’ve found is that this only adds to critiquing your own self-esteem, rather than celebrating all body types.


When we only showcase one body type, we aren’t advocating for well-being, we are advocating for the perfect being. It is a classist idea that if you’re not like us, and do not become one of us, then it’s YOUR problem, and not ours.


Get On Up was created to show that if I can do it, so can you. If you are seeking inspiration or advice, I am more than happy to give it to you. But I never want anyone to think that this site is exclusive.


My call to action is to stray away from these two negative messages, and focus on helping others who want to be helped in a constructive, non-elitist way.

A Snapshot of Dana Point


It’s a weird feeling growing up in the same place for 25 years. I’ve always envied other places in the states such as the east coast and the Pacific Northwest, because they’ve actually experienced seasons, whereas here in Southern California it’s almost like a perpetual summer. The desert heat of California reminds me of a joke my dad once said, “We don’t have winters. We just have cold summers.” Growing up felt like one endless summer.


Summers in Dana Point, California are simply unlike anything else out there. Maybe I am naïve and in reality it’s just like any other beach city in the world. Maybe the surrounding cities of Huntington Beach, San Clemente, and Laguna Beach have the same vibe. If they are, that’s fine and dandy, but I don’t smell the scent in the same way I do when I enter Dana. Perhaps it’s as if Dana is a flower and I am simply a species of bee that is attracted to whatever scent it chooses to emanate.


It is a combination of familiarity and curiosity.   Known versus the unknown. On one hand, I have familiarity in the actual place. I frequent the mom and pop coffee shops, expand my palate with Mexican and Japanese cuisine, and a drink at bar filled with salty sailors. I workout at a park that had a trail that leads to Doheny State Beach, and I even work at a Trader Joe’s that’s a stone throw away from the beach.


And then there are the beaches. Salt Creek, Strands, Doheny, and the Harbor. Summers spent frolicking in the sand, going to the snack bar at Salt Creek beach to get cinnamon sugar chips, and coming home to take a dip in my community pool. It was bliss. I went down the steps to Strands beach as a boy to go to my junior lifeguards day camp, and I take those steps now when I exercise and afterwards I marvel at the horizon.


That’s where the unfamiliarity steps in.


I’ve lived in this area all my life but I never took up surfing. There’s a reason why. When I was 14 I almost drowned after going over the falls on a body board. My relationship with the ocean hasn’t been the same since. Once I thought I was invincible. Now I know the true power of the ocean. Scratch that, I was only offered a taste of the power the ocean has to offer. It boggles my mind how we pride ourselves on our capacity for knowledge, and yet we are children when it comes to our knowledge of what lies beneath the ocean.


I don’t know what heaven looks or feels like, but if God made man in his image, then I would assume that what is given to us now is the shape of things to come. If floating on clouds in the sky is your idea Heaven, by all means believe what you want. For me it’s water fights in my neighborhood, Hawaiian barbeques on the fourth of July, and having a place called home that I know will always be mine.

Will Scotland Have Another Independence Referendum After Brexit?


Words and Photos by David Pannochia

‘Scotland did not let you down. Please, I beg you, cher colleagues, do not let Scotland down now.’

These passionate words delivered by Scottish MEP Alyn Smith to the European Parliament after the Brexit referendum drew a standing ovation from the chamber. Indeed, with 62% of Scottish voters deciding to remain in the EU, these words were more than rhetoric.

In the weeks since the referendum delivered a narrow majority to leave the EU, British politics has become a Big Brother House of intrigue. With David Cameron’s announced resignation, a series of political manoeuvres worthy of House of Cards in ambition, but resembling the Three Stooges in execution, has led to Theresa May becoming Prime Minister. Meanwhile, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn is currently facing a coup from within his own party leadership and Nigel Farage, a leading figure in the Brexit campaign, has resigned the leadership of UKIP.

While Westminster scrambles to regain the reins and negotiate its exit from the EU, calls in Scotland for another referendum on independence are picking up momentum. In order to answer where we are going, it’s worth asking how we got here?

1997 Devolution

With calls for greater autonomy reaching critical mass, Tony Blair’s government granted a referendum on devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This lead to the creation of devolved parliaments with varying degrees of policymaking power. Scotland, where the calls were loudest, received the most powers.

This decision was intended as a compromise to put the issue of independence to rest. However, the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood has proved to be a professional and effective governing body. This taste of self-governance ultimately bolstered people’s desire for independence.

2011 Scottish Parliament Elections

Considering that the electoral formula for Holyrood is designed to generate coalitions, it was a surprise that the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) gained a majority.

With Labour’s declining popularity in Scotland and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats implementing unpopular austerity policies from Westminster, the SNP’s success was more an endorsement their policies and record in governance than for independence. At the time, opinion polls indicated approximately 35% of the population would vote for independence.

2014 Indyref

In the run-up to the referendum, both sides fought an ardent and passionate campaign. If there was a theme, the ‘Yes’ campaign emphasised hope while the ‘No’ campaign appealed to people’s pragmatism. As the date of the referendum neared, the ‘Yes’ campaign showed signs of closing the gap. When a YouGov poll showed an unexpected 1% lead for the ‘Yes’ campaign, Westminster was sent into a panic. Cancelling parliamentary sessions, MPs raced northward to appeal to Scotland to remain, with the leaders of the three main parties making the so-called ‘Vow’ promising greater autonomy to Scotland if it remained in the UK.

On September 18, the Scottish public were presented with a simple choice with big ramifications. ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. By the next day, with a turnout of 84.6%, 55% had said ‘No’ to independence.

Many commentators remarked that what swung the vote was undecided voters choosing to go with their ‘heads’ rather than their ‘hearts’. But some of the pragmatic arguments that convinced ‘No’ voters now side with those wishing for independence. For example, a major argument for remaining in the UK was that an independent Scotland’s place in the EU would not be assured. In light of Brexit, the situation has completely reversed. Also, with the pound in freefall and the UK set to succumb to a recession, many of the economic arguments for staying in the UK feel substantially weaker.

2015 General Election

Scotland has traditionally been a Labour stronghold in general elections. However, on the back of the 2014 Referendum, the SNP won 56 out of 59 seats in Scotland. Already in the minds of many, this result was a mandate for another referendum, or, at the very least, greater autonomy. However, because the Conservatives won a slim majority and Labour did not win enough seats to potentially make a coalition with the SNP, there was no vehicle to bring either. The ‘Vow’, as it materialised, was primarily a marginal increase in fiscal powers for the Scottish government.

2016 Brexit Referendum

While Westminster fell into disarray following the result, Holyrood made moves that signalled a second independence referendum is on its way. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, stated that a second referendum was ‘highly likely’, and meet with EU officials to discuss maintaining Scotland’s place in the EU. Meanwhile, Angus Robertson, leader of the SNP in Westminster, spoke in more certain terms that the vote to leave the EU would lead to another referendum.

However, it is unlikely that a second referendum will be called for unless the SNP is sure they can win it. But public opinion appears to be shifting in that direction. Although it is too early to tell which way the winds will ultimately turn, polls after the Brexit result show support for independence as being between 52-54%. With the Conservative party likely to go further right under Theresa May, it is very possible that support for independence will continue to grow, as the prospect of a Nordic-styled social democracy that many in Scotland seek diminishes within the UK.

What’s Next?

Whether or not Scotland stays in or leaves the UK depends on a lot of factors.

First and foremost, whether a substantial majority of Scottish voters indicate that it is in their best interest to be a part of Europe rather than the UK, as the SNP would not take the risk of losing another referendum that would certainly settle the issue for at least a generation.

Second is whether Westminster grants such a referendum, risking once again to break up the UK. But if a second referendum is requested, Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party and unionist, warned that it would be undemocratic and unconstitutional for Westminster to block it.

Third is whether the EU would accept Scotland’s entry. With member states like Spain and Italy facing secessionist movements of their own, they would not want to set a precedent of a breakaway state easily regaining membership. Yet, it is unlikely that an independent Scotland would be refused entry if it fulfilled the criteria for accession.

Many of these issues ultimately pend on the kind of exit deal that is struck between the UK and the EU. Indeed, taking into consideration that Scotland may choose to leave the UK, PM Theresa May has recently stated that no moves towards Brexit will be made until a ‘UK approach’ to negotiations is arrived at. But one thing is for certain, the UK is in the middle of a sea change and the possibility that Scotland breaks away with the shifting tide is very real.


















What the “All Men” Argument Gets Wrong


Today I am going on a rant. I would have kept quiet about this whole situation as everyone seems to have an opinion about it (and rightly so), but there is something I noticed about Donald Trump’s defense that no one has yet to bring up.


The typical response from Trump surrogates over his disgusting comments is, “all men talk like this at some point in time.” That is the biggest load of malarkey I’ve heard in a while, and I’m going to explain why.


I will call this the “all men” argument.


When I hear that “all men talk this way,” what exactly do they mean by that? In arguing that, they are assuming that all men are:


  1. Heterosexual
  2. Sexually Promiscuous
  3. Individuals who lack respect
  4. Perpetuators of sexual assault
  5. Animals


To elaborate further:


The “all men” argument ignores men who are a part of the LGBTQ community


This was the first thought that came to my mind when I heard this lackluster argument. Does heterosexuality encompass all that is masculine? No, because masculinity is not a monolith. Being attracted to women makes you no more of a man than being attracted to wealth makes you rich.


The “all men” argument ignores men who are celibate


This includes men in the priesthood, men who wait to have sexual intercourse until marriage, and men who choose celibacy for other personal and spiritual reasons.


The “all men” argument ignores men who respect their spouses


Let’s remember that Trump didn’t say this as a teenager, he said this as a married, 59 year old man. Even when I was a teenager, I knew I would catch hell if I spoke like that in front of my dad. That’s because my dad respects his wife, my mother.


The “all men” argument ignores the difference between discussing sexual escapades, and sexual assault


If this hot mic conversation exposed Donald describing his past sexual escapades, many of us would be more forgiving. A lot of people, not just men, talk about the “fun times” they’ve had in addition to their sexual preferences. But Donald’s language wasn’t that of a, “I had a one night stand” narrative, this is a, “I can get away with sexual assault,” brag that would not be tolerated among a large majority of people.


The “all men” argument perpetuates the idea that men are just beasts and acting on their primal instincts


This one takes the cake, and one that, quite frankly, I am sick of hearing. It normalizes the idea that, “men can’t be faithful because it’s in our DNA to reproduce as much as possible.” This idea is almost on par with the “survival of the fittest” misconception. We are not just animals. Our frontal lobes have advanced astronomically from the days of early humans that to say such a statement degrades thousands of years of human evolution. If we were still animals acting out on our basic instincts we would have no time for developments in morality, justice, and altruism – to name a few.


And with that I will end with a quote regarding human decency in hopes of combatting this flagrantly false argument.


“Our society does everything in its power to ensure that you wind up being a self-absorbed nobody fixated on gratifying your appetites. Be your own person. Rise above the herd, declare your independence from a culture that thinks so little of you, and proclaim that you intend to live not as a beast but as a man.”

A Picture of Tanzania


Words by David Pannocchia, Photos by Nicholas Jennings-Bramly 

Close your eyes. Picture Africa. What comes to mind?

A hot savanna teaming with herds of exotic wildlife? White sand beaches and turquoise waters? Mud huts deprived of basic utilities? Armed men on the back of pickup trucks? A starving child?

To be sure, these are all aspects of the continent. But these mental images, like any image, are only a part of the whole picture, and the image of Tanzania I will show here might surprise you.

Peace and Stability


With the collapse of imperial powers in Europe, many African countries were left to try and form national identities and states within borders arbitrarily drawn by colonialists. The rapid move to independence during the 1950s and 1960s meant that these newly independent states were left to struggle with longstanding ethnic and religious divides while caught in the middle of the Cold War game of tug-of-war between the USA and USSR.

Tanzania’s transition from a British protectorate to an independent state was a tremendous achievement in nation building. Tanzania possesses an ethnically, religiously and linguistically diverse population. With over 120 tribes, 126 languages and a roughly equal percentage of Muslims and Christians, amongst other religions, Tanzania could have suffered from the instability that plagued many of its post-colonial neighbours.

Its first president, Julius Nyerere, played crucial role in unifying the country. Kiswahili was made the national language, symbols of religious tolerance, such as the alternation of Muslim and Christian presidents, and the policies of ujamaa (‘family hood’) forged Tanzanians into one people in a way that appreciated their differences. Because of this, Tanzania is a country where people communicate in a common tongue, a person is a Tanzanian first and a Chaga or Matumbi second, and an Imam calls worshipers to prayers while church bells ring from adjacent buildings. In sum, Tanzania stands as one of the most harmonious countries in the region.


Just off the coast of the mainland lies the Zanzibar. Since the Middle Ages, Zanzibar was the commercial hub for East Africa, drawing merchants from as far afield as China. Because of its centrality in the slave trade, Portuguese and Arabian empires vied for the islands, which eventually came under the control of the Sultanate of Oman. On the premise of ending slavery, the British made Zanzibar a protectorate in 1890. Tensions between Zanzibari Sultans and the British culminated in the shortest war in history, lasting a total of 38 minutes.

With the withdrawal of the British in 1963 and the following Zanzibar Revolution, Zanzibar gained independence and formed a political union with mainland Tanganyika to create Tanzania. Although elections on the mainland are relatively free and fair, semi-autonomous Zanzibar rarely gets the president it votes for. Such is the price of the political stability Tanzania prides itself in.

Today, Zanzibar is world-famed for beaches and spices. The old city of Stone Town stands frozen in time. Alleyways, often too narrow for a car, are lined with buildings built in the time of the Sultans. The Palace of Wonders houses Zanzibar’s historical artefacts while the slave market still stands as a solemn reminder of this dark epoch.

Dar es Salaam


In a matter of decades, Dar es Salaam has transformed from a small fishing town into a bustling metropolis of nearly 4.5 million inhabitants. Although Dodoma is the capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam serves as the commercial and administrative nervous system of the country.

As the third fastest growing city in Africa, Dar es Salaam’s infrastructure has been placed under enormous strain. Plans to build a new city in the Kingamboni district across the peninsula are in their infancy, but when completed will make Dar es Salaam one of the most modern cities in Africa.

Although Dar es Salaam has been instrumental in driving Tanzania’s economic growth rate of 7%, much of this wealth remains concentrated within its gravitational pull. Travel into the interior and this becomes quickly apparent, and the thought of how much of Dar es Salaam’s relative prosperity comes at a cost to the rest may cross your mind.

Natural Beauty


On its 42,000 km2 of national parks, Tanzania possesses one of the most diverse ecosystems on the continent. The Serengeti, Mt Kilimanjaro and white sand beaches of Zanzibar are amongst the most popular tourist destinations.

One of the places that impressed me most was the Amboni Caves outside of the coastal city of Tanga. As the largest cave network in East Africa, much of the Amboni Caves are unexplored and little is known of their origins. Tour guides take visitors into explored sections of the dark web of tunnels, showing the stunning rock formations and cites where witch doctors practice traditional medicine. Stories of ill-fated exploration attempts and bandits who used the caves as a hideout excite your imagination in the darkness. All the while, one is left in awe at the enormity and beauty of the place, hidden away in the belly of the earth since the time of the dinosaurs.

One of the biggest threats to Tanzania’s natural wealth is, of course, human interference. I watched first-hand as a once scenic beach and its offshore coral garden was gradually destroyed by the construction of a five star resort on the north coast of Zanzibar. The discovery of uranium in the Selous National Park led to large-scale mining operations in the once protected area. Coral reefs are being gutted at unprecedented rates by the practice of dynamite fishing, while Tanzania’s large elephant population is being decimated by poachers to feed the booming Chinese ivory market. Although numerous carrots and sticks have been implemented by the government to discourage practices like poaching, with abject poverty being the alternative for many, environmental sustainability can only be achieved by improving standards of living.


Art everywhere has been shaped by the ability of craftsmen to transform basic materials into a feast for the senses. This is especially evident in Tanzania. The abundance of ebony wood in the south provided the materials for the creation of complex Makonde sculptures depicting ancestral family trees, while the more arid climate of the north meant that nomadic herdsmen scrawled their creative urges onto the ancient rocks and caves to mark hunting grounds and grazing lands.

In the 1960s, an artist named Edward Said Tingatinga developed a novel style of painting using the materials available to him, limited by accessibility and money, to revolutionise art in Tanzania and East Africa. Tingatinga painting is done by applying layers of bicycle paint in a stage based formula onto canvass that has been scraped to a polish with a razor or smooth panels of wood. The abstractly stylised paintings typically depict wildlife on the savannah, village life, bustling city scenes and traditional folklore.

Connecting the Country

Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. People confront severe challenges in their daily lives. But innovative solutions rise out of complex problems, and one of the most innovative areas has been in telecommunications.

With the lack of roads, railways, telephone and electricity lines, it is an understatement to say that keeping a large country like Tanzania connected is difficult. But like most places in the world, the cell phone has revolutionised how Tanzanians communicate and carry out their business. The introduction of cheap mobile phones has given many people ownership or access to one. Meanwhile affordable solar powered chargers mean that even in places without electricity, people can stay connected to the rest of the country.

The lack of access to banking services has led to the ingenious use of mobile phones as the medium to transfer cash electronically. By sending calling credit from one phone to the next, an employer can pay a worker in Dar es Salaam, that worker can send money back to their family in the village and the family can withdraw it from a shop within a matter of hours. This is just one of the ways in which Tanzania is forging its own path towards modernity.


This small glimpse into Tanzania hardly does it justice. But I hope it has sparked your curiosity to learn more about this beautiful land and its people. And, if you ever find yourself standing on its red, sun baked soil, Karibu Sana!
















When Traveling With Friends Is Better Than Traveling Solo



A common theme among travel bloggers, myself included, is to encourage their readers to go out and travel alone.


As wonderful as solo traveling has been and can be; I am not going to entirely knock the benefits of traveling with friends. In fact, it can be an incredible and even better experience than traveling alone.


Last September, a few months after the U.S. normalized relations with Cuba; I received a phone call from an old friend from college friend who told me she was organizing a New Year’s trip to Cuba with eight of our other mutual friends.


I had no desire to visit Cuba, but when I was invited to visit the country with the type of people I knew I’d be going with, I knew this would be a memory to good to waste.


As much as I enjoy solo traveling, there is no way in Hell I would have had the time of my life had it not been for the people I went with.


Here’s what I learned.


I gained a wider perspective


Although the friends I went with live in the U.S., we were still quite the diverse bunch. More than half were either from Germany, Armenia, or belonged to Egyptian and Asian communities. Professionally, these individuals were all over the map: educators, filmmakers, and nurses – among others. I learned differences in perspectives, and was called out more than once for how my own narrative was formed through my North American upbringing.


I wouldn’t know what do to if my friend didn’t speak Spanish


My friend Suzie speaks fluent Armenian, Russian, English and Spanish. Had it not been for her, we would not have been able to tell our cab driver at the airport the directions to the awesome home were staying in, grab a tour guide to help us navigate the city of Viñales, and most importantly, we would never have had pizza delivered to our house late at night.


I Still Had Time To Myself


I was able to explore the streets of Havana by myself, and found things that only I would find: a Spanish book about Vladimir Lenin, a workout park, and the opportunity to play share music with street musicians. They were the same benefits I get when I was travel alone, but this time I had the comfort of knowing I had friends to speak with at the end of the day.


Last but not least…


“Happiness is best when shared”


There’s nothing like sitting in a pool on a humid Cuban day with your close friends discussing politics over a bottle of rum, hookah, and Cuban cigars. It is pure bliss. Discovering happiness on your own is great, and something I think we should all do. But a shared happiness is unique in and of itself.


After our Cuba excursion, when we arrived back to our respective California homes with unlimited access to texting and Internet, I was tagged in a picture with all of my friends standing before beautiful green Cuban hills. Though we are standing together for a group photo, we’re all seen doing something different: gazing at the beauty before us, having a conversation, or looking straight at the camera.

One of my friends commented, “This is what happens when you travel with a group of awesomely independent people.”


That’s the catch. Having a successful trip with others is most successful when you are all on the same wavelengths in thought. They either need to be as easy going and mellow as you, or have traveled the same amount if not more than you.


Have you never traveled alone? If not, give it a shot. But always be open to traveling with friends whose company you know you will enjoy.

A Short List of my Rejections: 2013-2016



“Never compare someone’s highlight reels to your behind the scenes footage.”


We all like to publish our achievements on social media, regardless of what that achievement is.


Over the years I have notified my friends via social media on:


  • New jobs
  • Articles published on a reputable blogs
  • Short stories that were published in magazines
  • My weight loss
  • My participation in various conferences
  • My travels


These are just a few achievements I’ve been happy to share on Facebook and Instagram.


But no one likes to brag about what they were not able to achieve, and because of that I have decided to compile a list of things that didn’t go my way. Whether it was declining to accept a short story I wrote, a fellowship application, or a job.


Please keep in mind that this list is just documenting the organizations and people who responded back to me. Many gave me their “no,” by simply not responding at all.


I hope this post reminds you that persistence and tenacity do pay off.



Dear Sean,


Thanks for submitting “In the Name of the Father,” but I’m going to pass on it. It didn’t quite work for me, I’m afraid. Best of luck to you placing this one elsewhere, and thanks again for sending it my way.



From Nightmare Magazine


Dear Sean,


Thanks for submitting “The Stairway to Heaven,” but I’m going to pass on it. It didn’t quite work for me, I’m afraid. Best of luck to you placing this one elsewhere, and thanks again for sending it my way.



From Nightmare Magazine


Thank you for submitting your work to IMAGINATE. We received hundreds of submissions, and had the difficult chore of narrowing down the selections for our next issue. Unfortunately, your story was not chosen.


If you’ve submitted other work not mentioned here, you will receive another e-mail soon with regards to those.


We hope you’ll check out the next issue of IMAGINATE, and that you’ll consider submitting to us again in the future. Thanks for helping spread the word, and for participating in the process.


Best wishes on your writing journey!




Dear Sean Goodman,


Thank you for submitting “The Stairway to Heaven ” to Apex Magazine. We appreciate the chance to read it. Unfortunately, we don’t feel it is a good fit for us and we’re going to have to pass on it at this time.


Thanks again. Best of luck with this.





Dear Sean,


Thank you for submitting “Homo Superus” to Pseudopod. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite meet the needs of our podcast.


Thanks for submitting, and best wishes for you and your work.


Submissions Staff




Dear Mr. Goodman,


We appreciate that you submitted your story to The Lovecraft eZine.  However, it just doesn’t fit what we are looking for.


If you want to submit it elsewhere, here is a list of anthologies and/or magazines that are looking for Lovecraftian or Weird Fiction submissions:http://lovecraftzine.com/calls-for-submissions/


We hope that’s helpful.




Dear Sean,


We appreciate that you submitted your story to The Lovecraft eZine.  However, it just doesn’t fit what we are looking for.


If you want to submit it elsewhere, here is a list of anthologies and/or magazines that are looking for Lovecraftian or Weird Fiction submissions:http://lovecraftzine.com/calls-for-submissions/


We hope that’s helpful.




Lovecraft eZine editorial staff



Dear Sean,



We are terribly sorry for addressing the wrong e-mail to you.  This is what happens when we write e-mails when caffeine deficient.


We liked “The Daughters of Terra,” especially the environmental message.  However it lacks the Cthulhu and romance elements which we are looking for in this anthology.



Hi, thanks for your submission to Creepypasta!

Your submission has been posted here:

For more information about why your pasta was placed on Crappypasta rather than scheduled for the main archive, please note the category you were assigned and read its description here:

Feel free to use any feedback you get there to rewrite & resubmit. Remember, being posted on crappypasta doesn ft always mean that we disliked your story! Oftentimes it means that we DID, but feel that it just needs a tiny bit more work before we give it the green light.


Dear Sean,


Thank you for sending us “Dreams in July.” We appreciate you considering “Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things” as a potential home for your writing.


We have decided not to include this piece in an upcoming volume of our anthology. However, since multiple readers review each submission, you may find the following excerpts from their notes useful or interesting. Please keep in mind that the intent is never to denigrate or dismiss the merits of your work, but to provide you with insight into how this piece affected a specific group of readers.



To All Mitchell Scholarship Applicants:

I want to thank everyone for your terrific applications for the 2015 Mitchell Scholar class.  We received close to 300 completed applications and will interview about 10% of those candidates next week.

I have spoken with all semi-finalists for the Mitchell Scholarship by phone and sent a follow-up e-mail.  Only those notified this week will move forward in the process.  I wish everyone well in your future endeavors.


Kind regards,


Thank you very much for your application to the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship for the fall 2014 semester. We received 197 applications; unfortunately, you were not among the small number of applicants chosen for an interview.


Our board of directors places a premium on applicants with strong academic and activist backgrounds in peace and security issues. We received applications from many people with training in international relations who were not selected because they lack a background in international security or related issues. In addition, the board gives priority to applicants who have not had substantial prior public-interest or government experience in Washington, DC. The board members who review the applications do not provide me with written feedback on each candidate and therefore I am unable to comment on the reasons why a particular applicant has not been chosen for an interview. Please refer to our website’s section on selection criteria for how we evaluate candidates.


You may wish to pursue paid employment or an internship with one of the organizations participating in the Scoville Fellowship by contacting these organizations directly.


Women In International Security publishes job listings of positions in the arms control and international security fields. Their website is



You may also wish to visit

Foreign Affairs’ Job Board



the Job Board of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy




Dear Sean,


Thank you for your application to the 2015 Humanity in Action Fellowship.  We regret to inform you that you have not been selected as a Humanity in Action Fellow this year.


The Humanity in Action selection process is rigorous and very competitive.  Because of the large number of applicants and the limited number of positions available in our fellowship programs, we are mindful that every year excellent applicants must be turned down. This year was particularly competitive, with a record number of truly outstanding and inspiring applications.


We welcome you to reapply next year if you are eligible to do so. Please remember that you are eligible to reapply within two years of receiving your undergraduate degree.  Each annual application pool is evaluated independently, which means that the outcome of this year’s selection process will have no bearing on the next.


Once again, thank you for your interest in Humanity in Action, and we hope to hear from you again in the future.


All the best,


Dear Sean,


Thank you for your application to the 2014 Humanity in Action Fellowship.  We regret to inform you that you have not been selected as a Humanity in Action Fellow this year.


The Humanity in Action selection process is rigorous and very competitive.  Because of the large number of applicants and the limited number of positions available in our fellowship programs, we are mindful that every year excellent applicants must be turned down. This year was particularly competitive, with a record number of truly outstanding and inspiring applications.


We welcome you to reapply next year if you are eligible to do so. Please remember that you are eligible to reapply within two years after graduation from college.  Each annual application pool is evaluated independently, which means that the outcome of this year’s selection process will have no bearing on the next.


Once again, thank you for your interest in Humanity in Action, and we hope to hear from you again in the future.


All the best,


Humanity in Action Admissions

(I applied twice)


Thank you for applying for The Nexus Fund’s Fellowship. We appreciate your interest in our organization and your commitment to the prevention of mass atrocities.


We received more than 500 applications for the position, and the hiring process has been a very competitive one. Although we were impressed with your qualifications, we have decided not to move your application forward. However, we greatly appreciate your interest in working with us and wish you the best!


Dear Peace Fellow Applicant,


Thank you very much for your application for the 2014 Fellowships program for The Advocacy Project (AP).


We were very impressed by your application materials but are unable to offer you a position at this time. This year we received 400 applications for only 14 Fellowship positions.


We thank you for your interest in working with AP and wish you success in your future career.





Dear Sean,


Thank you for your call this afternoon.


I regret to inform you that at this stage in the application process, inability to participate fully in Orientation precludes the possibility of participation in the coming Volunteer year.  We are not able to offer you a position as a Volunteer for the 2014-2015 academic year.


If a future opportunity arises wherein you might dedicate a year to service at LCS, you would be welcome to apply once more. We very much enjoyed getting to know you during your interviews and appreciate your time.


Please know that you are welcome to contact me with questions and that we prayerfully wish you all the best.




Dear Sean:

Thank you for applying to City Year New Orleans. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer you a position at this time. City Year New Orleans received an overwhelming number of high-quality applications, demonstrating that the spirit of national service as a way to address the education crisis in America is thriving among young people.

We encourage you to continue serving your community and strongly suggest that you explore other AmeriCorps or service programs in your local area or preferred region. Please visit: http://www.americorps.gov/for_individuals/choose/index.asp for an interactive way to connect your interests and talents with other AmeriCorps programs across the country. Continued and demonstrated experience with service, tutoring, mentoring, or leadership all help to strengthen your candidacy, should you choose to reapply to City Year for the 2015-2016 program year.

Once again, thank you for your interest in City Year. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Yours in Service,


Dear Sean,

Thank you for submitting an application for Teach For America’s 2014 corps. We appreciate the time and effort you put into applying. Log on now to the Applicant Center* to view the status of your application. 


The Applicant Experience Team
Teach For America Admissions


*link notified that I was not accepted.

Five More Organizations That Give Me Hope for the Future


Since today is the International Day of Peace, I have decided to highlight five more organizations that give me hope for the future.


Most of these organizations I have worked with directly, and have been mentioned many times before in previous posts. This just goes to show the continuous impact they have had on my life, and on the lives of others. If you are unfamiliar with these organizations and would like to learn more about their work, I would be more than happy to get you in contact with any one of them.



The Olive Tree Initiative


This is the organization that started it all for me. Beginning in 2007, The Olive Tree has given students the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C., Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, as well as Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia as a way to promote conflict analysis and resolution.


I joined the Olive Tree Initiative in 2012, and have been passionate about their mission ever since. What they have done and continue to do has had a great effect on the way I see the world.


Muslim Jewish Conference


If the Olive Tree Initiative helped changed the way I see the world, the Muslim Jewish conference reaffirmed the way I look at it now. Having its first conference emerge out of Austria in 2010, it has had 7 consecutive annual week-long conferences throughout Europe since.  Bringing students, activists, and young professionals from all over the world from multiple religious and ethnic backgrounds, providing a safe space to discuss various issues in an interfaith dialogue setting.


Youth to Youth Initiative


I participated in the first The Youth to Youth conference in Lithuania, 2015 and it made me take a 180 degree turn of what I wanted to do with my life. This is an incredible initiative that aims to promote youth involvement in the decision making process of their communities. It has connected me to so many young individuals that are trying to bring about change around the world that it is hard to view the world in a pessimistic light when I think of them.


Daughters for Life Foundation


This organization was created to invest in the education of girls and young women across the Middle East. They believe that, “Empowering girls and young women through education, is the key to long lasting peace in the Middle East and the rest of the world.” What truly gives me hope is the organization’s founder, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish. I recently finished his biography, which details his loss of his three daughters, “I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey,” and it is one of the most heart wrenching books I have ever read. But it is his call for peace that provides the brightest ray of hope. If he can strive for peace, anyone can.


Free the Kids


In 2011 I visited Haiti all through the help of Free the Kids. Seeing the conditions of Haiti only a few months after the earthquake was the first time I saw extreme poverty first hand. But upon stepping foot on the grounds of the orphanage I would be staying at for the next week, I saw the smiles and sensed the happiness of the 450+ children. It taught me that the smallest gesture of kindness can mean the world to someone else.



And with that, have a happy, peace-filled day.

The Six Most Fascinating Places I’ve Visited (U.S. Version)


I’ll never forget flipping through the pages of Jack Kerouac’s famous novel, “On the Road,” as I sat on a 10-12 hour plane ride from Rome to Newark, New Jersey. It was the first time I was exposed to Beat culture and the love for the open road. Reading his famous lines, and having just finished my first visit to Europe was the first time I received a bite from the travel bug.


Come to think of it, I have been to more countries than I have states. The biggest reason for this is because I find the rest of the world to be ever changing and, whereas I find the U.S. to be stagnant and much too similar to my home in California.


With that being said, I still find the U.S. to be a fascinating country on its own accord, and can understand wholeheartedly why Americans travel domestically.
So, without further ado, here are the six most fascinating places I’ve visited in the U.S.


Washington, D.C.


I have been to the nation’s capital on three separate occasions, and each visit has left a different, yet powerful impression on me. Whether it was a feeling of heartbreak I felt when I read the names on the Vietnam Memorial, the patriotism I while reading Lincoln’s famous words, or the self reflection about race relations gazing at the relatively new dedication to Martin Luther King, Jr.; Washington, D.C. represents the best of what my country stands for.


Crater Lake, Oregon


I finally understand why Oregon based punk band Broadway Calls wrote the song, “Back to Oregon.” When I would take annual visits up to the state of Washington, one of my favorite parts was driving through Oregon. Personally, I think Oregon is the most beautiful state in the U.S. – overriding Hawaii. Having a depth of nearly 2,000 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. It is so vast that breathtaking is the best word I can find to describe it.  While there are plenty of other beautiful sites to see, this one took the cake for me.

San Francisco, California


What’s not to like about this incredible city? Growing up near Los Angeles, I didn’t know what to expect when I first stepped off the plane, and boy, was I in for a big surprise. LA pales in comparison the vast density and monumental architecture of San Francisco. Whether it was visiting the famous Warf, witnessing the diversity in culture, or participating in the superiority of its public transportation, I felt that San Francisco was truly unique and remarkable.


Port Townsend, Washington


I didn’t realize how beautiful the Pacific Northwest is until I visited Port Townsend. The weather is cool and crisp, and the location seems oddly cut off from the rest of the world. Though it has a population of 9,000, I still felt like I was in a small town. The natural beauty combined with the city’s personality will always hold a special place in my heart.


San Juan Capistrano, California


Okay, this city is literally a ten minute drive for me, and even though I frequent the local coffee shop known as Hidden House about once a week (which serves the best coffee in South Orange County), I still find myself feeling as if I’ve stepped into a different world each time I visit. The Spanish and Mexican influence is impossible to miss, and the peacefulness provided by the Mission (regardless of how I feel towards its past) makes me grateful that such a place exists down the street from me.


New Orleans, Louisiana

Me, my pops, and my brother J.P.
Me, my pops, and my brother J.P.


Maybe it’s the fact that Louisiana was the first state I ever visited outside of California. Maybe it’s the fact that the humidity was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Or maybe it’s the fact that my ancestors settled here before it was even a part of the U.S. Whatever it is, Louisiana – the city of New Orleans in particular – is the most fascinating place I’ve visited in the U.S.  The best food in all of the United States can be found here: Catfish, Shrimp Étouffée, and Jambalaya are staple Cajun dishes. In addition to the food, there is a combination of Spanish, French, Cajun, African, and Creole culture that is unlike anywhere else in the United States.


Do you agree or disagree? What did I miss? Where are some places in the U.S. you think I should visit? Let me know in the comments below!


If you like what you read, consider subscribing for bi-weekly updates on traveling and health!

Why You Should Ease Your Way Into Change


I am back home and back on the exercise routine once again! This time I am playing it safe. I am slowly getting back in the mix of things so I don’t tear any muscles or tire myself out before I head into work. Which leads me into the topic I want to discuss today with all of you: easing your way into change.


How many times have you told yourself, “Tomorrow I am going to go on a diet and lose 10 pounds in two months”?


You start by bringing a kale salad to work with no dressing, drink only water, and finish your night with a can of tuna fish with no mayonnaise. You continue this lifestyle for a little over a week and then it’s back to all you can eat sushi or extra large fries with your double cheeseburger. Only you can answer that question, but I can only speak for me, and my answer is: too many times.


The same can be applied to working out. You tell yourself you will go to the gym four times a week, working yourself tirelessly before day three hits and all you want to do is binge watch a T.V. series from 2008 on Netflix.


I know this all too well, because that’s exactly what I did.


That’s because I never understood easing my way into change.


If you’ve been following my transformation story, you would know that my philosophy is that it’s all in the baby steps. When you want to change, you can’t step on the accelerator – you will burn out way too fast. If you pace yourself, you will find success.


So what am I going to do? I’m going to ease into it. A few pull-ups there, a few practice handstands here, a couple of days dedicated towards cardio.


If you’re in my position, remind yourself not to give up. You had it before.


Go out and get it again!