What Do We Do Now? By: Tedi Serge It’s been 48 hours since millions of people united across the world to stand together for human rights as part of the Women’s March Movement. I attended the march in Los Angeles and participated by hosting a nonprofit informational booth for Sand Sisters LA, my youth empowerment and self-esteem building organization for girls. Throughout the march I cried, I laughed, I got mad, I felt at peace and I felt connected but I was still left wondering, “What do we do next?”
Here are 3 things we can do next!
1) Celebrate small victories. If you write a letter to Congress one day during your lunch break. Celebrate that. If you call your City Council and start a conversation about ANYTHING. Celebrate that. If you help a coworker complete a project. Celebrate that. If you picked up some trash off the ground and recycle it. Celebrate that. If you got a belly laugh in with your friends today. Celebrate that. Celebrate and be grateful for all of the positive you have in your life and you will attract more of it.
2) Get or stay involved. I don’t think we totally grasp the idea of how powerful our voice is. Volunteer in your community. Find a nonprofit organization that needs your passion and time or donations. Your talents and voice won’t go unnoticed.
3) Speak Up. Continue to be kind and peaceful in your everyday life. Stand up for yourself and the people around you. If you see something happen in the work place, at school or in public that is not kind or alarming, say something! We all have a responsibility to look after one another. In the end we are stronger together.
After seeing a successful peaceful protest with so many likeminded and loving individuals marching side by side, my faith was restored in humanity. Remember that this movement is a marathon, not a sprint. I will continue to remind myself to not lose hope by celebrating our small victories and staying involved in human rights causes.
If not now, when? When is it a good time to move to a big city, open our hearts to love, build a business or start a family? Life doesn’t give us the handbook on what’s coming next, so we have to make these brave decisions ourselves and build the lives we want. Model and swimsuit designer, Tori Praver, has done just that and takes this motto to heart by living in the moment and taking chances. The motto travels with her at all times, as the message is tattooed in sanskrit across her ribcage. Through her own hard work and determination Tori has branded herself to be an internationally known swimsuit line and female powerhouse, but through all of her professional success she is even more proud to be a supportive wife to professional surfer Danny Fuller, loving mother to Ryan Mahina and loyal friend to many.
Growing up in Maui, Tori lived the natural island lifestyle of slippers, bikinis and catching waves. Although island life through a looking glass may seem picture perfect, hardships came early in life which made her grow up fast. She said, “As a girl I would have described myself as independent. I thought I needed to be strong for my mom because my brother passed away when I was 13. I grew up a lot when that happened.“ Through the heartache, Tori matured quickly and nurtured many children in her community. To this day she has compassion and a strong maternal instinct towards children. Her mother, Lori, is a hero in her eyes. Tori looks up to Lori, calling her strong, smart, an amazing business woman and mentor. She laid the foundation of work ethic for Tori to go after her dreams.
Standing at 5’11” Tori is beautiful and statuesque. Growing up on the island, she was much taller than a lot of her friends and that led to teenage insecurities. “I was always the tall girl growing up in Maui where everyone else was shorter. A lot of the island has an Asian blend. That made me feel like I stood out. I was taller than all of the boys and I was not comfortable.”
Every girl goes through adolescence wonders, “Why me?” “Why am I different?” “Can’t I just be smarter, prettier, fitter, happier?” The list can go on and on if you let it. Through interviewing Tori, she inspired the idea that if you want to change yourself, the best time to take the first step is NOW. Even famous models deal with insecurities and have daily reminders that they aren’t perfect. Everyone is able to make decisions for themselves to be in positive environments and do things that make them happy and comfortable.
Tori decided to take things into her own hands and start a modeling career in New York at the age of 18. She said, “Things changed in my confidence when I moved to New York to model. I was surrounded by peers that were similar. Modeling can get to you and make you obsess with things that you shouldn’t, so I tried to keep a good head on my shoulders. At the end of the day I would go home and knew I had good friends and family. They kept me grounded.” To this day, Tori’s aloha spirit has stayed with her.
Tori says, “What you put out there is what you get back. It’s Kharma. What goes around comes around. Being nice to other women is only possible if you are confident and happy with yourself. You have to support each other. Don’t compete. Don’t be jealous. Bring each other up and be a community. This all comes with confidence.”
Her Malibu tribe of family and friends is what she lives for. They have built a community full of love, warmth, empowerment and support. Her best friends are a group of women who also have retail brands of their own. They are constantly promoting one another and bringing awareness to each others’ brands.
“We all have a cool relationship. We don’t have competition in our group because I see the differences in our brands…I am also still friends with my childhood friends. We have a feminine group of friends and I want that to be instilled in my daughter.”
Through Instagram Tori lets followers in on not only her professional life and growth of Tori Praver Swimwear, but also her private life. Tori’s account shows her transparent love for her daughter. Posts of adorable kisses, daredevil toddler moves, surfing with daddy and Ryan sporting the Keiki line all show how much Ryan lights up her life. Tori says, “Instagram shows everyone who you are. I am a mother and with that you get a lot of feedback from other mothers.” She said that some people will share their opinions and tell her to post more of her and not the baby. But Tori says, “Take it or leave it. This is my life.”
Tori’s company has had continuous growth, and is adorned by celebrities and featured in Vogue, InStyle, Sports Illustrated and many more publications to date. Tori is a wonderful example of how to bring to fruition the life you desire. Tori says the secret to accomplishing goals is to show up on time and come to work present. Leave your phone in your bag, your personal life at home and work, work, work. So go chase your dreams of career, family and fun. And remember if not now, when?
It was one of those “AH HAH!” moments. I was walking on the beach, trying to figure out my next career move. I had earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, but after spending time in the classroom, I soon learned it wasn’t the right fit for me. Being born in Southern California, I carried on a love affair with the beach and the deep blue ocean. Walking along the sand I thought, how can I capitalize on combining the two things I love most, the beach and teaching children? Even though teaching in a classroom wasn’t for me, I loved kids and I knew that teachers and counselors made the world of a difference in the children they taught. I knew teachers and counselors had conversations with students that were memorable and character shaping. I knew that the time spent at a camp or after school program needed to be with the right mentor for children to feel safe, happy, and inspired. So at that moment, I knew I had to combine the two elements in some way.
Being at a time in my life when I felt unsure about my future, I booked a surf trip to Costa Rica for inspiration. There among the ocean, rain forest and best food of my life, I experienced a very different lifestyle than that of the people living in the United States. In the Costa Rican culture, people spend their days outside and there is a large sense of togetherness and community. Their education is sadly secondary to other responsibilities, but the trip was a life lesson, on seeing how the water has created and maintained their lives. The community revolved around the water, the waves and made for a simple life of happiness, friendship and community. I had to add this feeling of togetherness to my big idea.
So, I purposefully brought back part of the Costa Rican culture to Los Angeles, for myself and for the girls who are growing up so quickly in our overstimulated society. Sand Sisters Los Angeles was born. I wanted to form a place where girls can simplify, be themselves and their best selves, gain confidence through water sports and empower each other. I started by taking one girl to the beach to surf and stand up paddle board and that has grown to become a beach camp in Playa Del Rey. From there it has grown to be an after school enrichment class in independent schools, a public class with the City of Santa Monica and Sand Sisters Saturdays. Sand Sisters Saturdays are a great opportunity for any girl in the LA community to come spend the day with us at the beach, hiking, in the music studio, or in an art studio. Every class is themed with a positive word of the day and a craft that follows the word. Some words we love to use are respect, inspire, trust, grateful, explore and health.
A year ago my sister came onboard, so the meaning has changed. The name once stood for “sisters” that meet at the beach and do camp like activities, but now it also means that we are the “Sand Sisters.” Two strong women developing a curriculum to change our youth. Two sisters fighting the odds and giving girls a place to show up and be greeted with a hug and know that they are loved and they are wanted. When these girls feel our sense of community at a class or event their spirits soar and their physical and mental health is top notch.
The beach is my best friend…is it yours? Obviously, the best day to go to the beach is a hot sunny day where you can relax and soak in some Vitamin D. If there is an opportunity for some time at the beach I suggest you take it, because you never regret a trip, walk, bike, or drive to the beach. It is always the one place on earth where I can reflect, unwind, breathe, play, smile, and laugh.
The beach lets you bring a party of friends and family to celebrate a birthday, it invites couples to stroll and fall deeper in love, it is an outdoor gym for many locals, and it is a place where you can come alone. A place where you can just show up and not be judged. Your race, gender, age and body type are welcome. The beach doesn’t discriminate and neither does anyone else at the beach because the other beach go-ers are there for the similar reasons, to forget reality for a moment, procrastinate some work that is due tomorrow, paying bills, trying to fit in, and grasping the last bit of the day before the next one.
We all have insecurities about being alone, insecurities that leave you feeling empty, overwhelmed, sad and scared, but why?! You always have your best friend, the beach. Show up for yourself and show up alone. The beach will be there to greet you with a sun kissed nose, sandy toes, salty air, and a happy soul.