10.25.2015

The Crossroads of Should and Must

It happens to all of us - we're busy, stressed out, and we have a million things to get done before we can sit down to relax. We spend our days thinking about how to meet a deadline, what to make for dinner, and how to make our loved ones happy. We get so caught up in the shuffle of day-to-day life that we find ourselves just going through the motions without ever stopping to think about what truly matters. It's perfectly okay to feel this way but we're losing sight of something really important. 

Lately, I find myself asking: Why am I here? What is the reason I was put here on this earth? What is my purpose? 
I think the idea of purpose is something that evolves over time. What I thought was my purpose a few years ago is not necessarily my purpose anymore. If I'm being completely transparent with you, I have definitely been struggling with this a lot lately. I'm the kind of person that is 100% driven by purpose. If I don't feel passion for it, I don't do it. I've been a teacher for 3 years now. I like my job and I believe that what I do is significant, but my heart is with my girls and my organization. RISE like a girl is on my mind constantly and I am brought to tears whenever I even think about my girls. Without a doubt, I know in my heart that girl empowerment is my purpose. Those girls are my reason for waking up every morning and pushing towards my goals. They inspire me to love harder, dig deeper, and rise above any obstacles that limit me. RISE like a girl is my why

What is your WHY? 

I truly believe that we were all put here for a reason. Each and every one of us has something special to offer this world that no one else has. We each have a unique light within us that allows us to shine brightly wherever we are and make a difference. So, what is yours? 

I read a book this summer that made such in impact on the way I think about my future. The book, The Crossroads of Should and Must, is all about identifying your true calling. She differentiates between two paths: should and must. We can choose one or we can choose both. The trouble with choosing only one path, is that we tend to choose the path of should. "Should" is all about doing the things we feel like we have to do, or our expectations. For many of us, our job is a "should". We go every day because it pays the bills, but is it making you feel alive inside? Is it fueling a fire within you that you didn't know you had? If it's not, where's the joy in that? 

What's the point in being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable? 

Choose must. The path of "must" is all about doing the things that fuel our fire, ignite our passions, and give us purpose. When we choose must, we are no longer have a job but we have a calling. We're no longer going through the motions, but we're living a life that is exciting, fresh, and new at the start of every day. Our hearts are full of joy because we know that we're living our purpose and using our unique talents to be something special. Choosing must is choosing to not settle for less than your best. Choosing must is digging deeper to unlock our true potential. Choosing must is choosing JOY. 

But, choosing must isn't always easy. It's hard to break free from normalcy and do something outside of what's expected. When you choose must, you're also choosing fear, self-doubt, and vulnerability. Choosing must makes you open to other people to critique you and bring you down. And sometimes, choosing must makes you have to defend who you are in a way you never have before. I can speak from experience when I say that choosing must a super scary place to be. Creating RISE like a girl was a leap of faith. I didn't know how people were going to react and in the beginning I had to defend my passion more than I ever expected. Choosing must forced me to put it all out in the open and allow people into a special place in my heart that I had never shared before. I was terrified and insecure but when I look back, I'm so glad I took that leap. Choosing must has lead me to some wonderful places already and I know it will continue to get even better. 

Motivational Print Mark Twain Quote Chalkboard Art door LilyandVal: What if choosing MUST doesn't necessarily pay the bills or fulfill your expectations at this current season of your life? That's okay! My "must" isn't enough for me right now either. Although I would LOVE to just do RISE like a girl 24/7, that's just not practical right now. However, pursuing your "must" is a journey that we can build upon over time. For example, you can still fulfill your "should" obligations while taking the baby steps you need in pursuit of your must. And if you take those baby steps long enough, hopefully you'll be able to live your "must" full time! How amazing would it be to live a life where you get to fulfill your calling each and every day? There is no better joy that doing what you love. 

What is your MUST? What is your WHY? 

Stop settling and start pursuing the life you've always imagined. 

Sending you love and well wishes your way! Thank you all for following along on my journey to "must"!

10.18.2015

Girl Haters

Yea, I'll say it... girls are mean! Everyone knows it's true. Girls have a reputation for being really mean to one another. From cat fights, to gossiping, to seeking revenge, as a gender we're great at making others feel bad about themselves. I've talked a lot about how our patriarchal society holds us back, but are we part of the problem too? Are we contributing to the way the world perceives women? We might just be. 

So, why do we do it? Why do we feel the need to hit each other where it hurts even when the rest of the world is already against us? The girls and I put together this list: 

  • competition - we have to be the best, the smartest, the most beautiful, and the most talented
  • jealousy - we always want what someone else has, we desire to be someone other than ourselves
  • insecurity - we're hurting and we want others to feel as bad as we do 
  • connection - we understand, we sympathize, and we know what hurts the most 
Whether we like it or not, we're all guilty of "girl hating" from time to time. Sometimes we do it to someone's face, but most of the time it's done behind their back. However, we tend to forget that our behavior, good and bad, defines us. The men and boys that are watching us being jealous, catty, and competitive are forming an opinion in their mind of what it means to be a girl. When we demean our gender by representing ourselves poorly and treating other women with disrespect, men are quickly forming an idea of how they think women want to be treated. When women treat each other disrespectfully, it gives men the okay to treat us with disrespect as well. In no way am I saying that is ever acceptable for a man to treat a woman that way. But if we can't even support each other, how can we expect anyone else to support us? 

Ladies, we need to start loving each other. We need to stop bringing each other down. In order for women to be seen in a different light, we need to set the example. If we want men to see as capable and empowered people, we need to act like it. We must do better. Instead of calculating when and how you're going to be more successful than that other woman you work with, support her and lift her up! How special would it be to stop feeling jealous and just feel genuine happiness for others' success? That sounds so freeing! 

We rise by lifting others. #wisdom #affirmations: RISE like a girl is on a mission to transform girl world as we know it. We want girls everywhere to have the opportunity to reach for the stars and make their own choices. This will never happen if we keep encouraging men to perceive us in a negative way. The girls and are committing to make a conscious effort to be kind and supportive to all women because we know that "we rise by lifting others".  

Instead of trash talking someone behind their back, let's speak words of love behind their back (and to their face too, of course). 

The girls practiced this by writing kind messages on a sticky note and posting it on someone's back. What a beautiful way to spread love and support! 

Together, we can transform girl world into a place where girls respect, love, and support one another. In turn, the rest of the world will respect us too. 

Let's stop hating and start loving
Fill your heart with all of the beauty this world has to offer by lifting up a girl who needs your support. As girls, we now how tough this world can be - why make it any harder? 

RISE above the negativity. RISE like a girl. 

10.11.2015

#62milliongirls

62 million. 

That's the number of girls in this world that are currently not enrolled in school. Millions of young girls do not have access to an education simply because they were born a female. It's not because they don't want to be in school, but rather they are confined to the expectations their culture has placed upon them. In many countries around the world, girls are valued more for their bodies than their brains. Girls are tied down by the societal expectations that they are nothing more than a homemaker or a mother. The ability to carry a child is undeniably one of the most beautiful parts of who we are as women. But we need to remember that it's just that - a part. It's certainly not all we are. In countries all over the world, women are limited by a single value. Girls are not encouraged to seek other options because they don't know what their options are. Women and girls have so much more to offer this world. Our strength, our beauty, our resilience, our creativity, our intelligence, and our integrity deserve to be valued. 

This week in RISE like a girl, the girls learned about educational privilege. As a girl in America, none of us have ever had to question whether or not we can go to school. It's a privilege many of us take for granted without ever realizing how lucky we truly are. Education is an incredibly powerful gift that opens doors to a plethora of other opportunities. Education gives women and girls the privilege of financial independence, literacy, language, and emotional & sexual health. It gives them the tools to create a life that is within their control. Education allows women to reclaim their power, rather than allowing a man to do it for them. By simply giving a girl a pencil and a book, we are telling that girl that she is so much more than a body. Instead, we're telling her that she is a heart and mind that is capable of achieving her ultimate potential. 
Malala Yousefzai said it so well: "One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution." 

The girls were appalled by how many other girls in this world don't have access to the same opportunities that they have. The girls and I wanted to do our part in this movement because the only way to create change is to speak up. As educated girls, this world needs us to empower other girls to break the cycle of educational inequality. 

"In school I learned I can make it, say it,
believe it, and achieve it. #62milliongirls
don't have that chance."  
Michelle and Barack Obama launched an initiative in 2014 called Let Girls Learn that was created to support girls all over the world by giving them access to an education. More recently, Michelle Obama has started the #62milliongirls campaign in which people can join the girls education movement through social media. 

Tons of people, including celebrities, have joined in by posting a picture of themselves with the statement: 
"In school I learned __________. #62milliongirls don't have that chance." 

In order to change the world, we need to use our voice! We cannot stand by and allow injustice to happen. We want girls everywhere to have the ability to choose their own destiny. We want girls everywhere to know that they matter and what they have to say is important. So, the girls and I joined the movement as well. 


"In school I learned how to be myself
and how to make a change in my life.
#62milliongirls don't have that chance."


My school district posted a picture of me joining the #62milliongirls campaign this week too! 



Let's stand up and stand out so that girls everywhere can enjoy the same privileges that have been given to us so freely. I am so grateful for my education because it has opened the door and given me the freedom to fly. Education has given me the gift of choice. Because I'm an educated girl, I have the power to make my dreams come true and I won't stop until I get there. 
We have to speak up for the girls who can't do it for themselves. 

This week I'll be sharing the beautiful pictures of my girls taking part in the #62milliongirls campaign on the RISE like a girl Facebook and Instagram. Follow us and share the pictures with people you know so that everyone can know about the 62 million girls that need our help. Together, we can let girls learn! 

10.01.2015

Manifesto

RISE like a girl is officially in full swing! Today was our first meeting of the school year. The girls came in so excited and inspired, and I can tell how much they really love each other. It's beautiful to watch the sisterhood that RISE like a girl has created between them and I'm so grateful to be a part of it. 

I've been reading a book by Brene Brown called Rising Strong. I'm not that far along yet but the book is essentially about the power of vulnerability. She says that when we own our experiences enough to tell our story, will we have the ultimate sense of joy and belonging. 

I consider myself a pretty vulnerable person. I'm not afraid to share parts of my personal life with others. I don't fear talking about my passions with strangers. I have no problem crying in public if it's about something that truly matters to me. Within the past few years I've learned that the more I use my voice, the more freedom I gain.  Most of us walk around with shame on a daily basis. Shame that we're not good enough, shame that we hurt someone, shame that we've messed up beyond repair. When we hold all of that shame inside, we're allowing that pain to have power over us. Your story, regardless of how messy or tragic it may be, is beautiful. It needs to be shared. 

In her book, Brene says 
"When we deny our stories, they define us. We are the authors of our lives." 

A good idea becomes a great idea when you let it out | Aeolidia's manifesto for creative businesses: If we never open up and tell our story, we're allowing it to control our future. But when we speak our truth, we have the power to create our own love story, foster our own courage, and write our own ending. 

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, I'm about to get super vulnerable with you right now. I'm going to tell a part of my story - not because it's comfortable but because I know that with discomfort comes growth. I am taking ownership of my vulnerability. I am the author of my story. 

This past summer, I practiced journaling. A lot. It was my outlet and it helped me decipher my feelings amidst all of the stress. One day, I was sitting on the couch reading a book by the woman who started a well-known girl empowerment organization called I Am That Girl.  In the book, the author wrote a personal manifesto. A manifesto is like a statement of opinion. It really spoke to me because it was exactly what I needed. I was dealing with a lot of loneliness and self-doubt. I was questioning who I was and what I was doing. I really needed a pick-me-up. So, I picked up my journal and wrote my own:


I am enough. My work is important. I am deserving of living the life I've always imagined. 
I am me. Every single day. I cannot be anything but who God intended me to be. 
I am enough. My beauty is enough. My heart and mind are enough. 
I have a purpose that wakes me up in the morning and puts me to bed at night. 
I allow my passions to drive my actions. 
The work that I do every day is important. 
I will make a difference. 
I hold my head high with satisfaction and pride for the things that I've accomplished. 
I choose to keep pushing because even though the road is long, my dreams will soon come true. 
I have a voice worth sharing. What I have to say is valid. 
My opinions matter. 
I choose not to let others talk over me. 
I choose not to let others think my words are insignificant. 
I stand up for things that matter. 
No one will make me feel inferior. 
I have the power to say no even when my answer is not well liked. 
I will speak my truth. Even when my truth is unpopular. 
My voice is special. It is 100% uniquely me. 
My body is beautiful exactly the way that it is. I accept my flaws and find beauty in the things I cannot change. 
I do my best to practice self-love daily. I honor my body by giving it good food and exercise. 
Instead of focusing on the unattainable beauty standards society has set for me, I choose to focus on creating a happy and healthy me. When I feel good, I look good. 
I am in charge of my own beautiful. Today, I choose to love me. 
I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a girlfriend. 
I have something special to offer to my loved ones. 
I give my all to the people I care about and I am deserving of their love in return. 
I understand that relationships require work. I do my best to make sure they know just how I feel about them. 
I let go of friendships that are no longer serving me. I hold tighter to the ones that lift me up and watch me grow. 
I surround myself with people that love me and inspire me to be better. 
I am deserving of quality friendships that appreciate me for who I am. 
I am worthy of love. 
Each day, I pursue challenge. I don't let fear stop me from pursuing my dreams. 
I keep a positive mindset because I know I have what it takes. 
I am confident in my abilities. My passion drives me to take on any challenge with a smile on my face. 
When I'm having trouble, I ask for help. I try my best to let go of control. 
I understand that teamwork is better than one. Sometimes I can't do it on my won, but I can do it when I allow others into my circle. 
No challenge is too big. I will find a way to make it happen. I have what it takes. I believe in myself. 
I owe it to myself to be remarkable and I won't stop until I get there. 

I can't tell you how freeing it was to write that (and share with all of you right now!). Putting it out there and making positive affirmations has made a huge difference in my life. The more that you say it, the more you believe it. 

I shared my manifesto and allowed myself to be vulnerable with the girls today. I gave them the challenge this week to write their own manifesto in their journal. To guide their thinking, I asked them to brainstorm some issues that they've been struggling with lately. The issues ranged from body image, to academic confidence, to friendships. I love that RISE like a girl has created a safe space for the girls to open up and share their struggles with one another. I cannot wait to read their manifestos next week! 

My challenge for you is this: Share your story. Free yourself from whatever you may be struggling with by opening up to someone you trust. Once you reclaim your power, only then will you have the privilege of ultimate self-love.