Reese‘s Book Club’s First Young Adult Pick is a Must-Read

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IReadYABooks via Tumblr

You’ve seen this archetype before. Think Cady Heron in Mean Girls, Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries, or Tai from Clueless. Leah Johnson alludes to each of these nerdy girls turned beautiful swan in her debut novel, but this time, our protagonist is a Black queer high school senior tackling identity issues of race, class, and sexuality as she fights for the title of prom queen. Johnson’s You Should See Me in a Crown retells the ‘nerd with a heart of gold’ story we’ve seen a dozen times in a beautiful, queer, new way.

Liz Lighty, the main character in this heartwarming novel, isn’t running for prom queen to impress a guy or achieve some lifelong dream of popularity. Liz is going to become a doctor — a hematologist to be exact — and she needs the scholarship money that comes with winning the coveted crown at prom so she can afford to attend Pennington College. …

Honor the cycles and know that dying is a part of living.

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Photo by Mitchel Lensink on Unsplash

My peace lily Cora is my third attempt to keep another living species alive. And this month, I’m celebrating my first year of plant parenthood.

The peace lily or Spathiphyllum makes an excellent beginner plant because they are forgiving and resilient. There is much to learn from such a plant, and for my plant-versary, I’d like to share some those life lessons.

You are allowed to fail and try again.

My first attempt at plant parenthood was a little bamboo stick from Ikea. You know the ones: they sell them in singles and you just drop them into a jar of water. They should basically keep themselves alive. …

You don’t need more discipline. You need cheat codes.

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Photo by Fauzan Ardhi on Unsplash

Unless you’re a superhuman who succeeds at every single thing you set out to do, you know that building a new habit is notoriously difficult. Like with any new skill, habits are hard to form for two reasons: learning something new takes conscious awareness and time.

Don’t berate yourself about being more disciplined. Life-hack your way to better choices.

However, you can trick your mind into building in life-hacks that tackle awareness and duration — two important factors needed to build a new habit.

Habit Hack #1: The Stacking Method

The premise of the Stacking Method is simple: link a new habit to an existing one. Linking new and old habits together creates a two-step process. First, you sharpen your awareness about something that you’ve likely taken for granted because it’s become a part of you or your routines. In this state of heightened awareness, you create a mental environment that is more susceptible to absorbing a new skill or act. …

Is there a right thing for us to do in November?

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Many of us have been anxiously awaiting 2020

It seems a lot of us are right where the Russians and the Republicans wanted us along: dangling between anger, fear and justifiable indifference.

The last four years in this country have been agonizing, painful, and downright terrifying to observe and live in. Many people like myself have been anticipating this year — however misguidedly — to reverse the tide and correct the huge orange stain on this country. And yet our options are abysmal.

Fascism is pounding at the door, begging to swallow this country whole.

So what’s a black girl to do? I wanted to witness sweeping change that would expel Trump and the corrupt systems that came before and along with him. And while several of the candidates in the primary campaigned upon the stump of the status quo, Joe Biden is most certainly not the candidate I wanted to see carrying the flag for Democrats. …

What Little Fires and the Judgment of Solomon reveal about how we police motherhood

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Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t finished the show, bookmark this read for later.

What does it mean to be a mother, biologically or not? When is trauma inflicted by a mother acceptable? How can the law truly determine what’s in the best interest of a child?

Through Mia Warren and Bebe Chow’s story lines, Little Fires Everywhere — the television series based on Celeste Ng’s book of the same name — raises questions similar to the dilemma in the Bible’s Judgement of Solomon, where two women appear before the king to claim motherhood over a child. …

Relationships are about learning how to merge histories into parallel futures

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Photo by Julian Myles on Unsplash

As someone who values their personal space and alone time, moving in with my first adult boyfriend was a huge deal. I took the plunge only after I was convinced that we could spend hours together without killing each other. With roommates, there was always the quiet retreat of my own room, with a lock on the door for extra privacy. But sharing an apartment with my boyfriend meant that there was no place to be alone.

So far, there are no regrets except the couch we bought that constantly sheds faux feathers. We work well together because we’re friends and we genuinely love being around each other. …

Moving past ignorance and guilt to reach for change

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Photo by Maria Badasian on Unsplash

I am inherently transphobic and classist. Not overtly, but due to the nature of my identity, I must acknowledge these truths and consistently work to challenge the covert ways my attitudes and beliefs cause harm to other oppressed people.

As a person who identifies with their biological sex, and as an immigrant whose parents worked hard to wedge themselves into the middle/upper-middle class of America, I am not the authority on trans issues or issues of poverty. But I can exercise authority over my attitudes and behavior if I want to see a just world.

I’m nowhere near the top of the American social totem pole. I’m a dark-skinned Black woman, and that comes with its own set of disadvantages that affect my safety, my health, my career, and much more. But those privileges I mentioned above — along with several others — still afford me a particular set of life choices that have lined my path thus far. And whether I like it or not, they have shaped the way I view the world and consequently, how I move in it. …

How stories about motherhood help us think more critically about gender, race, class and everything in between

Black mother carrying a child on her back in the middle of a field
Black mother carrying a child on her back in the middle of a field
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Last year, when I turned 25, my father called me to remind me that my mother gave birth to me when she was that age. He admitted that he knew times were different now, but that I shouldn’t wait too much longer to begin procreating. I brushed him off the phone, not interested in conversations about motherhood when I was still at the very beginning of my career and only a few years into my first adult relationship.

But in the office, my co-worker and I would giggle over her stories about the adventures of raising a toddler. She was refreshingly honest about what a shit show parenting could be at times, which terrified me but also created a deep sense of respect for her and people who parent children. When she became pregnant with her second child and would confide in me the difficulties of bringing a child into the world, I realized how little I knew about this life stage that my dad was trying to goad me into. …

What it takes to create truly inclusive spaces

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Photo by Jessamyn Stanley

When I decided to get serious about establishing a consistent yoga practice, I went on the hunt for a studio I could call home. There was a studio right outside my apartment, a quaint little room up one flight of stairs that I loved going to for candlelight yin yoga or early morning stretches. But attending those classes on and off, at $18 a class added up quickly. And I wasn’t ready to spend almost $120 a month for a practice I wasn’t yet sure I would fully commit to, so I stayed on the lookout for an affordable studio that gave me the sense of home and community I was looking for. In a rapidly growing and gentrifying city, this was hard to come by. Then, just a five-minute drive away, a new studio opened, centered around making yoga accessible and affordable to all. The studio’s building design allowed the forest of indoor plants to bathe in sunlight. …

Hijacking a “love language” as a political relationship strategy

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Photo by Stephanie Harvey on Unsplash

The concept of love languages is quite ubiquitous. Just ask Kathryn Jezer-Morton, a self-described “acts of service,” with a “words of affirmation” rising. This relationship theory is based on the notion that, for some reason or the other, we each have our own unique ways of feeling loved. And for a relationship to thrive, your partner needs to be able to speak your language. While skepticism still abounds about the reliance on this theory for making a relationship work, it’s as pervasive in modern romance as astrology.

John and Julie Gottman, founders of the Gottman Institute would argue that some of the love languages, like quality time, are not so specific to a certain type of individual, but are instead, critical to the survival of almost any relationship. One particular love language, giving gifts, is an example of these I’d like to focus on. …


Fola O.

Lover of words and deep thoughts.

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