Why we should let our daughters move on to Hulu in real life, too.

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Photo via Disney

Finally. Something to look forward to while living in this waking nightmare that has been recent history: the Lizzie McGuire reboot. Lizzie McGuire only ran for two seasons in the early 2000s, but the popular Disney sitcom-inspired The Lizzie McGuire Movie and blessed our TVs in reruns and popular culture for years to come.

Who among us didn’t have that sleepover (or five) where you sang along to the total banger, “This is What Dreams Are Made Of”? Who among us didn’t imagine their own animated mini-me who could provide sassy responses to your daily trials and tribulations? …


On the ‘What ifs’ you can’t miss.

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Photo by Sonnie Hiles on Unsplash

I avoided my hot girl for two years. Something about her made me afraid. I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly. Then I stopped avoiding her. I stopped avoiding her so hard that instead I wrote a romance novel inspired by her. That seemed safer at the time.

My husband said he knew that our marriage was over when he heard the plot of my novel. It was a coming into your identity story featuring a steamy affair with a woman named Summer in a sweet Southern town on the water. I think you can guess which element of this story he wasn’t okay with. …


Creative Nonfiction Contest Winner

My mom left and saved my dad’s life.

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Photo by Resi Kling on Unsplash

There was a lot about him that was 80% blocked for me.

A memory of standing between my dad’s anger and my younger brother. The words rising like black smoke, billowing up to our high ceilings. They were gone in the morning, but I still smell them on my clothes years later.

A loud conversation at a Longhorn Steakhouse that turned heads and reverberated through hushed whispers around us. He stormed out, more smoke enveloping me in words I can’t unhear. We drove separately home.

Somehow more painful, are the memories of the mornings.

He sat peacefully with a newspaper, a hot Earl Grey tea, and a hardboiled egg. While there was the occasional eye-roll-inducing lecture, our interactions were peaceful, clear-eyed, and familial. …


“Adopt the Pomeranian” and other words of wisdom from Chanel Miller’s Know My Name

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Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

My friend’s yellow sweatshirt read: Surviving, not thriving.

I laughed when I saw it. A sign of the times, of educators like me who are burnt out at a marathon of a semester with impossible asks and limited rewards. We can’t believe I made it to the end of this fall semester, we joke. Somehow, we survived, we marvel.

I’ve been thinking about survival a lot lately. Maybe it's the existential threat of a pandemic, the way our lives have been upended in big and small ways, or the processing of my trauma after all these years. I’m overwhelmed and exhausted, navigating a divorce and major life changes. …


“I want you to be safe and smart.”

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Photo by Janaya Dasiuk on Unsplash

Like your typical neighborhood feminist killjoy, I am super fun at parties. I can sound like this: This is a fun coming of age movie and all… but have you considered how this might perpetuate rape culture? As I said, Super. Fun.

I really try to take off my feminist hat to watch soapy or trashy TV (hello, Bachelor franchise) or movies. I get that there is privilege in being able to disconnect from analyzing things with a social justice lens… but I’m in this for the long haul. Sometimes that means taking a mental vacation. …


Scotland’s historic move helps everyone, not just women.

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Photo by Gabrielle Rocha Rios on Unsplash

There is just about anything I’d rather do for approximately 2,535 days than be on my period.

That is seven years or the average length of time that a person who menstruates will spend on their period in their lifetime. To make matters worse, in the United States, we somehow consider this a “luxury” and many states have a luxury tax on menstrual products like pads and tampons.

Beyond being truly ridiculous to even consider menstruation a luxury, period poverty impacts people all over the world, and the statistics are bleak.

Nearly one in five girls in the United States are estimated to have missed school due to a lack of period products.

At least half a billion women and girls globally lack facilities for managing their periods, according to a 2015 report from the World Health Organization and UNICEF. …


Lesson #2: Move before you stand up.

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Photo by Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash

We began our paddle one serene morning, the water so glassy it mirrored the fluffy clouds and sunshine in our gentle wake.

All was quiet when — SPLASH!

My paddling companion fell from her board with impressive force, spitting out water she inhaled from her surprise collision with the calm lake as she rose to the surface.

The water was calm. We were both confident paddlers. She just lost her balance.

There’s a lot to learn from stand up paddleboarding. …


Coronerotica is a thing, apparently.

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Source: Facebook

So I’m writing a romance novel and transparently, I have no idea what I’m doing. While I certainly have some big ideas on my heart, I often wonder… Who do I think I am trying to write a novel? It occurred to me that there are so many aspiring writers out there. If I wanted to make it, I had to make my novel stand out.

It absolutely never occurred to me that the love interest should be a deadly, pandemic-inducing virus though.

Buckle up, friends. Coronerotica, featuring romance novels such as classic hits like Kissing the Coronavirus, is definitely a thing. I first heard about these novels from a viral Facebook post. At first, I genuinely thought this was a prank but a scroll through Amazon proves that these novels are very real. In these novels (and there are several), the Coronavirus is an anthropomorphized hunk that typically falls in love with the main character who is typically a hot lady scientist. …


The highest, hardest glass ceiling is cracked, not shattered.

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Photo by AP/NBC News

Let me start out by saying that my feminist heart is exploding with joy to finally see a woman of color, Senator Kamala Harris, as our Vice President-Elect.

There was magic in the air as I watched her victory speech alongside my friends and their daughters. Hope and feminine power are such a welcome presence after the past hellish, toxic masculinity-fueled four years.

Understandably, women across the United States are thrilled to finally see a woman serve as Vice President. And like any major event these days, the memes are out in full force and have not disappointed.

One meme in particular reads, “Don’t forget to wear shoes, ladies. There’s glass everywhere.” I’ve seen it shared in many of my feminist circles and beyond. At first, I thought: Hell yeah! That pesky glass ceiling was no match for Kamala Harris, a trailblazer in so many ways as the first woman, first Black person, first South Asian person, and first bi-racial person to be elected Vice President. …


On when the important people in our lives fail us.

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Photo by lauren lulu taylor on Unsplash

I am a Fox News orphan. Someone who watched and listened as her intelligent, compassionate father washed away into a sea of conspiracies, hateful rhetoric, and racist apologists. So many of my peers share this experience. I read the exhaustion on their faces even as they joke about how they “can’t wait to ruin Thanksgiving.”

Through my childhood and teen years, he became increasingly irate. I started to avoid him on Sunday mornings because his Fox and Friends-induced rage was unbearable. Before I had the language to explain why his rage felt fueled by something other than the economy, that was the best course of action. When I couldn’t hide, I sat in my confusion and bit my tongue as he called Democratic women “bitches.” …

About

Ashley Cleland, M.Ed.

Educator & Writer. Empowered Career Coach. Passionate about feminist leadership & trauma-informed practice. Let’s chat → ashleyharzog@gmail.com *Views my own*

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