By Melanie Walker
Bombings. Massacres. Political unrest. It’s no secret why a vast majority of young adults are hesitant to bring children in the world. 2016 has thus far manifested a lot of heartache, I can only imagine what the world will be like in ten years. I, too, admit, that I dread the day when I will bring a child into such a terrifying and uncertain world.
However, I remember the things my mother taught me.
My mother always taught me to not only dream big, but to be hopelessly optimistic despite how dark the situation may be. She taught me the value of persistence, patience, and how to look dang pretty while doing it.
Often we forget the value and power behind good parenting. It is no easy path, but if we want to make a difference in the world, we start by choosing to be the absolute best parent we can be to our future children. No matter what way the world shifts, the principles of traditional family structures remain—despite whatever family dynamic you choose or were born into.
Though the future is clouded and the struggles my future daughter will face in such a world fill me with dread, I rest knowing that there is hope. We can make a difference in the world if we prepare our children well.
Here are the five things I would like my future daughter to know:
Dear Future Daughter,
1. Never underestimate the value of kindness
Decide from this moment on that you will be a kind, respectful, and warm individual. Decide to recognize the value of that in other people. We live in a world where sarcasm, criticism, and vanity are the source of humor and interaction. Do not ever think you have to participate. Be warm and tell others what you like about them. We have enough sarcasm; we need more words of affirmation. With so much darkness in the world, we need more light.
2. Get your hands dirty
Play outside—I don’t care how dirty your clothes get. Because the truth is, real women can get a little dusty and also know how to clean up nicely. Get your hands dirty with work, as well. You are not entitled to anything except your basic human rights, despite what politicians tell your age group you deserve. Anything you want in life, you have to work for. Get good grades. Find what you excel at. Don’t expect others to pick up your load for you.
3. Invite every opportunity life presents
Test your sensations and experience all the life has to offer you. Don’t let your fear overcome you. Ride the tallest roller coaster at Six Flags as soon as you’re tall enough. Try out for the cheer or soccer team. Experiment with your hair in high school. Travel in college. Try Flyboarding or jump off a 35-foot cliff. Whatever it is, do things that scare you. Take risks in a world that teaches you to live comfortably and to not shake the boat.
4. Don’t be afraid to stand alone
When the group you are with tries to normalize pornography or the man you are with tells you you’re obligated to do something you are not, don’t be afraid to stand alone. Speak up and walk out Please, please do not stay silent. Find out what you stand for and let no one compromise that. You can make more friends, always. And the real men you want to be with will never make you into something you do not want to be. Recognize the value of solitude.
5. Love hard
Lastly, love. And love hard. Love every person you meet. Learn to accept them. Learn the value of empathy. Do not ever underestimate the power of love—because love is what we stay alive for. Love is why we keep fighting in this crazy world. Do not accept anything less from your relationships than absolute devotion. Because when the winds of life seem too perilous, it’ll be love that will keep you walking on.
And you keep walking, baby girl. Keep walking.
This might be a dumb question, but I'm getting my wisdom teeth out next week and I'm gonna be stuck at home for a while. Basically that means that I'm going to be watching A LOT of Netflix. Do you have any suggestions on what TV shows to binge watch? Emma B.
Okay, there is no such thing as a dumb question. Picking out what you're going to binge-watch is an extremely important decision-- it's something you gotta love and find interesting enough that you're willing to stick with it for a very long time. It's basically like choosing who you're going to marry.
I asked our lovely writers what series they'd recommend, so we've got a whole slew of TV shows for you. And because I am an organization freak, I'm going to break it down into three categories: comedy, drama, and period dramas (because who doesn't love a good period drama?!). Here we go:
Parks & Recreation: Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, and Nick Offerman. Need I say more? Parks & Rec is truly comedy gold, creating jokes that are now pop culture icons. So treat yo' self by watching this brilliant show.
New Girl: With the adorkable and quirky Zooey Deschanel playing the equally adorkable and quirky Jess Day, you'll fall in love with this hilarious show. Plus, who doesn't love Schmidt, Winston, and Nick?
30 Rock: Tina Fey plays Liz Lemon, a single TV show writer that we all can't help but relate to. As an adult who doesn't know what she's doing but is entering the work force anyways, this show really hit home for me.
Friends: Does this one even need an explanation? Watch Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey, Ross, and Phoebe navigate through adulthood.
Supernatural: I don't know if this can just be limited to the drama category. Maybe drama/horror/fantasy? Anyways, follow the dreamy Sam and Dean as they fight their way through the world of ghosts, demons, and vampires.
Gilmore Girls: Featuring possibly one of the best mother-daughter duos on TV, you can't help but cheer Lorelai and Rory on as they live their chaotic lives in the quant town of Stars Hollow.
The Blacklist: Spies, intrigue, and murder. What else do you need? FBI agent Lizzie Kean is sent on the trail of horrific criminals by Raymond "Red" Reddington, who's a criminal himself. What could go wrong? (Spoiler alert: a lot).
Broadchurch: A little coastal town in England is rocked by the murder of a young boy. In a town where everyone knows everyone, everyone is a suspect. David Tenant plays a detective haunted by his mistakes, desperately trying to solve the tragic case.
Death Comes to Pemberley: Pride and Prejudice and.... Murder?! Oh yes. Long after Miss Lizzie Bennet marries Mr. Darcy, Pemberley is thrown into an intense murder investigation full of twists and turns. Who's at the heart of it? You'll have to watch to find out.
The Tudors: Get a front row seat to the infamous King Henry VIII's tumultuous 40-year reign, as well as his extremely complicated love life. (Warning: this show does contain graphic nudity).
Ripper Street: Six months after the horrific Jack the Ripper murders Detective Inspector Edmund Reid finds himself still trying to straighten out the chaotic streets of Whitechapel. Haunted by a past tragedy, he delves deep in the dangerous underbelly of London to solve some truly gruesome crimes.
The Paradise: Set in 1870s London we follow the lives of those working in The Paradise, England's first department store. When Denise Lovett takes a job there, she finds herself catching the eye of storeowner John Moray-- much to the dismay of other workers.
I hope those are enough to get you started. Have fun getting your wisdom teeth out (obvious sarcasm), and happy watching!
By Sadie Young
Excuse me while I finish singing that Grease song at the top of my lungs… okay, we’re good.
Dear, dear summer, I am so glad you are in full swing with your hot sun tanning my pale legs and crisp pool water cooling me off. It’s already mid-July, the one holiday is over, and I’m gritting my teeth hoping to make this season stretch out longer. I very much need it to last awhile, not for the beautiful weather or the entertaining outside adventures, but because I’ve yet to have even one summer fling yet, damn it! Because that's the real reason everyone loves summer so much, right?
Back to that song-- “Summer loving, had me a blast; Summer loving happened so fast.” Too fast, apparently, because I think I missed it.
I think I can speak for us all by saying that summer flings are the stuff stories are made of. I want to be 75 years old telling my great granddaughters about that one time 928638721638 years ago with that one dude that kissed like a God (insert praise hands emoji). They never last and they never really mean anything, which makes them all the more exciting! I mean, what are those cloudless starry nights for if not for making out-- er, I mean star gazing?
Winter seems to go on forever, killing us with its harsh coldness, but summer goes quickly, leaving us blind from its brightness come that first bitter fall wind. Give us something to hold onto! Maybe a little memory of that dude with the perfect teeth and the killer abs. I think it might be time to download tinder again… (she notes bitterly to herself as she swipes right for the first time in ages).
Summer flings are like cotton candy-- super sweet, incredibly fun, and very, very fleeting. They're the perfect fix for that little sweet tooth you've been having all year. And the beauty of it all is that come fall, you can say au revoir to your beau and welcome in something a little more serious. If you're feeling it, of course.
All you single ladies take note and all you taken ones as well: summer flings help us appreciate the finer things in life. They give us excitement and mystery and passion and warmth. Without these moments, what would summer be? Just an effing hot pile of nothing.
So go find yourself a summer hottie, girlies! Even if it’s just to rub that hard to reach spot on your back with sunscreen.
By Melanie Walker
The common struggles of dating are an all-too familiar topic among the community of single peeps. Insert the following questions and phrases:
How long should I wait to text him back so I don’t seem too clingy?
He’s not asking me out on an official date because he doesn’t want to seem too forward.
She tells me she likes me and then completely ignores me around our friends... I don’t get it.
The dating game has gone from simply pursuing someone you’re interested in to this complex labyrinth of hidden gestures and shaded versions of what a text message or Instagram comment could mean.
The dating game has gone from flirting back with someone you interested in to worrying about if you’re coming off too interested in them.
The dating game has turned into a contest of who can withhold the most love, and still win by getting the boy or the girl.
I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely not ok.
I know I have felt the effects of this withholding game—too many times I’ve been blindsided by men who actively wanted to pursue me but have withheld talking to me or bargained kisses with me. I, too, have found myself wrapped up in a twisted reality of refraining from responding to a text message until hours later because I didn’t want to seem too clingy. I’ve been denied affection and I have withheld affection from others, too.
The problem with this is we feel that the more aloof we come off and the less we care, the more we’ll feel wanted and desired. But my question is: why should we ever want someone that acts like they don’t care about us?
Why should I want someone that isn’t dying to talk to me or hold me when I’ve had a bad day? Why should someone want me if I’m withholding from them? And yet, there are angry and hurt feelings when the receiving party isn’t cool with it anymore and we wonder why.
I’m here to call bullsh*t and change the name of the game. How? We simply do not participate anymore. Because the truth is, long and lasting relationships are the ones with open communication and with regard to how the S.O. is feeling. Withholding love will never get you where you want to go in love, because people involved in your life have the right to know exactly how you feel about them 100% of the time.
So you better believe that any guy I’m absolutely enamored by is going to receive a text message from me if I feel like texting him or is going to be invited to places. I’m going to like his pictures on Facebook and I’m going to tell him how I feel when I feel it. And if things get too complicated or if he ever tells me I can only have a kiss if I do _(insert d-bag comment here)_, I’ll be out of that relationships faster than TLC can sing a song about love.
My advice for those wandering the often lonely road of “singledom”: the best relationships are the ones where you don’t have to work hard at getting them. It should be fairly easy: boy and girl like each other. They want to date. Love already takes a lot of work, so why add in the stress of your man/woman saying things they don’t really mean?
Keep it simple, and enjoy the ride. I promise you, it’ll be worth it.
By Rachel Comish
During the summer haze of swimsuits and sundresses, jewelry is even more of a statement.
Here are our favorite trends:
This is the ultimate poolside accessory, other than an adorable bathing suit of course. Anklets can be made of brightly colored yarn woven together, or even just a simple chain. You can take a necklace and wrap it a couple times around your ankle, or use your bracelets. Anklets are nice because they leave your hands fuss free from jewelry so you can perfect your diving technique with zero interference. Plus they can draw attention to your super cute pedicure.
When you’re wearing flip-flops everyday, it’s fun to have more accessories on them than you would during the wintertime. Toe rings can be tricky to find because of sizing, but I think they’re really cute.
This is one of my favorite trends so far, and a great way to have more jewelry on your ears without the commitment of multiple piercings. It’s a little edgier and can add some spice to any summer outfit.
I’m a big fan of rings, I usually wear a couple on each hand. These rings go with ear cuffs really well because they both have a layered look.
Chokers are back! This popular 90s trend is making its way back into fashion. Chokers tend to be delicate, so you forget you’re wearing them. It’s always nice to wear lightweight jewelry in the summer and leave the giant chunky necklaces for your winter outfits.
If you are absolutely not a jewelry person, get henna tattoos. Put some fun designs on your hands and feet to replace bracelets and anklets and skip the fuss of choosing what to wear everyday.
Whether you’re partial to wearing a dozen friendship bracelets or covering your feet with ink, show off your style this summer and enjoy the funny tan lines!
By Rachel Comish
In honor of independence day and the freedom of our country, I thought I’d celebrate the wonderful American pastime of barbequing. A good BBQ party is an art, and a common summer activity. Whether you are with family or friends, bonding over burgers is always fun.
Here are some tips for pulling off a great gathering:
Water activities are a plus.
If you have a pool, awesome; but that’s not always the case. I personally, like squirt guns. Get a few squirt guns and pull the hose out to keep them loaded. Water balloons work too and are a fun way to cool down.
Have lots of snacks.
It’s more than just the meat, have enough sides for people to snack on. Freeze fruit or bring popsicles for a cold treat. Chips and trail mix are classics, especially if you’re barbequing at the park. Be careful with deserts though, chocolate melts.
Make sure you have shade.
It’s great to get some sunshine, but make sure you have seating options too. Have a blanket to spread out under a tree, or sit in lawn chairs. You can also wear a cute hat to at least shade your face. Nobody wants to be in the sun all afternoon in July.
Prepare for the weather.
This is an outdoor activity, so make sure you have the necessities. Keep sunscreen handy, as well as bug spray (especially if you’re in the South), and sunglasses. And seriously, DRINK WATER. Nobody likes getting dehydrated.
Have fun with the food!
Burgers and hot dogs are classics, but you can make sliders or chicken burgers too. If you’re vegetarian, bake some potatoes and douse it in chili. Make homemade onion rings and fries. Try out some different sauces and toppings on your burgers. Don’t be afraid to be creative.
Be with friends.
Hanging out with friends makes any party better. If you can get a good group together, everyone is more relaxed. They also tend to be more willing to try new games and meet new people.
So get a ton of food, some solid recipes, and a good group together. Enjoy your summer, and happy Fourth of July!
By Rachel Comish
I’ve done theatre for most my life. I’ve taken classes, done drama, joined community theatres, taken voice and dance lessons, and just intergrade myself in that culture. Here are some things that I’ve noticed about theatre and why I love it.
The basic benefit about theatre is you get to express yourself.
I know—it’s a cliché. But it’s true. You can be anyone or anything with a costume and some imagination. Theatre shows people how to connect with their creativity and show all different kinds of emotion.
As you read and participate in different plays, you get to know many different characters.
Whether you’re performing a scene every week for a class or working on a show for months, you have to put yourself in someone else’s head.
Yes, you are only pretending to be a certain character. But that means understanding that characters choices and motivations, their personality and humor, what makes them likable and what makes them interesting. You put yourself through different situations that may just be for a show, but still give you a taste of what that experience would be like.
As you understand the various characters you play, you learn to empathize with people more.
It’s easy to judge when you don’t know what’s going on with someone’s life, but turning yourself into different people can help broaden your understanding of why people make hard choices.
Being on a stage in front of an audience can be hard.
I don’t get nervous about performing, mostly because I’ve already rehearsed everything to death and the stage lights make the audience disappear. But auditioning is hard. You’re onstage in a new theatre, performing alone in front of people you just met. That can be nerve wracking. But it’s good to do hard things. We have to do a lot of hard things in life, so it’s healthy to start that mentality at a young age.
Theatre takes hard work.
It can be months of rehearsing every day. You memorize lines and songs, but you also learn dance numbers and blocking. Musicals can get pretty lengthy and rehearsals can go for a long time, especially the last week before a show opens. You have to be dedicated, especially when you’re rehearsing the same scene fifty times in a row while everyone sweats under heavy costumes, thick makeup, and hot stage lights.
Theatre takes a lot of different skills.
There is so much that goes into making a show. You have actors, dancers, singers. There are directors, choreographers, musicians, and voice coaches. There’s the tech team for the sound and the tech team for the set. You have costume designers, makeup artists, and wig makers. So many people!
Many of these people can do a large majority of these skills, a few superhumans can do all of them. The thing about theatre is you at least get a taste for these different talents. You may try building a set and find it’s not your forte, but at least you tried. Theatre encourages people to try new things and go out of their comfort zone.
Most of all, theatre helps people pool their creativity and make something amazing.
There are so many talented people in theatre, with completely different skills. You make do with what you have. You can be creative and build a set out of thrift shop items. Add some paint, and you’ve got yourself a show.
It’s incredible to see people working together and learning from each other. Theatre helps people know themselves and know other people. It helps them deal with problems, or using song and dance as a way to cope with behavioral disorders.
Get to know your community and go see a show. It doesn’t have to be a professional play— it can be something low-key, like the local high school’s production of Beauty and the Beast. Find out when they are building their set and help out. Volunteer to usher a show or sell candy bars at intermission. Get a look at what goes on backstage. It’ll make you appreciate the end result that much more.
By Melanie Walker
There are three things that I love in life: travel, history, and literature. My vacations usually involve at least one of the three of those things. When all three are combined? Absolute magic.
Literature destinations are my favorite places to travel to because it’s the closest way I can connect to my favorite authors. I’ve seen quite a few in my time—from discovering William Blake’s grave in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral to even walking past Jack London’s birthplace monument on my way to a San Francisco Giants Game—and yet there are still so many to discover.
I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 travel destinations for literature lovers—five of which are my favorite out of the many I have been to, and five which are at the top of my list to visit.
My Top 5 Favorites
1. Edgar Allan Poe’s Grave, Baltimore, MD
Annabel Lee written by Edgar Allan Poe is my favorite poem. I was honored to be able to go and respect his work by visiting his grave.
2. Bronte Parsonage, West Yorkshire, England
Found in the hills of England lies the Bronte family parsonage and the moors where the sisters walked and wrote. You can feel their inspiration as you sit and gaze upon the beautiful heathers on the English hillside.
3. Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey, London, England
I would absolutely recommend this spot for any literature lover. From Jane Austen to Handel to even Geoffrey Chaucer, it’s an absolute thrill standing amongst the graves of the people that inspire you the most.
4. John Steinbeck’s Home, Salinas, CA
This was a fun one to stumble upon. Steinbeck’s house was so magnificent and beautiful, with a quick trip to the ocean right around the corner.
5. Charles Dicken’s Home, London England
Right in the heart streets of London you can find Dicken’s home and experience the real Dickens London.
5 Top-Of-My-List Places to Visit
1. Walden Pond, Concorn, MA
My dream is to sit with my feet in Walden Pond reading the merits of solitude by transcendentalist writer Henry David Thoreau.
2. Emily Dickinson home and museum, Amherst, MA
It would be an honor to see the halls Dickinson walked and wrote all her days long. My favorite poems among hers include “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” and “If I Can Stop One Heart.”
3. Lake District, England
William Wordsworth. Beatrice Potter. This beautiful landscape is somewhere I visit in my dreams.
4. Poetry Foundation, Chicago, IL
For all poet lovers, this would be the ideal place to visit. From podcasts, to lectures, to the biggest selection of poetry you can find past to present, this would be a dream.
5. Salem, MA
You can visit Nathanial Hawthorne’s home and visit the place that inspired works written about The Salem Witch Trials (The Crucible, anyone?). In such a city with such rich literature history, it’s a destination I am dying to visit.
Though I’ve visited many literature sites in my travels, there’s still so many to uncover. Comment below to suggest even more! What are your favorites?
By Rachel Comish
Being an adult is hard. You bust your butt through school, get through the application and interview process, then finally get a job.
So, now what?
More often than not, your first job is not your dream job. It’s a starter job; a job to pay the bills, and buy time and experience while you figure out this whole adult thing.
A typical 9 to 5 job, which let’s be honest is more like 8 to 6 nowadays, can suck all the life out of you. You get up, get ready, get through the day, and crash when you get home. The days drag.
We are still young. We need life outside of work, and yes work does take up a big chunk of time but it’s the little things that count.
Here are some things you can do to mix things up and make each day matter.
Do different exercise routines.
It’s great to have your regular gym schedule, or even have a gym, but doing different workouts can differentiate the days. Sign up for a few classes at a time so you’re not doing the same thing everyday. Make one day a swimming day or one day a yoga day. Make it fun.
Use your hobbies.
It can be so tempting to just crash as soon as you get home from a long day. That’s fine! Take a breather, eat dinner, watch a show. But don’t let every night disappear in a haze of Netflix. Enjoy your hobbies! Set aside some time to read or write or do something that makes you feel like yourself.
Laugh! This may be your first serious job, but find the things in life that make you snort and giggle. Sing at the top of your lungs while driving through traffic. Spin around the kitchen in your socks and pretend to be a ballerina. Am I the only one that does that? Starting a career can involve being the one that everyone blames, so sometimes you have to make your own fun.
Try a different route when coming home. Look around the area, explore. Take a walk when you get home, especially if you’re sitting a lot during the day. Try a new restaurant, check out that little store that you always drive past but have no idea what it actually is. Be adventurous.
Earning your way to your dream job takes hard work, but life needs some creativity and fun too. Mix things up. Be different. Go out there and adult like a pro!
By Melanie Walker
I heard something a few weeks back while I was with a dear friend of mine. We were talking about our exciting summer plans when she mentioned something along the lines of, oh but before we go to the lake I have to get my summer bod back. No one will want to see this in a swimsuit.
At first I was completely in shock. My friend is by no means overweight, and I’m never one to really notice what people call “thunder thighs” or “belly pooches.” The kicker in all of this was that I started to become aware of my own body, or rather, my lack of what she defined as “the summer bod.”
I’m at a healthy weight, like my friend, so would that mean I have to get a six pack before I wear that two piece in front of friends, or somehow magically get rid of cellulite? Which, news flash, mostly everyone has! So I can’t go out and feel completely confident in my swimsuit because I don’t quite have the body that culture dictates as acceptable for summertime?
Body shaming, whether it’s directed towards ourselves or others, is not only a poisonous mentality, but is a contagious disease among women. As women, we’re naturally-inclined to feel empathy and compassion towards our lady friends. So when our friend is tearing herself down, our impulse is usually to tear ourselves down with her.
The same goes with social media images we’re shown every day:
Though we laugh at these memes and pictures, they can actually be quite self-destructive. No one, not even internet memes, should tell you how to feel or take away your confidence. No one should care if you still have your “winter body” (which, really, what does that even mean?) because we should all be building each other up and making each other feel beautiful. And yes, that means we should make ourselves feel beautiful as well.
Now, I’m all for women exercising and losing weight if they feel like they want or need to. Absolutely we should always look to improve ourselves in ways that will make us happy and healthy. But when working out becomes an unhealthy obsession or becomes something we do for the approval of others, that’s when it just doesn’t fly with me. Life shouldn’t be lived for other people. Life should be lived with other people.
The important thing is, summer is meant for making memories with your friends on that road trip, wearing your classy bikini by the pool, rompers and tank tops, and smiling. Don’t let your fear of others’ lame opinions or uncalled-for judgments keep you from having the best summer yet from the most confident you.
So sister, you do whatever you need to do to help you feel happy. If you’d rather laze around the beach all day, I will be there right with you. If you want to get in shape this summer, I’ll be your running partner.
Stop worrying about “the summer bod” and start living.
Images taken from http://weheartit.com/ ifunny.co/ and humoar.com