Health Care Reproductive Rights Love + Sex Love

Some women don’t want children, and they won’t change their minds

These days, many of the women who do not want children are opting for female sterilization as their primary form of contraception. The reasoning behind this decision varies from person to person, from climate change to simple disinterest.

Frustratingly, women who favor a child-free lifestyle are frequently shamed and questioned for this decision. I still can’t get my head around why society thinks that a woman’s choice of contraception is a group decision.

Not your body, not your choice. It is really that simple. 

Sterilization is a permanent form of contraception that is highly effective in preventing pregnancy. If you have decided that children aren’t for you, this form of contraceptive makes total sense.

Women in the United States are three times more likely to opt for sterilization than men. Despite this, women routinely battle stigma and opposition when attempting to access sterilization procedures. 

We’re all familiar with the raging debate surrounding abortion and personal choice. “My body, my choice” is a well-understood concept; it just doesn’t apply to everyone, apparently.

The hypocrisy of reproductive debates is blatantly obvious in attitudes towards sterilization. Not only is public opinion strongly against female sterilization, medical practitioners often refuse or attempt to dissuade women from opting for this procedure. Whilst there are specific risks and considerations that practitioners are legally required to disclose during mandatory counseling, many provide opinions that show personal bias. This is both problematic and unethical.

Given that the healthcare practitioner determines if you are fit for the procedure, their perspective is the ultimate decider. Women frequently are advised against the procedure because they are deemed too young or because their practitioners believe they may experience “post-sterilization regret.”  This undermines the ability of women to make their own medical decisions and fails to allow bodily autonomy. 

Women are rarely offered sterilization as a form of contraceptive, even when they expressly wish to remain child-free, forever. The options presented are almost always removable or temporary, such as the pill or IUD. In the decade in which I’ve been sexually active, I’ve not once had a healthcare practitioner even mention sterilization as a form of contraception. 

Women’s sexual health continues to be viewed as some sort of mysterious and taboo topic. This allows for misconceptions and misinformation; women and girls are provided with so little open and honest information about their own bodies and anatomy. 

A vasectomy, the process in which a man is permanently sterilized, is a minor procedure that prevents sperm from reaching the semen. A common misconception is that hysterectomies are the female “equivalent” of vasectomies. 

Female sterilization is not well understood or widely promoted. So, let’s break it down:

Tubal ligation: a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which the fallopian tubes are cut, sealed, or partially removed, better known as “getting your tubes tied.” This prevents the egg from reaching the uterus and being fertilized. You’ll be able to go home that same day, and the recovery time is usually under a week. If successful, it is effective immediately. This is the safest and most common method of female sterilization. 

Hysterectomy: a major surgical procedure in which the entire uterus is removed. In some cases, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix may also need to be removed. Hysterectomies are needed for various reasons, including cancer and uterine prolapse. 

Female sterilization is 99% effective and requires no lifestyle changes. It’s potentially a good option if you experience adverse reactions to hormonal or implanted forms of contraception. 

Despite the high success rate, women under 40 are less likely to be referred for sterilization. It’s advised that this decision should not be made when single or when under stress. Apparently, being unattached renders you incapable of making serious personal decisions. Sexism is alive and well. 

Men who choose sterilization rarely face the same scrutiny. Vasectomies are generally approved and men are less likely to need a partner’s consent. Admittedly, there are some medical grounds for this: vasectomies are usually reversible, and more affordable. They are also generally considered safer, although they can take up to four months to be effective. 

But undeniably, men are assumed to not have an inherent paternal instinct. They just want risk-free sex and no maintenance—atta boy! This is woefully incorrect, so many guys really want to be dads. It’s actually pretty hard to find one who doesn’t!

Despite vasectomies being more socially acceptable and favored by medical practitioners, many men are against the procedure. Patriarchal norms promote the notion that virility and masculinity are mutually exclusive. 

The problem is, this debate too often centers around male versus female sterilization. Why is there even a comparison? Sterilization is a personal choice and one that women, single or not, should be allowed to make alone.

We need to stop telling women what they should do and feel, period.

Women who choose to be childless are tired of having to defend their decision. They don’t want or need your opinion. 

Parenthood is a complicated business. I often think about how bizarre it is that a relatively simple act can result in an entire person. 

I’m still confused about why it is so difficult to ensure that one is not responsible for someone else’s whole existence. 

Biology and bias can be a bitch.

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Culture Family Life

The only way my Mama showed me love was by hurting me

If you ask me the question, “Does your mother love you?” to give you an honest answer, I would tell you that my mother, at times, didn’t love me at all.

“But how can you say that? Every mother loves her child,” is what I bet some of you reading this are thinking.

Growing up, my father worked in the oil industry in Saudi Arabia. My mother, siblings and I lived in New Jersey. In addition to raising kids alone, my mother did not have a communal support system that would have enabled her to breathe and see her missteps more clearly.

I remember getting the silent treatment from my mother when I was about 5 or 6 years old.

My mother was completely alone. Her parents and family lived miles and miles away in Syria. The fact that her heart still beats, despite being worn down by loneliness and fear, is a miracle.

Though I have always understood what my mother was going through while I was growing up, I still can never bring myself to justify what she did. Pain is not a language of love.

I remember getting the silent treatment from my mother when I was about 5 or 6 years old.  Every time I’d try to talk to her she would act as if I didn’t say anything. She’d turn her face and look the other way. As a kid, I’d blame myself for the silent treatments she gave me. But now I can’t believe I had to go through that at such a young age.

When I was in high school, I used to always get into arguments with my mother, mostly about how she made me feel neglected.

One time, the arguments between us got so intense that we didn’t talk to each other for a week. At the end of that week, I got into a loud argument with my brother. As we shouted at each other, my mother rushed out of her room, grabbed me by my hair with one arm and wrapped her other arm, rather gently, around my torso, almost as if she was giving me a half embrace.

I can’t believe I had to go through that at such a young age.

As I screamed out in pain, at that same moment, I felt my mother’s pain and love. Her painful embrace felt like she missed me, but at the same time, she was furious with me.

Now that I’m married to the most wonderful man, with two kids of our own, it boggles my mind.

How did my mother raise six kids all on her own? I’ve come to realize that she was able to do that because she unintentionally sacrificed the most sacred part of a mother’s relationship with her kids: sharing her love with each child equally.

My mother spent her energy making sure we were all fed, clothed, and finished our homework. By the end of the day, she only had enough energy to share her love with some of us – usually the eldest and youngest.

I don’t think she did this intentionally. I now see that my mother allowed herself to be directed by fear. She was afraid of losing her children to bad health or trashy ethics. She instilled in us the fear of disappointing her, accompanied by a whole lot of tough and deeply painful love.

When I was in undergrad, I was always known to be the risk-taker among my siblings. I knew what I wanted in life and I set out to make it happen, no matter the obstacle.

My mother didn’t approve of my attitude towards life.

I revolted against the mental conditioning that I was exposed to at home, which was intended to make me want to become “a good housewife.” Whenever I invested in my own self-development, my mother would punish me. She’d manage to get all my siblings to follow her example and give me the silent treatment.

I can’t see her love through the pain she dealt me over the years.

It was not until many years later that my sister admitted to me why she followed my mother’s lead. Rola explained that my mother made her feel like that if she didn’t hate me, or at least treat me in that way, my mother wouldn’t accept her or show her love.

I know and believe that deep down, my mother loves me. But I just can’t understand how tough love and fear resembled love. I can’t see her love through the pain she dealt me over the years.

I’ll admit that I love my mother, though it’s difficult for me to know how to best love my mother. I still carry the pain she’s dealt me over the years.

I hope to love my mother in the way she deserves and appreciates, without causing more pain for myself.

It’s something that I still carry with me to this day.


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Gender & Identity Life

Happy Holidays from The Tempest family to you!

The holidays don’t just mean Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanza. The people on this big beautiful earth celebrate holiday hybrids, typical holidays, or nothing at all! Everyone’s family traditions are special and important, so we at The Tempest thought we would share some of those with you!

When I was growing up in the mid-to-late 90s, Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr happened to fall at or around Christmas, so there was definitely a sense of “holiday season.” But now that Ramadan and Eid are in the summer, and I’m not a kid anymore, our celebration consists of shopping the sales. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year! I feel like we get the best out of Christmas because we have the sales and the music without the stress of buying presents and hosting guests. But my parents are getting sentimental these days so my dad bought one of those light machines that reflect colored lights onto the house. It gave the kids a thrill on Halloween! – Nadia, Managing Editor, (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Oddly enough, my parents’ wedding anniversary is on the 25th of December. So that day, my brothers and I bring out a cake and some candles, and we treat them to a dinner date. Other than that, a close friend of mine celebrates Christmas and she invites our group to her house where we exchange presents, have a delicious desi lunch, jam out obnoxiously to tunes like Hotline Bling, and snow spray each other till we’re on the floor laughing. – Arsh. Community Fellow, (Lahore, Pakistan)

I grew up in a mixed family, half of my family is Mexican and the other half is Irish American. Every Christmas Eve, my mom, brother, abuela, and I would make kilos of tamales wrapped in corn husks from scratch to serve with Christmas dinner. My dad’s side of the family  added to the tradition with reading “The Night Before Christmas” after we had all finished cooking and were getting ready for bed and leaving out cookies for Santa. Oddly enough, for a while when I was a kid, my mom worked as the manager elf at the mall when Santa came, so I was always on my best behavior during that month because I was afraid she would tell the mall Santa if I did something wrong. -Taylor Faires, Associate Producer, (Greensboro, North Carolina)

I’m from a tight-knit diplomat family and we would always do our best to bring American traditions wherever in the world we were. That meant making sugar cookies with my mom while we watched the Muppets Christmas Carol, going to carol services and waking up to stockings, cinnamon buns and presents under the tree. I just got married though, so my husband’s half Jewish, all-British family traditions are now ours as well. It’s basically a beautiful buffet of all our traditions and influences.  We’ll spend all month going to Christmas markets in Germany, where we live. We’ll celebrate Chanukah and the festival of Sta Lucia which coincide this year on December 13, and then my parents will come with us to the UK for mince pies, fruitcake, Christmas turkey and crackers. Finally, we’ll watch the home football team, Nottingham Forest, play a boxing day match followed by latkes and salt beef. Told you we had it all! – Katie, Interviews Editor, (Frankfurt, Germany)

I’m an Indian Muslim, but the one thing all desi people have in common is December 25th. Not because it’s christmas but because it’s a holiday and that’s the day they all chose to get married. I have over 10 friends who’s parents share this anniversary, my parents got married on this day too, about 34 years ago. So every year, we celebrate family. Usually we make a big meal at home and invite a huuuge amount of friends over to celebrate my parents. A few years ago, we had a big turkey dinner, thanks to my awesome dad “Chef” Saiyed. Since then, we kind of moved on to the traditional western style Turkey dinner with the works. It’s generally a fun day filled with presents for the parents, cooking and LOTS of love & laughter.  – Narmeen Saiyed, Executive Producer, (Edmonton, Canada)

Christmas is a time where the Spanish colonial history is seen through Parang, which are songs sung in Spanish, about Christmas, and accompanied by cuatros. Often times people will have get- togethers and a Parang band will visit, or the band will go around to different houses in neighborhoods singing songs. There’s lots of food, especially meat, but the dishes people look forward to the most are pastelles, which are minced meat with capers, olives, and raisins wrapped in corn flour envelope then in a banana leaf and steamed. Usually the preparation requires a group effort, but is completely worth it. Other popular desserts are fruit cake and ponche de creme, which can be very boozy. The great thing about being in a multi-religious society, is that everyone finds a way to celebrate somehow even if they’re not religious; it’s always a time to meet up with friends, and family, which can have its ups and downs. But at least there’ll be great food. – Saffiyya Mohammed, Senior Community Editor, (Trindad and Tobago)

Christmas in the south is always fun even if it doesn’t snow. My family especially loves the holiday season. Our Christmas celebrations begin a couple of days after Thanksgiving when we go to pick out our real Christmas tree. Because my sister goes to school in Oklahoma City, we go early so the whole family can pick out the tree together and we can pick a nice and bushy tree. We, of course, decorated our house (both inside and out) with lights, ornaments, and lots of Santas. But, our family’s best holiday decoration is the Nativity. Our family Nativity includes the Holy Family, but also includes a few other characters. We’ve got Dr. Who and his companions, a couple of dinosaurs just for fun, and several Marvel and DC comic book heroes. Aside from that fun little Necessary Family tradition, we celebrate Christmas as normal.  Parties, food (oh my gosh so much food its almost ridiculous), and church on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is spent at my grandparents house where the whole family opens presents and then eat the amazing meal prepared by my grandma, Doll. Ham, dressing, turkey and all the other holiday fixins leave us stuffed. The rest of the day is spent laughing, napping, and talking about next Christmas. -Grace Necessary, Community Fellow, (Dallas, Texas)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Whether your celebrating San Lucia, Christmas or just your parent’s anniversary the holidays are a beautiful time around the world. Happy holidays from The Tempest!

TV Shows Pop Culture

The absence of this main “Stranger Things” character goes deeper than a promo poster

Last week, while perusing Twitter, I came across a conversation regarding Stranger Things. Because I hadn’t yet started season 2, I almost scrolled through it in fear of catching a spoiler. Instead what I found was a conversation about racism in television and advertising. Specifically in regards to merchandise and promotional products.

The issue was that Target released a nationwide advertisement for the new Stranger Things Funko Pop dolls. Fun right? Wrong. Take a look at the poster and what do you see? Better question is, who do you not see?

Twitter user @mikewheeler calls it out specifically, stating “Miss Barb had 2 minutes of screentime and Lucas was in every episode??”

My sentiments exactly.

Where is  Caleb McLaughlin aka Lucas?!

Not only does Barb appear in the poster (who in my opinion is the worst character on the show), but so does the Demogorgon. THE DEMOGORGON, THE SEASON ONE VILLAN, IS FEATURED ON THE POSTER TOO!

Twitter and Stranger Things fans were not having it. Going down the comments thread on this tweet, you see fans asking the same questions.

At first glance,  it may seem like a very innocent mistake. But, putting together a huge promotional advertisement for a multi-million dollar company like Target, comes with multiple eyes of approval and seats at the table. At least a dozen people had to give an okay for this to be published.  And yet, no one saw an issue with one of the main characters not being prominently featured.

Target eventually made a statement that was pretty much a half-assed acknowledgement of the issue.

Instead of acknowledging the racial sentiment of the issue, they only say that a “character” was left out. Not just a character. But the ONLY black or person of color on the show, who is also a main character.

Seems a little too convenient.

This isn’t the first time this has happened in advertising for tv shows or movies. Similarly the promo poster for NBC’s drama The Night Shift, left out 1 of 2 of it’s black character’s, and its 1 gay character. Both are main characters. When asked why, the network claimed it was an issue with “fit”. They couldn’t fit everyone on the poster. The other black character played by JR Lemon barely makes it in. If you squint really hard you can see his body at the very edge of the right corner. That’s “representation”.

via deadline


Living in a white supremacist culture, white is seen as good, and black, not so much. In the eyes of their marketing team, sharing the black character is an after thought.  Something they can do with the click of a button, only after being called out on a national stage.

What further lends to the narrative that they purposefully left out Lucas’ character is the updated picture. Not only does Lucas perfectly fit into the poster, but it looks as if he had already been there, and a higher power chose to remove him.

When it comes to advertising and making space for black and brown people in the entertainment industry, there is still a long way to go. Throwing communities of color a token black or brown character in a otherwise completely white cast isn’t diversity and it isn’t progression. It’s cliche and obvious.

Do better.


Love Life Stories Advice Wellness

Here are 7 ways to make PMS and period cramps suck less + GIVEAWAY!

Presented in partnership with  Lunapads.

Since the ripe old age of thirteen, I have been dealing with the hell of period cramps.

For the last 10+ years, I have tried about anything to help my period cramps.

Hot bath? Tried it. Exercise? Unfortunately. Too much ibuprofen? On the regular.

I still remember one of my first periods. I couldn’t take the pain anymore and collapsed in the bathroom stall in tears. My body huddled into a ball, waiting for the pain to overcome me.

Luckily for me, I had some pretty great friends and teachers who helped me through it.

Was I dramatic? Maybe. Did I feel like I was dying by my insides slowly ripping itself apart? Yes.

Through all of this time, I’ve found some really great ways to combat period pain, and want to share them with my period havers in arms. Don’t feel like you have to tough through it without a little help, though.

We’ve partnered up with Lunapads to give you the ultimate giftcard (worth $100 USD!) to get everything you need for your period.

Before you freak out and say “No way, I’d never try this,” think about it: what do you think people did before disposable pads came onto the market? No, they didn’t just bleed out. I promise you that. While this might sound like a relatively new concept to most of you, cloth pads are a way more comfortable, breathable and healthy option.  Plus, you save $$$ by not having to run to the drugstore every month.  So this is the awesome solution to every problem under that period sun.

Treat Yo Self Lunapads Giveaway

It’s nice to know you’re not the only one suffering, isn’t it?

1. Try a heating pad


Who remembers the first time their mom whipped out her old heating pad that plugged in and had a hideous pattern on it? Or like Jess here, the old rubber heating pad?

Either way, heating pads have been used for decades as a home remedy for period cramps. For me, I don’t know why it helps but it does. In case you’re looking for a technical reason, researchers did an experiment.

Shockingly, it worked.

Goodbye cramps, hello sweet relief.

2. Take your meds


Are you an aspirin person? Or do you prefer Midol?

I myself use a little cocktail that my doctor told me about given my intense cramps. 3 Tylenol and 2 ibuprofen and it’s the equivalent of a decently strong muscle relaxer.

Goodbye cramps, hello sweet relief.

3. Work it out


As much as I hate to admit it, exercise actually helps with cramps.

You know those feel-good feelings your body releases called endorphins? Well, apparently when you’re on your period, they’ll make you feel better AND relieve your cramps. It’s a win-win. And you don’t have to do anything crazy. Raising your heart rate to at least 65 percent of your max will get your endorphins pumping. That can be whatever works for you. Go for a run. Hit the treadmill.

I personally do a few jump rope circuits and instantly feel better.

Shockingly, it works.

4. Use essential oils


So, this is a new one for me.

A few months ago, after I moved into my new apartment I was complaining about how I couldn’t warm up my heating pad, because we didn’t have a microwave.

We still don’t have a microwave.

And I didn’t want to take any more meds.

My roommate then told me I should use some of her peppermint essential oils. What? I was confused. I hadn’t yet gotten into the essential oil craze. She told me that it’s what she uses and it’s 1. cheap and acting. I was sold. I put the essential oil right on my abdomen and let my entire world change. It’s wild because the relief I felt was immediate. With the overwhelming smell of peppermint, which I love, I could also feel the pain lift away. The other plus with the essential oil is that its pretty long lasting. I put it on in the afternoon and didn’t find myself needing to put it on again until I went to bed, which was more preventative because I tend to wake up in the middle of the night with excruciating pains.

10/10 would recommend.

5. Eat Right


You might think I’m going to tell you to indulge in your pizza and ice cream cravings to help with period cramps.

Yes, you can do that. But no, it won’t help with your cramps.

Unlike the emotional void that oily food and sweets can fill, what you really want to help with those cramps are veggies, vitamins c and d, and omega 3 fatty acids aka salmon. We should all be eating these foods anyway because, you know, they’re good for you. But specifically during the main days of your period, you should focus on these main food groups to feel your cramps start to subside.

 This will also help you in feeling less bloated and sluggish, which *raises hand* is the worst.

6. Hit a yoga pose


When I hear yoga, I immediately think downward dog and standing on my hands. Thankfully those are not the poses you need to help get rid of your period pain. Doing casual yoga stretches like Janu Sirsasana A Head-To-Knee Forward Bend, that gets your back and abdomen muscles activated are a great start.

If you’re like me, you may have been doing yoga poses and not even known it.

Once you get into the habit of doing these stretches daily during your period, you’ll notice your body overall feeling less tense and relaxed, and any other pain you may feel on a normal basis will start to subside.

7. Put a pin it



Acupuncture isn’t for everyone, but it has been said to help ease period cramps by relaxing the nervous system. I have gone through acupuncture to help relieve tension headaches and terrible trigger points, and strategically scheduled my appointment for during my period.

To say that acupuncture was a gamechanger is an understatement.

I felt euphoric and like my body could withstand anything. Acupuncture therapy and its relief last a few days so if you’re someone who only deals with period cramps at the beginning of your period, it’s a great way to get that instant relief you’re looking for.

Treat Yo Self Lunapads Giveaway

One entry doesn’t feel like enough? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. You can receive up to 5 more entries through friend referrals and social media sharing — get posting!

BRB Gone Viral Pop Culture

Kevin Spacey tried to hide behind the closet. But he has no real excuse.

Since Saturday night, Kevin Spacey and the sexual harassment accusations made against him by Anthony Rapp have been everywhere. In tandem, so is conversation about Spacey’s timing of coming out as a gay man. The latter isn’t the story here.

After Buzzfeed’s article and interview with Anthony Rapp went viral, Kevin Spacey released a statement via his personal Twitter page. Apparently it’s an apology. But, to me, this statement is little more than a smoke screen. Sure he seems somewhat apologetic, but the tone and its contents left me feeling uneasy.

“I honestly do not remember this encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago.”

Rapp does say he thought Spacey to be drunk based on his behavior before the incident. Stating he “sort of stood in the doorway, kind of swaying. My impression when he came in the room was that he was drunk.”

Despite how drunk he was, it’s still not an excuse for making sexual advancements on a 14 year old boy.

“But if I did behave then as he describer, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate behavior….”

Spacey at the time was 26. Which is actually older than I am right now. When I put that into perspective, the more disgusted I am.

Not only did Kevin Spacey use his maturity, rising fame, and celebrity to prey on Rapp. But he did so with no remorse, and apparently no second thought.

Rapp on the other hand, is plagued with the memories of that night. He’s held on to his fear of that night for the last 30 years. As sexual assault survivors know, it is the victim who ultimately pays the price for their assault. The PTSD. Anxiety. Depression.

The casualness of Spacey’s statement is also cause for concern. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions and acknowledging what he does was wrong. He blames his heinous behavior on being drunk.

Rapp doesn’t mention this, but what first came to mind for me after reading his account of the night was that Spacey thought Rapp himself, was also drunk. Spacey invited the younger boy to a party  where there were only other adults, and surely unlimited amounts of alcohol. It’s not too far-fetched to think Spacey would expected Rapp to be intoxicated.

To be so comfortable inviting a 14-year old Rapp to his apartment for a party, and then boldly attempt to seduce him, doesn’t sound like the normal musings of a drunk 20-something. It sounds like the routine of someone who has done this before.

And just as I thought, by Wednesday morning, three more men have come forward with sexual advancement and harassment allegations against. One of the men, Mexican Actor Roberto Cavazos, took to his Facebook page (via Variety) to share his experience.

“It seems the only requirement was to be a male under the age of 30 for Mr. Spacey to feel free to touch us,” Cavazos wrote.

Cavazos says Spacey made two sexual advancements towards him during the time that they both worked at The Old Vic Theatre. Cavazos as an actor, with Spacey holding an artistic director position.

As we’ve seen with the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

As more people share their stories of being sexually accosted by Kevin Spacey, it seems that this was just another industry secret. Everyone knew he preyed on young men and boys, but were either too afraid or uncomfortable to do something about it.

With the halt on House of Cards’s most recent season, and the Emmy’s taking away the special award that was supposed to be given to Spacey last month, we’re seeing the fall out from his actions.

For the most part, we aren’t seeing people conflate his predatory status as a man in Hollywood with him being gay. By avoided his coming out announcement, which he used as a smoke screen, we’re giving power back to the victims and the LGBTQ+ community who will no doubt come under scrutiny because of his actions.

Being gay and being a pedophile and sexual abuser are not mutually exclusive.

As journalists and writers cover this story, it’s important to call this out, for the safety of those marginalized groups and people. They have been affected enough.

Health Care Love + Sex Love Life Stories Wellness

It was so much harder to give up drinking than I thought

My New Year’s resolution was to give up drinking. Not entirely, just for two months.

It’s important to note that I’m not a New Year’s resolution person. I don’t think up things I want to change throughout the year and then wait until January 1st to do it. If anything I’m impulsive and will decide to be vegetarian for a week just because.

My decision to give up alcohol was one that I thought was necessary, and that hit its culmination right before the New Year.

I had never dealt with depression, specifically seasonal depression before last year. So when I found myself not leaving the couch for days at a time, and specifically not going home for the holidays, I knew something was wrong. I wouldn’t be technically diagnosed with depression for another few months, but that’s what it was. I wasn’t leaving the house and I would eat like complete shit for days at a time. I was also drinking a lot.

I was at the point where I would go through a bottle of wine, if not more a night.

As a college student, I could blame this type of heavy drinking on my environment and that fact that it’s what you do when you’re in a sorority. But a 24-year-old young professional going through bottles of wine like they were mineral water, is a problem.

I also noticed that I was using it as a crutch when it came to men and my relationships. When I went on a date, I wouldn’t feel comfortable until I had at least two glasses of wine. And that’s before I even left the house. My Tinder hookups wouldn’t come until I was a bottle of wine in, and all of my inhibitions were gone.

In hindsight, I know that this isn’t normal, but at the time it was my reality.

It wasn’t until I had a brief moment of clarity in my depressive haze, that the realness of my three-month bender hit me. The fact that both of my parents have dealt with alcohol abuse didn’t help. I’ve been told before to watch out for my drinking, as alcoholism can be hereditary. And just by knowing me and my addictive personality, it wouldn’t be hard to fall into that trap.

That’s when I decided to go cold turkey and quit drinking. Since it was only two weeks until the New Year, I decided to make this my New Year’s resolution.

It takes 21 days to make or break a habit. For me, this habit was alcohol. And because 21 days for me is a pretty obscure number, I decided to go for an even two months.

When January first came around I was feeling good. I’d gone extra hard for NYE and knew my body was in need of a detox.

I made myself a workout regime. Got back into meal prepping and cooking. And stocked up on sparkling water.

The most difficult thing for me during my detox was the social aspect of it. You don’t realize how much alcohol and binge drinking is the norm until you don’t indulge anymore.

Going out to dinner with friends and on dates was a bit awkward at first. My friends were supportive, but they didn’t get why I couldn’t “just have one.” That’s probably because of my reputation for wanting to rip tequila shots on a Tuesday.

But after I explained my reasoning they got it.

Comparatively, guys I went on first dates with didn’t really have an opinion. If we met for drinks, I ordered a sparkling water with lime. Some would ask why I didn’t get a drink, but most of the time they wouldn’t mention it. I met a lot of good mannered men in Boston.

Unfortunately, the guys who I had previously hooked up with or were dating weren’t as understanding.

They noticed I wasn’t as relaxed when I wasn’t drinking, and wanted to loosen me up. I don’t think they had bad intentions, but it definitely opened my eyes to the way I was handling myself with guys, and the expectations they had of me.

After the first two weeks went by, I didn’t really care to have a drink. Unlike a lot of people I’d talked to about quitting drinking, I didn’t feel out-of-place. I still went to clubs and danced my face off. If anything, it was even better to be completely sober and laugh at the belligerent people around me.

When the two months were up, I felt accomplished. Not only had I proven to myself that I wasn’t dependent on alcohol, but I actually enjoyed it. I realized that I didn’t need to drink to feel confident around men and that it didn’t make me any more or less enjoyable to be around.

Following the detox I kept my sparkling water habit, La Croix is my drink of choice, but I also indulge in my solo wine and movie nights.

I’m really glad that I chose to give myself some time to detox. It was a test. And in my eyes, I passed.

The detox taught me that I didn’t and don’t have a problem. Similarly, it taught me not to compare myself to others, especially in regards to my family. Although my parents have made mistakes in their choices with alcohol, does not mean I will repeat them. I can’t go through life worrying that’ll be the case. Being diligent about keeping myself informed and educated on my health via my doctor and self-reflection is key.

All I can do is stay alert, listen to my body, and give it what it needs.

Love Wellness

I never felt safe at the gym, until I discovered twerking classes

When I moved to Boston two years ago, it was a really hard transition.

Though I had friends that lived in the area and enjoyed my work colleagues, I found it hard to find a place where I belonged.

This also coincided with my recent social justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion work. I was very outspoken when it came to race in America. Using my privilege of being a multiracial black woman, I felt the need to speak up about what I was seeing. The microaggressions directed towards me regarding my hair. Even the unequal treatment between my white colleagues and people of color at my organization.

After Mike Brown died, I was going to protest marches and trying to get my friends involved. Which led to mostly blank stares of confusion as to why I would choose to do that on a Friday night, instead of going to a bar.

It was then that I realized that I needed to branch out of my comfort zone and meet new people.

It’s true what they say about making friends as an adult. It’s hard. Not just hard in the sense that you have to find new people that you vibe with, in a city of thousands of people. But you must develop a friendship from scratch. Many people, specifically in Boston, already have their set groups of friends from either college, childhood, or work.

This makes it incredibly difficult to break into those circles and make meaningful friendships that last.

Finally, I decided that maybe I should focus on doing things solo that make me feel good, and that if friendships come out of it, so be it.

I was on a new health and fitness kick, and an avid ClassPass user in Boston. ClassPass is a monthly service that allows you try out to different gyms and workout classes in your city. It was the perfect way to attend a lot of different classes and meet new people without breaking the bank.

As was the case with most fitness spaces in Boston, the ones I went to were filled with thin white women. I’ll never forget how awkward I felt showing up to my first barre class and not only being the only person of color, but the only person who weighed over 100 pounds, give or take.

I needed to expand my options.

That’s when I found TrillFit.

It’s a twerk dance class whose workouts were accompanied by custom hip hop mixes and led by badass black and brown women.

I was sold.

When I showed up to my first class, I felt like I was hanging out with old friends.

The creator behind TrillFit is a young black woman entrepreneur who led an all-women team to offer hip-hop dance, yoga, and sculpting classes.

Checking out their website, I was inspired by what she’d done at such a young age and in such little time. Especially somewhere in Boston, where black-owned businesses are practically non-existent.

I’m always looking for ways to support black-owned businesses, specifically black women-owned businesses. They could have all my money.

Showing up to my first class, I was welcomed by the creator of TrillFit and the lead dance instructor.  I was immediately obsessed with them and the vibe of the studio. They showered me with uplifting and positive comments about my workout clothes, and we compared our big curly hair.

I knew I was in for a good time.

As the class was about to start, I made my way to the back just in case I embarrassed myself.

Shortly into the class though, I wasn’t thinking about that at all.

I wasn’t worrying if my top was riding up or if my stomach was jiggling. Instead, I was twerking and making my hips roll like nobody’s business.

Surrounded by mostly white women, to see them somewhat struggling with the rhythm and moves, gave me a slight ping of confidence.

Embarrassingly enough, it felt good to not be the one out of place for once.

What made it even better was the instructor Melissa. She didn’t just stay at the front of the class. She was continuously walking around to give loud and positive messages of encouragement.

To have her telling me that I was doing great and that I was really making the choreography my own was a great feeling.

I was hooked!

Even though I couldn’t walk for a few days afterward, I felt amazing. I even learned some new moves to break out on the weekend.

TrillFit became my bi-weekly therapy. The atmosphere and overall vibe were intoxicating, and I wished I could go to every class they offered. The way my bank account is set up, though, I couldn’t make that a reality.

I even put some of my friends onto the class.

It was a space in my day that I didn’t second guess myself. I didn’t care if I looked like shit and was sweating profusely. When my face and shirt were drenched in sweat, I felt powerful knowing that it wasn’t because I was trying to lose weight, or killing myself to fit in a mold.

It was from having the time of my life.

When I decided to move back to Buffalo, one of the things that I told people I would miss the most were my TrillFit classes. I probably sound like I’m obsessed, but I was distraught thinking about not being able to blow off steam in a room of empowered and badass women once a week.

I’ve been in Buffalo for 3 months now and I still follow TrillFit’s Instagram and support them from afar. I’m most excited about attending a class the first week in October as I’ll be back in Boston for work.

It’ll definitely be bittersweet, as I’m not sure if or when I’ll be back after that trip.

I will, however, know that it was that class, that group of people, that really helped me get into a better place with my body and self during my time in Boston.


Laila Alawa speaks to Entrepreneur Before 25 podcast about the story behind The Tempest

The Tempest’s CEO Laila Alawa spoke with Chelann Gienger from the Entrepreneur Before 25 (EB25) podcast. EB25 interviews inspiring and empowering entrepreneurs like Laila who began their journey whilst aged 25 or under.

[bctt tweet=”I found that I started being put in situations where my people pleasing hurt me. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

Laila talked about her background, her family, why she started The Tempest, and life as an entrepreneur.

Whilst explaining the realities of chasing your dreams, Laila also divulged some gems of advice for budding entrepreneurs. She dived in deep and discussed why being a people pleaser has the potential to destroy freedom.

“I used to live my life very afraid of hurting others, I found that I started being put in situations where my people pleasing hurt me.”

Listen to the entire podcast here.

Love Wellness

It doesn’t matter what men around me want – I refuse to ruin my life with birth control

The summer before my freshman year of college my mom took me to my doctor to get on birth control.

I was almost 17 but still seeing a pediatrician because my mother was and still is in denial about the fact that I’m a sexual being. She never discussed sex with me, or ever acknowledged that I should go to the gynecologist.

For her, getting me on birth control was more of the natural next step, not a precaution against pregnancy.

I’ll never forget when my doctor asked my mom to step out of the room so she could ask me some personal questions. Like, you know, had I ever had sex before. The answer was yes. I lost my virginity when I was 16 and had been pretty sexually active since. Given that I grew up in the age of shows like “16 & Pregnant,” I knew to always use a condom, and I did.

Getting on the pill was more of a symbol.

I was a woman. I could have unprotected sex if I wanted because I was on the pill. That never happened, though. I was and am still a germaphobe, so no glove no love.

When I left for school I had been on birth control for 2 months and was loving it. Lighter flow, my period used to be like shark week 3-5 days each month, and little to no cramps. The biggest plus was my acne started to subside, which was a big deal for me because I’d suffered with it ever since puberty.

All in all, it was going well.

A few weeks into the semester though, I began experiencing excruciating headaches. These headaches became migraines. And they went from being sporadic to almost constant. I was popping ibuprofen like skittles, and dreaded when the medication would wear off because I’d get that searing pain again.

I went to my school’s health center, which was a joke, and they attributed the migraines to stress. During my appointment, I told them I had begun taking birth control, but that wasn’t deemed important information.

I ended up having extreme migraines almost every day for the next few months. There were times that they were so bad I’d skip class and just lay in bed crying until they went away.

It wasn’t until I went home for winter break and made my mom make me an emergency appointment that I found out what the real problem was.

It was my birth control. Specifically, it was Yaz.

You may not know what Yaz is or maybe you forgot about it. But at one time, it was the most popular birth control on the market.

My doctor specifically put me on it because its lack of side effects, which seems like a tragic joke in hindsight.

When my doctor realized the timing of my migraines coincided with me starting birth control, she became very concerned and told me to stop taking them immediately.

“Shouldn’t I finish my current pack?” I asked.

Her response was, “Absolutely not.”

She told me there was a possibility I could have a blood clot or something more serious could occur if I didn’t stop taking the pills.

I was traumatized.

My doctor recommended me getting off birth control for the next 4-6 months, and then coming back in to make sure the migraines and any other symptoms went away.

I thought the fuck not.

At my next appointment when I was given a clean bill of health and told I could get back on birth control, I vehemently objected. Although my doctor mentioned the positive effects I received from the pill: lighter flow, less acne, no cramps. I still refused.

As she couldn’t make me get on the pill, she dropped it and gave me some free condoms.

From then on during my yearly physicals, I would be asked if I wanted to get back on birth control and I said no.

I was scarred.

I was probably experiencing mild anxiety which I wouldn’t be diagnosed with for another 5 years. But I couldn’t stop googling all the terrible things that can come from hormonal birth control.

Heart attacks. Strokes. Blood clots. Aneurysms.

No, thank you.

Because I refused to get on birth control, I was extra careful about using protection during sex. This would prove to be a turn-off to many of my male suitors in college, who complained it didn’t feel as good without one. I told them it wouldn’t feel good when I was knocked up at 19 and asking them to babysit our child. They’d oblige.

Having to have the conversation about condoms with my partners also gave me more confidence and a voice during my sexual encounters. Which I learned not many of my friends felt like they had. I was sexually independent and didn’t let men convince me to do anything I didn’t want to.

I would stare at them deadpan when they’d whine about condoms not allowing them to cum.

And they couldn’t coerce me by saying the pill was effective so they didn’t need the condom anyway.

It’s now been 6 years and I’m still not on birth control. Other than one slip up where I needed to get plan b the next day. I’ve never had any issues with protection. My acne cleared up once I stopped eating like shit and drank more water.

But my cramps and flow are still as heavy and painful as ever.

I’ll take these symptoms any day, than to live with the fear, no matter how irrational. That any little pain or a headache I get in the future is because of my birth control.

The Tempest Radio Mixes Audio + Visual


I am completely and utterly Bollywood obsessed. I’ve grown up on Bollywood movies and songs, and I have so many memories that I’m instantly reminded of every time I listen to any specific Hindi song. I remember dancing to Hindi songs as a kid, even singing along (read: screaming) the songs at the top of my lungs.

Till this day, one of my favorite ways to relieve stress is by having impromptu one-person dance parties to Bollywood songs. Here I present to you a few of my dance favorites.

1. Yeh Sama – Bally Sagoo

This list would not be complete without this song. This is the very first song I remember dancing to, and it is just such a feel good remix to a slow romantic number, sung in the melodious voice of Lata Mangeshkar. I’m pretty sure we have me dancing to this recorded somewhere on tape too!

2. Sweety Tera Drama – Dev Negi, Pawni Pandey, Shraddha Pandit

One of the recent songs in Bollywood, this song had me waiting excitedly since I heard it in the trailer of this movie. Released last week, this song has me wanting to jump up and dance every time I listen to it! I absolutely love the sheer desiness of this song, and just how youthful it is. That spirit of carefree singing and dancing is definitely what I live for.

3. Kala Chashma – Amar Arshi, Badshah, Neha Kakkar

One of the biggest hits of last year, this one is going to be danced to for years to come! Also, can we just take a note of, and appreciate, Katrina’s amazing abs? Like damn, watching this song for the first time genuinely made me want to hit the gym! Nothing like a good fitspirtion from a Bollywood dance number.

4. Le Gayi Le Gayi – Asha Bhosle

Confession time: if there is one old school movie that I can watch without getting bored halfway, it’s most definitely this one. The songs, the choreography, the story- everything was just perfect for the 90’s. Another embarrassing confession: it is because of this movie that I have an undying love for heart-shaped balloons. And I am rather sad to report, I have yet to come across balloons as glorious as depicted in this movie!

5. Mann Mera (Remix) – Gajendra Verma

The original version of this song is a soothing, romantic number. Personally, I’m always a bit wary of slow romantic numbers being turned into fast-paced dance numbers, but this song is one of the few that really takes the original song, and makes the remix sound even better than the original.

6. The Disco Song – Benny Dayal, Sunidhi Chauhan, Nazia Hassan

This remix of the cult classic is too good to pass up on. I know I killed that replay button until I learnt the dance steps to it. I learnt it, took the lead, taught it to my brother, and eventually, we danced together at one of our cousin’s wedding.

7. Piya Piya – Pinky, Preeti, Prashant

Who can deny, this movie was “best friend” goals! That hook step of the song was all the rage back then, and this was one of the most played songs back in the day. I remember this particular party we had, where these neighbor girls of ours danced to this song. This song brings me back to that party every single time I listen to it, and since I love that slice of time so much, I absolutely love this song too!

8. Sooraj Dooba Hain – Arijit Singh, Aditi Singh Sharma

Who can resist dancing to this amazing number? Still one of my absolute favorites to add to the playlist for those solo dance parties! There are two separate versions of this song, and when I first heard them on separate occasions, I thought I was going crazy. This version is the one that I like best!

9. Nashe Si Chadh Gayi – Arijit Singh

What can I say about this song except that it’s one of my absolute favorites, and it is my ultimate dream to learn those dance moves, all the while still looking as hot as Vaani Kapoor! People bashed this movie, maybe for good reason, but you can’t deny that the album of this movie has some of the best songs of recent years.

10. It’s The Time To Disco – Vasundhara Das, KK, Shaan, Loy Mendonsa

Another cult favorite! Definitely never getting old, this one. There’s always time to disco!

There are two more songs that aren’t on this list, but definitely deserve an honorary mention. Any child growing up in the 90’s will most definitely remember O O Jaane Jaana, as well as Ole Ole. Today’s generation will probably never even hear these songs, much less remember them, but truly, 90’s and 2000’s  Bollywood had some of the best music of all time.

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Travel Science Now + Beyond

15 surreal places you have to visit before you turn 30

Your 20s is a time to see the world.

You’re young, you may not have many commitments, and you’re flexible enough to make day trips, sleep in hostels, or travel with a minimalistic mindset. There are a number of beautiful places in nature that are right here in the United States. Some of which you may recognize, others are the epitome of hidden treasure. These 15 spots are found across the country, so even if you can’t see them all … you can certainly see some! Get out there and get your travel on with these breath-taking natural destinations!

1. Yellowstone National Park

beautiful places, trout lake yellowstone national park

This one is a given and probably on many travelers’ lists. Yellowstone National Park spans Idaho, Minnesota and Wyoming and is the world’s first national park. It has mountains, lakes and forests as well as copious wildlife. You can visit for a day or spend a night at one of the park’s campgrounds.


2. Na Pali Coast

napali coast, beautiful places,

Hawaii has a lot to offer in terms of natural wonders, but the Nu Pali Coast is arguably the most impressive. It sits along the 17-kilometer Kalalau Trail and is full of lush, green mountains and ridges. Explorers can only access the coast by a long hike or boat.

3. Biosphere 2

beautiful places, biosphere 2

Located in Oracle, the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 houses seven actively researched model ecosystems. The ecosystems include a mature rainforest, a 2600 m^3 ocean, forested swamps, a tropical savanna grassland, a coastal fog desert, three hillslope grass-shrubland landscapes and an urban ecosystem.

4. Skagit Valley Tulip Fields

beautiful places, skagit valley

Thousands flock to Mount Vernon, Washington to see the Skagit Valley Tulips in bloom during varying dates each year. The festival lasts 30 days and features art shows, galas, concerts and local tours.

5. Hamilton Pool

beautiful places, hamilton pool

Created when the dome of an underground river collapsed, Hamilton Pool is a natural pool located just west of Austin, Texas. It is home to the endangered Golden-Cheeked Warbler and open for swimming reservations.

6. Northern Lights

northern lights, beautiful places

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are a well-known natural wonder. The lights are best seen in Alaska, if you’re staying in America. They are caused by the collision of gaseous particles in the Earth atmosphere and charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere, creating beautiful yellow-green lights in the night sky.

7. Thor’s Well

thors well, beautiful places

Thor’s Well is a natural hole on the Oregon coast that seems to drain water from the ocean. Also known as the drainpipe of the Pacific, the well is very dangerous and not for the faint of heart. Nonetheless, adventurers and photographers visit the spectacular site.

8. Cache River State Natural Area

beautiful place, cache river state natural area

Situated in southern Illinois, these wetlands total almost 15,000 acres. You can hike, bike, boat, fish or hunt in the area.

9. Niagara Falls

beautiful places, niagra falls

Niagara Falls is another natural wonder on most travelers’ lists. It is America’s oldest state park where you can hike its incredible landscape. There are also a plenty of birds for those interested in bird watching, and golf courses for players of all skill levels.

10. Mammoth Cave

beautiful places, mammoth cave

Mammoth Cave Natural Park is a “grand, gloomy and peculiar place,” said early guide Stephen Bishop. What’s not to love?! It is the world’s longest known cave systems. Plan a visit to catch a tour, hike, canoe, picnic, go horseback riding, cycling and more.

11. Blackwater Falls State Park

beautiful places, blackwater falls

Named for the amber-colored waters of the Blackwater River Falls, the West Virginia park offers lodging, restaurants, and even Wi-Fi access! (Though we recommend you disconnect on your visit.) The park sports magnificent views and could the perfect place to plan your next event for nature lovers.

12. Sequoia National Park

Giant trees span this beautiful park located in the southern Sierra Nevada. There are places to camp, lodge and eat, and chances to explore hiking trails in a forest that is home to the world’s largest living tree: the General Sherman Tree.

13. Great Smoky Mountains

beautiful places, smoky mountains

Part of a national park located in both Tennesse and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains are a world-renowned, beautiful place in nature. The mountains are home to a diverse selection of plant and animal life, and there are plenty of activities to do including camping under the stars and hiking. Bring pepper spray!

14. The Everglades

beautiful places, everglades

The nearest city to the Everglades is Florida City. It is a 1.5 million acre wetland on the southern tip of the state. Many rare and endangered species call the Everglades home.

15. Glacier National Park

beautiful places, glacier national park

Glacier National Park is a wilderness area of roughly 1,600 square miles in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. It has more than 700 miles of hiking trails and opportunities to backpack, cycle, and camp. It is home to mountain goats, grizzly bears and more.