Sometimes, it takes a truly dramatic event to bring the truth to light: we do not have to struggle so hard, and we do not have to struggle alone. I am still learning what it means to have mental health. It is not about a constant state of happiness or complete enlightenment; mental health does not free us from pain, grief, worries, or bad days; it only reframes our thinking about these struggles so that we can learn from the ones that are out of our control and do something about the ones that within our control.
Dealing with my own mental health issues also taught me better how to interact with others. We do not all interact and communicate in the same way. What I need may drive someone else’s triggers; what I dislike doing may be the way they prefer to communicate. I am still in therapy, and I am constantly working on myself. It has taken time, and will continue to take time, to unpack the events of my life, and realign them in a way I can move forward with.
We women stand in a world bursting with opportunity.
There’s not a job out there that we’re forbidden from trying. There’s not a position that we can’t be considered for. There are spoken intentions to place us in positions where decisions are made. In fact, companies, CEOs, politicians, the workforce itself, really seem to want to announce their dedication to the world. “Look, we hire women! We promote women! We listen to women!” We are now able to work full- time and be mothers, too. People absolutely understand that women have babies and want to raise them in addition to having a career.
The COVID-19 Pandemic proved a fact that really needed no proof: that women are on the frontlines when it comes to holding society together, keeping the engines running, and keeping the fires under control.
And yet, somehow, the problems we work so hard to overcome (microaggressions, systemic bias, serious pay inequality, and our shouldering the overwhelming burden of stress and responsibility for unpaid and/or unpromotable work) remain stubbornly in place. Putting women in the workplace is not the problem. Putting them on equal footing with their male counterparts is.
Gender equity begins with equitable hiring – that means hiring men and women for the same amount of money. But it also means that once they are there, both men and women are given the same opportunities. Women must be able to occupy an equivalent number of executive, managerial, team, and departmental roles within the company.
Gender equality means a more peaceful, productive, healthier, wealthier world. Men who accept and promote equitable gender practices are generally healthier and happier), they experience fewer mental health issues, and they have happier life-partners. Societies where men treat all genders as equal are more inclusive and peaceful, both inside their own borders and in relation to other nations.
We are all beautiful in our differentness, and our differentness lets us lean on each other in times of need. Someone else’s puzzle piece can complete your picture. That is what diversity and inclusion are all about.
Excerpt Chapter 1
On the warmest summer night, sounds could be heard echoing from the forest.
In the midst of the well-kept woods beside some well placed cherry trees was a quaint gray castle where a coven of young witches could be heard chorusing to one another, telling beguiling tales of yet another mysterious and harrowing day that had just ended.
The castle wasn’t one you would expect of re-told fabrications from another world. It wasn’t a grand palace where you would find queens, kings, and beautiful princesses with long, flowing golden hair! This enchanting establishment housed young witches and warlocks alike, a bountiful place where they could learn and hone in on their most gifted of skills: magic.
This place was owned and managed by a feeble man with silky black hair tumbling down to his neck. He went by the name Magnus Wingdom, and the establishment had been appropriately named Wingdom’s Academy of Ancient Magics. It wasn’t as much of a school at the moment, as the coven only contained thirteen girls. Yes, just girls. It prevented warlocks and witches from getting frisky with each other. That, among many other things, was forbidden!
Young witches would come here to be trained up in their craft, residing in their own coven quarters after the day’s learning was done. The school only housed up to a few at a time, but the students could leave whenever they pleased unless they were careless with their craft. Then they would be told to leave as soon as was universally possible. The last thing the coven needed was an embarrassment to their well-groomed establishment!
The winds grew violent as night was just in its beginning. A young witch hurriedly pulled her cloak close to her body, feeling the night’s chill upon her skin. She let her hood down gently for a moment to reveal chocolate-brown hair that almost surpassed her back. Her eyes were dominated by that of an emerald green, cleverly blending with the brown hue of her tresses.
Her name was Isra and she was just seventeen. She hadn’t long passed her birthday, and now she had come to seek guidance from those who possessed knowledge in the greatest gift of them all. Witchcraft.
Isra had been born a witch. She had known this from her earliest years back when she was able to see those who no longer resided on this earthly plain to more enchanting ideals such as seeing fairies and nature spirits playing in the woods, dazzling her senses as she watched them with vivid curiosity.
She saw worlds beyond any childlike imagination, more than her earthly parents could understand or even encourage. In fact, they did much of the latter. Isra’s parents were very grounded, human type people and so she quickly found she did not fit in with their dull world.
It was no trouble to Isra. She knew there had to be something more to this life than one of going to work all day, coming home and arguing with a respective spouse before once again going out to work the next day.
She sought refuge in fantasy, thrilled by entrancing feats where unicorns grazed upon heavenly plains of the greenest grass, delighted by fairies who stared at Isra as she felt gracious to be in their presence. When she felt a need for solitude, she would go down to the ocean where she found mermaids lying across ochre-colored shores, smiling in joy with one another as they combed their hair that glistened brilliantly with the white moonlight.
Alas, Isra was not a child anymore! She couldn’t go back to those days even if she wanted to. She was becoming a woman, knowing that life held so many doors for her if only she willed them to open first.She was here to learn, to excel in her craft. She had already begun basic spells, always having her nose inside the pages of a book, but now she was going to be under the teachings of some of the finest in the land with a hope that she would one day be among them.