Category Archives: Blog

St. Patrick’s Day, From The Heart By A Guest Blogger

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I never understood why my parents decided to move to America. I was 7, yet my world was changing forever. I left my home, friends and most importantly my grandparents. It was everything I knew. The move was not something I was prepared for. Life was good for us in India. But my parent’s explanation was that we would have a better life. It was the BEST in India, so I didn’t need anything better. Even now, looking back, I feel in my grandparents’ house there is a part of me still there.

Initially, we struggled when we arrived to America. My parents worked hard and long hours. I didn’t like the food, it didn’t have my grandmother’s love. Adjusting to the new environment took me a long time. I was the only Indian in my school. No one knew how to pronounce my name. It was always Kristy or Christina, even though there is no “t” in my name. After a while, I was just happy if I was noticed or called upon. I didn’t have any friends, since I was not allowed to have non-Indian friends. Did I mention I was the only Indian?

I vividly remember this day at school where I was being pinched by my classmates. It happened over and over, my arm turned blue. With tears running down, I finally had the courage to tell the teacher. She said I was supposed to wear green today. It was St. Patrick’s Day. I am a vegetarian, which Texans can’t even fathom. Kids were fascinated how I remained alive without meat. Eventually we acclimated and we lost our accents and the nostalgic feeling.

Balancing my eastern heritage and my western pull was always a struggle for me. Sometimes I felt split right in the middle, half of me wanted to be pious while the other half wanted to party. Today, I still struggle with this identity balance. My parents did a fantastic job preserving our culture at home. However, outside of the home, where did I fall – on the east or the west?

I moved when I was 7, when my roots were just spreading and getting a grip on the land. Unfortunately, they were uprooted quickly before they got a chance to establish. I have friends who moved to the United States as teenagers. They had time to establish those roots in India; which meant they have a very strong cultural identity and I have just faint memories. Over the years I extracted what I like from both cultures and made them part of my identity. I enjoy Bollywood and Hollywood. I love my American and Indian clothes. I cook Indian and Tex-Mex.

With growth and maturity I realized why my parents made that life-altering decision. I appreciate all their sacrifices and humiliation they experienced as immigrants. I would never have the courage to pack up and leave this home. Today I make sure my kids wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.

Love Your Body

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Loving yourself on the outside is just as important as loving yourself on the inside. This is something we tend to lose sight of.

Many times in life we are willing to accept the imperfections of our own personalities. We understand that everyone is going to make mistakes. Sometimes we might lose our temper when we shouldn’t or perhaps we say the wrong thing at the wrong time. We get that. We accept that “pobody’s nerfect” (get it?!)

But why is it that we forget this when it comes to our outsides? Nobody will have the perfect body. Or skin. Or hair. Or feet. Or whatever. If you ask any of the “beautiful people” in the world, they will admit that there is something about themselves that they would like to change. And sometimes the things that they don’t want to change still get photoshopped out of photos!

We know this. We know photoshop exists. Lighting tricks. That everyone has bad hair days or feet that are too small and butts that are too big. But instead of remembering that our outside are just like our insides, imperfect, we beat ourselves up for it.

This needs to stop. We need to love ourselves for who we are inside and out. While both areas can always use “care and upkeep,” that doesn’t mean we should fall apart when there is a spot on the inside or outside.

Today we challenge you to love your body. Every inch of it. Because it’s through love that things grow and change best. And the more you love your body, the more comfortable you will be in it.

Stop Racism

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Racial tensions have been on the rise in the United States. But racism is an issue not just in America, but around the world. Ignoring it isn’t going to  make it go away.

Even in India, race issues cause turmoil for many.

Instead, we must be active in working together to end racism.

Here are a few steps that you can take to help stop racism:

1. Listen to, validate, and ally with people who report personal and systemic racism

2. If you see something, say something.

3. Combat racism through national-level political channels.

There is even more that you can do. To learn more visit “How to be an anti-racist activist

The Pixie Predicament By A Guest Blogger

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Halle Berry’s hair is my spirit animal. Her pixie has flair when she appears to do nothing to it. It moves in sexy, stylish, avant-garde ways. It never obstructs her flawless face.  It compliments her statuesque features and acts as the perfect accessory at all times. Yes, ladies and gentleman, Halle’s pixie haircut completes me.

When I got my driver’s license at age 15 or 16, the very first thing that I did was take off in my fantastic Seattle silver hand-me-down Honda Accord to get a haircut. This initial unyielding act of goody-goody rebellion, for an otherwise model teenager, was the start of something amazing. That simple layered bob was so short, in fact, that for the first time in my life, I noticed the beauty mark on the back of my neck. Now, that mark, is one of my favorite features. Needless to say, I was immediately obsessed and addicted.

Years later, I decided to study abroad in France. In an effort to “travel light,” I cut my chin length bob into a full-blown pixie, like Halle’s.

Praise the lord. It was like I was seeing myself for the first time. Okay, I know that a pixie cut might not be for you. So, it may be a little tough to empathize. But, that’s okay. You must simply acknowledge that when you feel comfortable in your style and in your skin, it’s an unbelievable feeling. I loved it.

 To clarify, even then, the cut was a symbolic awakening and liberation. I was free(ish), literally and figuratively. For those of you that aren’t acquainted with African American hair, black girls spend an inordinate amount of time, money, and effort taming our hair into submission. Sometimes at great physical peril, considering that we use hot metal and abrasive chemicals (or woven in false hair) to look a bit more like our straight-haired cohorts. Our natural texture is awesome, undoubtedly. We do this mostly just to make our lives easier, of course. But, it’s undeniable that visions of long flowing hair have been synonymous with feminine beauty, at least in American culture. So, what if your hair doesn’t fall in wavy tendrils down your back? My natural hair stands up in buoyant pin curls that rise up to the sky and outward with defiant fluffiness.

Okay, so hair is also a metaphor. In my case, for freedom. With a pixie I spend less time worrying about what I look like in front of mirrors, yet I am my most easygoing carefree self. Short hair suits me. It doesn’t hide my face, and accentuates my features, eyes, complexion, smile, cheeks. I can’t hide behind it. It doesn’t encumber me or weigh me down. What’s more to say?!

Then it started. Every boy that I dated post pixie, almost without exception, would eventually say those horrid words. “You should grow your hair out. It would be so lovely to run my fingers through it. You would look so much prettier.” Every time I heard those words, it would feel like someone telling me not to be myself. I’d writhe a little at the thought.

Several times I caved, of course, and tried to grow it out – supposedly to please the men that I loved. I would always twitch through the horrid intermediate “growing out” phases.

As I grew it out, I always dealt with the annoying whispies and bangs that constantly got in my eyes just to prove to some guy that I valued his opinion and wanted to fit his standard of beauty. At times, this standard of beauty was stereotypical, traditional, and most of all, superficial. I mean no offense, of course, to those women whose personal styles involve a Pocahontas-like mane. If it looks stylish and suits your personality, rock on, ladies! Moreover my point is that there are many versions of beautiful. You are all beautiful naturally, as God made you. The confidence and joy that you feel in your own skin is the most beautiful and sexy thing that you can exude. It will translate to magnetism among those that you meet, more than anything.

For years I tolerated hooded hair dryers, rollers, and burns from curling irons. For what?! To be wanted? To feel desired? Even loved? The last time a guy said, “I love long hair,” my immediate response was, “well, you should grow yours out.” When will everyone realize that nothing is sexier than a woman or man who is confident, happy and has swag and knows it?

Ah! What about the guy who grabbed a fist full of my longer hair and pulled without asking? He promptly tried to yank it back forcefully because he thought I would be into it. Eek. How about the guy that said, “short hair makes you look too much like a boy,” even though I was wearing a curve-hugging low-cut red dress and heels at that very moment. And, how about the guy that thought it would be funny to get my hair wet, not realizing that I would have to spend two hours out of my already busy day washing, drying, and straightening it again. Or, the guy that teased me about having to tie my longer hair back with a silk scarf so that it wouldn’t be too unruly when I awoke in the morning? Yes, as I alluded, my post sleep hair would be an unequivocal mess that I would have to sort out before work the next day, if I didn’t tie it up. For many years, I allowed these men to make me feel like I was always going to be “just shy of perfect” unless this one thing was “just so.”

Eventually, I got disappointed. I decided that deserve a man who thinks that I’m lovely because I’m self-possessed, kind, bright, accomplished and thrilled to live in my own skin. I began to realize that I wasn’t making those demands of guys. That was the beginning of a revolution. I felt defiant. The day of my epiphany, I bought a broadcloth button up dress shirt and tie, paired it with a blazer, high heels and a form fitting pencil skirt. I never felt sexier. Or more powerful. It was my way of saying, I do what I darn well please, short hair and all. So, I will continue to rock my short pixie cut. And, I will explore a universe of ways to look and feel beautiful and feminine that do not involve long hair.

Thanks, Halle, for giving inspiration to this little beige girl with short pixie tresses. You aren’t your hair either, ladies. And, you don’t have to have lady Godiva locks, do you? If you want them, make sure it’s because it makes YOU happy. Feel beautiful knowing that you’ve discovered something that, whatever that thing may be, makes you feel good about yourself. Whatever you are – embrace it, own it, love it. You are perfect. Feel comfortable in your own skin and don’t let anyone make you feel less than beautiful for not fitting into their perceived standard of beautiful. Defy them by forcing them to see that you are beautiful as you are. You ARE gorgeous.

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Socrates said, “Know Thyself” and I Say, “Be Thyself”

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Are you of a certain age? Are you single? Are you being setup (or having to put up with being setup)? Is that all you are doing? That just can’t be…  so the question arises, while you are waiting to start a “conscience coupling” with a suitable groom, what else is happening in your lives? Well, some of you are scaling mountains and it’s highest peaks, others may be researching the depths of the oceans, or working on the cure for a rare disease, or dropping a beat (let it gooooooooooooooo….), or writing a book of children’s rhymes or just trying to improve the world we live in, in your own small way. Are we not inspirational or empowering?  Do these endeavors leave no legacy? Is it not okay to go against the grain, and dream a different dream? I ask these questions not to the women of a generation above me but to all my fellow females.

In the past couple of years, I have felt an array of emotions from wonder to happy to ecstatic. I have reached a peak in my life, and career that had seemed impossible. But guess what, I have realized that none of it was beyond my reach, I deserved it all along. Where there is a will, a way will appear by itself.

Nevertheless, to those who are concerned, the central theme remains the same – I am single. And the tone of concern goes from decrescendo to crescendo. i.e., the message is not that “I am unmarried” but that “I have failed to get married.” The definition is the same but they have different connotations. A certain “blast from my past” has brought it to my attention that another year has passed, without my wedding bells ringing in her ears. So here is a question to ponder on. My fellow females, is marriage the ultimate goal? Do our lives, achievements, and joys before marriage have no value? Or do they in any way, weigh less? Why is it that in our culture, a girl’s achievements, hopes and dreams, outside/before marriage is considered to be “extra curricular activities?”

As the new-year started, I have been approached “repeatedly” by a certain person and her plethora of advice that I did not ask for. If I only fixed my makeup, if only I lost some weight (by the way, I don’t commute via construction crane), and if I could only scrub off the color of my skin off my body (just in case you can’t tell, I’m of wheatish complexion), this person is certain that I could get married. All that I require is major improvement or extreme makeover.

The irony is, all my life I have been told, even during my brief stint as a model, that my features were a catch factor. I was surprised that she saw my looks as a demarcation. I’ll be honest, it did bite. Anyways, I will eat a cookie, and I will get over it. Whatever she thinks is irrelevant and it’s really none of my business. I will get married, “in spite of the darker foundation” not because I need to but because I want to. And when it happens, I vow to keep doing what I am doing now. I will be “me” and I will leave a legacy of intelligence, serenity and laughter for the next generation.

My marriage though being a significant part of my life shall NOT overpower my being. My experiences as a woman, as a human in this world will not be confined to being married. To all you phenomenal and beautiful women out there, keep in mind that men and marriage does not define who we are and no decent and self-respecting man would want us to settle for him. Whatever you do, don’t allow anyone to pull you down just because you are older than the norm and single. There are so many unhappy married people around but our goal is to have a marriage that is everlasting and full of bliss. Don’t be afraid of receiving as much as you offer. Patience is a virtue and while we wait for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, let’s just enjoy beauty of the rainbow.

Happy International Women’s Day! My Tribute To You

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In honor of International Women’s Day, we pay tribute to the essence of womanhood. To all those beautiful ladies out there who have a dream, keep working at it and never ever give up. To all my sisters who are facing serious hardships, you are not alone, your fight is important. You are an inspiration to us all. To the younger females, speak up, assert yourself and know that you are valuable. You can achieve anything you set your mind and heart to.

As creatures of Earth, we are all special and we are all given a unique gift – some of us have already unwrapped our gifts, some might unwrap our gifts in the near or far future, however, some of these gifts might remain unwrapped forever. Therefore, I encourage each of you to unwrap those gifts, realize your potential and let your inner light shine. We bring brightness, hope and harmony to this world.

On this Women’s Day, let’s honor those who have struggled to make this world a better place. The women who through their passion and courage have brought change in society. Their light continues to shine and empower us. We endeavor to continue their mission, to proudly present a woman’s point of view, to assert our place in this world among the masses and among the leaders as equal participants in the service of our Mother Earth.

Happy International Women’s Day To All You Amazing Ladies Around The World!! Let’s Go Inspire, Empower & Impact the world!

Oh The Humanities: An Introspective Look At The Multigenerational View On The Arts In An Ethnic Family by a Guest Blogger

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Where did all my music go? Being the only documented child in a family of five can bring its own challenges. For example you will always have to translate for your parents, have an irrational fear of officers and have to carry the hopes and dreams of those that weren’t given the same opportunities you were. You know like being able to go to school, not having to work at the age of 13 and not have to “live in the shadows” like so many other undocumented people all over the US.

This brings me to my first day of kindergarten. I have so many happy memories of starting grade school. They center around incredible firsts such as books fairs, painting a self-portrait and always winning the tug-of-war during field day. I was always a very sturdy child.  Another wonderful first was when my first grade music teacher gave me the opportunity to actually touch a violin. I thought, “Great! A guitar my size!” She went on to educate me on all the string instruments and asked me if I was interested in learning how to play. This was a really big deal. I could only take classes after school and my parents had to sign off. If I remember correctly, they were pretty neutral about the whole thing. They always supported me in any and all artistic endeavors at that age.

There was something about that violin. I became voracious. I insisted on going to a school that encouraged the arts. Soon after, I was not only enrolled in orchestra but also piano, drama, art and dance. I never claimed to be good at any of these endeavors but I loved them all. I chased the lovely melody all the way to the eight grade and then suddenly but also subtly there was a shift.

I was enrolled in a high school that focused on technology and any talk of music kind of ended. It wasn’t like they took away my keyboard or anything but there was a lot of talk of growing up and focusing on a profession. I don’t think I really paid much attention to the shift as teenagers really don’t focus on anything that doesn’t require something shiny or a push from parents. My parents were relieved to see me graduate high school with college credits and cried tears of happiness when I transferred into a four year degree for Management Information Systems. I was secretly dying inside. I hated every minute of it. I remember having a panic attack at Frys as I was browsing mother boards. Passive aggressively I flunked out of my first semester. This was a big no no in my family. My parents saw it as a waste and so did I. I realized I had to re-evaluate my whole future. I knew I didn’t want a life behind a desk but also needed to be able to make some sort or meaningful difference. I literally walked aimlessly around UTA’s campus until I bumped into the last school before campus ended. It was the school of social work. Without knowing it I bumped into my future.

A beautiful blend of art and science in real world practice. I command an orchestra in my own way. I can bring hope to a room of grieving family members or draw a beautiful picture with my words. I love it. My parents eventually realized that my happiness was more important than having a lawyer or a doctor in the family. Plus they raised a brat that was relentless when it came to getting her way.  I really hadn’t put a whole lotta thought into it until recently. I still have a love of classical music and sometimes am a little envious of my cohorts, some of whom when on to Julliard or ventured out on artistic careers locally.There’s a sort of phenomena that happens to some first generation Mexican American youth. Because of the struggle that our parents face to give us a better opportunity they tend to push us toward professions that traditionally have yielded higher wages. There isn’t any real thought to what you want or what you would excel at as they have had to work in professions that they didn’t choose and choice in and of itself is more of a luxury in other countries. I think I will always wonder what if but I’ll never second guess my parents intentions. It’s because of them that I can play out my dreams every day of my life.

I Had A Dream by a Guest Blogger

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In a time where women’s rights and equality is at the forefront of civil rights activism, I thought it fitting to express my thoughts on this very important issue. In a world where women are constantly exploited and degraded in the media and in entertainment; where a woman’s skin tone, youthful appearance, and wardrobe hold as much weight in determining employment as do her education and experience; where women have to work twice as hard to prove themselves in the same roles as men for less pay; where in some countries girls are hardly allowed to get an education; I still have hope. I believe that change is on the horizon.

And just like one of the most well-known change agents and civil rights leaders of our time, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I too, have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in a desire to live in a world where our contributions hold the same value as those of our male counterparts. I have a dream that women everywhere will begin to rise up, speak out, and live out their true purpose. We hold this truth to be self-evident that both genders, male and female, were created equal. I have a dream that one day every little girl will grow up in a nation where she is judged by her character and intellect, and not by the size of her waistline, the structure of her cheekbones, the length of her hemline, or her style of dress. I have a dream that soon we will live in a nation where equal pay for equal work is the standard and not the exception. I have a dream that countries such as those in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa where women suffer violence and oppression in despair, will be transformed into an oasis of safety and hope.

This is the hope that I hold fast to. With this hope, we will be able to carve out of the mountain of disparity a stone of equality. With this hope, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of misogyny into a beautiful symphony of esteem and mutual respect. With this hope, we will be able to labor together, to create and build together, to study together, to advocate for gender equality together, knowing that when we empower women, we invariably strengthen our communities and our world.

Note: This piece was inspired by Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech and my desire to empower women. For more uplifting and inspiring messages, follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WCW2020

How Learned Helplessness Damages Victims, By A Guest Blogger

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When stories of women in abusive relationships hit the media or the break room, comments tend to be about the woman. “Why did she stay?” is a common first thought. “If that was me, I would have just left” is another. “She shouldn’t have tried to hit him first.”

The abused woman is blamed for her abuse by her abuser in private, and when her story becomes public, blame is placed at her feet there as well. It’s no surprise so many women feel helpless when it comes to their abuse: they are told they cause it and deserve it.

In studies of “learned helplessness”, animals that are repeatedly exposed to an aversive stimulus, which they cannot escape, will eventually stop trying to avoid the stimulus and behave as if it is helpless to change the situation. When opportunities to escape become available, the animal’s learned helplessness means that it takes no action. Instead, it will choose to remain, helpless to free itself. The only cure we have seen, in these studies, is to show the animals through physical contact and aid, that they can remove themselves from the situation. By providing outside empowerment, the animals learn that they are not helpless and can save themselves from suffering.

Most victims of abuse suffer from this learned helplessness, forced to endure abuse to the point they do not avoid it even if it is escapable. There appears to be a direct correlation between depression and learned helplessness, making breaking free of it even more difficult.

When abuse starts, it generally doesn’t begin with a beating. It starts with a beating down of the person’s sense of self. Abusers start with cruel comments and controlling behaviors, segregating the person from family and friends, and planting seeds of doubt into the victim’s mind. Physical abuse may start out slowly: grabbing too tightly, shoving, shaking. As all of this adds up, depression and feelings of helplessness may grow. They are forced down, emotionally and—eventually—physically. And the entire time it happens, they are told it is their fault. Even if they see a chance for freedom, they feel too helpless to grab for it. They can no longer escape.

And when they do reach up, they hear from outsiders how it was their fault for staying.

I am not a victim of domestic violence, but I have worked with many people who are. It takes great strength not only to stand up for people, but to help them learn how to stand up for themselves. We need to become stronger for victims of domestic violence. We need to be their voice when they cannot use their own, and teach them how to speak for themselves again. It can be frustrating, but through patience and love we can make these changes. We need to stop blaming the victims for the abuse they suffered, and put it squarely where it belongs, with abusers. They are the ones who should feel the shame of society for their actions.

At this year’s Campus Movie Fest, a poet named Lucy created a film that shows how the victims of abuse can be made to feel that what they are feeling is normal—and that through the help of others, even just one person, they can take control of their life again. (here is the link for the video http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/10/abusive-relationship-healing-poetry/)

Ways you can helped loved ones who are experiencing domestic violence  – you can go here:  http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/01/how-to-help-a-loved-one-experiencing-domestic-violence/”)

Photo Credit Goes To: www.worldwidewomengroup.com