Courage Integrity Assertiveness Confidence Restraint

Thursday, March 31, 2011

MEDIA LITERACY - It's Journal Exercise Friday

"Media Literacy" is a big buzz word these days. Know what it means? Well, let's break it down...

  • to be *literate* is to be able to read, right? Yes.
  • the *media* is what you see and hear on TVand the internet and in music and magazines, right? Yes.

So, being Media Literate means being able to READ what you are SEEING and HEARING.

What do you think the media is telling young girls in 2011?

You don't have to look too far before you see girls in way too little clothing in compromising poses with boys. You can see that just walking at the mall and peeking into stores like Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch.

You don't have to flip through the channels for more than a few seconds before you see something that objectifies girls/women as "eye candy." Whether it's a commercial for Victoria Secret or a music video from the newest hit song.

Most of you are Media Literate enough to know that those images you see have been airbrushed and fixed to be perfect but that doesn't mean it is not affecting your self-esteem.

And how about YOUR attitudes toward people who are not perfect? If you do a little soul searching, you may find you are what I like to call "quietly critical" about those around you...even your best friends. "Those jeans make her butt look big, I hope my butt looks better than that." Do things like this float around in your head? Of course they do. The media has TRAINED you to do that.

When I think about how the media has trained us to look at OTHER people and "make fun" in our heads I have to think of GIBBY on iCarly. The poor kid's claim to fame is when he takes his shirt off and his "healthy sized" belly jiggles. Sure, he is an actor - he is acting. But with the "laugh reel" playing every time he does it, it is actually TRAINING YOU to think someone who is overweight is a TARGET for your GIGGLES.

This week's journaling exercise is for you to pay attention to what the media is telling you through ads, tv shows, magazine covers, etc. and write about it...

  • What examples did you see? What shows/magazines/commercials?
  • How did it make you feel when you saw it and realized how it was re-TRAINING your brain?
  • How will you handle this now that you are aware?
  • Will you share this idea of Media Literacy with your friends?
Feel free to save and  print the following journal page to use for this exercise. Start a binder and join us each week for Journal Exercise Friday.

Happy Journaling!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In the News... Abercrombie & Fitch's big OOPS

Who gets to decide how fast you grow up?
Who gets to decide how you feel about yourself?
Who gets to decide what measures your worth?


Don't ever forget that! Don't fall into the MEDIA traps that make money for large corporations at the expense of your youth.
Abercrombie & Fitch did just that this week - see video at the end of this post.

Over the next week or so we will be discussing MEDIA LITERACY and how as teens you must take your values and self-expectations into your own hands and throw out a "talk to the hand" at the media when they try and talk you into growing up too fast, when they try to get you to compare yourself to the airbrushed images on the screen, when they use comedy in the shows you like to change the way you feel about the things that make you different from other girls your age.

So, here is where you have the POWER to make a stand. This week Abercrombie & Fitch decided FOR YOU that girls as young as 7 or 8 should feel inadequate unless they are wearing a padded top to their bikini. Are you going to let them decide this for your? For your younger sisters?

So, I want every young girl who reads this to leave a comment, but I want you to leave it TO Abercrombie & Fitch. In the spirit of the Butterfly Girlz who are mature, thoughtful and caring, I want you to leave your well-thought out comment on how it makes you feel when the media pulls one of these indecent moves.

Then I want you to facebook, tweet, email and pass this along to every friend you have that you know would be upset and offended by this. Invite them to come to this post and leave a comment.

You have the power to have YOUR VOICE heard and I want to help you do that. You always have the right to SPEAK UP. You always have the right to SAY NO.

You can leave anonymous comments and leave your first name and age.

Take this on, girls! Be proactive! Don't let the media tell YOU what is acceptable. Stand up!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We will miss you Danielle...

The Butterfly Girlz are mourning the loss of one of their own.

Danielle DeLarso, 17 earned her angel wings Satuday morning after a 10 month battle with Clear Cell Sarcoma.

Danielle was an amazing athlete, playing on ALL STAR teams and getting recruiting letters from colleges when she came down with what doctors thought was a case of pneumonia. When the symptoms did not go away with antibiotics they did further testing and found a mass in her chest and even after chemotherapy the cancer spread.

The DeLarso family is currently in need of financial help to cover the mountains of medical bills incurred over the last year. Please go to THIS LINK and see the secure fundraising widget in the sidebar.

To read more about Danielle and her journey, visit THIS POST on my other blog.

Danielle's life mirrored a TRUE Butterfly Girl. She was someone who LIVED the character traits we strive for - Courage, Integrity, Assertiveness, Confidence and Restraint.

The following comments were made by students from Danielle's school and are a testimony to the lives she touched:

"The Pequea Valley class of 2012 will not be the same without Danielle. She has been an inspiration to me personally with her grace, dignity and selflessness. She will be in all of our thoughts as we walk the halls of PV. God bless you Danielle, we are all sad but glad that you are at peace and in a place where we all wish to end up."

"Danielle is was a student at my school. She was beautiful, talented, and selfless. Not many would have lasted as long as she did. The night sky will shine brighter now thanks to Danielle. We love you!"

"This girl is a fighter I go to her school I'm in her brothers class this past Saturday danielle passed away. She is a amazing girl and I wear her braclet with pride knowing that she will always be near."

"Danielle was an amazing girl and has changed our school forever. Today in her memory we all wore red it was really touching and just goes to show how wonderful she was and how much she had meant to us. I still can't believe she is gone and I hope and pray her family can get through this hard time. Pequea Valley will never be the same and she will be greatly missed."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday in the Media... REVOLVE Tour for Teen Girls

Well girls, here is your chance to be celebrated and your chance to learn how to be your BEST self. The self God created you to be. Whether you have never stepped foot into a church or you get every week, the inspiration that is opened to you on this Tour will be something that affects the rest of your life.

Check out the details of WHERE and WHEN at THIS LINK.

Watch the video:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

COURAGE: a struggle for teen girls

Butterfly Name: Courage

“My parents keep asking me how school was. It’s like saying, ‘How was that drive by shooting?’ You don’t care how it was…you’re lucky to get out alive.”
 ~Angela Chase from the 1994 TV hit show, My So Called Life

If you ask any adult if they would go back to middle or high school they would, without a doubt, say no. But if you offered them $1,000,000… most of them would still say no. Why? Courage. If you collected all the courage in a typical high school hallway it just might fill a tube of toothpaste. As an adult, going back to school would mean handing over the courage it took twenty plus years to harvest. But if those adults had been given the tools to nurture their courage while still in middle school, they might not have that same reaction. They may have pleasant memories and jump at the chance to go back.

The reason we struggle with courage is our sheer terror or failure. In middle and high school everyone is watching. Everyone is judging. Everyone has something to say about everything.

Let’s say I told you that there was a new state regulation that would require all high school graduates to lift 100 pounds of dead weight on your graduation day. Yes. There will be a barbell on stage. When your name is called you will approach the stage, lift the weight and then be awarded your diploma. If you cannot lift the weight, you do not get your diploma and therefore you also forfeit any awards and scholarships.

Unless you were just hours from graduation, you would probably start planning how you would meet this requirement. You might talk to a coach to get some insight about the best course of action. Maybe you would persuade your parents to purchase a family membership to a local gym where you could train to meet this goal.

There are a few of you who may see this as an insurmountable goal and do nothing. Maybe you will bank on the fact that the state may change the guidelines in the next few years and this 100 pound regulation may not pertain to you on your own graduation day. But if the regulation sticks, those of you who choose to ignore the new requirement will not be receiving your diploma. How do you think you will feel on that day? Will you regret the years you could have been preparing? Will you wish you would have worked your muscles to the point on success?

Working on your courage is a similar situation. Although in life we don’t know what challenges our life will bring. There is no federal standard for our lives that must publish all upcoming requirements and challenges like the federal education boards. So, sometimes in life things pop up and we have no time to prepare.

It takes practice to have courage - you need the right tools to sharpen and you need to always have those tools with you.

When I asked The Butterfly Girlz Advisory Team what character trait they struggled with the most, courage was the most repeated concern.

Lauren describes her struggles, “Courage. Doing something that is outside of my comfort zone is not what I usually go for.... but I’m learning that sometimes those are the best things for me!”
Lauren is exactly right. Just like lifting weights to prepare for that 100 pound dead lift, stepping outside your comfort zone is a good practice tactic for when things get really tough and courage is your best tool.
And like training to lift weights, you have to start small. You can’t just walk into the gym and lift 100 pounds without any training. So, why do we beat ourselves up when we don’t stand up for someone when we should have? We can’t know how to be courageous without training first. Just like lifting weights, you start small. Five pound weights for a couple weeks, then ten pounders, then fifteen and so on.
When nurturing your courage butterfly you want to start with small steps, then move to medium mounts, then to large leaps.
A small step could simply be leaving the lunch table when someone starts talking smack about the “friend” that just left to go to the bathroom. You could simply refrain from laughing at the latest gossip about the not-so-popular girl who just walked by. You could offer a positive comment to the class “nerd” when her project comes back with a blue ribbon.
Breaking a big hurdle down into smaller parts is always the best way to prove to yourself that there is nothing too big for you.
Tomorrow I will discuss MEDIUM MOUNTS and LARGE LEAPS, what that looks like and how you can get there.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

9 year old girl shows the COURAGE of a giant

The Butterfly Girlz have been discussing COURAGE this week ...

I think we all hope that in a dangerous situation we would do the right thing, step up to the plate, put ourselves in harm's way to save someone, be the hero. Not that we would do it for the "hero" lable but that we would simply, by an innate inner force, be the life-saver because our soul said so.

For Anaiah Rucker, 9, it happened just like that last week. It was a normal school day. Her mom watched from the porch as she and her 5 year old sister, Camry, walked to the bus stop. It was a rainy morning and the girls stepped into the road to cross before the bus arrived.

That's when Anaiah looked up and saw a truck headed right for them. Without a though, she pushed Camry out of the way and took the almost fatal blow by the truck. The girls' mom ran to her daughter's side and she wasn't breathing. The bus pulled onto the scene and the busdriver that was not planning on saving a life that day, helped Anaiah's mom administer CPR that eventually brought Anaiah back.

Anaiah suffered a broken neck,two broken legs and lost a kidney and her spleen. Due to lack of blood flow one of her legs needed to be amputated.

When asked why she put her life on the line she said, "I thought she was too young. She's my sister. I love her."

Now THERE is some courage.

Monday, March 21, 2011

When life says, "Get back on board..." Bethany Hamilton

Being a teen certainly isn't a cinch. It's hard. I think you will all agree.

The Butterfly Girlz Advisory Team has been discussing character traits this week and most of the girls agree that one of the traits they struggle with the most is COURAGE. I think it is safe to say this is a common struggle for most teen girls. There are many forces working against girls that without a strong sense of inner strength, they cave to peer pressure.

I think we all agree that having a butterfly named COURAGE in our net would be beneficial when you need to push away a boy who has stepped across the line or confront the mean girl who us all up in your business at the lunch table.

Girls, you HAVE all the butterflies you need but just like a pet they need to be nurtured. A dog does just know how to sit, fetch or roll over - you strengthen your dog's motivation through training. Your dog senses your satisfaction through your snuggles and praise when he brings the ball back each time. This is how you nurture your butterflies.

Through practice you will get better and better at each character trait in your butterfly net. You will also find yourself inspired by the feeling you get when we use that trait you have nurtured. When you stand up to someone who is hurting you, you get a sense of accomplishment. I urge girls to hold onto that feeling, make it a permanent part of your memory. Relive that moment over and over and over until it becomes part of you. That moment becomes your reward when a similar situation arise. Because when you respond appropriately the next time, that feeling will come again. And again.

Sometimes throughout your teens you will be bombarded with so many different situations that need a BIG response. You might not feel strong enough to handle ALL of them coming at you at once. But burrowing under the covers and giving up, turning to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, or selling out and becoming one of those people you once tried NOT to be like is never the answer.

Grabbing life by the horns and GETTING BACK ON BOARD is the answer.

I am thrilled to introduce you to Bethany Hamilton, teenage surfing prodigy.

Talk about COURAGE... how about "getting back on..." a surf board after a vicious shark attack that cost you your arm... at 13 years old.

Ladies, please take a moment and meet Bethany (8 years after her accident) as she talks about having the COURAGE to love who she is no matter what her outside looks like.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

There IS positive music out there!!

The Teen Advisory Board for The Butterfly Girlz is comprised of 25 AMAZING young ladies ages 11-17 from across the country.

They make sure I know that there are some really great songs out there for girls. Most of you realize that turning on the radio does not always mean you will get a good message. In fact, I am quite well-known for going on mini rants about how awful the messages are in today's music.

But two of our girls made sure I knew these songs were out there! Thank you Katie and Kayla!

I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stop comparing yourself to...

...the images you see of women and girls in the media. Most of them do not exist as you see them. Their faces and bodies have been changed to fit what marketing professionals think we want to see.

Take a look at this video Dove put out on YouTube. Dove has a great program, Dove's campaign for REAL beauty, that teaches girls to love themselves AS THEY ARE. Take a look through a magazine, the Dove ads will NEVER have stick-skinny bodies, they use REAL girls and REAL women. They have even spearheaded a self-esteem movement - check it out HERE!

Now, check this out:

Be careful to only compare yourself to what is TRUE inside YOU!

Do YOU respect YOU?

So, lately I have been getting a lot of mail from teen girls complaining about the lack of respect they get from their boyfriends or simply boys in general.

I always assume that for every teen brave enough to step out of their comfort zone and contact me, there are probably 50 that don't have the nerve to ask.

I thought it would be a good subject to cover considering I spend alot... and I mean A LOT... of time talking to girls about this, it makes me sad that so many accept behavior from others that steals their self-respect. Sad for everyone involved.
This isn't a post to point a finger or insult anyone. Quite honestly if you are disrespecting someone you are hurting just as much as the person you are trying to hurt. The people who do the disrespecting make it quite obvious that they are struggling with something. When someone has a regular impulse to humiliate or bully someone else, there is pain there.

Learning more about RESPECT will help both sides of this problem.

I recently reached out to a girl on facebook who had something posted by a boy on her wall that just about made my eyes water. Now, I am not in a bubble. Yes, I am a mom but being involved in the lives of today's teens means I have walked around the block with more than a few of them. I know the lingo, I know the way peers goof around with each other.

But what this boy wrote was inappropriate. I was offended.The first thing I did was look at how long ago it had been posted  - over an hour
Then I looked at how many comments had been left - many, many
Finally I searched to see what her response was - "lol"
·      Why did I look at WHEN it was posted? When someone posts something on your facebook that is obviously offensive, leaving it there is a REFLECTION of the RESPECT you demand. By not erasing that post, that poor girl was being viewed as a doormat, open to anyone's dirt and grime.
·     Why did I see how many comments had been left? I was curious how many people had seen the post before me and how many were willing to stand up for a friend.
·      Why did I look to see her response? I was hoping I would find that she had let the derogatory comment up so she could respond appropriately and show the world (so to speak) WHAT her WORTH was!

I was so sad for her that her only response was "lol." I wanted to see her leave a response something like this:

"Look, if you feel the need to be inappropriate, don't do it here. If you need to degrade a girl to make yourself feel better, that is sad but I am asking you to NEVER comment on my wall again."

When I messaged her we chatted for a while and within the first couple seconds of our conversation, I felt blessed to have met her. She was such a beautiful, gentle soul. She simply explained that this boy was a very good friend, he was just kidding, "he always talks like that" and it was meant in jest.

Teenagers live, sleep and breathe the desire to TEST THE WATERS. This boy is testing WHO he can go just a little bit farther with. He wants to see how much his friends will take. He's not a bad guy. He's not an evil person. He is just testing the waters. He wants to know what his boundaries are.

This is a dangerous situation for both the people he disrespects and himself. The lines need to be clear.

For Him: He needs to know what respect feels like - because giving respect actually FEELS GOOD! But if no one around him demands it, he will never know that beauty. He will never be a true blessing to himself and others. He is missing out on an amazing part of his own life.

For Her: She needs to know what respect feels like - because being respected actually FEELS GOOD! But if you let someone treat you with less than the utmost respect verbally, you are opening the door to being mistreated physically. If a boy knows he can say those things to you with no reaction, what happens when you are all at a party and he wants something you are not willing to give. Do you think he will respect your decision? If you set the boundaries IMMEDIATELY, there will be no question that "NO" means "NO!"

DEMAND RESPECT! You are worth it!
GIVE RESPECT! They are worth it!
RESPECT YOURSELF! Feel worth it!

I would love to hear your conversations on this subject.

This song is for you - SUPERCHICK "Hey Hey!"

I have always loved this song and pass it on to every girl I know.
The band is SUPERCHICK. This is a video a that someone made to share the lyrics. When I watched it and saw the butterflies, I knew THIS was the version for you!


Where it all began...

My passion for teens has been present in everything I have done for the last 20+ years. I have taught middle school and high school, volunteered in many capacities with the same age group, have two teens of my own and use my strength as a motivational speaker and writer any chance I get.

I have been counselling/mentoring teens online and in person for most of those 20 years.

This Butetrfly Girlz project came out of my frustration as I watched many girls I care for and talk to lose all sense of self-respect by allowing others to take it away from them. I wanted to reach out to each and every girl I read about, saw on the news, got emails from and help them realize that they are BORN with self-respect - it is all there. But the struggle is to HOLD ONTO it and be the keeper of their own net.

I decided that as a life-long story-teller the best way to communicate this connection between butterflies and self-respect was to create The Legend of The Butterfly Girls.

Out of this legend grew a group of 25+ girls who follow my lead in a closed facebook group and train with me as I write this book. Their quotes and insight will be integral to making the book authentic. It's not a 40 year old woman giving advice to teen girls, it is a compilation of truths the teens themselves have garnered as a result of our conversations, journalling and challenges.

I am very excited about this project and like collecting butterflies, I am collecting followers. If you are a teen girl who could use a little help in the self-respect department or if you are someone who wants to inspire some girls in your life - I ask that you become a member of this BUTTERFLY COMMUNITY by following this blog and passing it on to those you love.

Please enjoy The Legend of the Butterfly Girls:

In a remote rainforest in the far corner of Costa Rica lived two sisters. Raine and Miranda were twins and upon their birth, each had been given a net filled with butterflies. As they grew up their parents showed them the proper care for butterflies and impressed upon them that the nurture of these beautiful creatures was crucial to their own futures. The understanding was when Raine and Miranda turned ten they would become responsible for their own butterfly net.
Raine was honored, “Thank you, Father. I will do my best to ensure their safety and I will keep them by my side at all times. I will never turn my back on them for other things not worthy of my attention.”
Miranda was less than amused, “They are bugs. They mean nothing. Why would we sacrifice our own time nurturing these things that have no value? There are more interesting things that hold my attention.”
Raine began by naming her butterflies. She held each one carefully, studied it, decided how much it meant to her and chose a name perfect for just that one. She did this methodically until each one was named. As the swarm inside her net grew she was sure to continue connecting with each and every one.
Miranda took another approach and hung the net out of her site in a far dusty corner of her room. One by one the butterflies wiggled out through the holes in the net and fluttered away.
Raine worked tirelessly nurturing her swarm. She turned her back on some things that once took up her time. However, Miranda could not understand this and teased her sister relentlessly at times.
The difference in swarms became evident as the girls walked to school each morning. The large group of butterflies in Raine’s net created a lift when she needed it. Raine effortlessly hopped over mud puddles to keep her white school dress pristine. She was able to hop out of the way of poisonous snakes that were a part of the path. The butterflies would lift her a bit further than her hop could on its own when she came to a nasty briar patch.
Miranda’s butterflies were so small in number her net barely floated. Miranda’s walk to school became anxiety-ridden as she looked for slithering threats, sloshed through the mud and was scratched deeply by thorns along the same path that her sister walked unscathed.
Raine offered to teach Miranda the things she knew about holding onto her butterflies. In the days following, Miranda’s swarm would grow some but still very small in comparison to her sister’s billowy net. But it was enough to get by and Miranda was content with the small lift so she could get to school with only a little mud and a few scratches. But, Miranda would soon get distracted with what she considered more attractive things. Her old ways were comfortable and familiar and the care for the butterflies was too much sacrifice. And without constant nurturing and care, Miranda’s butterflies, once again, would slip away.
One day as Raine floated to school she saw Miranda standing on the lip of a smoking volcano. She called to her but Miranda didn’t respond. As Raine got closer she could see the scars on Miranda’s legs from the gnarls of her walk to school. Miranda’s once white school dress was stained with mud. Miranda lifted her head to see her sister floating above her.
“Miranda, what are you doing? You are going to fall. Back away from the edge. Please!”
Miranda watched her sister float directly over the mouth of the volcano. There was not an ounce of fear on Raine’s eyes. Her legs dangled and her toes pointed directly down into the hot lava but yet she was not scared. The net in her right hand was home to a huge brood of healthy, nurtured butterflies that could lift her above any evil. There was a trust in Raine’s life that Miranda never knew.
“I can’t take it anymore. I don’t know how to do what you do. I can’t float above it all. I fall face first and sink. I am dirty and broken. I have nothing.”
“Your focus has been set on the things that pull you into the muck. The things that cut you are always on your heels because your gaze is on things other than your butterflies. You can always grow your swarm. You don’t have to give up.”
Miranda wiped her eyes and shook her head, “It’s too hard to grow it. I should have just held onto it when I my net was full!”
Just then she lost her balance and teetered on the edge and lost her balance. He body heaved toward to molten lava.
Raine gasped and without a thought of the bubbling ooze below her feet she threw her full net toward her sister and yelled, “Miranda, catch!”
Miranda watched the net leave her sister’s hand and in the fraction of a second before the net reached her own she realized the impact of her sister’s sacrifice.
But then the sister’s eyes met as they floated together. Eye-to-eye.
“Raine, look at your dress, the butterflies, they are part of you.”
Raine looked down and saw something she had never expected. Her once plain white school dress was now exquisitely decorated with the world’s most brilliant butterflies…and they were keeping her afloat.
Raine now had both hands free to teach Miranda how to cultivate her own swarm and soon they both floated in butterfly dresses above the thorns and muck and were splendid examples of true sisterhood to the other girls in the forest.