Love Wellness Interviews

Meet the incredible woman breaking taboos on sexual health and building a more inclusive Muslim community

Nadiah Mohajir is the founder and executive director of HEART Women & Girls, a group of diverse, empowered professionals who are committed to building safe, inclusive communities for Muslim girls. Nadiah has led HEART in providing health education programs to over 5000 Muslim women and girls in the Chicagoland area as well as cities across the country. Her organization helps break through many cultural barriers and raises awareness on issues including sexual and reproductive health, sexual violence, and media literacy.  We sat down with Nadiah to discuss her work, health education, and inclusive communities.

The Tempest: HEART works to create a world in which “women and girls are valued for their character and personhood, rather than their body type, skin color, or what they choose to wear.” Can you give our community a few ways in how they can do this as well?

Nadia Mohajir: Absolutely. First, stop focusing on the external. It’s our collective responsibility to stop focusing on the external appearance of any woman – Muslim or not. When we continually focus on a woman’s appearance – what she wears or doesn’t wear, or how she looks – we are perpetuating a cycle of systemic patriarchy. We live in a world where, most of the time, what men wear or don’t wear or how they look is rarely analyzed, and almost always irrelevant to the conversation. When will that become a reality for women and girls? Only if we collectively work hard to push back on that type of dialogue.

Second, let them speak for themselves. We’re everywhere now – there isn’t a single profession or space that we haven’t explored and a lot of the times, excelled at. There is absolutely no excuse for all male panels or male allies speaking for women. The best thing a male ally can do is to hand over the mic to a woman.

Third, invest in them. We need more leadership building efforts investing in women and girls. We need more programming and professional development investing specifically in women and girls of color. We need more scholarships recruiting women and girls from underrepresented, hard to reach communities.

What would you say is the most challenging part about doing the work that you do?

The sexism and patriarchy. It’s exhausting fighting it from all angles. You say something to take control of the narrative and many in the community comment on how you did it wrong, or could have done it better. You challenge patriarchy or racism within the community and people will line up to discredit what you’re saying. You speak up against an abusive or violent situation, only to face additional bullying, intimidation and gaslighting from those watching from the sidelines.

And men aren’t the only ones that perpetuate this cycle of sexism and patriarchy  – often times, it’s the women in the community that perpetuate the sexism.

Moreover, outside of the Muslim community, the right wingers and Islamophobes also try to co-opt the narrative to reassert their beliefs on how terrible Islam. With the rise in Islamophobia, receiving consistent funding and support for this work in the fields of reproductive justice and anti-sexual assault continues to be a challenge. Additionally, this “knowledge” about Muslims perpetuate stereotypes, which often translates to oppressive policies targeting Muslims and negative real life consequences.

How is it that women in the wealthiest country in the world still struggle with basic reproductive health issues?

[This is] a perfect example of what systemic patriarchy looks like. Historically and currently, women’s reproductive freedoms have always been a politicized issue where much of the time, wealthy men in power are in charge of controlling access to certain information or services.

Moreover, it’s not just about increasing access to information and services – we need to reduce the systemic barriers and build systems that support women to safely, privately, and easily access the services and information they need.

What are some things we can do to create a safe space in our communities for women who want to open up about First off – protect their privacy. Build the kind of space and relationship where they will know that their privacy will be honored. Then, we have to believe them. Don’t silence them when they tell their story or question how true their story is. We also have to validate & affirm. Don’t dismiss their feelings. Give them permission to feel the emotions they are feeling – whether it’s anger, sadness, frustration.

Commit to inclusivity. Create spaces that acknowledge the diversity of Muslim women and girls and actively are committed to building a space that is inclusive and welcoming to people of all lived experiences.

Eliminate blame and shame. One of the main reasons women and girls do not seek help for sensitive issues is because they feel they will be shamed and blamed for their situation. It is crucial to eliminate blame and shame so that people feel more comfortable asking questions or seeking help.

What do you think is the impact of media literacy on women’s health outcomes?

The media has a tremendous influence on both men and women’s attitudes, and ultimately health outcomes. Media messaging, especially those targeted toward young people, often reinforce gender stereotypes, idealize unattainable standards, and pressure young people to meet unreasonable expectations.

The age at which girls are expected to dress sexually has become younger and younger, and if we don’t teach young people to think critically about media messaging and challenge it, we aren’t preparing them for when they need to make decisions regarding their sexual behaviors.

It’s crucial to teach young people to think critically about media messaging through advertising, TV, movies, and music. Is that ad really selling cologne? Or is it selling sexuality and beauty? What techniques are advertisers using to sell their product? What feelings of inadequacy are they trying to appeal to you? Teaching young people to critically think about and be more aware of media messaging protects them from falling prey to advertising techniques.

You can learn more about HEART Women & Girls here. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

BRB Gone Viral Pop Culture

14 inspiring quotes from Oprah Winfrey to keep you going

Oprah Winfrey: a woman who grew up in poverty and yet managed to become one of the most inspirational women in the world. She’s a self-made billionaire/philanthropist who gives life to the word “renaissance woman.” She donates much of her money to many charities, including her own.

Also, her show Super Soul Sunday is one of my favorites. It teaches me about so many amazing leaders and change-makers.

1. “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”


Research shows that doing a few gratitude exercises per day can lead to enormous benefits. My favorite one is the “3 Good Things Journal,” in which you simply write down three positive things that happened at the end of each day. I have seen people who barely have their basic necessities met and yet their gratitude is what keeps them content. I have also seen those who “have it all” and yet always find something to complain about.

2. “Even if you’re flipping fries at McDonald’s, if you’re excellent, everyone wants to be in your line.”


This is so true. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, if you have that positive energy and attitude, people will naturally be drawn to you.

3. “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”


When I was younger, I would waste a lot of time hanging out with people who didn’t make me feel good about myself. I never realized that I had a choice in who I surrounded myself with. Now, I understand how damaging it can be when you spend time with negative people. Of course there are some situations in which it’s unavoidable, such as having a pessimistic coworker. But for the most part, we have more control than we think we do.

4. “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”


If I read this a few years ago, I probably would have rolled my eyes and continued on with my day. However, wisdom comes with age and now I realize how true this statement is. How can I expect to receive my dream job if I am too scared to even apply? Why should I expect to be treated with respect and kindness if I don’t have the courage to be assertive and set boundaries? It’s simple: if you don’t put yourself out there, then you can’t blame the world for not fulfilling your needs.

5. “True forgiveness is when you can say thank you for that experience.”


I’m still working on applying this one to my life!

6. “I don’t want anyone who doesn’t want me.”


Think about it. Why in the world would you want to be with someone who doesn’t want you? It makes no sense. And yet how many of us stay in unsatisfying or even abusive relationships, due to whatever reasons? I want to live my life by this philosophy and have enough self-love to step away from anyone who does not value me.

7. We often block our own blessings because we don’t feel inherently good enough or smart enough or worthy enough. You are worthy because you are born and because you are here.”


We can be the biggest obstacle towards our success. By having self doubts and negative beliefs about my capabilities, I blocked out good opportunities. For instance, during college, there were a few positions that I really wanted to apply for. But my fear of not being good enough prevented me from getting those positions. When we don’t even believe in ourselves, how can we expect someone else to invest in us?

8. “Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself.”


Yes x 1000! One time when I was stuck in a rut, an aunt of mine gave me some tough love and told me that I was the only one who could get myself out of my gloom. In the moment, it hurt my feelings. But after sleeping on it, I realized that the truth isn’t always pretty.

9. “Turn your wounds into wisdom.”


How many times have we gone through difficulties in life, only to realize later on that those struggles are what made us stronger? Personally, I feel that all the times I felt hurt, alone, or sad are what motivated me to become a counselor.

10. “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future merely by changing his attitude.”


Why is it that two people can grow up in the same house, receive the same amount of toys, belongings, etc and yet turn out completely different? I think one of the reasons is their mindset and attitude. Powerful stuff.

11. “You can have it all… Just not all at once.”


Sometimes I find it really hard to be patient and wait for the things I want in life, such as a steady job or a loving partner. However, I have faith that everything will fall into place when the time is right.

12. “Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”


It’s so annoying how society tells us to avoid failure or rejection at all costs. It’s so dumb because even the most successful people have “failed.” When I was a junior in college, I badly wanted to be a resident assistant. When I got the email saying I was not selected, I felt like such a failure. But because of that rejection, I was able to become roommates with Anarocio; a woman who is a huge positive impact on my life. So the moral of the story is that failure is an illusion and many times leads us to something better, we just don’t know it at the time.

13. “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”


This quote is only believable once you’re out of the storm. When you’re in the midst of it, you may want to punch anyone who tells you that the pain you’re dealing with is making you stronger. Or at least that’s the case with me.

14. “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”


When I was in middle school, I lived in Pakistan with my mother. During that time, I was extremely self-conscious of the fact that we lived in a small one bedroom apartment while the majority of my classmates lived in big houses. I was embarrassed of inviting anyone over because I would compare my friend’s houses to my own.

Even though I only made a couple of good friends, that was good enough for me because they didn’t judge me by my wealth or status.

Books Pop Culture

6 books that prove that reading can literally change your life

Ah, summer…the perfect time for kicking back and grabbing a good book. There’s no other feeling like losing yourself in an inspirational book. I’m obsessed with books that deal with self-development, spirituality, and finding the purpose of life.

This is a short list of books that are actually pretty damn good.

1. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero


If you’re ready to meet your new best friend, grab a copy of Jen Sincero’s #1 NYTimes Bestseller now! She is hilarious and her writing style makes reading effortless. No matter who you are, she will make you feel empowered and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.

One of my favorite quotes from this book is:

“Imagine what our world would be like if everyone loved themselves so much that they weren’t threatened by other people’s opinions or skin colors or sexual preferences or talents or education or possessions or lack of possessions or religious beliefs or customs or their general tendency to just be whoever the hell they are.”

2. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

This book should be mandatory reading for all men and women. You completely lose yourself as you put yourself in Glennon’s shoes. She shares the most intimate details of her life in hopes of showing us that we are not alone in our struggles. Reminding us that, “sometimes people who need help look a lot like people who don’t need help.”

Love Warrior touches upon themes of bravery, trust, infidelity, parenting, self-esteem, hitting rock bottom, love, resilience, and empowerment.

3. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

Mark Manson is a genius. If you feel like you don’t have time to read this book, then A) you’re missing out BIG TIME and B) you can read his awesome blog posts which have won over the hearts of millions around the world. No matter what stage of life you’re in, you’re bound to gain insight and wisdom from Mark. Also, the last few chapters will give you goosebumps and realize how so many times, we are too afraid to truly live.

Mark says, “You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.”

4. Rising Strong by Brene Brown

I can’t describe how much I love all of Brene Brown’s work. This woman is a bad ass researcher and storyteller who has inspired millions around the world, especially with her TED talk on the power of vulnerability. In this #1 NYTimes bestseller, Brene walks us through her sixteen years of research on topics like shame, empathy, courage, and worthiness. She makes it so easy to understand and you’re bound to have little aha-moments on every page you read.

We are always hearing of success stories in the media. But rarely do we get to hear about the difficulties and pain involved in the process of going from zero to a hundred. Perfectly describing her work, Brene says, “If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. This is a book about what it takes to get back up.”

5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This book is a must read! We go on a journey with Santiago, who is on the quest to find a hidden treasure that he sees in a recurring dream. Santiago’s journey is a representation of finding one’s destiny and of becoming one with your true self. This book encourages you to work on your “personal legend”- things you are passionate about and that is very important when you are on a quest to finding yourself.

The core message of The Alchemist is reinforced by this quote that an old man said to Santiago on their encounter: “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

6. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle is such an angel, I swear! He’s a spiritual teacher who does not identify with any religion in particular. He was on the brink of suicide when he came up with this realization: “I am not my thoughts. I am the awareness behind my thoughts.”

This isn’t just another one of the thousands of books which claim to help you awaken to your life’s purpose. This book is mind blowing and speaks the truth. Oprah even added it to her Book Club in 2008-because it’s that good. He teaches us about our ego in a very easy to understand way and his writing helps transform and illuminate lives around the world.

BRB Gone Viral Pop Culture

5 inspirational videos that blew me away with their messages

With all the accessible information, it can be pretty overwhelming deciding what to devote our precious time and energy towards. I always make sure to pay attention to those on the NY Times Bestsellers list or on Oprah’s show, Super Soul Sunday. Because if millions of people are able to relate to that person’s work, then chances are I will too!

Here is a short list of some successful women who are inspiring millions around the world. Ready to feel empowered? If so, read on.

1. The power of vulnerability by Brene Brown

I watched this in one of my college classes and it was one of the most valuable things I took from my entire college experience. Dr. Brene Brown is the coolest woman ever, which is why she’s in the top 5 most viewed Ted Talks. She has researched shame, courage, empathy, and vulnerability for over 16 years AND her books are #1 NY Times Bestsellers. Is that enough to get you to watch her TED talk?

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” -Brene Brown

2. Lessons from the mental hospital by Glennon Doyle Melton

Glennon Doyle Melton is living proof that vulnerability and authenticity are crucial for true happiness. It’s nearly impossible not to love her, especially after she courageously shares the most intimate details of her life in her best-selling memoir, Love Warrior.

As soon as I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. Glennon struggled with bulimia, alcohol, drugs, and relationship issues yet climbed her way out of rock bottom. She now inspires women around the world as a speaker, mother of three kiddos, and the president of her non-profit targeting vulnerable women and children.

3. Your legacy is every life you’ve touched by Oprah Winfrey

This video is short, sweet, and so powerful. Oprah has a gift of instilling hope, optimism, and inspiration in all of us. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that success is not the size of our bank account. This video is a reminder that our lives can only feel fulfilled when we’re serving and helping others.

4. The universe has your back by Gabrielle Bernstein

Gabrielle Bernstein is a NY Times Bestselling author, international speaker, and spirit junkie. In this video, she shares her spiritual journey with us. She reminds us the importance of learning to surrender to the universe, God, or whatever/whoever you believe in. She makes you want to quit making excuses for not making time for meditation every day. Her talk also reminds us to listen to our intuition and try to quiet down the chatter in our minds.

5. How to re-program your subconscious mind to get what you want by Marie Forleo and Cathy Collautt

This interview is definitely worth investing 14 minutes of your time into. It will help you learn how to make your subconscious work for you, rather than against you. Marie Forleo has hundreds of inspirational videos that will motivate you to keep pushing through your struggles. Her guest star Dr. Cathy Collautt helps us learn how to re-align our subconscious mind with our conscious goals, in order to get the results we want in life. If you take away anything from this video, let it be this: “Your subconscious mind holds around 97% of your brains processing power, so the power of your subconscious is perhaps a million times greater than the conscious mind.”

These are just a handful of videos which changed my mindset and attitude towards positivity and hope. I’m sure that these will also strongly resonate with you.

Gender & Identity Life

10 things I wish I could tell my younger self

We all have things we wish we knew when we were younger, right?

It may sound a bit weird, but I enjoy writing letters to myself, whether it’s for the past, present, or future. It’s therapeutic and allows me to recharge my personal battery to continue pursuing my goals.

Because let’s be honest, life can get a bit robotic and mundane at times. Pausing to reflect on my past definitely brings me more hope, optimism, and joy.

Isn’t it amazing how, although we all have our own upbringings, and personalities, that somehow there are common themes we can all relate to? My hope is that my list will inspire you to create your own as well. Try it out, you’ve got nothing to lose!

So here’s what I would want my younger self to know:

1. There will be people you come across in life who you become close to, but who manipulate or hurt you. No matter what, keep your heart open. Learn from these people, but never generalize a few rotten tomatoes for the whole crate.


I know you love Spongebob, but for the love of God, please don’t follow Squidward’s philosophy.

2. You will never be able to make all of your family and friends happy. Once you accept this difficult reality, you will feel much more empowered.


It will probably take you a long, long, long time to learn this, but that’s okay.

3. Your parents will get on your nerves. But remember that they are not perfect humans and they’re trying their best.

Be as kind as possible to them because you wouldn’t be where you are without their unconditional love and support.

4. Spend your time wisely. Even if those around you are wasting it away, realize that you will never be able to get it back.


Oprah is a wise woman who will help you in life – listen to her!

5. There may be people who try to project their insecurities onto you. Do not take it personally. Although it may not feel like it, what they say has nothing to do with you.


I couldn’t have said it better myself.

6. Please don’t rush yourself into knowing what you can only learn with time and experience. Take a deep breath and relax.

No matter what happens just keep swimming.

7. You will definitely get lost at times and feel like you’re completely on your own. But you’re not. 


However, on many days, it will all seem to make sense and you’ll be able to connect the dots.

8. Some guys may only like you for your physical beauty–politely distance yourself from them. Don’t fall into the trap of only focusing on how you look. You are so much more than that.

Once again, don’t just generalize those dumbos to all men.

9. Sometimes you will say and do hurtful things to those you are closest to. Never let more than a day or two pass before you find the courage to let your ego down and apologize.


I know it’s not easy sometimes, but life is short. PS: If you’re too scared just send an email or text.

10. No matter how many times you mess up, you will always be loved.

No matter what you are a person deserving of love.

None of us will make it through life without having some sort of realizations we wish we had known sooner. That’s part of the fun (and pain) of growing and evolving. I need to remind myself of these messages on a daily basis.

The difference between my attitude now and around a decade ago is this: I refuse to beat myself up over not being perfect. I embrace my strengths and my areas of improvement because those are the qualities that make me who I am. These are lessons I will have to learn over and over again, but I accept that I will fall down many times. However, I will also rise back up. And so will you.

The Tempest Radio Mixes Audio + Visual

INSPIRATION MIX: Music to keep you going

I’ve always had those moments in which I just didn’t know what to do in order to feel inspired. Reading quotes, watching motivational videos, and asking a friend for a pep talk don’t always work. But one thing which never fails to recharge my motivational battery is listening to certain songs. Music has this power to uplift even the lowest spirits. If you ever find yourself feeling a lack of energy when it comes towards pursuing your goals, grab your headphones and press play:

1. I Was Here || Beyonce

The go-to song for when you feel like you don’t make a difference in the world. It gets me every time. “The hearts I have touched, will be the proof that I leave, that I made a difference, and this world will see, I was here.” Beyonce will blow you away in her performance.

2. The Climb || Miley Cyrus

Top Cools

This one’s a classic! No matter what I’m going through, when I listen to The Climb, I feel like all the struggles are worth it. Because it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Cheesy? Perhaps. But I’ve learned that all those cliches and corny quotes are true 98% of the time.

3. The Greatest || Sia

The 405

It may get stuck in your head for a while afterwards, but honestly, it’s worth it because it’ll remind you how great you are. It’s hard to stay unmotivated while listening to it.

4. Try Everything || Shakira


This one is so catchy and has amazing messages in the lyrics. It’ll make you want to try everything to fulfill your dreams. The fact that it’s the featured song in Disney’s Zootopia makes it 100 times better.

5. How Far I’ll Go || Alessia Cara


This song is so empowering, especially for when you’re going through a period of uncertainty about your future. When I was applying for grad school and was having self-doubts, I kept this song on replay. Somehow, singing along to it day after day made me realize that I have so much potential to tap into, and that the only thing getting in the way of my dreams was me.

6. Born This Way || Lady Gaga

For a more upbeat song to keep you going, this one’s awesome. Helps you embrace your imperfections and keep your eye on the prize.

[cue id=”62599″]

Beauty Lookbook

8 essential skin care secrets you need for glowy skin year round

What’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone? Chances are, you can’t help but notice their skin. It’s unavoidable and pretty in your face, literally. People have all different types of issues with their skin, and nobody seems completely satisfied with it.

People are constantly trying new skincare remedies, whether it be home made face masks and scrubs, or even salon exfoliant treatments. Everyone wants to know how to achieve clear, beautiful skin while still being affordable.

Here are some of my secrets that I am trying to incorporate more of in my life which I thought I’d share. They’re not breaking news or anything, we have all heard these techniques from various sources. And yet if you’re like most people, you find it hard to stay in the habit of keeping up with these small and yet effective routines.

Here are 8 ways to maintain glowing skin:

1. For Pete’s sake, wash your face!


Day and night. Night and day. Who knows how much dirt and filth we have taking abode in our pores. What happens when you get out of the habit of washing your face each night? According to dermatologists, the build up of dirt on your pores results in more acne breakouts, causing one to look dirty, oily, and/or greasy. Als we go about our day, we may not even realize it but bacteria and dirt are coming on to our skin, so it’s our job to cleanse them away.

2. Always use sunscreen.


Make sure to use SPF 30 or higher though – we have to protect our skin from all those sun rays. Why? To prevent skin cancer and any other unwanted issues. Always apply it before going outside, even on cloudy days! This small habit can also help slow down the development of wrinkled, premature aging skin.

3. Break a sweat.


But make sure your skin is makeup free when you work out and wash your face after. All that makeup clogged into your pores could break out your skin more than you know it. Dermatologist Ellen Marmur states that  exercising helps flush out cellular debris out of our system and it’s almost like you are cleansing your skin from the inside.

4. Get enough sleep.


Each person differs in how many hours they need. However, Dr. Michael Brues found that those who get less than 6 hours of sleep usually find that it does affect their appearance. He found that people who sleep less than 6 hours tend to have more fine lines and drier skin as well. Getting our beauty sleep allows our skin to repair itself while we’re snoozing. It’s important to change our pillow cases often as well!

5. Exfoliate!!!


At least once a week, scrub off those dead skin cells with an exfoliator that suits you. This simple action can make a world of a difference in your skin care routine. Some benefits are that it causes you to have smoother skin, helps prevent breakouts, and it allows your skin care products to work better. However, don’t over-exfoliate because that can cause dry or irritated skin. If you want more fresh and healthy looking skin, then exfoliation is the way to go.

6. Moisturize. Always.


Our skin gets dehydrated too so it’s important to apply moisturizer, especially after exfoliating or taking a bath. Skin experts suggest that you apply your moisturizer in an upward direction, massaging it in circular motions gently. Dr. Craig Kraffert highly recommends that when shopping for a moisturizing lotion, you make sure it includes the ingredients which are called humectants. It’s also important to ensure that you’re using one which is suitable for your skin type.

7. Treat yourself and splurge on a face mask.


If you don’t want to bother going to a salon and spending a lot of money on a facial, then face masks are for you! LUSH has some really awesome ones. You can also find some DIY masks online. If you’re feeling fancy, throw on some cucumber slices. Not only is it good for your skin, but it’s also really relaxing and a good way to pause and enjoy some me-time. According to one website, “Masks are incredible at providing deep cleansing, which helps in the improvement of the appearance of your pores.”

8. Don’t pop your pimples!


A friend of mine in college used to advise me to pop any zits that came up but that can lead to acne scars, which you’ll have to spend the rest of your life covering up with concealer. Instead, use acne medications and over the counter creams to reduce acne as they come. Dermatologist Zakiya Rice tells us that a pimple usually lasts from around 3 to 7 days. However, when we try to mess around with it can “linger for weeks and lead to permanent scarring.” So as tempting as it may be, don’t do it!

I hope I can practice what I preach. I know the struggle is real for all of us, but hey, there are bigger issues in the world we should be worrying about. So in the grand scheme of things, these tips are easy peasy. Where there’s a will there’s a way. There are tons of other cheesy quotes I can use but I think you get the point. Good luck in following these steps- you got this.

Fashion Lookbook

6 essential rules to help you take back control of your closet

These days, there are countless news sources informing us about how our planet is suffering from the billions of clothing pieces that go to waste each year. It’s easy to accumulate clothing over the years, especially in America, where there are tons of stores which sell cheap clothes. The downside is that the quality isn’t as great, which makes us more likely to throw clothes away, especially because some are in such bad shape that we don’t even think donating them would be a good idea.

Luckily, there are clothing companies that are recycling clothes, but we still need to do what we can to minimize clothing waste. Especially for women, it can be hard to let go of clothes we have been holding onto. I know a few people who have been holding onto clothes for over 30 years, claiming that they will lose weight so they can fit into them one day. But why not just give them to someone who can benefit from them?

1. Think about why you need to do this for yourself.


Sigh…letting go. Whether it’s people, places, or things — it’s not an easy task. But “knowing your why” is a helpful technique to keep up that motivation to de-clutter.

2. Take an inventory of what’s in your closet.


Slowly just begin to notice what you already own. You don’t have to jump right in with trash bags and decide to donate everything. Take it one step at a time. This will make the process easier and less stressful.

3. Make two piles labeled “keep” and “maybe.”


But please don’t act like you need to keep every single piece of clothing in your closet. Be reasonable with yourself, but also don’t force yourself to throw away something you want to keep.

4. Think of some family or friends who may want your hand-me-downs.


I always get excited when my aunt shows me a bunch of her clothes before she donates them, just in case I want anything. It’s a win-win situation-she gets to get rid of clothes so she can buy more, and I get some for free. Who knows, you may have just what they need! If they’re down, you can even swap clothes before you donate them.

5.  Keep this phrase in mind: less is more.


Before you roll your eyes at this cliché, think about it. Who’s really benefiting from our consumer society? Companies can’t run without our money so it wouldn’t make sense for them to sell us the idea that we really are just fine with having the basics.

6. Treat yourself when you’ve successfully gotten rid of unnecessary items.

We should celebrate the small wins! Go ahead and get your favorite ice cream, watch a movie with friends, or get a massage. Whatever makes you happy. Just try not to go on a shopping spree.

Getting rid of clothes is way easier said than done, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. The best way to get things done is to quit making excuses and just get to it. Imagine how great you’ll feel after de-cluttering your closet. Let’s do this!

Movies Pop Culture

9 times Bollywood movies taught us incredibly valuable lessons

When I hear the word Bollywood, I automatically think of love, romance, dancing, singing, gorgeous outfits, and the like. One reason this industry is so successful is that each of its movies evokes a rainbow of feelings.

Sure, there are some pretty trashy and cringe-worthy movies, but on the flip side, there are also tons of amazing ones.

Here are just a handful of Bollywood movies that teach life-changing lessons:

1. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara


If you want to look as relaxed as Hrithik Roshan over here, then watch this movie so you can gain some valuable reminders. It makes you want to pause and realize how good your life is despite the hardships. It makes you appreciate your true friends.

But the biggest thing I took from this movie was to push yourself out of your comfort zone and face your fears.

2. Jab We Met


The biggest lesson Geet taught me was to not take life too seriously.

She is so spontaneous, adventurous, and authentic in the way she interacts with the world. She also inspires us to love ourselves and be independent – refusing to take crap from anyone.

Pretty sure that’s the sort of self-confidence that attracts people (especially Shahid Kapoor) towards her!

3. Kapoor and Sons


This movie gives me the chills every time. So damn good. It shows how no family is perfect and reminds us that we are all flawed creatures who need to accept and forgive one another.

[bctt tweet=”We are all flawed creatures who need to accept and forgive.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Kapoor and Sons also portrays how important it is to communicate honestly with our loved ones, whether it is expressing positive or negative feelings. It’s the only way to get through life because conflict is inevitable.

4. Dear Zindagi


Who wouldn’t want Shah Rukh Khan to be their psychologist? This movie takes us on a journey to see what it may be like to experience therapy. I love seeing mental health being promoted and destigmatized! For anyone who hasn’t watched it, good news: it’s on Netflix!

My favorite line from the movie is: “khul kar ro nahi sakogi to khul kar hass kaise pao gee?” Translation: “If you don’t know how to cry openly, how will you learn how to laugh wholeheartedly?”

5. Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani


Bunny teaches Naina to realize that she is good enough just the way she is. She doesn’t have to try to change herself to fit in with the people around her, and through that, she learns to embrace her true self unapologetically. Naina teaches us that no matter where we go in life we will always be missing out on something.

So we might as well enjoy and appreciate where we are.

6. Baar Baar Dekho


Not only does this movie have an amazing soundtrack, but it also gives us a huge reminder to live in the present moment and appreciate the people in our lives.

[bctt tweet=”We can never get our time back, so we should spend it wisely.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Not going to give any spoilers, but I will say it’s a feel good movie that will make you want to enjoy where you are right now, rather than living for the future. And in our day and age of constantly being connected to our gadgets, it’s a great wake-up call to disconnect every once in a while and fully experience life.

Because no matter what we do, we can never get our time back, so we should spend it wisely.

7. Dangal


I love Bollywood movies that empower women! Dangal is a must-watch film – it shows these two young women breaking stereotypes and gender roles. It also teaches us not to be too cocky or full of ourselves when we do become successful.

It shows that women can do anything men can do if they just drown out society’s messages telling them they can’t.

8. Kal Ho Na Ho


In this movie, Aman teaches Naina how to open up and be vulnerable, which allows her to address the emotions she had repressed. Sometimes we need that reminder to share our struggles with someone who is trustworthy.

The overall life lesson I took away from this was to remember that every single day we are alive is a gift and life should not be taken for granted. As Shah Rukh Khan famously states, “Hanso, jeeyo, muskaro…kya pata, kal ho na ho,” which translates to “laugh, live, and smile, because who knows –  tomorrow may not exist.”

9. My Name is Khan


I loved every minute of this movie because it addresses extremely important issues that we are facing in the world today, including Islamophobia. My name Is Khan reminds us to judge others based on their actions, rather than their religion. This film is an emotional roller coaster and the actors did an amazing job.

There are way more Bollywood movies that have meaningful lessons for us. In fact, most things in life have lessons if we just look deeply enough. So sit back, relax, and indulge in a Bollywood movie! You won’t regret it.

Humor Life

15 struggles every only child will really understand

1. You don’t know what it’s like to share a room with someone…until you go to college


Sleeping in the top bunk freshman year was definitely a new experience for me.

2. There is this assumption that you must have been spoiled as a child


Kinda, sorta, not really!

3. Every now and then you remember how it is pretty much your responsibility to take care of your parents when they get older


Yikes! Just kidding, I know I’ll be able to handle it.

4. It can get kind of lonely sometimes


Not gonna lie…

5. Until you remember that you have family & friends who love you


Shout out to my huge extended family!

6. At least you know you’re the favorite child


There’s nobody to compete with or be compared to.

7. Going to parties where you didn’t know anyone could get awkward, especially during teenage years


Glad those days are over.

8. You’re not used to conflict because you’re not accustomed to someone annoying you all the time


Ugh, just go along with me!

9. You’re pretty used to having to travel alone


And while you’re at it, you don’t have to fight with anyone over deciding where to eat!

10.  You make sure your cousins will act like real aunts & uncles to your future kids


True story.

11. At some point, you begin to enjoy your own company


And that is a beautiful feeling.

12. You’re used to being the center of attention, especially when it comes to grandparents


You have an extra special bond with them.

13. Growing up, you made friends with your dolls & stuffed toys

Maybe that’s where your creative spark comes from?

14. You are super grateful for your cousins, who feel like siblings

Don’t know what I would do without them!

15. At the end of the day, you feel too blessed to be stressed 

Being an only child isn’t so bad after all!

Gender & Identity Life

I grew up told by my Sunday School teachers to be terrified of God, but now everything’s different

I have always been a very curious person, who wants to know the meaning behind everything. But I found that sometimes when I asked an elder relative why we had to do a certain thing in Islam, the response I received was something along the lines of “Because God said so.”

This answer was not very reassuring to me, and I felt like it was the end of the conversation. I wanted to know why certain things were not permissible; I was not challenging the word of God. Many years later, I learned that Islam actually encourages us to seek knowledge and ask questions.

[bctt tweet=” I learned that Islam actually encourages us to seek knowledge and ask questions.” username=”wearethetempest”]

As a kid, I would dread having my Quran teacher come and teach me how to read in Arabic. I would pretend I had a sore throat, make excuses to go to the bathroom, or get a drink of water- I was pretty creative in making excuses to escape my teacher. The truth is that I was extremely bored and had no idea what I was reading. I understand that there are blessings in reading the Quran in Arabic, but I’m sure my love for Islam would have increased had I been taught the meaning of what I was reciting.

I also did not look forward to going to Sunday School each week.

It consisted of sitting in a circle with other women, reading the Quran in Arabic, and constantly checking the clock to see how much time was left. The vibes I got from the people around me were serious and intimidating. The highlight of my day would be getting our pack of chips and juice box while waiting to get picked up by our parents.

Looking back, I realize that the majority of my experiences with my religion focused on this: having a fear of God rather than love.

I can’t pinpoint when and how I began to associate God with fear and anxiety, but I know that that’s how I felt for most of my life.

I remember hearing messages like, “You will go to Hell if you don’t fast, God will be angry if you don’t pray 5 times a day, We must be fearful of the Day of Judgement.” For any young child to hear these kinds of things is pretty scary. We are susceptible to believing what our elders tell us; it’s hard to know what is right and wrong or think for ourselves.

[bctt tweet=” For any young child to hear these kinds of things, it’s pretty scary.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Maybe the fear of hell fire is more motivational for some people, but for me, the concept of love, compassion, and hope are what keep me going in this turbulent world.

So why is this issue even important?

Regardless of religion, if someone is feeling distressing emotions when it comes to their faith, they will be more likely to turn away from it. When I think of my religion, I want it to be there as a safe haven, where I feel connected to the universe and humanity.

[bctt tweet=”When I think of my religion, I want it to be a safe haven.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Because of this, I started being very hard on myself. No matter what I do, I will be sinning. There is always something I can work on in order to please God. These were the thoughts in my mind; I was not even aware of them until now.

I also started to fall into the trap of perfectionism, expecting myself to be hitting all the targets in terms of what a “good Muslim” does. I felt that no matter how hard I tried, I would not be good enough.

Through spending a lot of time journaling and self-reflecting, I had this epiphany: God knows me better than I even know myself; He knows my intentions and sees that I am trying my best.

So why beat myself up over my weaknesses? Why would the One who created me, punish me for being imperfect, when He is the One who made me that way in the first place?

[bctt tweet=”God knows me better than I even know myself.” username=”wearethetempest”]

112 out of the 113 chapters in the Quran start with the words Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim, which is translated to “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” Also, a hadith states that Allah loves His servant 70 times more than his/her own mother.

Now that seems like a lot of love.

My mind can not even begin to comprehend how much God loves you and me.

For a long time, I have had a greater fear of what other people think of me rather than what God thinks of me. But now, I feel at peace knowing that I don’t have to prove myself to anyone besides God.

Love Life Stories

I used to think something was wrong with me for feeling this way – until the day everything changed

A couple of months ago, I was going through a phase of pretty gloomy and down emotions. I just couldn’t put my finger on what was the cause.

So one day, as I was sitting outside the library, I had an urge to go walk over to a bookstore and start reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** by Mark Manson. I had heard great things about this book so I decided to trust my intuition and go check it out. I was already feeling like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, so thought I might as well give it a chance.


As soon as I began reading, I felt this huge sense of relief. I started having little epiphanies. The first wake up call I received was this:

“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”


This was the reason I was having so much anxiety and discontentment! Because I was anxious about being anxious which made me even more anxious. I had unknowingly been trying so hard to be happy that I ended up making myself miserable in the process.

As I continued reading, it hit me that the majority of my negative feelings were completely valid.

I was about to start a new chapter in my life (grad school), so any person in my situation would be at least a little bit nervous. I had also just gotten back from Pakistan, where I was constantly surrounded by family, so being back in America made me feel very lonely.

I realized that most of the time when I feel nervous, sad, or afraid, it’s not because there’s something wrong with me; I have legitimate reasons for those feelings. It’s easy to forget though, as society tells you to slap a smile on your face no matter what you’re going through. But that just causes more issues than actually acknowledging where you’re at, to begin with.

Another realization I had was how much time I used to wallow in self-pity. Boo hoo, poor me has to deal with all this stuff, nobody understands what I feel etc.

For instance, last December, my whole family reunited in Pakistan last year, and I was the only one missing. I didn’t go because I wanted to work on my grad school applications and personal statements.

I felt extreme FOMO. I would see Snapchat stories of people having a blast while I was struggling to work on my work. However, now I am so glad that I prioritized my future goals over short term pleasure.

Mark reminded me that there is really no need to feel sorry for myself.

Who decided to go to grad school? Me. Who wants to become a super skillful counselor and help students? Me. Who decided to apply for this Editorial Fellowship and write five articles a week? That’s right—Me! So there’s really no need to complain and be so whiny. There’s a difference between acknowledging your stress and simply wallowing in it.

Here’s the truth: Nobody forced me to make any of my decisions.

So now, whenever I find myself in victim mode in the story I’ve made up in my head, I remind myself that I am the boss of me. I can quit anytime I want to. But I won’t because I want to live according to my values.

No matter what I do, the ball is always in my court.

It’s empowering when you remember that you’re in charge of your life. There comes a point when you just have to quit blaming your circumstances for your unhappiness.

It’s time to take ownership of the only thing I do have control over in life: myself.