Breaking Down Barriers in Sexual and Reproductive Health Reporting in Africa

This is a guest post by Humphrey Nabimanya, founder of Reach a Hand Uganda.

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Joseph Kato is a writer with The Daily Monitor, one of Uganda’s leading newspapers. Like some of his fellow journalists, he has been writing about reproductive health issues for a while. But he sometimes hesitates. Like many other writers, he has a lot of unanswered questions.

“You can’t give me teenage pregnancy statistics this month and give me the same statistics again for the next four consecutive months! How do I convince my editor to publish them every time?”

If you are a journalist or an editor, this might sound familiar, especially in Uganda. Many media personnel shy away from reporting about reproductive issues in their media houses simply because “they are repetitive and not well-explained,” as Joseph noted.

With support from partners like Segal Family Foundation, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, and Rutgers, this was what Reach A Hand Uganda was trying to assess with its inaugural Share101 forum. As a youth-led non-profit, Reach a Hand focuses on youth empowerment programs with an emphasis on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.

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Share101 is a forum that brings together individuals and organizations passionate about sharing ideas on sexual and reproductive health. The inaugural event sought to enhance journalists’ and bloggers’ interest and motivation for reporting on sexual and reproductive health issues, while also establishing relationships between the media and sexual and reproductive health advocates.

This discussion was necessary because in Uganda, media coverage of reproductive health issues is poor, yet the issues are affecting a large population. Let us look at the facts and figures in Uganda:

According to the 2011 Uganda Demographic Health Survey, 24% of girls aged 15 to 19 are already mothers or pregnant with their first child. This implies that one out of every four girls aged 15 to 19 is pregnant or has already had a child. In Uganda, most people join high school when they are 14 or 15. And this study is from five years ago.

When it comes to maternal health–specifically abortion–Duncan Musumba, the Strategic Communications Manager at Uganda Health Marketing Group, stated that 16 women die every day while attempting to abort. To put this into perspective, imagine a full 14-seater commuter taxi with passengers dying in an accident every day. That’s the rate at which pregnant women die every day while attempting to abort in Sub-Saharan Africa!

Thus, it is important to note that even though the mass media have excellent potential to promote good sexual and reproductive health outcomes around the world, it often fails to prioritize such issues or report them in an accurate and deeply analytical manner.

2016-04-15-1460737185-2688038-flipchart.jpgJoseph Kato shares an example of a good headline with fellow journalists. Photo credit: Reach a Hand Uganda

“The media therefore plays a vital role in telling these stories to galvanize governmental and non-governmental support on issues related to reproductive health, by continually raising public awareness to a targeted audience such as policymakers, program implementers, and other key stakeholders,” explained Joy Asasira, Programme Manager at CEHURD.

Consequently, by promoting openness and public discussions, the media can help break the culture of silence and stigma associated with reproductive health issues. “How you deal with statistics creates an understanding in the minds of people. Break it down and make it relatable to the reader,” advised Mona Herbet, Country Director from DSW Uganda.

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As Joseph Kato explained to fellow journalists during the Share101 media forum: “Move out of the city and go deep in the rural communities, because that is where real stories about the impact of reproductive health are found.” Joseph believes that when journalists cover these stories, it’s then that they can get the experience to write thoughtful articles on reproductive health. Kato believes journalists should not be at a receiving end of stories through press releases, but should instead go the extra mile to visit rural communities to get firsthand information about the reproductive health issues affecting young people and women.

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Humphrey Nabimanya is a young SRHR and HIV activist, with a passion for young people. He started Reach A Hand Uganda to empower youth with information and skills regarding their sexual health and rights. An alum of Makerere University and a peer educator with “World Starts With Me,” he believes in developing skills and positive attitudes towards the lives of young people. Humphrey loves to talk about issues that affect young people. For more information, contact him at humphrey@reachahand.org.

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Declassified U.S. Document Suggests Pakistani Link To Attack On CIA Agents

A Pakistani intelligence officer paid $200,000 to an extremist network to facilitate a deadly suicide bomb attack on CIA operatives at a base in Afghanistan in 2009, according to a declassified U.S. government document obtained by an independent research group.

The heavily redacted document obtained by the National Security Archive, a nongovernmental research institute at George Washington University, suggests that Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, and the Haqqani network were involved in facilitating the attack.

The Dec. 30, 2009 attack on Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost in eastern Afghanistan, carried out by a Jordanian doctor who was working as a double agent for al Qaeda and the Taliban, was one of the most devastating in the history of the Central Intelligence Agency, killing seven and wounding six. 

The document, dated February 2010, said an unidentified Pakistani ISI officer provided $200,000 to Haqqani and another man “to enable the attack on Chapman.” An Afghan border commander in Khost was promised $100,000 of the money to facilitate the attack but died in the bombing, it said.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s embassy in Washington did not have any immediate comment.

Because the document is heavily censored, it is not clear whether it represents an intelligence agency consensus or fragmentary reporting. One line, which has been crossed out, says: “This is an information report, not finally evaluated intelligence.”

The document is almost entirely redacted – except for two passages discussing the ISI’s alleged involvement in the attack at Forward Operating Base Chapman.

The United States in 2012 designated the Pakistan-based Haqqani network as a terrorist organization. The year before, U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, then the top U.S. military officer, caused a stir when he told Congress that the Haqqani network was a “veritable arm” of the ISI.

The declassified U.S. government document can be found here: (here)

The National Security Archive, which works to challenge government secrecy, obtained the document under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Lauren Harper, who reported on the documents for the organization, said the initial FOIA request had gone to the U.S. State Department. The State Department forwarded the request to the Defense Intelligence Agency, which released the redacted papers.

(Editing by Warren Strobel and Jonathan Oatis)

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Decor Forward: 5 Creative Ways to Display Flowers in Your Home

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Photo ℅ Sams Flower Shop in Bangalore, India

Flowers have a way of brightening up our mood and the ambience of a space. The colourful bloom they bring when a bride holds her bouquet, the fragrance they add to home decor and the empowering soothing feeling that engulfs the environment; flowers are truly important in our daily lives.

Beyond those special occasions, flowers can be used to add a unique, fun and powerful vibe to an environment, specifically a living space. While those regular flower vases work wonders, there are some other creative ways that flowers can be displayed to liven up a home. From the kitchen, parlours, rooms, bathrooms to the dinning; you can get your creative hats and build a more welcoming and inspiring atmosphere in your home by adding flowers.

In fact, it’s time to think outside of your comfort zone. From mason jars, small vase of peonies to vintage additions, creating fabulous floral arrangements doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming.

Here are 5 creative and fun ways you can display flowers in your home or environment

1. Spray Painted Mason Jars or Jam Jars

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Mason jars have so many uses and can be well utilized to brighten up any environment. In place of mason jars, don’t throw away those jam jars yet, they can serve you really well. Group the flowers into a reasonable amount and cut the stems to the desired height. When combining different flowers, pay attention to the theme you’re working with for your home or office space and consider the symbols of those flowers before you purchase them.

Give those mason jars a lift by painting or decorating them to fit your taste. They’ll look beautifully arranged on window sills or coffee tables right under the light to create a vibrant environment.

2. Tea Cups

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There are probably some abandoned tea cups in your house that can be revamped. In this case, size doesn’t matter. Clean up those tea cups and fill them with beautiful flowers that will adorn your living space. These can work in different parts of the home, from dining areas to your home library.

3. Vintage Tins and Containers

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There are some retro tea and coffee tins that could add some uniqueness to your living space. From elegant red roses, sunflowers to white roses, you can revamp your vintage containers to create a decorative environment. There are different ways to add vintage tins to your space, including on kitchen tables, hanging on walls to your creative shelf area.

4. Bottles or Long Vases

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For those really long flowers that you don’t want to cut, consider using bottles or long vases to serve this purpose. Everything from a coke bottle, used wine bottle, to a transparent glass vase. Depending on your preference, you can decide to decorate the bottles to avoid it looking old or used. Such containers are great because they give more room to fill in water, pebbles or other decorative ornaments.

5. Shells

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These are especially useful during those summer heat times. A trip to the beach or store to choose a wide mouthed shell to display some flowers can be well worth it. Think about the ambience this addition can add to the feel of your living room or bed side.

6. Cake Stands

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Yes! Cake stands can be used for flower decorations too. What’s really amazing about this tip is the fact that it can be used not only for home or office spaces, but also for wedding centrepieces.

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With these creative ways of styling up your home with flowers, you can be sure of always having an inspired environment. When in doubt about using containers, it’s best to research for inspiration and get ready to embellish some of those old wares to bring life back to your home or office space. Some ideas range from ribbons, bows, glitters, pebbles, jewels, shells and leaves- to give a natural look.

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5 Practical Tips to Keep Your Aging Parent Safe Behind the Wheel

Several years ago, Mom started to get a little forgetful, began to repeat stories, would lose things. We all marked it off to “getting old” – until she said to my middle son (with a laugh) – Sometimes when I’m on the freeway I forget what to do. That’s when we knew if was time to find a way to take the car away or at least limit her driving.

Your parent is getting older, and odds are, you’re starting to get worried about how he or she is driving. Perhaps you’ve noticed a few scrapes and dents on their car, or they’ve made some offhand comments about how driving has gotten harder for them. Or, maybe they’ve given no indication at all that they’re having trouble driving.

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As the fastest-growing segment of drivers (some estimates suggest that as many as a quarter of all drivers will be over 65 by 2025), it’s something most families will have to deal with. So it’s best to be aware of the physical and cognitive changes as well as medical conditions that make driving riskier with age.

And while research shows that seniors tend to have safer driving habits than many of their younger counterparts (they’re more likely to wear their seatbelts, and less likely to drive drunk, for example), a 2014 study found that distracted driving may be more dangerous for drivers over 65 due to age-related cognitive decline.

Inevitably, there will come a day when Mom or Dad can no longer drive safely. But if your parent still hasn’t reached that point, you’ll want to have some strategies in your pocket to help your them stay mobile, independent, and above all, safe.

Below are some ways to help you do just that:

1. Make Sure Your Parent is Healthy Enough to Drive
First thing’s first. Make sure that your aging loved one is in good shape to drive, both physically and cognitively. A doctor can evaluate him or her to help gauge their ability to drive safely. Some health considerations that frequently affect seniors include vision and hearing problems, so you’ll want to ensure your parent has both their hearing and vision tested. Talk to them and their doctors if you’re concerned about their ability to hear or see while driving.

Most folks over 65 are taking some type of medication. The question is whether any of those medicines create side effects that could make them drowsy or less alert. If the answer is yes, they’ll need to consider limiting or stopping driving.

2. Encourage Exercise
It turns out that exercise has yet another benefit – it can help older adults stay fit to drive. Research has shown that higher levels of physical fitness correlate to better driving performance for senior drivers. That doesn’t mean your aging parent needs to sign up for a gym membership or start running marathons. Any physical activity that boosts flexibility should also help improve posture and stave off fatigue while driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has created some simple stretching exercises to help seniors improve their flexibility.

3. Check Their Car
Almost as important to senior driving safety as physical fitness is the vehicles seniors are driving. Today’s car manufacturers offer a range of features that can help keep older drivers comfortable and safe. Take a look at your parent’s vehicle and how they interact with it the next time you see them. Is it easy for them to get in and out of the driver’s seat? Once seated, do they have enough legroom, and are they easily able to adjust mirrors and seats?

There are a number of additional features that can address common senior health issues – for example, six-way adjustable seats allow drivers with hip pain to easily adjust their seats in different directions. And a senior with vision problems may benefit from features such as extendable sun visors, larger control buttons, or an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

4. Consider Driver Refresher Courses

Many organizations offer driver refresher courses designed for seniors. While it may take a little convincing to get your aging parent to head back to a physical classroom, there are plenty of online classes that can help them re-sharpen their driving skills. And in case they need added incentive, let your parent know that taking one of these classes may actually save them money on car insurance.

5. Limit Driving
If your parent is having trouble driving, limiting where and when he or she drives can help them stay on the road while lowering some of the risks they face. Some obvious ways to do this would be to avoid driving at night or in bad weather – conditions that can be hazardous for drivers at any age. It’s also a good idea for them to refrain from driving at rush hour or to take less-busy roads when possible.

Talking to your aging parent about their driving isn’t easy, but having that conversation far outweighs the potential catastrophe that awaits if you ignore the issue. Be sensitive when discussing the subject, and make sure your parent knows you’ll be there for them when the time comes for them to hand over the keys.

Bottom line – if you think there may be a problem, there probably is. Your aging loved one may drive just fine on surface streets but so could your 12 year old. And if something does happen, if they do hurt another person, you could be liable for the damage. Or the death.

After Mom’s comment to our son, we started the process and took the car away within two weeks. We just couldn’t take that chance … with her life, our assets, or the life of another.

Dayna Steele is the author of Surviving Alzheimer’s with Friends, Facebook, and a Really Big Glass of Wine. She is also the Chief Caring Expert for Caring.com and writes daily for YourDailySuccessTip.com.

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There’s No Place Like Home, Problem is There Is No Home

” There’s No Place Like Home, Problem is There Is No Home “
Rev. Peter E. Bauer

Every year, during the Spring as consistent as Easter and Passover, there is the annual showing of the movie ” The Wizard Of Ox “. Dorothy and Toto leave Kansas, caught up in the whirlwind and land thud on the ground. Their perspective changes from the black and white world of rural farm life into the technicolor world of Oz with its characters the scarecrow, the cowardly lion, the tin man, and the great Oz. We see Judy Garland in the ruby slippers singing again “Somewhere Over The Rainbow. ” This evokes a longing for wanderlust and adventure.
For homeless young people, however, there is anything but somewhere over the rainbow. Instead of the cowardly lion, scarecrow, or tin man there are hustlers, human traffickers, drug dealers. As I mentioned earlier, seeing the throngs of homeless young people, several summers ago, on Broadway in downtown Portland, Or reminded me of the Les Miserable poster of the young waif girl looking forlorn and not knowing what will happen to her.
A recent study regarding homeless youth in San Francisco has revealed:

A study by UC Berkeley researchers tracked 218 homeless young people over six years; in that time 11 died largely due to suicide or substance abuse . Young people living on the streets of San Francisco have a mortality rate that is more than 10 times higher than those who have a place to live, largely because of suicide or substance abuse, according to a study from the UC Berkeley school of public health.
Dr. Colette ” Coco “Auerswald and her research team studied 218 young homeless people ranging in age from 15 to 24. Two-thirds of the youths were male and one-third were female.
All had reported “unstable housing” for at least two days during the previous six months, meaning they lived outside of their homes with people who were not in their families – in cars, shelters, squats, on public transportation, in single-room occupancy hotels, or outdoors, with strangers.
Over the course of the study, 11 of them died. That’s 5% of the study group, a rate 10.6 times higher than what would be. Of the eight young men and three young women who died, two-thirds had injected drugs at some point. The study also showed that young homeless women were slightly more likely to die than young homeless men. Their mortality rate was 16.1% greater than their peers, while young men in the study died at a rate 9.4% greater than their peers. expected for a similar group matched for age, race and gender. Three of the homeless youths killed themselves. One was a homicide victim. Others were cut down by substance abuse. Mortality rate for homeless youth in San Francisco is 10 times higher than peers The Guardian‎ – 4 hours ago
The results of this study are not surprising regarding homeless youth in San Francisco, Ca or Portland, Or or elsewhere, what is surprising is that the numbers are not higher. The ever-growing numbers of homeless youth that we are seeing on our American streets result from lots of family disruption, physical abuse, sexual abuse etc. and youth who are fleeing very desperate family of origin environments. Young people are also facing the pressure regarding lack of jobs, lack of educational,vocational training and lack of affordable housing. Thus we shouldn’t be terribly surprised seeing large numbers of young people camping out in front of a downtown Nordstrom’s store.
What we should be terribly concerned about is letting this tragic situation to continue. The continuing phenomena of homeless youth will only generate more HIV infection, more STDS, more addiction and more violence and unfortunately more deaths due to vulnerable young people being in intolerable situations.
Churches, especially downtown churches, social service agencies, city governments etc. need to form effective alliances that can develop programs of feeding, housing, job and vocational training, health care programs, medical care including clean needle exchange programs, sexual health and mental health treatment for homeless youth and their family members. This type of comprehensive scope of program services is essential if we really want to reduce the numbers of homeless youth in our country.
Judy Garland did sing:
“Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I ? “
( Over The Rainbow )
We can only help young people realize the promise of the rainbow, the promise of new and improved life only by providing for them the basics of life, of bread, of shelter, of charity, of grace. Jesus said ” Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me. ” ( Matthew 25:40 ).
May we provide these young people home. May we realize that we all need a sense of home to call our own.
May it be so.

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How Anita Hill’s Story Sparked A Movement For Women In Politics

 

Director Rick Famuyiwa was surprised to meet so many young people who were completely unaware of Anita Hill.

This discovery is partly why he said he, along with actors Kerry Washington and Wendell Pierce, were determined to revisit Hill’s legacy and bring her story back to the forefront with their new film, “Confirmation,” which premiers on HBO Saturday. 

I’m happy this film will be sort of an entry point to who she is and what this forgotten piece of our history was,” Famuyiwa, the director of the film, told The Huffington Post at a private screening in New York last week. “It still resonates today.”

“Confirmation” chronicles the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings that took place in 1991 when Hill, who is played by Washington, was called to testify about her accusations against then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas, played by Pierce, for sexual harassment during the time period that he was her supervisor at the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Her statements, initially given in a private interview to the FBI, were leaked to the press, causing the committee to further investigate. During her testimony, Hill said that after the leak, “I felt I had to tell the truth. I could not keep silent.” 

At the time of the hearings, Hill was a law professor at the University of Oklahoma and testified that Thomas initiated conversations with her about lewd sex acts and porn films. Thomas, a staunch conservative, has always vehemently denied these accusations and eventually went on to win the confirmation and to succeed Thurgood Marshall, the court’s first black Supreme Court Justice. 

“Confirmation” focuses on the grueling three-day hearings, and explores how race, sex and politics intersected in a polarizing case that divided America. 

“It was such an earthquake in terms of how we deal with sexual harassment and how we deal with race,” Famuyiwa said. “Even though we don’t talk about that event as much, the reverberations that came from that politically and how we even cover news like this was really altered by this one event.”

“There’s much more complexity in life. It’s about maintaining conversation and chipping away at injustice and bias wherever you see it.”
Kerry Washington

Race was pushed to the forefront of the hearings when Thomas gave a statement denouncing them as “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks,” and insinuated that Hill was being used as a ploy to destroy him. It was a description so damning that many, including Hill, believed it instilled dread among the all-white, all-male committee members who distanced themselves from challenging Thomas to the full degree. 

These moments marked some of the most riveting in the film, including a moment when Hill’s counsel admits to her that the hearings would have gone much differently had Hill looked like Thomas’ wife, a white woman. 

Ultimately, the hearings became a case of “he said, she said.” And although Thomas was confirmed in a 52-48 vote, the outcome wasn’t perceived as a total defeat by all. 

Hill’s testimony drew admiration and support from women who were encouraged enough by her bravery to speak up about their own experiences of sexual harassment. 

“Sexual harassment was a dirty little secret that most women had but they didn’t talk about,” NPR’s Nina Totenberg, who was the first reporter to break Hill’s story, told with the network’s politics podcast Wednesday. “Now suddenly, it gets popped into the open. But all of those silent, female experiences materialized in the phones exploding on Capitol Hill.”

The number of cases filed to the EEOC doubled in just two years, and in 1992, the year following Thomas’ confirmation, a record-number of women were elected to Congress, including Carol Mosely-Braun — the first black woman to be elected a U.S. Senator. The press even called it “The Year of the Woman.” 

To Washington, whose poignant portrayal of Hill was not a far departure from the fearless, smart and outspoken woman she plays onscreen as “Scandal” star Olivia Pope, Hill’s story is one that still inspires her, and many others, to this day. 

“You can say she lost but you can also say she won,” Washington said. “She taught me a lot about the importance of using your voice and telling the truth. It’s important to everybody, no matter who you are, to feel like there’s room in the world for your truth.” 

“Confirmation” reminds us of the obstacles that women like Hill faced during a much less progressive period in American history, and, sadly, it is a reminder of the sexism and social injustice that women still face today. 

“There’s much more complexity in life,” Washington said. “It’s about maintaining conversation and chipping away at injustice and bias wherever you see it.”This is about creating change over time.”

Hill proved that it only takes one voice to do that. It’s time we all listen up.

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How Do You Feel On Sunday Nights?

When to Jump is a curated community featuring the ideas and stories of people who have made the decision to leave something comfortable and chase a passion.

Bob Callahan, a squash star as a student at Princeton University (he was a 2x All-American, captain, and 3x National Champion), left the comfortable confines of Princeton, NJ in the spring of 1977 to enter the corporate world. An economics major at Princeton, he accepted an offer to join IBM – the most exciting technology company of the time. The job began with an extensive training program aimed to sharpen and refine the technical knowledge and sales skills of the top young graduates it employed. It was during the training that Bob met his wife Kristen. Wasting no time with the courtship, they married in September 1978.

Just a few years later, back on the Princeton Campus the athletic department was in search of a new head squash coach after coach Norm Peck retired in 1981. Bob was living in North Jersey with Kristen, both enjoying life and work, and agreed to join the search committee. As the search dragged on and the 1981-1982 season approached, the committee realized it would need someone to step in. A fellow committee threw out a long shot – ”Bob, why don’t you coach the team for the next year? You can just do it for the year which will give us more time to find a permanent solution.” Things were going well at IBM. Bob and Kristen were happily married and excited to be making money so they could pay off student loans, buy a house, and get ready to start a family. Walking away from IBM would not be easy, even if just for a year.

After much deliberation and the blessing of an understanding boss at IBM, Bob agreed to take a one-year sabbatical to coach the team. He figured “What’s to lose? This will just be a one-year leave and a great opportunity to give back to the Princeton Squash program that gave him so much during his four years on campus.”

As fate would have it, the 1981-1982 Princeton Squash team under interim coach Bob Callahan went undefeated and won the Ivy League Championship and National Championship. Not a bad way to spend a sabbatical! The winning was great, but regardless of the on-court success, it was clear to everyone associated with the program that they had found something special in Bob. He was a great player and proved to be a fantastic coach. But he was also more than that. He was a leader, a teacher, and someone who understood that he could teach his players the game of squash and as time would tell, much, much more. The committee recognized this and urged Bob to stay on as the full-time coach.

The offer was flattering, but it was never the plan. Bob and Kristen had set up a life together. By now, they had a baby, purchased a home, wanted a good income and security – both of which IBM seemed to provide – and looked forward to a great careers at IBM. However, as the days wore on and Bob’s first day back at IBM drew closer, he grew a little anxious. Was going back to IBM definitely the right choice? It was the safe choice. The beaten path. But perhaps that didn’t make it the right choice for him.

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Photo Credit: Princeton Athletics

Bob decided to give the Princeton offer some real thought. He recalls a specific conversation he had with his mentor at the time. His mentor asked him, “Bob, while you were working for IBM, how did you feel on Sunday nights?” The answer was something we can all relate to – he felt a little apprehensive and anxious on Sunday nights. Next, his mentor asked, “Bob, while coaching at Princeton, how did you feel on Sunday nights?” Pure joy. Complete excitement. Eager for Monday morning. At that moment, Bob knew what the right choice for him was. He’d take the risk and accept the offer to coach the Princeton Squash team.

Thirty-one years later, Bob retired from Princeton with ten more Ivy League titles, three more National Championships, and 305 more wins to his name. A Hall of Famer, Bob had one of the most successful college coaching careers in any sport. However, his biggest victories won’t be found in the record book. His more cherished accolades are the thousands of testimonials from former players who speak and remember Bob as more than coach. Former player Yasser El Halaby ’06 (a 4x National Champion) describes Bob’s essence well, “Playing for Coach Callahan’s team is a privilege that one recognizes after the first few team training sessions but only truly understands with time… I have a tremendous respect for a one-in-a-million individual who exudes kindness, generosity and character integrity. The many lessons I have learned and continue to learn from Coach Callahan are not restricted to the game of squash, but encompass all aspects of life.”

Bob left the world too early in January 2015 after a three-year battle with a brain tumor. He left his mark on the game and a legacy that lives on. All who knew Bob are glad he knew When to Jump.

When to Jump is a curated community featuring the ideas and stories of people who have made the decision to leave something comfortable and chase a passion. You can follow When to Jump on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and learn more about the Jump Curve framework here. For more stories like this one, sign up for the When to Jump newsletter here. (Note: The When to Jump newsletter is not managed by The Huffington Post.)

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Tax Tips for Self-Employed Workers

Are you part of the on-demand or gig-economy? Pew Research Center indicated, “Self-employed Americans and the workers they hired accounted for 44 million jobs in 2014, or 30% of the national workforce.” From Airbnb to Uber, more and more people are departing “regular” jobs to be their own boss with the promise of higher income and more flexibility as the reward. Even if you don’t receive a 1099, the income you earn in your own business is taxable. Track your income and expenses throughout the year to determine your quarterly estimated tax payments easily; another benefit to tracking them on an ongoing basis is it allows you to get the biggest refund you possibly can.

2016 first quarter estimated payments, are due Monday – April 18. Remember you need to pay 90% of your total tax bill by January 15 next year or you could be penalized. Typically, the IRS collects the prepaid taxes through withholding. Since self-employed taxpayers have no taxes deducted from their pay, they must make estimated tax payments four times a year. For more information check out How Do I Make My Quarterly Payments on the IRS website or seek the help of good tax pro.

Back to those business basics, tracking all the income you received doing your gig is critical. I recommend creating a simple spreadsheet to organize your income and expenses by month. Be sure to include every bit of income not just your actual pay, but tips, freebies, and even swag or Swagbucks too because it is all taxable. For example, if you are an entertainment writer and you received a new album to review, then the value of the album is considered income and is taxable.

It is important to track your expenses properly so you can claim all your allowed deductions and reduce your taxable income. Begin with all your start-up costs, which include the initial research to start a business and the necessary legal fees and training. Other typical write-offs include things like the cost of advertising, depreciation on your business equipment, and professional fees. The IRS allows you to deduct all ordinary and necessary expenses for your business and they define ordinary and necessary expenses as those that are common and accepted as well as helpful and appropriate for your business. An expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary. For more information refer to IRS Publication 535 or ask your tax pro.

There are lots of deductions and credits available to help the average taxpayer reduce their tax burden, but your occupation may entitle you to specific job related ones and taking advantage of those can help you get a bigger tax refund. If you are self-employed, tracking income, expenses, and critical due dates not only helps you keep more of your money, but can help you avoid paying penalties for underpayment or late payments. If you are not sure what you can or cannot claim or what form you need to file and when, then find the help of a good tax pro – it’s a write-off.

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Judge Rules Katy Perry Can Buy Historic Former Los Angeles Convent

Pop star Katy Perry will get her chance to live in a former Roman Catholic convent after a judge on Wednesday invalidated the property’s sale by five nuns to a restaurateur.

The case had pitted Perry, daughter of Protestant pastors and one of the top-selling pop stars in the world, and the archdiocese against the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The nuns, all aged between late 70s and late 80s, once lived in the convent and two of them wanted to sell it to Los Angeles restaurateur Dana Hollister.

The archdiocese filed a lawsuit last June, arguing that the two nuns did not have the authority to sell the property to Hollister.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick approved the archdiocese’s motion to block the sale to Hollister, voiding the purchase documents and deed. She said the nuns did not have the authority to sell the property and that even if they had, they did not properly validate the transaction.

Representatives for Hollister did not reply to requests for comment.

The archdiocese said it was “gratified” by Bowick’s ruling in a statement, and added that it was still under contract to sell the convent to Perry.

“The Archdiocese was forced to take legal action to protect all the five sisters from being taken advantage of by the Dana Hollister transaction,” it said, adding that it will continue to provide care for the nuns.

Perry, who rose to fame with the hit song “I Kissed a Girl,” offered to buy the 8-acre (3-hectare) Roman Villa-style property for $14.5 million.

The nuns had rebuffed the 31-year-old performer, accepting a competing $15.5 million bid from Hollister, who wanted to convert the former convent into a hotel.

Attorney John Scholnick, who represents two of the five nuns, told Reuters he was “disappointed,” but emphasized that the ruling only invalidated the sale to Hollister and did not authorize the sale to Perry. He said there could be an option for an appeal.

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