Book Reviews Book Club Pop Culture Interviews

Witches are at the forefront of the Suffragette movement in Alix E. Harrow’s “The Once and Future Witches”

Why have regular activists when you can have activist witches? I found the perfect combination of the two in Alix E. Harrow’s new novel The Once and Future Witches.

We’ve all heard the witch tales told to us as little girls – the Wicked Witch of the West was a popular one in my childhood. She is so widely hated by people because of the inconvenience she causes Dorothy, but I secretly liked her better. She made the story. Why are we taught that the witches are always the villains of the story?

Author Alix E. Harrow recalls tales told in her childhood, “There are witches in so many of our stories,” she says in an exclusive interview with The Tempest, “creeping along the margins, waiting at crossroads and hexing babies; I guess it was only a matter of time before we started dragging them out into the light.” And drag to the light she did.

The Once and Future Witches is a novel that centers around injustices that, sadly, are still all too familiar to modern-day society, legal, economic, social and racial. The story is set in 1893, during the time of the suffragette movement, and did I mention that the main characters are activist witches?

Harrow admits that the idea wasn’t entirely hers: “I wish I could say it came to me in a dream, but the honest truth is that I was trying really hard to come up with a new novel idea, and my husband said, ‘you should do witches, but like, activists.'” And from there, The Once and Future Witches was born; a story combining the modern understanding of witchery with the age-old movement of the Suffragettes.

The protagonists of the book, the three Eastwood sisters, display a sense of morality that isn’t heard of from witches in the tales stemming from centuries ago; they are activists fighting for their rights as women. But can they balance witchery and activism? 

There are so many characters that you come to love in this book; my favorite happens to be James Juniper, the youngest of all the Eastwood sisters, on a journey to leave her traumatic past behind. She also happens to be the most dedicated to her roots and a proud witch – something that is consistently frowned upon within the pages of this book and is a trait that makes her incredibly appealing in the new age of activism.

Juniper is the first to become involved with the women’s suffrage movement, later involving her sisters. However, the movement itself is not just for the rights of women, it also serves as a coverup for the Eastwood sisters’ own growing power throughout the city of New Salem; a force that reconciled the sisterhood of these three and brought forward a new sisterhood between the women of New Salem.

Agnes Amaranth is the middle sister and a solitary individual, and Alix Harrow’s favorite: “I had a newborn and a two-year-old while I was writing this book, and the idea of a character who found strength in motherhood, rather than sentimentality or weakness or softness is one that mattered a great deal to me.” 

Last but certainly not least, we have Beatrice Belladonna, the eldest of the sisters and the insatiable bookworm of the trio. Beatrice is bursting at the seams for knowledge of her ancestors and finds herself digging deeper and deeper into her emotions and knowledge about witchcraft with the aid of her new friend. Beatrice’s love of books resonates with many readers and although on the surface Beatrice has less going on in her life than her sisters, it is truly a wonderful experience to watch such an introverted character bloom into a powerful presence. 

My favorite thing about The Once and Future Witches happens to be how starkly different each of the Eastwood sisters are: there’s a part of everyone in each of these sisters, making them relatable to any reader. It is also quite refreshing to see the characters find pride in being women in a time where it was shunned.

But, throughout History, where there are women, there are injustices and at its very core, The Once and Future Witches is a story about all of these struggles whilst being a disliked member of society. As Harrow so wonderfully puts it,  “All of us grew up on stories of wicked witches. The villages they cursed, the plagues they brewed. We need to show people what else we have to offer, give them better stories.”

Witchery is an essential part of history and literature. From the tales in the literary canon and children’s books to the ones in crime history and newspapers, it’s fair to say that witches haven’t always been depicted as the most just beings. The author of The Once and Future Witches dives deep into the set of fears surrounding the inversions of the natural order. Witches are often portrayed as promiscuous rather than chaste housewives; they prey on children rather than bear them and they curse houses rather than keep them. The nineteenth-century nailed in the gender roles of our society with witches being the feminine form of evil – but not the protagonists of this book. 

The Eastwood sisters alongside many of the other characters find themselves facing an age-old battle that women appear to be destined to fight for the longevity of their time. “I wouldn’t necessarily want to declare that it’s some sort of grand allegory for the #MeToo movement, which involves real women in the real world.” Harrows says, “But all the injustices my characters deal with – legal, economic, social, racial, are absolutely still with us.”

Whether it’s an issue of classism or the economical stance of women in society, Harrow taps into our innermost subconscious, allowing us to see an age-old story with modern eyes in the best way; through the lives of witches. “I think the thing that fantasy can do better than any other genre is literalize experiences that are metaphorical – it can make the invisible suddenly visible. Women’s sociopolitical power is an invisible, uncertain quantity that shifts according to class, race, sexuality, ability, and identity. But with witchcraft–I could make it visible.”

The Once and Future Witches was a great read for me personally: though I’ve never villainized the witches, I’ve never thought to put them in the position of the heroes either. I was surprised just how much I connected with the main character James Juniper – her wit and charm as well as her pride had me rooting for her the entire way through. And although witches have never been traditionally written as humane, this was the most human I’ve read them to be and definitely the most I’ve connected with them.

This book is eloquently crafted and depicts the long-lasting journey that women have been on since the beginning of time and fills you with a sense of righteousness. Remnants of beautiful yet powerful messages are hidden in the charming words you’d come to expect from an Alix E. Harrow’s story. “With my first book (the take away) was a sense of wonder and nostalgia. With this one, it’s righteous anger, and the thing underneath righteous anger, which is almost always hope.”

We are hosting a giveaway of the book on our Instagram, stay tuned! Or, if you absolutely can’t wait to read “The Once and Future Witches”, get it now on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores here or on Amazon here.

Editor's Picks Gender Inequality

‘Challenge Accepted’ is performative activism at its finest

This morning began like so many others. In a sleepy haze, I shuffled around for my freshly-charged phone on my nightstand (groaning while remnants of my dream of a shirtless Rami Malek throwing darts at a picture of a certain Republican President’s orange face slipped away from my conscious mind). The anomaly came when, while filtering through emails of pathetic updates about online learning from my university, I noticed I had three new DMs on Instagram from people I follow. This was a rare occurrence as my DMs are mostly littered with requests from desperate men in India. Today, however, I had numerous requests to accept a certain challenge of posting a black and white photograph of myself in the name of female empowerment. *Cue the deeply disappointed sigh*

On a normal day, the word ‘challenge’ denotes a hardship of some kind in the form of a complex task or situation. In the age of social media, we have somehow skewed its definition to mean “posting a photograph of yourself in the name of an ostensibly good cause while looking conventionally attractive”.

Remember the #10YearChallenge that points out how hot you have gotten (specifically to your high school bullies)? The recent #WomenSupportingWomen #ChallengeAccepted arguably falls into this questionable category of ‘conquering the difficult task of building an online image’ as women bravely choose their most flattering selfie, slap a black and white filter on it (for a reason unbeknownst to them) and post in the name of sisterhood. Oh, if only I were that courageous.

So far, more than 3 million photos have been uploaded with the #ChallengeAccepted hashtag; many more have appeared without it. “The trend is still picking up with usage of the hashtag on Instagram doubling in the last day alone,” an Instagram spokeswoman said on Monday. “Based on the posts, we’re seeing that most of the participants are posting with notes relating to strength and support for their communities.”

But do these captions actually achieve tangible results?

While its inception may have been to spread positivity and awareness to a cause (in this case, women empowerment), the execution of it largely falls short, as many of the accompanying captions to the sexy feed of black and white photographs are vague and self-serving. They inherently say nothing of substance, rather opting to preach about kindness and strength over shining a light on organisations that can help women on the ground level with job access or gender-based violence relief, etc.

Women in need, are you feeling empowered yet? No? Well, Cindy Crawford just posted her #ChallengeAccepted contribution that looks like an ad campaign in Vogue…so what about now?

How is this challenge actually helping women? I am all for instilling confidence in women (and people in general) but can’t we harness the power of social media to call attention to the thousands of more pressing matters that women face daily?

Do people not know that you can post a cute selfie for no apparent reason? Why use the guise of performative wokeness to do so?

“Ladies,” Alana Levinson, a writer, tweeted on Monday, “instead of posting that hot black-and-white selfie, why don’t we ease into feminism with something low stakes, like cutting off your friend who’s an abuser?”

Other women online suggested that instead of a black-and-white selfie, women should share photos of books, articles, products and charities that benefit women.

This trend is a prime example of activism being done on a surface-level to increase one’s social capital, rather than due to a dedication to the cause at hand. Its social-justice message feels a little hollow when the main focus is on the participants’ flawless faces.

And this is where the challenge’s main fault lies. Do people not know that you can post a cute selfie for no apparent reason? Why use the guise of performative wokeness to do so?

There are many suggestions of the origins for this challenge. Some say that it surfaced after Rep. Ted Yoho’s sexist attack on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which aligns with this supposed mission of women empowerment, yet includes no hashtags to speak to this event (#FuckingBitch would be great to claim the label, to be honest).

Others claim that this challenge has been around since at least 2016, with its original purpose of spreading awareness around cancer. If that’s the case then I am not more aware of the intricacies of cancer now than I was in 2016…because of photographs of women’s bras.

Once again the Instagramability of social justice causes takes precedent over its actual message in the age of aesthetic.

The most jarring of these potential causes lies in Turkey’s hatred and neglect of its women.

Recent protests have sparked in Turkey over the country’s high femicide rates, so social media users took to the internet to highlight the murder of its women. Some say that herein lies the challenge’s roots.

According to the now deleted tweets from New York Times writer Tariro Mzezewa, “The Turkish hashtags about domestic violence and femicide were dropped as the challenge went viral. The images were for women to bond “but MORE importantly that we know that we can be the next trending image and hashtag.”  Mzezewa also claimed that “the original accompanying hashtags were #kadınaşiddetehayır #istanbulsözleşmesiyaşatır which I’m told translate to say no to violence against women & enforce the Istanbul Treaty/ Doctrine (where rights to protect women are signed.)”

(Check out this informative video by Elif Şafak Elif Shafak where she forgoes the black and white selfie in favor of raising awareness about the situation in Turkey right now. And click here for ways to help.)

With so many voices on where this challenge originated and why it’s around, do people truly know what they are contributing to? Or simply following the herd? Regardless of this challenge’s origins, whether it be cancer or gender-based violence awareness, it tragically fails to address any of them.

Once again the Instagrammability of social justice causes takes precedent over its actual message in the age of aesthetic (just look at #BlackoutTuesday, which had pure intentions but ended up overpowering important information regarding #BlackLivesMatter). I mean who would want to look at beaten up women with the stark red of blood staining their screens (and I mean actually injured women – not those who put makeup on to have their eye looked bruised to glamorize violence) when we can instead look at selfies of those who have perfectly winged eyeliner under the classy black and white filter?

So, while the ‘tag-you’re-it’ nature of the challenge urges you to @ a few women you like to share their own tastefully hot selfies, and for them to subsequently ‘challenge’ a handful of other strong, independent women to carry the torch (of course they must also add the hashtags #WomenSupportingWomen and #ChallengeAccepted for optimal empowerment), ask yourself if you could better spend your time educating yourself on the actual life-threatening challenges women face in their daily lives and how you could help them in tangible ways.

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Gender Music Pop Culture

Riot Grrrl is the reason we have feminism today

If you think the Spice Girls invented “girl power,” you definitely have never heard of Riot Grrrl. And if you consider yourself a feminist, you need to know their story.

Riot Grrrl is a movement that originated around the punk and alternative rock subculture in the early ‘90s in North America and spread to over twenty countries. Some scholars claim that third-wave feminism actually developed thanks to Riot Grrrl.

The women who evolved in this subculture were angry and frustrated. They wanted to be included, better represented, and more connected to one another. Riot Grrrl really needs no introduction but their manifesto, published in 1991:

“we girls want to create mediums that speak to US. We are tired of boy band after boy band, boy zine after boy zine, boy punk after boy punk after boy… Because we need to talk to each other. Communication and inclusion are key. We will never know if we don’t break the code of silence… Because in every form of media we see ourselves slapped, decapitated, laughed at, objectified, raped, trivialized, pushed, ignored, stereotyped, kicked, scorned, molested, silenced, invalidated, knifed, shot, choked and killed. Because a safe space needs to be created for girls where we can open our eyes and reach out to each other without being threatened by this sexist society and our day to day bullshit.”

Who were they? Who’s behind the Riot Grrrl movement?

The RG subculture arose out of the punk movement.

They were mostly college-based young women who strongly disagreed with the misogynistic and violent undertones that punk was taking, so they created their own movement to voice their ideas and advocate their rights. Sick and tired of being defined in relation to men, they wanted the recognition that was owed to them.

The symbols of Riot Grrrl were commodified and turned into mass-produced objects.

It is with this desire for a social, cultural, and political revolution that Riot Grrrl articulated their subculture. Their means of expression was music, as well as do-it-yourself zines, the rightful heirs of the feminist tradition of self-publication, the only way for their ideas to safely circulate in the male-dominated space of press without any fear of censorship.

From old pamphlets, they learned about feminism, and through zines, they perpetuated their resistance. There, they could openly discuss topics that were considered taboos by the dominant culture, such as sexuality, abuse, drugs, abortion, body image and more.

Riot Grrrl zine
[Image description: A black and white Riot Grrrl zine from the 90s with “Support Vaginal Pride” written in capital letters]

“We wanna make it easier for girls to see/hear each other’s work,” they continue in the manifesto, seeking a chance at visibility and recognition. “We must take over the means of production in order to create our own meanings,” and “create an alternative to the bullshit christian capitalist way” and (louder, for those in the back) “we hate capitalism,” because it has done nothing but commodify and objectify them since they can remember.

They empower one another, “encourage and be encouraged in the face of all our insecurities,” and aim at “making an impact that DISRUPTS the status quo … create non hierarchical ways of being.” They predict “the coming angry grrrl rock revolution … that can and will change the world for real.”

Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? So why is it that the movement dissolved?

Riot Grrrl was invoking a revolution through their own peaceful means. They were uniting women across the globe under the cry of sisterhood and gender equality. But the dominant ideology fears what is divergent, and always tries to control and annihilate it through a process of recuperation.

As with most alternative subculture, Riot Grrrl too was subverted and co-opted: mainstream culture appropriated and incorporated the less revolutionary aspects of the subculture, keeping the style but disregarding key ideals. The symbols of Riot Grrrl were commodified and turned into mass-produced objects.

History – the media – decided to silence the movement so that they could continue perpetrating their patriarchal norms, which Riot Grrrl was fighting so hard against.

The dominant ideology countered the Riot Grrrl revolution with the creation of media texts – films, tv shows, comics, music – that kept the bleak, meaningless slogan of “girl power” that only sought to empower women in words, but didn’t actually denounce the systemic oppression that was in place. Hence you have the family-friendly and socially acceptable “feminist” phenomenon of the Spice Girls, Sex & The City, and Bridget Jones.

So, what’s going on with the Riot Grrrl erasure?

I myself only found out about the Riot Grrrl movement in a Media textbook in my senior year of college and was appalled to never have heard of them before, and I was not new to Media and Gender Studies. I was surprised they’re not more talked about. They’re not an obscure group from a time gone by, their revolution happened 25 years ago and the pioneers of this movement that paved the way for modern feminism are still alive and kicking. (Bikini Kill, the most famous Riot Grrrl band, even just reunited in 2019!)

So why isn’t Riot Grrrl as popular nowadays as it should be? History – the media – decided to silence the movement so that they could continue perpetrating their patriarchal norms, which Riot Grrrl was fighting so hard against.

Some scholars claim that third-wave feminism actually developed thanks to Riot Grrrl.

Like all forms of cultural resistance, the women in Riot Grrrl wanted to create a free space for their voices to be heard. But no matter how universal the hegemony might be, there will always be counter-hegemonic groups and movements making “noise” cracking the harmonious sound of ideology for a little while before the dominant culture intervenes to erase them.

It is our job to pass on their ideas and make sure they continue on.

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Editor's Picks Gender & Identity Gender Inequality

Too many women still support attackers and the patriarchy. Will that ever change?

In 2012, December was my first month back in New Delhi as a single, financially independent woman. Having spent three years in the capital for my undergraduate studies, the city was familiar and a second home. However, returning to it as an adult was comforting and unnerving at the same time.

Primarily because Delhi is notorious for being unsafe for women; a statistic that continues to rank the city highest in India.

This was also the month when 23-year-old Jyoti Singh was brutally raped and assaulted by six assailants in the city. The inhumane violence she suffered at the hands of her perpetrators sent shivers across the country and the capital was engulfed in protests. Referred to as Nirbhaya, the fearless one, her case brought the issue of women’s safety right in the heart of political and societal discourse.

My parents began making regular calls for me to return home.

I convinced them that fleeing the city was not the solution, rather fighting for justice and making this city safe for everyone. While my parents grappled with the fear, I sensed a disturbing insensitivity existing within my relatives regarding women’s choices and behavior.

“Why was the girl out that late? If she had stayed at home and not gone to watch a film with a male friend, nothing would have happened,” a female relative said in the aftermath of Nirbhaya’s case.

I stared at her in disbelief and disgust. I wanted to scream at her but was held back by my cousin. We were supposed to respect our elders, she reminded me. Fuming, I walked out of the room, promising myself never to engage with her again.

It’s important to understand that while institutions created by men have given birth to the present patriarchal traditions, these continue to be upheld by countless women who silently or vocally support them.

These are our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters, in-laws, and neighborhood aunties who choose to side with patriarchy, eventually choosing to side with oppression.

Early on, girls are silenced by female family members from speaking about their sexual, physical or emotional abuse at the hands of men.

What begins with rules like: “Do not talk to boys. Do not wear short dresses. Do not stay out late at night,” eventually turns into: “Learn to adjust with an abusive husband. Learn to stay at home and become a better homemaker. Learn to listen to your in-laws. Learn to understand the importance as a mother, career is secondary.”

In feminist theory, this form of behavior is called a patriarchal bargain, where women in order to uphold their limited authority under patriarchy, exercise it onto other women. A classic example is the case of mothers-in-law who try to govern the lives of their daughters-in-law. There are several accounts of Indian women where their mother-in-laws’ insecurity issues with them led to power struggles within families.

With every undesired act viewed as rebellion and considered a transgression, young girls are morally policed by women who then internalize the misogyny and continue this vicious cycle of oppression.

This behavior was reflected during the recent #MeToo movement in India, by senior female journalist and author, Tavleen Singh. While defending a celebrity consultant, Suhel Seth, who was accused of sexual misconduct, she stated, “Why did you go to Suhel’s house? Surely even an ‘innocent’ young girl like you should have known not to go alone to a strange man’s house alone?”

Statements like these reflect the entrenched patriarchal patterns in the existing urban society of India, and generally across South Asia.

One reason for this form of exertion is the need to gain whatever amount of authority is available in a patriarchal household. The other reason is the fear of societal repercussions for going against the community standards because making choices as an independent woman is not a feature that patriarchy recognizes or respects.

Six years to that episode, and my battle with women who enable patriarchy continues.

I have asked uncomfortable questions to women in my family, and have been called a bra-burning feminist for it. What I have also received in return are messages of solidarity from girls in my family. Cousins have thanked me for standing up to mistreatment. Raising my voice has evoked strength in others to be heard too and irrevocably encouraged me to continue fighting this battle.

And that is the hope that feminism carries forward. To enable women to find their voices and develop the courage to fight injustice.

When women support women, sisterhood is nurtured within families and societies. Abusive patterns are recognized and redressed. Otherwise, the cycle of patriarchy and misogyny continues.

The #MeToo movement is a spark that lights that fire of sisterhood harmony. It should not be blown out by a few misinformed women.

Movie Reviews Movies Books Pop Culture

Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is taking young adult romance to new heights through representation

In addition to Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians releasing in theaters, the movie adaptation of Korean American author Jenny Han’s book To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before will be streaming on Netflix August 17, 2018. With an Asian female-led cast this movie is making just as much of an impact as Crazy Rich Asians and I’m so excited to see some different representation on screen.

This teen romance follows the story of Lara Jean Covey or LJ (Lana Condor), a biracial Korean American teen whose seemingly normal life goes haywire when her secret love letters get sent out to five boys. This would be a nightmare for almost anyone, especially the imaginary romanticist like Lara Jean. How she overcomes her dilemma and falls in love for real is both hilarious and inspiring and will leave viewers of all ages with important lessons to take away.

Besides the inevitable love pentagon Lara Jean finds herself in, this movie is filled with gems.

First, we have the sisters’ unbreakable bond. One of the boys to receive a love letter happens to be her older sister Margot’s (Janel Parrish) boyfriend, Josh (Israel Broussard). This causes some tension between all three sisters but multiple times throughout the movie they can put their petty issues aside and stand together. As three girls growing up without a mother, their relationship and influence on each other are extremely important to them, and it shows with each sister’s actions, even the youngest bratty 11-year-old sister, Kitty (Anna Cathcart).

Secondly, the way they address loss in this movie I find really important. So often we see young adult media where there is a single parent but the effects of this are readily ignored. Both LJ and Peter (Noah Centineo), another letter recipient, live in single-parent households, one from death and one from abandonment, but neither have issues discussing their pain in an open and healthy way. I really relate to both Lara and Peter, and the solace they find in each other is admirable.

Furthermore, the subtle addressing of social issues in this movie is phenomenal. From calling out the racism in 80s movies in their disgusting portrayal of Asian characters to dealing with slut-shaming and comprehensive sex education. When older sister Margot relays to LJ that “it’s never worse for the guys” I felt like I was talking to my sister and friends. And I truly appreciate the gynecologist father who is not afraid to be open with his daughters about menstrual cycles, love, and safe sex. This movie doesn’t beat you over the head with wokeness but instead realistically portrays issues that teen girls are going through all over the world.

As to be expected when condensing a sizeable novel, the pacing of the movie is a little bit off. And you don’t get the full romantic growth that eventually buds between Lara and Peter like in the novel. Their love is still believable, however, and you root for them to figure it out.

My only criticism of the movie is a minuscule moment between the sisters that you would only notice as a book reader. When Margot comforts her sisters after the big climactic moment in the movie she says the words “Covey Girls forever”, but in the book, the sisters frequently refer to themselves as the Song Girls. It’s an important way in which they connect with their deceased mother who gave them the moniker of her maiden name as well as their Korean heritage. A lot of the moments that seemed to be cut from the movie are those that deal with the girls’ Korean identities. Maybe it’s not a big deal but the erasure felt deliberate and left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

Overall, the movie is cute and I would 10/10 watch again. It ends with a cliffhanger of another letter recipient arriving at her door, John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Burchette) which only alludes to more drama for LJ to wade through. I can definitely say he is my favorite boy of all Lara’s boys and you won’t want to miss what’s next.

What I’d like to see most in the sequel (Netflix, I hope you’re working on it right now!) and hopefully the third movie is a full embracing of the Song girls’ Korean identity. I look forward to how New Year’s will be portrayed because in the book it’s a full celebration with traditional dress, activities, and their mom’s side of the family. These elements are essential parts of the characters’ personalities and motivations, includng their dad, and it shouldn’t be erased.

Gender & Identity Life

11 simple steps you can take towards re-building the sisterhood

You don’t owe your audience anything. But you owe the women in your life a great deal.

Last month, I was lucky enough to attend many events, conferences, and workshops for women, from women. One topic that kept coming up was the “natural” lack of solidarity between women: why do we play a game of cat and mouse amongst ourselves, victim-blaming, slut-shaming, instead of supporting each other? Why are we so quick at pointing fingers instead of listening to the entire story and defending our sisters? The general answer that we came up with is that it’s a cultural issue, deeply rooted in our mentality after millennia of patriarchy.

Well, that doesn’t sit right with me. Just as we say time’s up to patriarchy and rape culture, we should say goodbye to this petty, catty woman-to-woman behavior. Let’s (re)build the sisterhood.

Dramatically changing the way we relate to one another will surely take time and effort. It’s a systemic issue, but one we can start fighting in our daily life. So I compiled a list of 11 easy actions we can all do to improve our interpersonal relationships, made of little things to do or avoid every day.

1. Be happy for other women.

happy joy GIF
[Image Description: Minions cheering.] Via giphy
Celebrate their successes. Don’t see these instances as your losses, but as another woman’s triumph. I know this might be hard for some people who are really competitive but try your best. It helps no one and nothing to pit yourself against other women.

2. Be genuine.

michelle obama thumbs up GIF
[Image Description: Michelle Obama giving the camera a thumbs up.] Via giphy
When confronted by another woman, say exactly what you think. If you like a project they did, make sure to tell them. If you don’t like something they’re wearing, don’t go out of your way to say that it looks nice if you don’t really think it.

3. Listen to what other women have to say.

[Image Description: A woman wagging her finger at the camera.] Via giphy
Listen to their stories and experiences. We all have a lot to learn from others. Listen to their opinions. If you agree with them, make sure they know it. If you disagree, build a constructive dialogue.

4. You have no idea what a good impact you make on another person by simply smiling at them.

happy toddlers and tiaras GIF
[Image Description: A gif of a girl smiling.] Via giphy
Even if it’s someone you don’t really know but always see in the hallways, smile at them. It costs you nothing, but it might really help them. They might be having an awful day. They might really need that encouragement.

5. Inspire other women to be confident about themselves.

cute jill marie jones GIF
[Image Description: A woman saying “I’m cute” while snapping her fingers.] Via giphy
Go out of your comfort zone and you’ll both be less insecure. Be unapologetic about who you are, and you’ll inspire other women to do the same.

6. Stand up for other women.

turtle helping GIF
[Image Description: A turtle helping another turtle.] Via giphy
And stand up for yourself, if you’re being discriminated, oppressed, mistreated. Don’t stay silent; if you do, you’re being complicit.

7. Make alliances.

left hanging donald trump GIF
[Image Description: A gif of Trump being snubbed for a handshake by a woman who shakes Melania’s hand instead.] Via giphy
I cannot stress this enough. It is everyone’s struggle, one that we should fight together. This way, we all come out victors.

8. Let go of past grudges.

let it go GIF
[Image Description: An gif of Elsa, from “Frozen,” saying “Let it go.”] Via giphy
We’re humans, things happen, and it’s fair to have that one person that you’ve got a complicated history with. Be it because of a past fight, be it because of gossip, just let it go. Be the bigger person, forgive and forget. Hopefully, they will do the same.

Why be frenemies when you could be friends? A little drama can be fun, but it’s also toxic for all parties involved. Which brings me to my next point.

9. Don’t spread gossip.

Gossip Ugh GIF by Walk Off The Earth
[Image Description: Two girls gossiping.] Via giphy
Even if you have proof that something is true if you know it will put another woman in a difficult position, keep it for yourself. Make sure you’re the last person that piece of gossip reaches. Keep it a secret, you’re sparing another woman from an uncomfortable situation.

10. If someone continues to try to bring you down, approach them and be straightforward.

talking about me schitts creek GIF by CBC
[Image Description: A gif of a woman saying, “Are you talking about me?”] Via giphy
Tell them they’re hurting you. Maybe they didn’t understand the extent of their actions. And if they’re doing it on purpose, don’t aggravate the situation. Just walk away.

11. Always bring positivity and good energy.

monster energy nascar cup series GIF by NASCAR
[Image Description: A gif of a happy girl raising her arms.] Via giphy
We all need it, and it spreads like wildfire, except there’s absolutely nothing destructive about it. Laugh, express your happiness and your gratitude, radiate your love.

These may seem insignificant and inconsequential things, but they do have an effect on others. Little steps can get you a long way. Remember, we rise by lifting others.

Movies Pop Culture

Here’s why I absolutely cannot wait for the reboot of ‘Charmed’

’90s babies can rejoice at the fact that a reboot of Charmed is nearly here. When I heard the news, I was incredibly excited – after all, Charmed was my favorite childhood show ever. I was also worried: the Rocky Horror reboot was a fuckup, and I don’t want my dear Halliwell sisters to be disrespected in the same way.

But so far, the reboot looks promising. The CW has promised that the fresh take on the ’00s classic will be more feminist, which is already interesting. The cast of the reboot includes Madeleine Mantock, Melonie Diaz, and Sarah Jeffery. This is exciting because the three main actors are Latina – which is quite a change from the previous cast, which wasn’t diverse at all. More excitingly, it looks like Diaz’s character is entangled in a romance with a detective played by Ellen Tamaki. The original show looks pitifully white and straight in comparison to the reboot. Not to mention that it includes Rose McGowan who’s seriously such an asshole nowadays.

[bctt tweet=”The ‘Charmed’ reboot will include people of color and queer women – making the original look pitifully white and straight in comparison.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Growing up, Charmed was one of my favorite shows ever. It ran between 1998 and 2005. Since every show hit South Africa slightly later than it hit the states, I watched it when I was about 7 to 12 – meaning Charmed was a huge part of my childhood. Now that I’m a practicing witch and Pagan myself, my love for witchy things has only deepened.

Jessica Lange in 'American Horror Story: Coven'. She's putting on a pointy witch hat and saying, "Who's the baddest witch in town?"
Image description: Jessica Lange in ‘American Horror Story: Coven’. She’s putting on a pointy witch hat and saying, “Who’s the baddest witch in town?” Via GIPHY

Firstly, something I love about Charmed is the clothing. Every time I re-watch an old episode, I feel like I got sucked in a time machine and landed in the early ’00s. The Halliwell sisters often take advantage of the vampish, witchy fashions that were popular at the time. They often sported crushed velour, scalloped hems, chokers, cowboy boots and slip dresses – and, because of the cyclic nature of fashion, those looks were really in last year. I envied the Halliwell sisters’ wardrobes, and I still do.

My love for Charmed goes deeper than the sartorial choices, though. The show was an exciting mixture of action and drama. On the one hand, the Halliwell sisters had to navigate normal social issues, like their careers, their relationships with one another, their romantic lives, motherhood, and grieving over their sister. On the other hand, they were badass witches – the most powerful witches in the world, in fact – working together to save the world and protect their loved ones from evil supernatural beings.

[bctt tweet=”The appeal of Charmed is just like the appeal of witchcraft itself. It epitomizes power within femininity.” username=”wearethetempest”]

The appeal of Charmed is just like the appeal of witchcraft itself. It epitomizes power within femininity. It combines nurturing and action, femininity and toughness, emotionality and a willingness to fight. The sisters have men in their lives who care for them, but they’re more than capable of protecting themselves.

A GIF of Rose McGowan playing Paige in 'Charmed'. She's saying, "Power's good. I like power."
Image description: A GIF of Rose McGowan playing Paige in ‘Charmed’. She’s saying, “Power’s good. I like power.” Via GIPHY.

For example, think about Piper – she stops at nothing to protect her family from harm, she manages to manage a club and then a restaurant, she’s a great mother, wife, and sister and a brilliant witch. She’s tough, brilliant, and matriarchal – and I love complex multi-dimensional female characters. None of the witches are forced to choose between their magic ancestry and their families, as for them it’s one and the same. They all go on to have three children each while maintaining their identity as witches. Essentially, they end up passing their magic onto future generations.

Something I love about witchcraft is that it shows us how magic in the traditionally ‘feminine’ crafts – potion-making, cooking, herbalism, nurturing. Scrying, which is using a crystal to find someone or something, is such a mom activity – if anyone can find something I lost in my room, it’s my mom. At the same time, it rejects notions of traditional femininity because it contradicts the idea that women should be powerless. While femininity is often seen as weaker than masculinity, magic suggests that there is a power beyond societal oppression – a power that can be on the side of the marginalized. Magic isn’t limited to women – most traditions allow men and non-binary people to practice – but it certainly subverts gender roles.

[bctt tweet=”Witchcraft shows us how magic in the traditionally ‘feminine’ crafts while rejecting traditional notions of femininity.” username=”wearethetempest”]

That’s something that I’d really love to see from the reboot of Charmed – more feminism, more gender-role-challenging, and more bold clothing choices (really, I don’t want to seem shallow, but the clothing is really important to me). The original Charmed was praised by critics for its pop-culture timing, and it looks like the reboot has the timing right too. Now that both representation in pop-culture and witchcraft are timely topics, the show looks like it’s primed to do well. Let’s hope the reboot doesn’t disappoint!

Gender & Identity Life

When my little sister was diagnosed with a rare brain disease, I had to learn how to trust her

My little sister has been through more than any child should. But she’s also the bravest person I know.

After years of struggling with mystery symptoms, she was diagnosed with a very rare brain disease called Moyamoya. In Japanese, it means ‘puff of smoke.’ It concerns the blood vessels in her brain, and without surgery, she was at a very high risk for a stroke. When we got this news, everything changed. But some of it changed for the better.

When my sister was a baby, my biggest fear was something happening to her. She nearly choked on a cracker once and ever since the idea of her getting hurt in any way makes it a little hard to breathe. Now that she’s a little older, she’s an athletic kid. Because of this, her favorite thing to do is climb anything she can find and hang upside-down from it. I think part of why it’s her favorite is because of how I react: with pure panic. I can’t handle the ease with which she places herself in danger.

Still, her thirst for life and adventure were things I could not deny. If anything, I could relate to them. Our shared anxieties always brought us close. But we bonded through our determination. Watching my little sister, I witnessed the ability to forge ahead like I never had before. Finding out about her illness only strengthened the resolve in her. She was in real danger this time. And like finding her hanging from the furniture, all I wanted was to catch her and keep her safe.

Because the disease is so rare, there are very few facilities that specialize in the kind of care she needs. We were lucky to have a community of friends and family to help raise funds for her to have surgery where she would get the best care. At the hospital, she braved some of her biggest fears and tackled recovering from the life-saving procedure like the superhero that she is. And even though she was emotionally and physically drained, she still managed to open her eyes and say, “Hi mommy,” with a sweet little wave the first time she was able to see our mom after the surgery.

And while life is different now, with things like brain scans to check her progress or new rules like keeping hydrated and taking her medicine, she is still the brightest and kindest person I know. She loves to dance, and does it often. She’s even playing on the school basketball team with her friends – something that even her doctors didn’t anticipate happening so soon. And while I’m still terrified every time I find her hanging upside-down from something, it’s nothing but instinct.

Because what I’m really feeling is so very thankful to have her here. To see her shining. And yes, to watch her gain strength by doing the things she loves – even if they’re a little dangerous.

Gender & Identity Life

I dreaded going to an all-girls college but it changed my life

Growing up in a patriarchal and deeply misogynistic kind of society predisposes most of us to certain kinds of beliefs and ideologies that we (unintentionally) internalize – without realizing how problematic they really are.

I believed in the whole “girls are bitchy,” “girls cause drama,” and “I’d rather hang out with guys” spectrum of opinions which promote pitting women against each other due to personality standards constructed by a system that favors the overall growth of men and aids them, and only them.

Girls aren’t born hating each other; it’s what we’re taught through media, and interaction with the people around us. It’s socialized into us. And thus it was, into me as well.

I remember telling my mom in eleventh grade, “I can never go to an all-girls college. It’d be such a headache, honestly. There’d be cat fights constantly.” And then I remember getting my results in twelfth grade and realizing I’d be going to an all-girls college – the nightmare.

Needless to say, I just wasn’t looking forward to it.

To me, back then, all-girls colleges were like a goldmine for bitchy, petty arguments, all things makeup, and clothes. It’s only now that I realize how heteronormative and misogynistic that entire belief system is.

Thankfully, I didn’t conform to it for too long.

I will admit, though, I did let my presumptions and biases get the better of me in the beginning and for quite a while in my first semester. I was overly judgemental about a lot of things because of them. But soon enough and gradually too, I could feel that veil of ignorance and misogyny shedding itself.

My experience in an all-girls college was life-changing. I realized how wrong and fallacious my views were because the sisterhood and camaraderie that existed there was unmatched. Being in the midst of so many badass, unapologetic, and intellectual women made me sensitive to the fact that (almost) every ideology I possessed was due to an internalization that was never my own.

My college taught me so many things – loyalty and sensitivity being two of the key lessons.

I saw an unabashed sense of acceptance of being oneself and being accepted for it, no matter what. I felt myself letting go of all my preconceived notions about girls, women, and girlhood in general. I found myself embracing womanhood in all of its glory.

I also found one extremely peculiar change in me from when I started college to when I finished college; I was suddenly a lot less bothered about the male gaze. I found myself not giving two fucks about it because I’d evolved so much as a person in my college – to the point that I realized I didn’t have to look good for anyone but myself.

Along with this, there was also an extremely strong work ethic that I developed after involving myself in various cultural events in college. Coupled with that, however, was a strong emphasis on how my mental health matters as much as my hard work. My fellow sisters were always there for me.

Being in an all-girls college really liberated me from the misogynistic norms I’d learned to imbibe into myself growing up.

I haven’t felt more at peace with who I am than I did on the day of my graduation. The place I dreaded calling my college ended up being my home and I’m eternally thankful for everything it has taught me.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

My promise against marriage almost kept me from meeting the love of my life

When I was about ten years old, I told my mother that I did not want to get married. I can’t remember exactly when or why it started, but I was certain from a young age that marriage just wasn’t for me.

These thoughts did not stem from my home life. My parents have a happy and relatively normal marriage. As two full-time bosses, they support one another in business matters, share social circles, and plan large family gatherings, like weddings, together. They have grown together and been behind us and beside us through highs and lows over the past thirty years of parenting three children. I just thought they were an exception to the rule.

[bctt tweet=” I was certain from a young age that marriage just wasn’t for me.” username=”wearethetempest”]

That instinct was later confirmed by all the representations of marriages that I saw in movies and on TV. I saw couples that seemed to be putting up with each other more than they were loving one another or sharing in true partnership. The wedding day was all hyped up, but the actual relationship always seemed to sour.

Besides overly saccharine portrayals of marriage in some shows like Seventh Heaven, being married seemed a little miserable.

Permanent cohabitation and vowing to be with only one person felt like a hoax. Marriage, to me, was an antiquated relic of an age when families’ children were united for economic benefit or social mobility. Throw in my college-age revelations about heteronormative expectations and societal power dynamics of marriage and children for most young women around the world, and I knew it. I was definitely going to be single. I decided that if I wanted to be a mother, then I would adopt a child on my own.

But marriage was out of the question. I told the people I dated, I confirmed it with my mother. Marriage and I were not to be.

I decided that I would forge ahead with dating and even falling in love, meeting new and interesting people with whom I was open about not wanting to get married.

Then my older sister got engaged. And that changed everything for me.

She and I have always been close, sometimes too much so when we were in our adolescence.

Being so close in age meant that I would steal her clothes, try to be just like each other or the exact opposite, and we both felt very competitive. But, in the years since teenagehood, we have put in a lot of time and effort into having a mature and open relationship. We have healed old wounds and got to know each other as adults. She has been one of the greatest influences on my life and we have both leaned on the other in defining times of need.

Because of our closeness, when my sister got engaged, I finally had the opportunity to ask some real questions about the commitment of marriage. She shared her hopes, joys, fears, and expectations of life with her now spouse.

I began to look differently at the people I was dating. Living in New York City at the time, there were plenty of opportunities to go on dates. But now I felt less able to put up with major character flaws and general douchebaggery. I went on a lot of first dates. I wasn’t out searching for a husband all of a sudden – in fact, I started to believe more that if marriage wasn’t a hoax, then maybe I just wasn’t meant to find someone.

I certainly wasn’t going to lower my standards.

At her wedding, I ended up meeting the person I married. He was a longtime trusted friend of my brother-in-law and turned out to be my life partner. We didn’t hit it off right away, but the immediate mutual attraction and honest conversations that followed were refreshingly new. 

He lived over one thousand miles away, however, so we got to know each other over the phone every night, talking for hours when we had the time. We traveled to be together as often as we could afford and when he proposed to me after ten weeks on a corner in Brooklyn by my apartment, I didn’t hesitate.

[bctt tweet=”Being married seemed a little miserable.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Looking back on that quick courtship and the ensuing fourteen months before we got married, I notice how my attitude changed after my sister’s wedding. I am grateful for her honesty with me about her commitment to her fiancé and husband and why she believed in marriage. It helped me to snap out of my dating daze and I found myself being much more honest about my time and those with whom I was spending it.

With my now-husband, I didn’t put up a front about who I was and dedicated lots of time and attention to getting to know him, as he did with me. The foundation of honest and open communication that we built together as a long-distance couple in those early months has survived to this day and helps us get through minor hiccups and bigger bumps. I didn’t have wi-fi in my studio apartment back then, so we couldn’t Skype or FaceTime.

And, when you have to share everything over the phone, you have to be very open and specific.

I am especially glad that in that time I talked to him about my past ideas of marriage and how I was looking at it in a new light now. We asked each other and ourselves hard questions about our presuppositions around marriage and our expectations from long term relationships or partnering. Together, we openly discussed the spiritual aspects of marriage, the depth of permanent commitment, the gravity of vows, and more. Through this honesty and difficult, long talks, we decided that we both wanted to marry the other.

It was a mutual decision, made with both an acknowledgment that we truly can’t know much about marriage until you’re in one, but also that we have both done the work to question it and get uncomfortable enough with it to know that we aren’t jumping into the commitment blindly or with the expectation that it will make us whole or that the other will change.

[bctt tweet=”When you have to share everything over the phone, you have to be very open.” username=”wearethetempest”]

He’s now my husband of three years, but if I had been closed off to the idea of marriage as I had been before, I may not have been open to seeing him as a potential partner. I’m so glad that I did.

Movies Pop Culture

These Disney Channel Original Movies changed my life forever

The announcement of the month-long marathon of Disney Channel Original Movies is giving me wistful feelings of my favorite classics. From Don’t Look Under the Bed to High School Musical, Disney has planned out every single way to get us in the throwback mood (or at least more as if we weren’t already).

Out of the 99 (soon to be 100) DCOMs, there is at least one that you can say, “That movie taught me a great lesson about ____”. It’d be weird if Disney didn’t use their magical powers to sneak in some points as our younger selves tuned in. Even if you can’t think of some on the top of your head, I got you! I’m here to remind you some of the many great DCOMs that affected me.

[bctt tweet=”Disney has planned out every single way to get us in the throwback mood (or at least more as if we weren’t already).” username=”wearethetempest”]

Now think, can I learn anything from a cartoon? If that’s a bizarre question to everyone, then I guess it was just my dad who wondered why I love cartoons. Most of the cartoons I watched had comedy that a little kid can laugh along to. Why would I bring up a cartoon for a DCOM marathon?

<a href=“”></a>
One of my favorite scenes in this movie!

The real question is, how can you forget about The Proud Family Movie?! You got Oscar Proud, Trudy Proud, Penny Proud, BeBe & CeCe Proud, and who could forget Suga Mama? The best part is, you also got Penny’s friends, Proud Family relatives, and other supporting characters that made the show great (Who else remembers Doctor Payne?). The funny series ended with a movie which featured minions made out of peanuts and a lot of clones. Sure, it was filled with jokes and a plot line about Penny not being Oscar’s little baby girl anymore. Oddly, I got a more serious lesson, too, about still loving my family, despite our differences. I obviously got this before I officially became a teenager, nonetheless I needed it. 

Okay, I feel like that last example wasn’t convincing enough since it’s a cartoon movie. Let’s switch over to Twitches along with Cheetah Girls 1 & 2. It’s everything society wants the opposite for girls! Girl power, sisterhood, and staying true to yourself!

<a href=“”></a>
“Go Twitches!”

Twitches (featuring Tia and Tamera Mowry, my favorite twins!) was about twin sisters (who are witches, that’s where the phrase “twitches” comes from) come together to save the world from darkness with their powers. No boy drama, no girl-on-girl hate, just two powerful young women. Not saying that having boy drama and girl-on-girl hate in a movie directed towards girls is terrible, since it can be used for a lesson or for fun. Although, not seeing either of those is nice to experience once in awhile. It taught me that girls alone can kick butt!

[bctt tweet=”No boy drama, no girl-on-girl hate, just two powerful young women.” username=”wearethetempest”]

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“We make up one big family though we don’t look the same!”

Not mentioning Cheetah Girls 1 & 2 would probably have me killed (the third movie wasn’t terrible…but it wasn’t that good sadly). Not only you have sisterhood, girl power, staying true to yourself and to your friends, but also amazing songs to go with it. My favorite song is Girl Power (I feel like it’s pretty obvious based off of who I am I’d love it). I remember having a second of shock when I first heard “Throw your hands up if you know that you’re a star! You better stand up if you know just who you are! Never give up never say die! Girl Power Girl Power!!”

It was so rare for me to hear such lyrics. A song promoting girls? Encouraging girls to be strong?! Well after that second of shock, I started to dig the beat and my little first grade self was dancing around the room. Cheetah Girls 1 & 2 fed the inner feminist growing inside of me, even before I learned what feminism actually was.  

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I love Corbin Bleu’s curls! Is that just me?

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again!” they say. It can help a kid learn understand perseverance, but what if you add a jump rope into the equation? Okay, that was a bad way to slide the famous Jump In into the conversation. You get my point, right? Jump In! featuring our favorites like Corbin Bleu and Keke Palmer entertained us with amazing tricks and bomb music choices. I was taught that perseverance and determination pays off in the end, and that it helps to have supporting family and friends by your side. However, what about the issue of masculinity? Bleu’s character was made fun of for being a part of jump rope competitions instead of “sticking to the status quo.” (Sorry! I had to add a High School Musical reference since Bleu is a character in that movie too!) His peers saw it as a thing labeled under the title “girl’s stuff,” and teased him about it. It made me think a little at a young age about there something wrong with the whole “only boys” and “only girls” rhetoric I was always taught before.

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Pose! Pose! Pose!

Last but not least, my favorite of them all: The Color of Friendship. Based off a true story, California Congressman Ron Dellums and his family host their home to Mahree Bok, a South African. Little did the Dellums know that Mahree is a white South African and little did Mahree know that the Dellums are a black family. They both were expecting the total opposite!

Did I mention that Mahree’s father was a policeman and Congressman Dellums was an activist to end apartheid in South Africa? The irony. However, Piper Dellums (the daughter) and Mahree later on developed a friendship and the learned about each other’s different worlds. Mahree came from South Africa, still under apartheid, and the Dellums live in Washington, D.C., the capital of a country still suffering with the long-term affects of slavery and segregation. There is so much a person can say about this movie, but the lessons it taught me are unforgettable.  I wasn’t aware of racism outside of the United States and thankfully learned about apartheid during the movie. 

[bctt tweet=”Unity is probably one the most things we need to know and practice. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

If you haven’t noticed, a common theme within all of these DCOMs I mentioned is unity.  It can seem impossible with some of our elected “adult leaders” in power throwing temper tantrums. Yet, it’s not always impossible. To be accepting, determined, encouraging, and knowing you can do it brings success.

Too deep for a couple of Disney movies? Well, it doesn’t hurt to look into our favorites sometimes.

Love + Sex Love

This is for all my single friends wanting to get married

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that you’re met with my blank stares and helpless expressions as you tell me about your disappointment and fear for the future.

I’m sorry I have no advice to dispense, or soothing words to allay your fears. The truth is that I don’t know if or when Prince Charming will ride into your life.

If you’ve asked me to keep an eye out for any eligible bachelors, believe me when I say that I am. I want nothing more than your happiness – whether you want to be married or are perfectly content staying single.

But I’m also your friend first and want you to have a man you deserve. If all I see around me are immature boys, you better believe that I’m not going to be bringing them up as potentials for you.

[bctt tweet=”If you’ve asked me to keep an eye out for eligible bachelors, believe me when I say I am.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the right man is around the corner. I have no way of peeking around the corner to see what life has in store.

I also refuse to pretend that life is worth it only if you have a man by your side. As a married woman, all I can honestly say is that marriage is hard. It fulfills me in so many ways, but it’s also one of the hardest adjustments I have had to make in my life. It’s not better or worse than single-hood. It’s just a different part of life’s journey.

I don’t look at you with pity, or envy, or concern. And you have my promise that I won’t tell you what you should be doing to “better” your chances at finding a husband. I am content knowing that God’s plan is undoubtedly greater than anything I could come up with. Wherever we are in our lives, I know we are each meant to be there.

[bctt tweet=”I also refuse to pretend that life is worth it only if you have a man by your side. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

Although I know and believe all of this, I’m sorry I didn’t jump to your defense when that Auntie lamented about your “aging” self and criticized your ability to find a man. I’m sorry I sat there quietly and awkwardly while your single status was passed around the living room as public property to be picked apart and discussed.

I’m sorry I sat there and stewed, thinking of a million comebacks I should throw out, but didn’t have the courage to. And as I saw you struggle to defend yourself, then finally quiet down and withdraw into yourself, I’m sorry I failed at being the friend you needed me to be.

This is my promise to do better, to be better.

With every bit of sincerity in my heart, I say: You. Are. More.

You are more than your skin tone, height, weight, and education level. To my girls that have put themselves out there and gotten hurt, and those that don’t want to risk getting attached, you are all more.

[bctt tweet=”You are more than your skin tone, height, weight, and education level.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Life isn’t a race to get married, or a race to have children, or a race to buy a house. Life isn’t any kind of race towards an imaginary finish line of success.

All I’m certain about is that life’s journey is a long, winding path littered with trials, tribulations, and forks in the road.

If the desire and struggle to get married is your current test, I’m sorry that all I can offer is to hold your hand and walk with you wherever the path may lead. I hope it’s enough.