RealGirls Website Is Up!!

You may have noticed a few changes on the RealGirls blog lately – we’ve got more color!!  We now have a new logo which I believe better exemplifies the mission of RealGirls, and in addition we have officially launched the RealGirls website!

www.bearealgirl.com

 

bearealgirl.com

Please visit the website to check out our:

  • About Us - details on our mission and goals
  • Recommended Resources - blogs, websites, and organizations dedicated to female empowerment
  • Online Events - soon to inform you of some classes and workshops coming in the Fall; be sure to bookmark this one!
  • Life Coaching Services - learn about the life coaching services offered for teen, young adults, and women seeking authenticity (specific program details coming soon!)
  • Classes and Webinars - for the cost-conscious, RealGirls will soon be offering in-person classes (in the Denver area) and online webinars for those interested in group coaching

We are so excited about this new step in our progress and hope you’ll celebrate with us by visiting the site and signing up for our Monthly Inspirational Meme below!  Also, be sure to like us on Facebook!

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Falling in Love With Failure

As I sit here eating my dark chocolate bark with quinoa and cranberries, I can’t help but remember the day I met him.  I was quite young and still a bit fearsome of encounters with boys of his kind.  My first glance of this dark stranger was from across the room, and I could tell right away no one liked him much.  He was glowering alone, not necessarily looking for companionship, with the others in the room none too anxious to give it to him.

I was terrified of him on the one hand, but irrevocably intrigued on the other.  Why did everyone dislike him so much?  Was he really so bad?  What adventures might await me in his arms?

I crept closer to get a better look.  I casually stood by the refreshment table near his comfortable but lonely chair, and took the opportunity to see into those mysterious eyes: the fascination of the unknown lay there, deep in his soul, unapologetically next to the fiery twang of disappointment and grief.  Clearly, any journey with this young man would be a frightful one.  So why was I still intrigued?

I could stand it no more and finally asked someone his name.

“That guy over there?  You don’t want to know.  He’s weird.  For some reason things always end badly around him; I’d keep your distance.”

Unsatisfied, I asked yet another peer to tell me more about this rustic newcomer and received the same dismissive excuses over and over.  It appeared that if I wanted to know more, I was going to have to approach him personally.

But I didn’t know how.  I danced around the idea for weeks, catching glimpses of him here and there – at school, the supermarket, in the neighborhood – but never finding the courage to get within even 30 feet of him.  I noticed others would engage him every now and again; the naive ones, who were perhaps unable to sense the danger.  They would flirt with him, spend an afternoon with him, sometimes even see him regularly for a few weeks.  But it would always end eventually.  For whatever reason, the friends would, in the long run, decide to keep their distance, suddenly move out of town, or become one of his mockers, adding to the circulating stories about his “curse”, as they called it.

Perhaps I never would have met him.  Perhaps I never would have fallen in love with him, if he hadn’t pursued me first.  I don’t blame him; I was the only one left he hadn’t met.  I was perhaps the most terrified of him out of anyone I knew, and who doesn’t want to meet someone so obsessed with avoiding them?

He started appearing everywhere, watching me from afar, attempting to approach me when near, and sometimes appearing to just laugh at me in my attempts to get away.  It was game to him, I imagine, but a rather terrifying one for me.  Sometimes I would lay awake at night, fearing he might have the gall to watch me through my window.  I’d lock the doors and the windows tight, check them several times, and keep my border collie in my bed with me just to be safe.  After a while, I even started to avoid leaving the house for fear I might run into him (for it was almost certain to happen, after all).  I only ran the errands that were the most important, stocked up on food to last me days at a time, quit my job… I even tried calling the police once, fearing he was outside my door.  But they knew him too well.

“Oh, he does this to everyone.  You’ve got to embrace it at some point because he won’t go away.”

I let my fear of this man envelope every moment of my life.  Until.  Until one day.  One day, I’d had enough.  Deep inside me there still lay a part of me that was roaring for challenge.  A part that wanted to achieve and become someone great, and my fear of this man was getting in the way of accomplishing my dreams.  I couldn’t let him have a handle on me like this anymore.  I couldn’t continue to hide.

I decided to face him.

I didn’t have a moment to lose.  I knew he wouldn’t be hard to find.  I got dressed, took a confident look in the mirror, and stepped boldly into the sunlight, ready to face my fears.

He was nowhere to be found.  I went to all of the usual places: the grocery store, the gym, my old job….my loyal stalker was nowhere to be found.  Some suggested he had finally moved on, others thought I had imagined the whole thing, and most of them said I was better off without him.  But I knew I couldn’t let go of my obsession with him until I saw him face-to-face.  Until I found out what he was up to.  Until I told him how he had ruined my life.

Weeks went by.  I began to miss him.  My fear of him had been so acute, I had forgotten the vast and deeply intriguing person I saw briefly in his eyes that first day.  I began to long for him again.  To find out what he had to offer.  I wanted to face my demon, but I also wanted to understand my attraction.  What was it about him that made me feel this way?  How could I possibly be so simultaneously terrified and invigorated?

And just when I thought my muse may never be explored, he returned.  So simply and easily.  Just waiting for me on my doorstep when I returned home from work one day.  He sat there casually, no smile on his face but no grimace either.  I could feel his energy like a tractor beam colliding with a force field – drawing me in and pushing me away all in one wonderful moment.

“Where have you been?”, I asked, accusingly.  He looked at me knowingly, barely flinching at the strangeness of the question that began our first-ever conversation.

He smiled. “Around”, he responded.

“But…” I said, beginning to feel exasperated, “you were here.  All the time.  Everywhere.  And then you were just gone.  I don’t understand…” I trailed off as he stood up and walked closer.  My instincts told me to run away, but my feet stayed firmly planted.  I would no longer be a slave to my fears.  I looked him straight in the eye as he sauntered up to me.  He came so close I could feel his breath on my chin.

“Come with me”, he whispered.  He held my hand and lightening shot through my body as if my heart had started pumping for the first time.  He pulled me towards the street and we were off.

We went everywhere together that day.  We showed each other small-town secrets the other didn’t know about, we tried new food, and we boldly walked into situations that terrified us: climbing mountains, making speeches at city hall, swimming in choppy waters during a thunderstorm.  Never had I experienced such anxiety and disappointment.  Nor had I ever experienced such exhilaration and accomplishment.  I could feel my soul growing, my perspective expanding, and my heart strengthening.  It was as if the tiny little seedling of myself that was buried deep within me had finally been nourished and set free.  I was living.

I didn’t want the day to end, but as it always does, the night came.  We eventually made our way back to my house, sopping wet, covered in mud, and grinning ear to ear.  He left me at my door, swept his hand softly across my arm, and walked back out into the darkness of the evening.

“Wait!” I cried.  He stopped for just a brief moment.  “I still don’t know your name!  You are not allowed to leave until I know your name!”.

He turned around hesitantly, as if unsure how to proceed.  Then a look of determination overcame him and he walked back towards me, his eyes locked into mine.  He took me in his arms, ran his fingers through my wet hair, and kissed me.  It was a kiss to last a lifetime.  His cold and off-putting demeanor was absorbed and overtaken by his soft hands, his gentle lips, and the sweet smell of his breath on my neck.

“Failure.” he whispered in my ear.

“…Excuse me?” I inquired.

“Failure,’ he repeated again.  “My name is Failure.”

He rested his forehead briefly against mine, then shattered the moment as he disappeared into the night.

I knew it wasn’t the last time I’d see him.  I would no longer avoid him, fear him, or procrastinate meeting him.  My heart was outstretched to embrace him, and my soul open to all the gifts and successes that came with his pain.

I had fallen in love with him.

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Humility and Insecurity Are Not the Same Thing

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I’m just going to jump right into it: This drives me friggin CRAZY!!!!!  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!  It is one of the most important distinctions in this entire friggin world and one of the ones I’ve seen most often confused.  The situation usually goes something like this:

Well-known girl goes to the front of the church to perform her well-prepared solo for that Sunday’s church meeting.  As expected, she does an amazing job, blowing the entire congregation away, even leaving some in tears.  Following her performance people are offering her accolades:

“Wow, what an amazing job; you are such a great musician!”

“I’ve always wanted to play the violin like that, you must have worked so hard.”

“You have such natural talent.”

To which, this amazing incredible gifted girl responds softly, “It wasn’t that great, but thanks.” Or “I totally missed the first part of the third verse, but I’m glad to know nobody noticed!”

And everyone walks away saying, “Goodness, she is talented and so humble.”

No…no…no.no.no.no.noNONONONONONONO!!!  And I’m not talking about the word “goodness” (what are we, Quakers?)  Okay, let me start by saying this: this metaphorical girl may very well be humble.  She may well be an incredibly good person.  My criticism is not against her and every other girl who responds to praise in this way at all, rather against our entire concept as a society that is this: To be humble means to be unaware of your talents.

Get your heads out of your asses, people!!  I spent so many years growing up, reminding myself that I’m not as great as I think, ignoring praise and compliments, and focusing on my weaknesses in order to stay in this dubious and undefined state of “humility”.  Problem is, I wasn’t building humility; I was building insecurity.

Case In Point
I recall watching American Idol with my sister many years ago when David Archuleta and David Cook were up against each other.  I remember the final show when both were standing on stage to incredible cheers of adoration, before they had announced the results.  David Cook was standing tall, smiling, waving, and thanking his fans for their support for what he loved to do.  David Archuleta, on the other hand, looked like a nervous wreck, hopping from one foot to the other, laughing and blushing, and giving waves of “awe, stop” to the crowd.  My sister said,

“David Archuleta should win, he’s so humble!”

I almost beheaded her right there.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being insecure.  We are all insecure in one way or another, about something or around someone.  It’s part of being human.  But humility is something to aspire to, while insecurity is something to overcome.  When we mix the two we actually step backwards in our personal development rather than moving forward.

What’s the Difference?
So we’ve got the point straight: humility and insecurity are not the same thing.  So how do we tell the difference?  How do they look in relation to each other?

Let’s look at humility first.  Humility means:

The quality or condition of being humblemodest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank. (www.dictionary.com)

Ok, so that’s pretty simple, right?  It means to avoid overestimating your importance or have an inflated sense of self.  You might say that it means to have modesty despite your abilities, talents, or rank.  But it doesn’t say anything about denying or belittling your abilities, talents, or rank.  You can be aware of, and proud of the fact that you are the best singer in the tri-state area (I actually don’t know where that is, I just heard it in a movie once) and still be humble enough to recognize that this does not make you more important than others.

In fact, I believe you can even believe you are the most important person in your world – because to you, you are – and still be humble (you have the responsibility of managing yourself, taking care of yourself, and making sure you are a contributing member of society.  So to you, you are the most important person in the world).  The problem comes when you believe that you are the most important person in the world.  Full stop.  And that everyone else ought to see and view your importance from their lowly ranks below you.  See the distinction?

Now let’s look at insecurity:

Lack of confidence or assurance; self-doubt. (www.dictionary.com)

See what I mean?  They are NOTHING alike!  And yet, in practice we think they look exactly the same.  So go ahead and thank people for their compliments, enjoy your moment in the spotlight, and acknowledge how hard you worked to gain the abilities you have.  As long as you’re not telling people that they’re bottom-feeders because they can’t work a kazoo like you can, I think you’re ok on the humility scale!

Insecurity Also Is Not the Same as Conformity
I’d also like to point out the insecurity and conformity are not the same thing.  Growing up, the most humble person was always viewed as the person who was most willing to give and bend to authority (guess who was the most humble person I knew?…me!!).  As you can see in the definition, humility also has nothing to do with conforming or “going along” with “what you’re told”.  In fact, we can look at humility in this context and say that humility is simply the state of being open to changing one’s mind when new information is presented (because our lack of overinflated self-importance aids us in knowing that we do not ever have all the information at one time).  But it has nothing to do with going along with any specific authority figure.  Or even going along with what someone else has said or has told us to do.  Or even keeping our opinions to ourselves!  It’s still up to us to weigh the options, consider the arguments, and come to our own conclusion.  True humility leads us to believe in ourselves and our decision-making abilities while being aware that the future may bring changes or new evidence to our opinions – so talk away!  Tell people what you think; don’t keep it to yourself.  You are not sacrificing even a grain of humility, but you are building a lot of self-confidence.

Practice Makes Improvement
Please remember this, girls, it’s so important.  The change I have undergone to implement this new way of thinking has been a long time coming, but has produced amazing results in my self-confidence.  Its hard enough to stop berating ourselves, putting ourselves down, and devaluing ourselves without this ominous goal of “humility” contributing to the problem.  Become aware of how screwed up our society is when it comes to this word, and start recognizing when you’re acting out of humility and when you’re acting out of insecurity.

Here’s an easy litmus test: if it makes you feel confidently on par with the rest of the world, it’s humility (pat yourself on the back! (don’t worry, your head won’t turn into a hot air balloon)).  If it makes you feel you are less worthy or less important than the rest of the world, it’s insecurity (change your self-talk).

Get that road block out of the way right now, and allow yourself to shine.

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The Importance of Action

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I had an inspiring conversation this week with another woman who, like me, is dedicated to building the confidence and success of young women everywhere.  She runs an organization called the Girls Leadership Institute (which you should definitely check out here), and as we were discussing our inspiration I told her about two very prominent values I noted from their organization.  The first was their use of the word “authenticity” on their website and in their materials, and the second was their dedication to taking action in teaching and training girls to believe in themselves.

I got to thinking.  It’s “easy” to a certain extent to do what I do – to think, write, and talk about the importance of building confidence and belief in ourselves.  It’s much more difficult to take action to change it.

We’ve spent time in this blog trying to understand a little bit about why we, as women, often struggle to believe in ourselves, chase our dreams, and live as our real, authentic selves.  We’ve tried to understand ourselves better by taking a hard look at our motivations, desires, and needs.  And those are both very important steps in personal growth.  But I think it only can reach so far if we don’t actually take action to better ourselves.  We have to move beyond thinking about wanting to be more confident and actually implement daily tactics to make that become a reality.

How on earth do we do that???

There are several strategies out there, but the one I’d like to focus on first – one that has worked best for me, and is easiest to explain – is that of monitoring our thoughts and actively replacing the words we use to speak to ourselves.  I know what you’re all thinking – daily affirmations, Stewart Smalley (yeah, I know, you don’t know who that is, just click the friggin link!), etc. etc.  This is more than that.  I believe it can be helpful to look in the mirror and repeat daily affirmations to ourselves, but I think it’s even more beneficial to catch ourselves in our daily self-talk and start actively discarding things we’re used to saying to ourselves, and replacing them with more positive, realistic words.

Here’s a quick five-step process for accomplishing that:

1) Acknowledge the unhelpful thought
2) Write it down
3) Discard it
4) Replace it
5) Move on

An example, perhaps?  Let’s do it.

1) Acknowledge it

I’ll continue my efforts to be candid and provide you an example from work this week.  I was going about my daily tasks, when I caught myself in a thought spiral that went something like this:

“My boss is probably tired of seeing me take work breaks.  She probably thinks I never work, and soon she’s going to walk over here and tell me she needs to talk to me about something and then tell me they have to fire me because I’m not being compliant to company expectations.”

2) Write it down

It’s funny, I think these kinds of things fairly often, but now that I’ve written it down, I can see so clearly how ridiculous these thoughts are!  And no less because I only take 2 breaks a day, and I have the most wonderful, supportive boss right now.

For some reason when these thoughts are in your head, they feel so real, and upsetting.  But once you bring them into the real, physical world it’s very easy to to determine that they are not worth dwelling on.  So write it down.

3) Discard it

So now that I’ve identified an unrealistic, upsetting thought, I can get rid of it.  I discard it easily after writing it down because writing it down has enabled me to determine that it’s not realistic and not worth dwelling on.

4) Replace it

Now I need something to replace it with (there may be times when discarding it is enough to alter the habit – use your best judgement).  So I say to myself:

“That’s a funny thing to think – I’m a very good employee and I always work hard.”

5) Move on

At this point in this situation, I typically just go back to work and try to find something else to think about that is not related – often fighting the words you caught yourself saying tooth and nail can actually cause more distress.  Again, use your judgement, but oftentimes it’s simply best to get to Step 5 sooner than later.

So….now it’s your turn!  I’d love to hear some of the thoughts you catch yourself thinking that are unhelpful – you’d be surprised how many other girls are running the exact same scripts through their heads on a daily basis!  It’s okay if you’re not comfortable sharing, but I think it helps us all feel more connected to each other to know how alike we really are on the inside.

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Dear Past Self

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Hi girls,

Today I’d like to share with you a blog post from a dear friend of mine who I think is absolutely amazing.  She wrote this incredible letter to her younger self, and I think many of you young people can relate to some of the things she’s written.  She really speaks from the heart and spearheads some of the major issues we face in teenage hood and young adulthood (and, admittedly, in adulthood as well!!).  If you’ve ever felt like you’re the only one who feels awkward, ugly, or self-conscious, here’s a wonderful reminder that you are not alone!  And that you’re not the only one who never heard back from Ryder Strong. ;)

Here is my favorite part of her post:

“Hey Karen, I’m really proud of you for trying out for that play, even though you were scared, especially about singing in front of people.  It led to a lot of fun times throughout the years.  I know that sometimes hearing that you are ugly, stupid or fat is really really hard.  Hearing it from those poor, self-conscious (yes, they are) “popular” kids sometimes makes you feel like that’s who you are.  I know that kids can be cruel.  I look back at us 20 years ago and am sad for you.  I wish I could tell you then what I know now.”

Karen feels a strong devotion to God and her religion, and though we are not all religious, I believe our life experiences are still very similar and very interconnected.  So pull the encouragement that you can from this awesome post – I hope it gets your weekend off on the right foot!

http://firstcomeslove-jacobs.blogspot.com/2014/02/dear-past-karen.html 

The Best Advice I Can Give to Parents

I’m not really qualified to give parenting advice.  Like, at all (at least the last time I checked…I don’t believe an Advertising degree counts…).  Which is why this post is called “The Best Advice I Can Give to Parents” rather than “The Best Advice to Give Parents”.  I realize, of course, that you didn’t ask, but much as it might disappoint you, I think this blog might actually benefit me more than it benefits you.  So perhaps this is more like “The Advice I Wish I Could Go Back in Time and Tell Myself or at Least Remember on a Semi-Regular Basis” (if you’re a grammar nazi, I don’t want to hear a word about my use of caps and/or italics in article titles).

So, here goes nothing.  The most I know about parenting (ha!):

Do things that make you happy.

That’s pretty much the foundation of everything, I’ve found.  I’ve heard a lot of versions of this before, like “don’t forget to do things you enjoy every now and then!” or “don’t forget to take care of yourself!”.  And these are great, too, but not quite as far-reaching as I think they should be.

Your happiness shouldn’t be an afterthought

I don’t think making your own self happy should be a secondary concern as a parent.  I think it should be right up there with providing for your children.  You have a responsibility to yourself and to your children to take care of yourself and show them how to live good lives.

Children learn by example

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I’ve seen far too many mothers (and on occasion fathers as well) give up everything they are, everything they want, everything they need for their children.  While it seems incredibly unselfish and wonderful to be so self-sacrificing, it actually does more harm than good, in my opinion (holy moly, did I just spell out “IMO”? How old am I??).  Because children learn by example.  So when you sacrifice your whole self for them, they learn to sacrifice their whole selves for everybody else.  And, in essence, they don’t chase after or accomplish what they want in life, rather they accomplish what other people want them to accomplish.    Bit of a Catch 22, isn’t it?

My theory

As usual, I have a theory as to why we are so keen to lose ourselves to our children (although I also like this theory).  Specifically in the case of women, I think this has proven to be a result of our culture’s pressure on women to be self-sacrificing, nurturing, and accommodating in all instances especially with children.  This supposedly comes “naturally” to us (easily debunked by talking to, well, almost any woman or man I know), or so we are taught.  This certainly is a major contributor to this problem.  Additionally, there is much talk around the world about how much more frequently we’re seeing cases of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.  My personal theory is that this is a result of our survivalist wiring.  We are wired to survive (or, you might say, chemically balanced to survive) – or at least many of us are.  To struggle.  To be in a fairly constant state of effort, fear, and concern.  In the 21st century things are *pretty* easy for many of us here in this first world country.  It almost seems to me like our brains are looking for something to struggle over.  We’re looking for a reason to survive.  And since we don’t need to survive anymore, our brains just don’t know what the hell to do!

Ironically, those of us who struggle with these things would probably fair quite well in a zombie apocalypse…

So when we have children it’s almost like our minds jump on the opportunity to have something work hard for, to sacrifice for.  Only we don’t have the emotional maturity for it because we haven’t had a lot of practice, so we end up WAY overdoing it and making ourselves miserable in the process.  Life is full of Catch 22′s isn’t it?

So what do we do with that?  We have to adjust.  We have to start teaching our brains to live in the 21st century.  I imagine it will eventually get easier for our offspring (assuming there’s no apocalypse, zombie takeover, or reckoning, in which case I’ll be the chick in the torn tank top with a machete and a crossbow), but we have to start that process.  So…

Start doing things that make you happy

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Don’t just give yourself permission every once in a while to be happy; start doing things that make you happy today.  Of course, of course, having children requires sacrifice.  You really can’t help that – in fact, in my life I’ve discovered that from a few months into pregnancy through the first year or so after birth, you’re pretty much in a constant state of “blaaaaaaaaaaag” (at least I am. I understand there are those of you that love this stage.  I’ve never met one of you…)  But as they grow older you have a responsibility to them.  A responsibility to show them how to navigate life as an independent, confident human being.  That could mean a lot of things: maybe they still choose to dedicate their lives to a nonprofit, a religion, or to stay home with their children, but it will come from a place of surety and confidence.  It will be 100% their choice, and they will do it because it makes them happy, not despite what makes them happy.

Plus, you’re just as important as your kids

You deserve to prioritize yourself.  I hope I’ve driven that point home enough on this blog.  If you’re one of those people stuck in a position of constant self-sacrifice and you feel you’d like higher self-esteem or confidence in your knowledge and love of yourself, try sitting down with a piece of paper and a pen – I mean iPad or smartphone!!! – and list out the things that make you happy.  If you’re at home with your kids would you rather be working? If you’re working would you rather be at home with your kids?  What hobbies do you enjoy?  What new things would you like to try?  Do you need a larger support system of friends?  Do you need more time to yourself?  Then select the ones you can start changing now.  Obviously you can’t change all of them right away, some maybe not for a while, but do what you can with what you have.  Work to make yourself happier.  And if you find yourself reluctant to implement an activity that you know would make you happy because you feel you must sacrifice it for your children…think again.

Think about how great it would be for them to see you doing something that makes you happy.  To see you being a human being.

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Harnessing Your Power

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Whew, ladies, I feel I have neglected you!  It has been a little while since I’ve laid out some new pearls of wisdom before you (hehehe..heh…..hm…), but not to worry: I’m back!

In fact, I’m back in many ways these days.  Many things have begun for me recently, which I hope they have for you as well.  I’ve started trying things again.  It’s common for me to come up with an idea for something I want to do – a business I want to start, a class  I want to teach, a technique I want to learn – and then vet all the possible pitfalls before even attempting to try.  Now I try things and then just see where they go.  It’s a MUCH better way to function and has so many more rewards!

In addition, I’ve begun my Teen Life Coach training (YAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!).  This is the most exciting beginning of all!  I’ve always felt a special connection with teens and young adults, and a strong desire to work with them and walk them through an incredibly confusing, incredibly difficult, and incredibly AWESOME time of their life.  I’m now one step closer to that dream.

I’ve also started selling my artwork on consignment in a couple of stores in Denver (details TBA), and, as is the topic of this post, I’ve started boxing again.

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In fact, tonight was my first night back.  I tried to start last year a few months after my son was born, but I just wasn’t ready yet.  That’s okay, by the way girls, to not be ready yet.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there are seasons for everything, and if the motivation and desire isn’t there, just give yourself some love and patience until it returns.  It took about 9 months this time.  9 months that would have been far more miserable if I had beaten myself up everyday over my negligence.  And anyways, in that time I discovered some other types of exercise and activities I really love that I would never have discovered otherwise.

Back to boxing.  When I’m in that “place”, boxing is SO invigorating for me.  So motivating.  So empowering.  I’ve long felt it is one of the best ways to bring a girl into a state of self-love, self-respect, and personal strength.

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I was thinking about this on the way home and I came up with a new idea: I should teach Boxing Empowerment classes.  I think boxing on it’s own can teach those lessons, but how COOL would it be to combine the physical workout with the vocal life coaching lessons?  To say aloud, and shout to the world words of your own inner strength while exerting your energy towards living them at the same time.

As this idea percolated, I began building a dialogue.  A speech or mission statement, if you will, that embodies the meat of what such a program could accomplish.  I’d like to share that with you today in hopes that it will inspire you as much as it inspired me:

“You’re already good people.  I don’t have to teach you that.  You already know to be kind to others, you already know to consider others’ feelings in your words, you already know to give others respect.  But no one ever taught you how to have unabashed, unapologetic respect for yourself.  The respect to hurt someone else if you have to defend yourself.  The right to be strong, the right to be tough.  The right to own your body and do amazing things with it.  The respect to allow you to be you.  The respect to walk away from people who don’t play fair.

To choose to be powerful instead of being afraid.

There is no apologizing here.  No hiding your strengths or denying your weaknesses.

This is a place to be real.

You are not allowed to play a role, you are not allowed to pretend you are anything other than who you are.

If you throw a good punch, you are going to own it.

If you feel awkward or strange or weak, you’re not going to flinch because that’s life and life isn’t about being perfect.  In fact, life is precisely about not being perfect.

I know that’s not what your teachers say, or your parents say, or the media says, but that’s what we say here.  Boxing is the place to learn to embrace imperfection.  You will not learn to be perfect.  You will not learn to do anything perfectly.  You will learn to love being imperfect.  And in doing that, you will begin to see exactly how amazing you are.

Here: “power” is not a bad word.  “Power” and “woman” are not oxymorons.  You don’t have to be nice.  You don’t have to be sweet.  Here you can be tough.  Here you can be bitchy.  Here you can express yourself, exert yourself, be as pissed off or deliriously happy as you want.

You don’t have to have a certain type of body here.  Because everyone can box.  There are no standards here, no crazy expectations, no ideals.  You’re going to use your body in amazing ways, and you’re going to love your body because of it.

Most importantly, you’re going to let go of the way you used to think.  You’re going to think in a new way, and you’re going to practice that every week.  You’re going to forget everything except for your ability to believe in yourself.

And you’re going to kick some ass.”

Don’t Worry; You Don’t Have to be Happy

Originally posted on RealGirls:

A woman that I greatly admire and respect posted a version of this quote on her Facebook wall a few weeks ago:

Happy Girls

Seething with frustration towards a quote that I have long loathed, I cracked my knuckles and readied my long, spindly fingers for a nice afternoon on the soapbox; but she took care of it for me.  Her post read something along these lines: “I hate these kinds of quotes – there is already too much pressure on girls to be happy all the time!”.

I am so proud to call her my Daycare Lady.

Girls, she is right.  There is too much pressure on you to be happy, to always have a smile on your face, to grin through impossibly difficult circumstances.  Growing up, I recall feeling few emotions other than happiness and anxiety.  The rest of the emotional spectrum seemed forbidden and unacceptable.

Let me tell you…

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