What's your story?

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty - #Maya Angelou:

I saw this quote recently and I knew I had to talk to my girls about it. We live in a world where we constantly find ourselves looking up to people we hardly know. We idolize their beauty, their intelligence, their career, their relationships. We look at them in awe as we compare what they have to what we don't have. We admire their "right now" without knowing what they went through to get there. It's easy to forget that a person's success or beauty didn't just happen. Especially for women, our beauty, our wisdom, and our power exist only because of the journey we walked beforehand. Each of us has a unique story to tell that makes us into who we are today. Similar to a butterfly, we are not born the person that we eventually become. The beautiful person that we become is due to the struggles, the victories, and the relationships that have come and gone. 

At this week's RISE like a girl, I showed the girls three videos of women sharing their story. Each woman shared a moment in time from their lives that made an
impact on who they are today. For example, one woman reflected on the loss of her grandmother. Her grandmother and mother had a very damaged relationship and seeing them together and then watching her pass helped her realize that even when someone we care about hurts us, we should forgive with love. So, I gave the girls the mission to imagine that they were writing a book of their life story. Each chapter would symbolize a moment that made a meaningful impact on the empowered young woman they have become. I challenged them to brainstorm 3 chapters and share with their small group. After a few minutes, we met altogether in a circle to share one chapter of their story. The girls shared some really reflective things such as meeting a certain friend, quality time with their father, being in RISE like a girl, and even having me as their 2nd grade teacher (my heart melted obviously!). Even at the age of 9 or 10, these girls have already made tremendous strides at writing their very own story. 

There is still so much more to be written in my story. I am so excited to see where the next few chapters will lead but of course, I am proud of the butterfly that I have created so far. I could list for you all of my successes that contributed to the Kelsey Martin you see before you today, but that just isn't enough. In fact, I would argue that my failures have contributed more to my character than anything else. From the interviews I bombed, to the pageants I lost, to the friendships I ruined, my failures have built a spirit within me that speaks more to who I am than anything else. The failures in my story taught me how to love, how to work really hard, and how to dust myself off and try again. I love the woman I am today because I fought to become her. And so did you! Your story is 100% uniquely YOU. Everything that have been through makes you into the incredible human you see in the mirror every day. 

Love yourself, delight in the changes, and enjoy the journey. 
Own your story!


Still I Rise

First things first... 

we have shirts!! 

How beautiful are they?! Special thanks Ms. Thompson, our Alivia's lovely mother, for making these AMAZING shirts for us. We are so official now and I'm loving every second of it! 

Here are some more pictures of my beautiful girls modeling their new tees - 

The front has our RISE like a girl logo and the back has our driving quote, "Little girls with dreams become women with vision". 

The shirts were not the only exciting thing that happened this week. Nine of the girls also got to perform a Maya Angelou poem for our entire school at the Martin Luther King celebration. For the past 2 weeks, the girls met with me every day before school to practice reciting a poem called Still I Rise. The poem is essentially about rising above adversity despite challenges, negativity, and doubt. The poem rings true for the life of Martin Luther King Jr. but it also expresses the fight that we as women have to face in a patriarchal society every single day. The poem provides a voice to the voiceless, power to the powerless, and hope to the people that can't seem to find it. Whatever your limitation may be, we can all relate to Maya Angelou's words. We all know what it feels like to be taken advantage of. We all know how it feels to be doubted even when we know we can do it. We all know the feeling of being disliked without understanding what we did for someone to feel that way. I hope this poem inspires you as much as it inspired us. 

Still I Rise 

You may shoot me with your words, 
You may cut me with your eyes, 
You may kill me with your hatefulness, 
But still, like air, I rise. 

Well, I am off to Mexico for the week! Hope y'all have a great week full of self-love, growth, and empowerment. Sending lots of love your way! 


In with the New

Happy New Year, everyone! I sincerely hope that they new year brings you all of the love, success, and happiness that you deserve. 

Boy, was I happy to see my girls again after winter break! I've said this before, but they give me LIFE! Nothing makes me happier than spending time with my girls. I mean, look at that face! ---> 

So much cuteness. And the things that come out of their mouths are just unbelievable. Seeing them on Thursday renewed my spirit and gave me the much needed reminder of why I'm here. This year, I hope to live my life in honor of the 19 beautiful girls that steal my heart week after week. 

Since it was our first meeting of the year, I wanted the girls to take the time to reflect on 2015 and plan accordingly for 2016. However, I wanted this to be different that just writing a list of new years resolutions. You and I both now how flaky resolutions can be sometimes. Many times, our resolutions turn into a list of everything we hate about ourselves and want to fix. Trust me, I've been there. One year I wrote a list of 30 resolutions. Do you think I did them all? No way! Not even close. It was way too many and so impractical. The reason why my list was so long was because I was so unhappy with the way things were in my life and I never took the time to deal with the real issues. I just wanted to combat my problems with a goal that wasn't even feasible. It was a way for me to ignore the problems and dream of a life that was better. What I really needed, though, was to address the issue, forgive myself or someone else for it, close the chapter, and move on. Instead of taking the time to close the chapter, we try to cover it up with other things that distract us from what we're truly feeling. But unfortunately, that's only a temporary solution. The only way we can conquer it is by sharing our truth and clearing it away. 

I had the girls gather in a circle and I told them to think of one moment from 2015 that was a low point for them, something that was discouraging or let them down. We went around the circle and shared our moment by saying: 

I am clearing the fact that _____________. 

We used the word clearing to signify that we're putting in away and not bringing it into the new year. 
This activity was such a beautiful moment for us. From the loss of a pet, to being called a degrading racial slur, to the divorce of their parents, the girls were able to pull to the surface things they have been hiding for months. It was heartbreaking to listen to, but I was incredibly proud of them for being so open and honest. There were tons of tears but at the end of it all, one of the girls mentioned the relief she felt from just getting it out. I love that. That's exactly how I wanted them to feel 

You guys know that I'm always super transparent on this blog, so here's mine: 

I am clearing the fact that some friendships don't last forever no matter how hard I try to keep them. 

2015 forced me to come to terms with the truth that people will fail me and I will certainly fail others as well. It's a part of life. People come into our lives for a reason and just because they were a blessing during one season, that doesn't mean they will continue to bless you during another season. Friendship begin and end, and that's OKAY. Although it's hard to come to terms with, I look forward to the new relationships I will build during the next seasons of my life. 

Lastly, the girls wrote down some goals for themselves for the new year. The goals were meant to guide them to focus on what's most important and create a positive outlook on the year ahead. 
- What I really want in 2016 is...
- What I really need in 2016 is...
- What I will share in 2016 is...
- In 2016 I will succeed at...

"So, I close my eyes to old ends and open my heart to new beginnings." - Nick Frederickson

I hope that this post encourages you to "clear away" whatever demons you dealt with in 2015 so that you can make 2016 your best year yet. Sending you all lots of love and best wishes! Happy 2016!