Yearly Reflections

As I wrap up 2015, I can't help but reflect on the year I've had. It's been a year of personal and professional growth that has truly made my 25th year the most monumental year so far. When I think back on years past, I remember feeling somewhat unsatisfied because I knew that I wanted more. I wanted more relationships, I wanted more confidence, and I wanted more purpose. I'm aware
that those feelings are all a part of growing up and being a woman in her early 20s. I know that those feelings are not unique, but those feelings are an integral part of my story. If I could go back and talk to myself as a 20-year-old college student I would tell her to stop looking for validation in other people. I would tell her to find a passion and express it in every way possible. I would tell her to stand up for herself even when it means that someone won't like you anymore. I could keep going. I struggled with my sense of self big time as a college student. But even though it was difficult, I wouldn't change it. I'm glad I let people walk all over me. I'm glad I had no clue who I was. I'm glad I didn't recognize my worth because the struggle has created a presence within me that I never knew existed. My insecurities challenged me to find myself in a way that wouldn't have been possible if I had always been validated by the people around me. I know who I am now so deeply because no one wrote my story for me. So now, at the age of 25, I am a secure, self-assured young woman that is on a mission to be no one other than me. 

2015 has been the year of surprising myself. I accomplished things this year that I never thought were in store for me. This year, I finished my 2 year term with Teach for America which had tons of up and downs but I'm thankful because none of this would have been possible if I never made the jump to move to Houston. 2015 also began the branding of RISE like a girl into a real organization. We have a long way to go but I know that I'm proud of how far we have come in just a year. A curriculum, a Facebook and Instagram, a new website design, a logo, and 25 blog posts later, things are really happening! And lastly, on a personal note, I found someone this year has shown what true love is all about and I can't wait for the new adventures that are coming our way in 2016. I proved to myself this year that I am so much more than the life I chose for myself when I began college at 17 years old. I learned the power of never settling for less than my best. I learned that the world is an open book for me to explore and find my place in. And most importantly, I learned that I am enough and I deserve to make my dreams come true. 

My girls play a hugely significant role in my story. They carry themselves with such joy and confidence every single day. They believe that nothing is impossible if they put their mind to it and they have an "I can be anything I want to be" attitude. Their youthful positivity has given me so much encouragement throughout the year. Their love is limitless, their mind is unstoppable, and their voice is loud. I can only wish that I was half the person they are when I was their age. My girls inspire me daily to make this world a better place for them to grow up. They inspire me to believe in the simple things and find joy in the small moments that really matter. My girls have opened up a part of my heart that I didn't know what there. I love them so deeply and I'm am truly their biggest fan. I cannot wait to watch them grow into the strong, empowered young women they were put on this earth to be. 

My goal for 2016 is to stick with the people that mean the most to me, trust the process, and, most importantly, be present. A year from now I hope that I look back on 2016 with complete satisfaction and pride in what I've accomplished and who I have become. I want to take advantage of every opportunity and enjoy each moment wholeheartedly. 

"Wherever you are, be all there." - Jim Elliot 

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU all for supporting me this year as I have pursued my RISE like a girl dream. I can't wait to see what's coming our way next year! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year. Sending lots of love your way! 


Rise Like Misty

Hi everyone! I hope everyone is having a fantastic start to the holiday season. I know that I'm enjoying the return of all the pretty lights, the Christmas trees, and of course the music! I hope y'all are taking the time to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year with little stress and lots of love! 

This week's lesson was devoted to giving the girls another example of a positive female role model. It's really important to me that I give the girls examples of women in the media that show that girls can be smart, strong, and successful. Women like that are not always easy to find. For the modern girl who gets most of her influence from social media, they commonly see girls presenting themselves in a way that flaunts her body, diminishes her mind, and silences her voice. In "girl world" today, women are being put on a pedestal for how tiny her waist is or how full her lips are. But what's missing from that image is the impeccable beauty that lives on the inside - the way she talks about her passions, the way she smiles when she spends time with the people she loves, and the way her body proves its strength every time she steps outside. You can't get all of that from an Instagram picture. There are tons of women out there that exhibit more power and resilience than could ever be captured in a photograph. We need to hear their story. 

© Henry Leutwyler.  Misty Copeland, American Ballet Theatre: Misty Copeland is a professional ballerina. She is admired for being the first black woman to receive the honor of Principal Dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. Unlike most ballerinas that have been dancing from a young age, Misty did not begin ballet until she was 13 years old. Before she was discovered, she lived with her single mother and 5 siblings in a motel room. Becoming a famous ballerina was not an expected outcome for Misty's life. She didn't have access to to the same privileges and opportunities that many other girls her age had. After being discovered at her local Boys & Girls Club, Misty's talents soared and she became a professional ballerina just after a year of lessons. However, her success did not come without challenges. She was told several times that she was too old and did not have the body to be a perfect ballerina. Against the odds, Misty rose above the limitations to achieve her dreams. She used the doubt to fuel an unstoppable fire within her. Misty continues to be a positive example of passion, strength, and grace. 

My girls can see themselves in Misty. She wasn't blessed with a tons of money, a family home, or a "normal" family. The odds were against her from the beginning and she had to work extremely hard just to be on an even playing field with her peers. And although those facts seems to set up a life of disappointment and failure, Misty had the one thing that truly mattered: heart. She had the drive and determination to rise. She didn't make excuses, she didn't give up, she simply fought for what she deserved. I know that my girls will face endless amounts of adversity as they grow up, but with role models like Misty and RISE like a girl, they can do anything

Let's make our strength the most beautiful thing about us. Because I am strong, I will never fail to believe that I am worthy of success. Because I am powerful, I will dream big and not stop until I get there. Because I am a girl, I will rise