Love & Positivity

Happy (belated) Valentine's Day, everyone! In the spirit of the holiday, I decided to focus on love this week in Girl Rising. How do we show the special people in our lives that we love them? How do we show them that we care? The thing about relationships is that in order for them to work, we need to give the other person what they need. I read a book last summer called The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I am borderline obsessed with that woman. She is amazing. Look her up, it will change your life. Basically, one of the major things she talks about in all of her books and TEDtalks is that all people crave the same thing: love and belonging. No matter who you are, we all want to be loved and we all want to feel like we mean something to someone. In order to have meaningful relationships with others, we need to make them feel loved. We all show love in different ways, and that's perfectly okay. The important thing is that we make sure that our loved ones feel cared for, accepted, wanted, and loved. I do my best every day to make sure that the people I love know how I feel about them. Whether it's with a phone call, a gift, a sweet gesture, or an "I love you", showing love is what brings us all closer together. 

The girls and I talked about all of those things. We even talked about how to keep loving people even when they do something to upset us. For example, we've all had those moments where we have disagreements with our parents. But the important thing to remember is that their actions stem from love. We need to be understanding and give them love in return. We also talked about how the people who treat us poorly are often the people that need our love the most. We met in a circle and shared one person that we love and one thing we can do in the next few days to make that person feel special. Most of the girls chose their parents and the teachers (me!). It was beautiful to hear their reflections. After, we paired up and told our partner everything that we love about them. It was awesome to share with the girls how much I love them and I enjoyed the compliments on my end as well (total self-esteem booster).  I am so lucky to love and be loved. 

On a personal note, this weekend has been a trying one for me. On Friday night, my car overheated and died in the mall parking lot after work. Then, I had to deal with the tow truck driver from hell who got us stuck in a ditch and we barely made it to the car place before they closed. On Saturday, it took an hour and half to get a rental car and I found out my car would be $900 to fix. Today, on my drive to church, I got a flat tire in the rental car and had to wait in the right lane of a busy road with my hazards on for 45 minutes while I waited for AAA. So clearly, it was a fabulous weekend full of all the fun times anyone could possibly desire. It's forced me to reflect quite a bit on my current situation in my life. Here's what I came up with: Even though this weekend sucked and it seemed like bad things kept happening one after the other, I am thankful. It's just a car. What could I possibly have to complain about? I'm alive, I'm safe, I'm healthy, I have 25 amazing students that love me, I get to wake up every morning to do the job I've dreamed of doing since I was 7 years old, I had a Valentine yesterday, I have friends in Houston and in NJ that care about me, I have the greatest parents in the world....the list goes on and on. I am blessed. My life is not defined by the failures or the cases of bad luck. Rather, it is defined by the many blessings that come my way on a daily basis. I am so fortunate to have this life that is full of more love than I know what to do with. How can I complain? All you need is love. 


I Have an Idea...

Ideas. We all have them. However, the most important question we should be asking ourselves is: What do we do with them? 

Ideas are something that fill our minds constantly. Whether we're upset, angry, passionate, inspired, or simply just feeling creative, ideas awaken within us as a way of sparking a change. But what actually makes our ideas notable? Putting them into action is what takes our ideas to the next level. Action transforms a simple idea into something that changes the world and makes an impact. 

I read the book What Do You Do With an Idea? to the girls this past Thursday. This book is wonderful because it does an awesome job at symbolically depicting how an idea can transform into something tangible. It starts with a boy who has this idea (represented by an egg-like figure) that keeps following him around. At first, he ignores his idea because he's not sure how feels about it. He's also worried about what other might think about his idea. Something important to note is that all of the illustrations are in black and white except for the idea which is in color. Eventually, he starts to feel comfortable with his idea and he continues to give it more attention. As he does this, his idea starts to grow until finally it grow so big that it actually comes true! His world suddenly fills with color because his idea has finally awakened. The central message by the end is that when we give our ideas the attention they need to flourish, we can change the world. 

This book really spoke to me. When I look at the girls in Girl Rising every week, I am reminded with how my idea has come true. As a college freshman, I had a simple idea to start something for girls. It was under-developed and small, but it was something. As the years went by, I started to ignore it. I feared what others would think, I feared if people would care, but most importantly, I feared that I didn't have the ability to make it come true. I pushed it to the side and said, "Oh, I'll get to that later" because I didn't believe in myself. But as you all know, a few months ago I decided to finally put my fears to the side and nurture my idea. As soon as I gave my idea the nourishment and attention it needed, it came true! Looking back now, I can't believe I waited so long. I am happier now than I have ever been because I am fulfilling my purpose. I went after my idea and now I get to enjoy the benefits on a weekly basis with nineteen amazing girls. 

Don't let your ideas just sit there. Acknowledge them, pursue them, and make it happen. Your idea can change the world. 


Break the Shell

Hi friends! I am feeling more and more inspired lately to grow this girl empowerment mission to its full potential. My mind races on a daily basis with all of the things I want to do. Most of my ideas stem from my own personal experiences as a 24 year old single woman. I am constantly made aware of the reality of being a woman in this generation. It's difficult, frustrating, confusing...I often wonder what it's going to be like my girls once they are my age. Social media has taken over our lives in almost every facet. You can't escape it. Because of it, we seek instant gratification, we get bored easily, and we lack the ability to communicate because we can find out everything we need to know about someone from Facebook and Instagram. We seek attention by posting selfies begging for others to notice how beautiful we are. And when we don't get the amount of comments or likes we were expecting, our self esteem is diminished. What kind of life is this? I'm guilty of it just like everyone else but when I step back to take a look at it, it freaking sucks. What kind of example are we setting for our girls? We're telling them that their beauty is defined by the popularity of their pictures on social media. Instead of placing the value on what's on the outside, let's encourage our girls to value what's in their heart and mind.  

More times than not, the lessons I teach to the girls are lessons for me as well. I need the reminder too that it's important to stay true to myself and not be crippled by self-doubt. Being an empowered woman is easier said than done. I talk about my girls empowerment vision with people often and it's interesting seeing their reaction. Guys are often thrown off by it and don't understand why I'm doing it or why I care so much. I'm willing to make the sacrifice of people not liking me though because it's truly who I am at this point. I try to teach my girls the importance of nurturing their heart and embracing their passions. Regardless of everyone else's opinion, they should be making themselves happy first. Let's stop defining ourselves based on expectations that are not our own. 

A couple weeks ago, I gave the girls this quote: 

I asked them this question: How many times do people compliment you on how pretty you are? How many times do people compliment your outfit or your smile? They all were able to relate to the fact that it happens all the time. It happens to me too. But the real question is: How many times are you complimented on your brain, your talents, your passions? Not often. I gave them the challenge to start defining themselves and others by the qualities you can't see on the outside. Let's crack open our "shell" and be defined by what's underneath. Let's allow people to get to know our most inner being rather than what's on the surface. Let's stop faking it and be valued for what really matters. 

Here's what one of my incredible 3rd graders had to say: 
Maybe my shell is pretty.
But my heart is more powerful than my shell and so is my soul.
My brain and heart will work together to make a bigger soul.
Maybe being popular or pretty matter to others - not to me.
They think they are awesome, but really, someone could be better.
Please girls, you are all pretty. Do not let your soul be defined by its shell. 
It completely warms my heart to witness reflections such as this. This is what I hoped for when I dreamed this up and it's actually happening. They are really getting it and I feel so blessed to have them all in my life. I am inspired by their willingness to dive head first into this world that isn't always so friendly. Girl Rising was started as a way for me to teach them. However, they're not the only ones learning. They have impacted my life in more ways than one. 

Here's a few pictures from this past Thursday. We played "red rover" to practice how, as a sisterhood, we can support each other. So much fun! 

Have a wonderful week! :)