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gray fabric loveseat near brown wooden table

For many people, including myself, there is something magical about the apartment lifestyle.

And living in New York City for years, I've seen the pros of having a studio apartment.

Not only can rent be more affordable, but access to amenities and other perks can also be perfect for those who are just starting to venture out on their own.

But there is no denying that studio apartments or small apartments, in particular, don't provide optimal storage space.

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person holding vinyl records
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Music is oftentimes revered as a universal language that hits the souls of many. It can make you feel an array of emotions from happiness, sadness and anger. Some songs can even get you ready to conquer the day or embark on a night out with friends!

On the other hand, music has also impacted the world.

Whether that's through messages that promote activism and awareness of horrific things going on or are tools to break barriers, music paved the way for future generations to embark on the same path musically or have a sense of hope in daily life.

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Photographer Mark Laita of Soft White Underbelly

Photo courtesy of YouTube

Across the globe, there are many experiences and perspectives that people face that shape their lives.

And with the world first going into lockdown in March 2020 as the rise of Covid-19 ensued, many of us experienced a new way of life that has changed our outlooks on things as we know it.

The same thing happened to me.

Last year was an interesting time because it made me and others sit back and stay at home unless you had to make a trip to the grocery store. It was a bit frightening initially because I'm from the United States and wasn't entirely accustomed to a state of emergency like a widespread infectious disease.

Also, not knowing what the future of society would be, and how long we would be in a lockdown ran through my mind.

After pondering on those thoughts for the first week of the pandemic, I decided to make the most of the time by journaling, reading, and binging YouTube videos that made me feel positive or taught me something about life.

But one day, while I was flipping through YouTube, something changed.

I had just finished watching a lifestyle vlog and let the autoplay play another video. The new video of a young woman talking directly to the camera, with saddened expression on her face.

She happened to be a sex worker who had just lost custody of her daughter who her grandparents now raised. She was also facing a myriad of other tough life circumstances.

I was instantly gripped by her story, if there were any more interviews, and wanted to know what the name of the show was called, and it happened to be Soft White Underbelly.

Boasting over 2.3 million subscribers at the time of writing, Soft White Underbelly is a docu-series on YouTube by photographer Mark Laita. He interviews individuals within our society that America has turned their backs on, ridiculed and seen as untouchable.

In an introductory video for the channel, Laita noted that the name came from former prime minister Winston Churchill. He was advising the US on the best way to attack Germany in WWII.

"He [Churchill] called Italy the soft underbelly of Europe, meaning that was the most vulnerable spot that Germany had to come in from Italy," Laita said in the video.

Soft White Underbelly Intro Video youtu.be

Many of the interviews are of sex workers, drug addicts, runaways, gang members, swingers, the homeless, and many more that the country sees as an entity on their own.

Soft White Underbelly is captivating because of the way it humanizes those who have society's stamp of condemnation on them. It demonstrates that no matter how far apart we are, we are really not that different. Laita's interviewees tell stories that "everyday people" would find difficult to understand,

The emotions elicited by these conversations alone make it a binge-worthy channel. On the other hand, the viewer has a limitless supply of content thanks to new uploads every day. Because there are so numerous episodes to choose from, you get to see many walks of life, their beginnings, and stories they want to share.

"These videos are meant to create awareness of things that are broken in our country. If we don't look at some of the things, they're just going to continue to grow and get worse and worse . And I believe listening, understanding, accepting and maybe deciding to do something differently might make a difference eventually," Laita said.

Hopefully, others can take the time to see the human in everyone around them.

Check out Soft White Underbelly on YouTube here.

white airplane flying in the sky during daytime
Photo by Philip Myrtorp on Unsplash

In the midst of the summertime, family trips are becoming more common, which means more flying.
With the availability of the Covid-19 vaccination, more individuals are relying on air travel to go long distances in a short amount of time.

And being in an airport can be stressful, especially if one of the steps in the procedure is delayed and the state of the world.

Growing up, I was also a bit afraid to fly because the concept of being in the air and lack of open air space ( germs) was mind-boggling to me.

But with my constant trips to visit family in Jamaica and countless experiences packing and getting boarding passes for flights, I've learned a lot.

To feel more at ease, here are some things that have helped me travel throughout the years and get the best experience.

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Strong relationships necessitate open lines of communication

Photo by Junior REIS on Unsplash

Strong relationships rely onl open lines of communication. Being a better communicator may appear daunting, but it's actually only a matter of honing a crucial skill: listening.

It appears to be straightforward. We (mostly) listen to our loved one's queries, opinions, anecdotes, gripes, and helpful suggestions. But how frequently do we actually pay attention?

We often register that they're chatting on the surface, waiting for our time to jump in and say what we want. Something has to be done about it.

Everyone that is close to us wants to be heard in their relationship. It's for a good reason, too.

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person holding dual bell alarm clock reading at 12:14 o' clock

If you're anything like me, you might have felt that working from home has its ebbs and flows.

For one, you can work from the comfort of your own home or now, since restrictions are somewhat lifted in the United States ( I'm in New York City), you could go to a coffee shop if you want to change your scenery.

On the other hand, working from home can have its pitfalls because it can be easy to be distracted by your phone, television, or outside noises.

Essentially, productivity can easily fly out of the window.

But how can it be easier to make the most out of the day while working from home?

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