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One woman has become the face for female empowerment this week, and I don’t think that’s a good thing―but not for the reason you might be thinking.
So many websites are bombarding us with articles about Hillary Clinton and what she’s doing for women. Scrolling online, it feels like I’ve only seen her face coupled with headlines about women’s rights, female equality, and inspiration.
Politics aside, I think it’s dangerous when we put all of our female empowerment cards in one person, one ideal. I’m not here to rip apart Hillary, to analyze her credentials, or to make this a political statement.
I’m simply here to say: Hillary Clinton is not the only woman who has the power to inspire women.
Don’t worry, I’m not living under a rock. I understand the excitement, the impact this could have. A female president certainly is a huge stride in women’s rights,regardless of what political party you align with. I’m sure Susan B. Anthony would be leaping with joy at the prospect, along with all of the other women who paved the way for this historical event.
However, it frustrates me to see everyone only focused on Hillary. It seems like she’s the only beacon of hope in the female empowerment movement. Certainly, the presidency yields great power and respect. But is the presidency the only source of inspiration for women?
Girls and women need role models to look up to, need women who prove to us it’s okay to dream big.
However, a woman as president is not the be-all and end-all of female empowerment.There are so many ways to inspire women, to promote equality for women, and to teach girls to strive for their wildest dreams.
There are women doing amazing things outside of the campaign for the presidency who deserve to be highlighted as well.
Furthermore, I don’t think you have to have money or fame to be empowering. In my local community, I see examples of women inspiring other women all around me.
I see female empowerment in a local woman who pursued her dream of opening an animal rescue called Mending Hearts. I see female empowerment in my many female classmates from high school who have opened their own businesses, from hair salons to pet services. I see female empowerment in a writer in my hometown who blogs about finding balance between identity, spirituality, and motherhood. I see female empowerment in all the women around me who pursue their innermost goals and dreams, whatever that looks like.
I see female empowerment in the faces of my parents, who never let my gender be a qualifier of what I could or could not do. They told me education and determination would open up any opportunity I sought; they never let me believe being female would hold me back.
I see empowerment in the faces of my female students every time they raise their hands and voice their opinions. They are not afraid to be heard or to challenge something they don’t agree with.They are not afraid to take ownership for their learning or to pursue their academic goals.
Thus, I think we need to remember female empowerment isn’t embodied by one woman. Female empowerment is embodied by every single woman who is striving to promote a better, more equal version of our world.
I’m not saying Hillary Clinton isn’t doing notable, inspiring things. I think she deserves press and attention.
However, there are countless other women in every field who inspire, empower, and move us to be better. It doesn’t take a presidential candidate to remind women we are strong, powerful, and capable of achieving our wildest dreams.
Let’s take some time this week to recognize women of all walks of life who are moving the female empowerment movement forward. I’ve only mentioned a few, and these may not be women you would put at the top of the list. That’s okay; feel free to comment with women who you think are empowering women. Tweet about #empoweringwomenyoushouldknow.
Let’s teach our girls the many faces of female empowerment this week.
Lindsay Detwiler Contemporary romance author, high school English teacher, animal lover, and wife
Five years ago today, I walked down that aisle, said I do, and walked into our life together. My hands were shaking, and the aisle looked so long. We'd prepared for the day for months, but in reality, we'd prepared for years. That day was a long time coming. From the second I saw you in that 7th grade art class, I knew there was something special between us.
As the years passed, we celebrated so many milestones of growing up together. Walking down the aisle, I'd already known you for over a decade. We'd laughed together, cried together, fought with each other, and threw in the towel. We knew what we were getting ourselves into, and we were ready... sort of.
That day, nothing was perfect. The deejay lost power. I almost put your ring on the wrong hand. My dress straps almost came undone and your mom had to patch them before the reception. My bustle was all wrong, and the cake crumbled when we cut it. There were lots of "oh nos."
But we didn't care. We were bound together by some simple words, a white dress, and a magical day. We were wrapped up in the sheer joy of the moment, in the connection we had, even if everything wasn't quite right.
Now, looking back over the past 5 years we've had, I know the wedding was just the beginning. Over the past 5 years, we've had so many more moments of sheer joy. We've stood together, built a life together, been through so many more milestones. We found an apartment and bought our first furniture. We laughed at one of our first dinners because a friend brought a bottle of wine and we didn't even have a corkscrew. We celebrated first holidays and made new traditions. We bought a house, a dog, and collected quite a few cats along the way. We chased dreams, chased careers, chased passions.
We celebrate the little moments, too. We laugh together everyday, sharing in an inside joke from across the room without a single word. We enjoy our lazy evenings on the couch watching Netflix or taking a nap or eating Lunchables instead of cooking. We go to Applebees for appetizers just because we feel like it or buy way too much candy at the grocery store. We play pranks on each other and buy each other chocolates and sing crazy songs to drive each other nuts.
It hasn't been perfect, of course. We've shared in some rough moments, too. The inevitable, "life's not fair" moments have snuck up on us. We've mourned lost opportunities, lost pets, lost moments. We've had hurt feelings. We've hurt each other. We've been tired and broken and exhausted from this thing called life.
Still, the good definitely outweighs the bad. I'm thankful we've had the past 5 years to figure out who we are together. I'm thankful to have 5 years of amazing married life. I'm thankful to have a man who will support my crazy endeavors, whether it's going to a school musical to support the district I teach in or driving three hours in the pouring rain to sell books for my writing career. I'm thankful for a man who, even on my worst day, can make me laugh, can say what I need to hear, can tell me the truth others won't. I'm thankful to have a man who isn't afraid to laugh at himself, at life, and find joy in the simple things.
Just like our wedding day, things aren't perfectly glamorous. We live a simple life, perhaps even an ordinary life.
Still, on the anniversary of our wedding day, I know this life is exactly the life I'm meant to be living, exactly the life I'd choose if I could do it all over again because any life with you is extraordinary in its own right.
I love you. Happy anniversary.
"Yes the world is the best place of all
for a lot of such things as
making the fun scene
and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
and singing low songs and having inspirations
and walking around
looking at everything
and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
and even thinking
and kissing people and
making babies and wearing pants
and waving hats and
and going swimming in rivers
in the middle of the summer
and just generally
'living it up'
but then right in the middle of it
comes the smiling
We never have as much time as we think.
I didn't need Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poem today to remind of this, but teaching this poem with my high school students on #NationalPoetryDay, I was thankful for the reminder.
Our lives are filled with tragic reminders of how quickly life can come to a halt. In recent weeks, I've seen my Facebook newsfeed filled with sad tragedies and lives cut too short. I've been reminded of my mortality and that, at twenty-eight, there are no guarantees for a long life.
I've been reminded in recent weeks that bucket lists should be living lists, should be "do now" lists and not "do someday" lists. I've learned that work and goals are important...but relationships are more important. I've learned to put down the computer, the cell phone, the lofty goals of fame and fortune to spend time doing what truly matters.
Because, as Ferlinghetti's poem reminded me today, death can come anytime.
When we're living life, thinking we've got years stretched before us, death can come for us. In the midst of joy, sorrow can strike. Tragedy can strike. Life can come to a screeching halt, all of the unfinished business on our list left undone.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti's poem is a depressing poem, in some ways, but the urgency of the words rings through the final word. Life is beautiful. The world is beautiful. But it is not guaranteed. We must enjoy the love scene and the flowers and everything in between while we still can. We must not take any small joys for granted or loved ones for granted.
The world is truly a beautiful place...but we must take time to appreciate it.
I had just graduated high school when the Amanda Knox scandal began.
It was terrifying to me how a girl not much older than me was brutally slaughtered. It was also terrifying how a girl not much older than me was facing the prospect of the majority of her life behind bars for a crime she claimed she didn't commit. Both were unthinkable. For some reason, though, the intrigue of Amanda Knox being attacked in the media, especially if she were innocent, bothered me. How must she feel if she were truly innocent? How would it feel to be one of the most hated, denounced, and insulted college girls if you really didn't do it?
These are questions the new documentary called Amanda Knox explores. I liked how Amanda Knox actually appeared in the documentary present-day. To see the case through her older, wiser, and somewhat broken eyes was enlightening.
The documentary takes you through the damning evidence of the case first. During the first half of the show, I was convinced she was guilty. She made a lot of mistakes, and you could see how the media could latch on to certain aspects of the crime. There was the knife with DNA, the testimony, the changed stories.
Yet, by the last half, you learn the truth about the investigation. You see how the justice system can actually twist justice to fit their needs. By the end, it is evident that although Knox is no saint, she had no credible evidence putting her at the scene. Crime scene tampering, botched evidence collection methods, and a lack of objectivity of prosecutors and police led her down the dark, deep path of lies. By the end, it was apparent to me at least that Knox was a sometimes senseless, wild college girl who became a victim of a different kind the day of the murder.
Amanda Knox shows us that the media will believe what it wants, and you never know if you're getting the full story unless you're living it. Also, it made me very skeptical of the veracity and reliability of the justice system to allow these mistakes to happen. Wrongful conviction is a truth our society doesn't like to see. Hopefully Amanda Knox will open up the conversation again.
At the end of it, there are no winners. Meredith Kercher is still dead, a victim of a brutal murder. Amanda Knox spent almost a decade fighting for her life and freedom. The entire tale is a sad example of how life can change on a dime and how even the young aren't spared from life's harsh injustices.
After reading Ransom Riggs' amazing debut novel this summer, I was thrilled to go see the movie adaptation. With my 3-D glasses and super sized soda, I was ready for some thrills, some magical moments, and the depth I got from the book.
At the beginning, I was thrilled about the adaptation. While I gave the book a 4 out of 5 star because it moved too slowly at the beginning, the movie jumped right in. Some changes were made, but I was okay with them because I enjoyed getting to Miss Peregrine's Home sooner.
The first half of the movie was pure magic. I loved the actress who played Emma and thought she had good chemistry with Jake. I also loved Miss Peregrine's portrayal in the movie as it stuck to the book for the most part. Burton managed to give us the magic of the home while also showing some of the horrors, some of the negatives. It had a thoroughly creepy feel mixed with magic, a difficult feat to pull off.
The last portion of the movie, however, ruined everything for me. Suddenly there were strange, killing skeletons that were more cheesy than creepy. The suspense Burton had been building collapsed in a semi-goofy, odd scene that really lost the wonderful, creepy feel we had up until this point. I think Burton would have been better off to stick to Riggs' initial vision for the story line; although the book's ending was less dramatic perhaps than the version in the movie, I think it stayed true to the characters and the plot. The last twenty minutes of the movie made me want toss my terrible 3D glasses early and head out the door with my popcorn.
Typically, a movie has a hard time living up to my expectation after a book. I understand things have to be adapted, I do. If the ending hadn't become so oddly corny, I would have been okay with the other changes. However, I think whoever approved the ending of this movie lost sight of the initial mood and feel of both the book and movie.
Overall, I would rate the movie a 3 out of 5 star watch. If there is a sequel produced, I'm honestly not sure I'd be running to see it at this point.
The Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was hooked on this book from the very beginning. Weir's writing style, a mix of serious drama and suspense along with humor, is captivating. I loved how easily I connected with Watney and his predicament. His position is truly unimaginable, yet Weir manages to make it imaginable. The science and accuracy behind this book is astounding.
At times, I was lost because of all of the "space speak." It was a heavy read as far as the intellectual capacity required to comprehend what was happening. Still, Weird managed to show the human, emotional side of the science through Watney's struggles and humorous outlook. I enjoyed the overall format of the book. Although at the end I felt inundated with science and wanted it to move faster, I felt like Weird did a good job at capturing the tale with an attention to detail rarely found in fiction.
This book reminds us to have faith in humanity's capabilities and to never give up hope. This is truly an amazing first novel by an author with an amazing career ahead of him.
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Author: Lindsay Detwiler
Title: To Say Goodbye
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 24, 2016
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Cover Designer: Claire Smith
Feisty Sophia never shies away from life. Playful, romantic, connected—her marriage was the thing of fairy tales. But when tragedy strikes, Sophia is left to pick up the pieces of her life.
After leaving the army, Jackson is ready to start afresh. But when he returns home, his life spirals out of control.
As Sophia and Jackson find themselves in each other, they start to see redemption is possible. Trying to piece together a new life, they must answer the question: Should they forge a life together and say goodbye to their pasts completely, or should they loyally go their separate ways to avoid heartache?
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A high school English teacher, an author, and a fan of anything pink and/or glittery, Lindsay's the English teacher cliché; she love cats, reading, Shakespeare, and Poe.
She currently lives in her hometown with her husband, Chad (her junior high sweetheart); their cats, Arya, Amelia, Alice, and Bob; and their Mastiff, Henry.
Lindsay's goal with her writing is to show the power of love and the beauty of life while also instilling a true sense of realism in her work. Some reviewers have noted that her books are not the “typical romance.” With her novels coming from a place of honesty, Lindsay examines the difficult questions, looks at the tough emotions, and paints the pictures that are sometimes difficult to look at. She wants her fiction to resonate with readers as realistic, poetic, and powerful. Lindsay wants women readers to be able to say, “I see myself in that novel.” She wants to speak to the modern woman’s experience while also bringing a twist of something new and exciting. Her aim is for readers to say, “That could happen,” or “I feel like the characters are real.” That’s how she knows she's done her job.
Lindsay's hope is that by becoming a published author, she can inspire some of her students and other aspiring writers to pursue their own passions. She wants them to see that any dream can be attained and publishing a novel isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
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As a high school English teacher and a published author, I was ecstatic when given the opportunity to teach a creative writing class… but also terrified. Although writing is my passion, teaching creative writing seemed intimidating. How do you walk the fine line between giving helpful constructive criticism and squashing a child’s confidence? How do teach students to be truly creative, to free the restraints we tightly put in place in the traditional Language Arts classroom?
I’m going into my third year of teaching creative writing, and I can say I haven’t completely mastered it. The beautiful yet daunting element of creative writing is you can never truly reach perfection. However, here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way to help your creative writing class be successful.
If we want to teach our students to be fearless in their writing, we have to be fearless in our own writing. Try to participate in the activities you set before your students—then be willing to share your work. Students need to see you struggle, get excited, and open up about your own writing in order to understand the process.
2.Create an atmosphere of honesty.
From day one, we talk about the value of honesty. Telling every student “great job” only cheapens their effort, their work, and the class. I teach proper critiquing etiquette in the first week so students understand the difference between constructive criticism and cruelty. They learn to be open with each other about what works and what doesn’t so we can all grow.
3.Push students out of their writing styles.
We cover all genres in my classroom, including humor. Many students will be nervous about switching what they perceive as their genre, but encourage them to go outside of their comfort zones. Remind them it’s okay to fail at a genre. Also remind them that writing other genres can help them improve elements in their preferred genre.
4.Let students create prompts sometimes.
Coming up with prompts can be exhausting. Once in a while, I throw the task to the students. I’ve found that when I’m out of creative ideas, they often can come through, creating challenging and engaging prompts. It also gives them a sense of ownership of the class.
5. Look for writing books to help you.
Many creative writing books, in my opinion, are too stiff, formulaic, and the antithesis of creativity. However, there are some great books out there. Two of my favorites are Karen Benke’s Rip the Page!: Adventures in Creative Writing and Jennifer Traig’s Don’t Forget to Write for the Secondary Grades.
6.Read On Writing by Steven King.
As a teacher, this book gives you great perspective from one of the most successful writers of our time. This book does have a lot of profanity, so it probably isn’t something you’d want to have your students read as part of the class. However, it gave me new perspectives on what I was teaching and has helped me help the students.
7.Incorporate non-writing, creativity building activities.
You don’t have to write every single day to teach creative writing. Focus on the “creativity” part. Sometimes, we do challenging art projects or group games that enhance creativity. Think outside of the box with your lesson plans in order to help students think outside of the box with their writing.
8.Have free write Fridays.
This year, Fridays will be days students can choose what project they work on, anything from a book, a story, a poem, or even improving the writing in an essay. Giving students ownership of their tasks helps them understand the value of what you are teaching.
9.Encourage students to keep journals.
Sometimes great story ideas can come from journal writing. Encourage students to keep journals outside of the classroom for idea generation.
10.Create an outside audience once students are comfortable with sharing.
Giving students an audience can make their writing feel more real. Invite in another class for a flash fiction reading. My students also wrote children’s books last year. We invited in students from the classroom for students with multi-disabilities to be our guests.
11.Always encourage students to look for the positives in writing before criticizing.
Teach students that every piece of writing has a positive. This will help build confidence.
12.Examine writing of the greats.
Pull in pieces from a variety of writers, and encourage students to bring in pieces of writing that move them.
13.Talk about blogging.
Even students who aren’t interested in publishing novels may be able to benefit from a discussion of creative non-fiction, especially with blogging. Open students’ eyes to the world of blogging and do mini-lessons on things like SEO, advertising, and guest blogging to show them new possibilities.
14.Teach students how to write for social media.
Social media is the modern platform for writers. Teach students how social media can be a tool, no matter what your profession. Talk about best practices for different social platforms and discuss internet safety. Creative writing has so many different mediums; teach as many as you can.
15.Encourage knowledge of self.
I encourage students to explore who they are through various activities. We talk frequently about how knowledge of self helps with knowledge of writing. Activities such as writing six-word memoirs help students evaluate who they are and how it impacts their writing.
16.Teach students to write on command.
Many students complain that they cannot write at school; they only write at home. I make students write in class anyway. We talk about how expanding your writing atmosphere helps you grow as a writer. We also discuss how even if you scrap what you write in school, there may be some gems you can use.
17.Promote editing and rewriting.
Real writers rewrite…and rewrite…and rewrite. I try to promote this ideal in my class. We use peer feedback to help fix issues in first drafts and to reveal weaknesses.
18.Connect with professionals in the field.
Bring in writers of all genres and fields. Seeing professionals helps make the content of the class real. I recently signed up for some Skype classroom visits with authors. There are so many authors who will Skype with your students and answer questions.
19.Promote reading as a means of developing writing.
Encourage students to read in addition to writing. All of the greats talk about how important it is to read if you want to be a great writer. Promote this ideal in your writing classroom.
20.Create group writing activities.
We don’t always write as individuals. I encourage collaboration for certain activities. Students benefit from seeing other students’ great ideas and also their struggles. It promotes confidence and builds an atmosphere of comfort in the classroom.
Above all, creating a space where students feel comfortable enough to write, share, explore, and even make mistakes is crucial for a successful writing class. I wish you all the best with your creative writing class and encourage you to share any tips you have found to be successful in the comments below!
Lindsay Detwiler is a high school English Teacher and a published contemporary romance author. To learn more about her, check out her Facebook, her blog, and her Twitter page
My husband and I are childless 28-year-olds.
We don’t get to claim any dependents on our tax returns. The only pitter-patter of feet echoing in our hallways comes from four-legged creatures. We don’t have car seats in our vehicles, and we’ve never heard someone call us “mom” or “dad.”
Perhaps it is because we don’t have any human children that we are overly obsessed with our 3-year-old mastiff Henry. The older he gets and the stronger our bond grows, the more and more he seems to seamlessly fill the void of our childlessness.
It may sound crazy, especially to those who (*gasp*) don’t like dogs, but in many ways, Henry is basically our child.
1. He has a social schedule complete with playdates.
We joke that Henry has a better social life than some children, but I’m pretty sure it’s true. There are weeks he has activities almost every night. From the dog park to pet friendly stores, he’s always out and about. He also has a playdate with his favorite Bull Terrier Holly every Friday. We worry about his socialization more than some parents worry about their children.
2. We brag about him like he's a kid.
Moms and dads of human children are often zealous to talk about their children, pulling out stacks of photos and sharing accomplishments. Our phones are brimming with photos of Henry, and we’re quick to talk about his achievements. This week, our big news was that he was working closer to mastering his glove carrying at obedience school.
3. Our house is overrun by toys.
Don’t worry... this picture was taken during our bi-monthly purge of his toys. But yes, our house is littered with Henry’s beloved toys, including his favorite comfort toy―a stuffed zebra he got his first Christmas.
4. We get his Christmas gifts before we buy for each other.
Henry is usually the first on our list for Christmas gifts, and we make sure he has plenty of gifts to open―wrapped, of course.
5. We specifically pick activities he can do.
We search far and wide for activities that are dog-friendly, even moving our schedules around so we can attend events where Henry is welcome. From outdoor festivals to the Dip n’ Dive at our local pool this weekend, we are always up for a Henry-friendly venue.
6. Henry goes with us on date night.
Saturday is our date night. In the fall especially, we’ve been known to take Henry on date night so he didn’t have to be home alone, choosing to walk to our local Subway and eating outside on the patio with Henry.
7. He gets mail so he doesn't feel left out.
He is a member of Bark Box, even though he already gets way too many toys. Anything to make him feel special...
8. We've turned down plans to spend time with him.
We hate leaving him in the evenings, often turning down plans so we can spend more time with Henry.
9. We dress him up for Halloween.
It’s not easy finding mastiff-size costumes... but we still make sure he’s got the perfect outfit for Trick-or-Treat.
10. He gets a good-bye kiss.
I’m more worried about saying good-bye to Henry when I leave than my husband.
11. We get insulted if someone makes fun of him.
A few years ago, a lady asked me: “You actually let that thing in your house?”
I still fume about that woman and her rude comments. When people shun Henry on our walks, turning their nose up at him because he’s “too big,” they get a death glare. No one talks about our Henry like that.
12. We have more photos of him on the walls than most people do their children.
13. He gets to see Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny.
And yes, we pay for the expensive photo packages so our parents can have pictures of their “granddog.”
14. He goes to the park.
Henry is a member at our local dog park, so he gets to go play. During the fall, we try to take him at least one night a week.
15. We enroll him in school.
He’s been through several rounds of dog school, and we always make sure he does his homework.
So yes, we are completely obsessed with our mastiff Henry, and we basically treat him like our child. Henry is living the life with his hectic social schedule, plenty of toys, and activities galore.
Some people think we’re crazy, and some scoff at us for calling him family.
But we don’t care.
The love we have for Henry, the unconditional bond we have with him, is irreplaceable. We do everything in our power to give him the best life we can, but it’s nothing compared to what he gives us―loyalty, companionship, and memories we’ll cling to for a lifetime.
To see more of Lindsay's writing and her time with Henry, visit her Facebook.
Lindsay Detwiler, Author
Contemporary Romance Author and English teacher blogging about life as a modern woman: books, makeup, marriage, and style
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