Courage Integrity Assertiveness Confidence Restraint

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dear ME.... it's Journal Entry Friday!

Hey girls!
Grab your journals or print out the sheet below and let's get started!

Today's journal exercise is quite simple but at the same time, quite moving and powerful.

I recently heard a story about a woman on her wedding day who was presenting her husband with a letter she had written to him before she even knew him. She wrote the letter to a man she hadn't even met yet when she was a teenager taking an oath to remain pure for her husband. She commented that when she struggled with her values and was tempted to give in and take back that oath, she remembered that letter that was in her top drawer awaiting the man of her dreams. Because those words were written, because she could put her hands on them and re-read them at any moment, she would take a deep breath and make the right choice. And as she handed that letter to her husband on their wedding day, she was elated that she had kept that promise to herself, to God and to the man she would share something beautiful with on their wedding night.

This story brings me to tears every time I talk about it. How beautiful.

This brings me to our journal exercise. But I am going to change it up a little. I want you to write a letter to yourself. Something you will hold onto and know where it is at any moment. Something that will give you strength in times when you can't seem to find the strength within you. Something that will give you hope when everything coming at you looks bleak.

I want you to imagine you are grown and you are writing to yourself at the age you are now. This will be a thank you letter of sorts, thanking yourself for staying true to who you are and not selling out to be popular. This will be where you dream about WHO you want to become and what you want to be TO OTHER people as you grow up. What will others think of when they hear your name?

Now, imagine you are sitting on your bed. You have just returned from the best date ever. Your dream man has asked you to marry him and he told you everything he loves about WHO you are and WHAT you stand for. What do you imagine he said?

Write this letter as though you are that newly engaged young lady and you are thanking your younger self for all she did to stay true to who she was. What would this letter say?

"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything"

Dear Me....

Fold your letter up, put it somewhere that you can put your hands on it at any moment. Use it like an old friend. Consult this letter when you have to make a life decision. It will give you strength to get through some tough decisions and it will be something you will treasure when you truly ARE sitting on that bed looking at the amazing diamond "he" just placed on your finger.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Real words from a real girl,
"Yea, being a teen girl is complicated because in all the drama at first you feel like you floating on top of the sea of miserableness but you never know when all the drama is gonna get worse and then you see the big waves and then when you least expect it, the waves flip your boat over and you never know when you gonna reach the surface. But when you talk to someone about and try you very best to fix the problem then you finally reach the surface and the problem fades and drifts away."

And this is what we talk about on "the gathering" on facebook. If you need to chat it out, hash out life, complain, vent or ask for advice come on over and join the conversation. Request to join!!


Friday, May 20, 2011

If YOU were in the DICTIONARY... it's Journal Entry Friday!

Yesterday I posed the question,
"If YOU were in a dictionary, what would you WANT your definition to be?"

Jay McGraw (Dr. Phil's son) says, "You have to name it, before you can claim it." You can't go through life not knowing what you stand for. There's a famous quote that says, "If you don't know what you stand for, you will fall for anything."

I have talked to so many girls over the years who tell me about a boy taking advantage of them physically. They tell me the boy just kept saying, "Shhh, it's ok." They tell me they just weren't comfortable saying, "No!" In all cases these girls feel like something has been stolen from them. There is no doubt in their minds that those boys were wrong in what they did. They don't doubt that giving themselves (even parts of themselves) away was a mistake they will deal with for the rest of their lives. So, why did they let it happen?

I believe these things happen because we don't lay down CONCRETE boundaries in our lives. Girls as young as 2 and 3 are taught about inappropriate touching and what to do if it happens. But when you girls grow up, you get to a point in your lives where your mom can't determine your boundaries anymore. You need to OWN your decisions about what DEFINES you. YOU have this responsibility but all too often no one tells you that. Then you get into a situation with a boy or a mean girl pressuring you to do something you believe to be wrong and because you don't STAND for anything you FALL for their lies.

I am going to tell you a story from when I was 19.

I spent my high school years being the "goody two shoes." Some people made fun of me but mostly it was the girls who weren't as virtuous as I was and I just read into it that they were jealous that I was strong enough to say "no" to many things I was confronted with. I wasn't an outcast, I was a cheerleader, I dated the star basketball player on and off for 3 years. I was active in clubs and activities in school, I was in the Show Choir (which wasn't as drama-filled as GLEE!) So it wasn't my lack of popularity that made me a target, it was simply my choices and how OTHER people felt about if I was wearing shirts that said, "I am better than you because I don't.... or .... or...."

When I went to college, I dated a boy that was my first experience with a "bad boy" so these boundaries I had set for myself were truly tested. I hadn't had anyone ask me, "What DEFINES you?" or "What are your personal concrete boundaries?" I was TOLD by my mom what the answers to those questions were. But, being in this not-so-healthy relationship helped me make those answers MY OWN.

One day I realized that when you have DEFINED BOUNDARIES, people can just sense it. When your boundaries are obvious by what you say, do and how you don't deal with alot of what other girls your age do when it comes to peer pressure.

My boyfriend and I were at a party at his friend Rob's house. Unbeknownst to me, Rob was the biggest pig on the planet. At one point in the party a couple girls I didn't know came up to me and said, "We aren't sure what is going on but ever since you got here, Rob has been on his best behavior." I had no idea what they were talking about, I had never met the kid before so I had nothing to compare it to. On the way home that night, my boyfriend said, "Ya know, Rob really respects you. He didn't swear once or tell a dirty joke or be a pig once. It's like he KNEW you were a 'good girl'. I didn't think Rob had a decent bone in his body."

It was then that I realized that living my life the way I did, was SHOWING people what I would and would not accept from them. I didn't have to have a toe-to-toe confrontation with Rob to tell him my feelings about his foul mouth...he just behaved himself b/c it's what I EXPECTED. It was my DEFINITION.

"If YOU were in a dictionary, what would you WANT your definition to be?"

Now, I will tell you that staying together with this 'bad boy' led me down some roads where I stepped across my own boundaries enough times that what I had worked to build for those 19 years, fell and I had to rebuild portions of it again. So, I can see this situation from more that one side. I know what it's like to fall. But I know how much easier it is to get up if you BELIEVE in your own DEFINITION!

Use the following journal page to hash out your own PERSONAL DEFINITION. What will you demand from those around you? Respect, appropriate behaviors, drug-free friends, no bullying, no foul jokes, etc.....

Write your name as the word being DEFINED, then follow it with the definition...."a person who expects ........... a person who doesn't......... a person who won't tolerate............ a person who will always...................." Add more if you like.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The choices you make DEFINE who you are...

When you don't know what a word means where do you go? When I was a teen, we opened a big fat book otherwise known as the DICTIONARY. Most of you reading this probably "have an app for that" or simply plug in '' on your laptop.

We use a dictionary to DEFINE words  to help us understand their meaning. So, if I said,
"The choices you make DEFINE who you are" how would you feel about that?

I have spent almost my entire adult life mentoring and unofficially counselling young girls on issues that define who they are (or who they think they are).

Girls like you struggle with body image, the longing to fit in, best friend drama, gossip and rumors, boys, sex, depression, cutting, alcohol and drugs and abuse at the hands of friends and family.

All of the decisions you make are weighted in one or more of the things I listed above.

Will you defy your parents and go to that party? Depends on what your bestfriend wants you to do.

Will you try a cigarette? Depends on if the 'populars' are watching.

Will you let a boy's hands roam into territory that makes your stomach sick? Depends on how badly you want him to like you.

Are you willing to risk changing the course of your life based on what your bestfriend, the populars or a boy think? When your choices pull you into a deep hole that you can't climb out of, where will that best friend, those populars and that boy be? They will have moved on.

You will have let their input on YOUR life help to DEFINE the course of your life.

If you look up the word DEFINE, you will read the following:
to explain or identify the qualities of something
to determine the boundaries of something
to make clear the outline or form of
Let's start thinking about the things that DEFINE you...
Grab a piece of paper and answer the following questions without considering what anyone else will think of your answers. You are the only one who will see this.
What are a few things that interest you?
What are you good at?
What healthy things do you enjoy doing?
What world/local issues would you like to see improved?
What are your dreams for the future?
Look at the answers on your list and think of the decisions you have been making in your life with friends or boys. Do they line up? Do the things that truly DEFINE YOU match up with the behaviors you are showing?
Let's try something else - we are going to DEFINE some words.
Click on the following words to see their definitions:
Now, I want you to think about these three words and write YOUR DEFINITION. If YOU were in a dictionary, what would you WANT your definition to be?
Put this paper you have been using somewhere that you can put your hands on it whenever you need to connect with that DEFINITION again. When you need some strength to make the right choice, check out YOUR DEFINITION. It won't be easy to stay on  the straight and narrow but having thought this will help you weed out the bad influences in your life and stay true to YOU!
Friday's Journal Exercise will follow along with this theme of WHO defines YOU!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sketchers Shape Ups...You should be ASHAMED!

This commercial is on TV... it is aimed for girls as young as 7.

We have talked alot on this blog about the messages our media is sending to young girls. Whether it is ABERCROMBIE'S padded bikini or something else, you are taking in information that someone ELSE is deciding is TRUTH. A company that wants your money can get really creative in HOW they market these things to you.

I want you to truly search for what this commercial's many messages are and leave your thoughts below.

It is YOUR turn to SPEAK out to the national marketing firms that ALLOW this to be shovelled into your heads.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

REAL teen girls tell it like it is...

Over on facebook on a group page called "the gathering" 250+ girls come together to chat, support each other, share stories, shed light on issues and learn to focus on what REALLY matters and stay ABOVE the drama instead of IN it. You have to request to join or be added by a friend who is already a group member, but if you are a TEEN GIRL, you are welcome to join us. Click the logo.

I am "wow"ed regularly by the things the girls are dealing with and how open they are to share. And I am in awe of the girls that step up and offer their advice and support. It is an amazing place to be on a day when you feel like you have nowhere to turn because there are many girls (and ME!) who can lift your spirits with some healthy advice. But it is also a great place to be when you are on top of the world because you will be able to use that positive energy to bless someone else.

The other day I asked the girls to describe what it was like to be a teen girl in 2011 and one answer took my breath away...

Alex shared this with us:

"Yea, being a teen girl is complicated because in all the drama, at first, you feel like you floating on top of the sea of miserableness. But you never know when all the drama is gonna get worse. And then you see the big waves and when you least expect it, the waves flip your boat over and you never know when you gonna reach the surface. But when you talk to someone about it and try you very best to fix the problem then you finally reach the surface and the problem fades and drifts away."

Thank you, Alex, for sharing your heart and for giving us this visual!!

If you would like to come check us out, please search "the gathering" on your facebook search bar, request to join and then come chat it up with all the girls. Like what you see? Invite your friends! It's a great place to be able to turn to.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What DIRECTION will your life take?

This weekend I had the privilege of teaching a lesson written by Andy Stanley to a group of amazing 5th and 6th graders. This lesson has so much potential to reach you where you are and give you a visual of the DIRECTION your life is taking. This is something so powerful I wanted to share it with you here, on the blog.

I hope that you will choose to share it with friends that you think could adjust their direction toward a safer path. You could save a life!

Read this statement slowly, read it again and let it sink in:
Your path, not your intention, determines your destination.

Are you feelin' it? Do you "get" what that is saying? Basically it is telling you a TRUTH that could change your life...TODAY. You can have the best intentions for your life, for where you want to be one day. But the path you choose as you go through your teens is what will determine your destination.

So, let me paint the picture for you...
You have the INTENTION of being a smart girl as you go through your school years. You put school at a high priority and your dream is to be a teacher after college. That's a really good INTENTION!

However, you have a group of friends that start putting more emphasis on partying than school. You rationalize their behavior with, "Well, you're only young once. They are just trying to relieve their stress. It won't hurt if you only drink every now and then." Basically, you are believing that your INTENTION will get you to that dream of being a teach even if your PATH takes a little detour.

Now, a couple months  down the road, your friends have moved into experimenting with drugs when they "party" - it's just a release, right? They are just blowing off steam. You try it here and there and you know that if you keep your eye on the prize (being a teacher) it will be easier for you to steer clear of becoming some kind of sick addict. You got this. You can handle this.

Report cards come home. You have failed 3 of your 5 major classes because your PATH has now veered so far away from your DESTINATION and you now realize that your INTENTION can NOT keep you on that right PATH...
Only your DIRECTION, not your INTENTION, determines your DESTINATION!

This is one of those things that if you don't take it seriously, you will look back on this day and think...why didn't I take that blog post seriously?!

So, what happens when you realize you are veering off the path? There are four words that can change your life: ACTION, SACRIFICE, EMBARRASSMENT and RELIEF! If you find yourself on a PATH that is so far from your INTENTION, there is hope!! You can get back on that path! I promise! But you will have to WORK and FIGHT for it. But you will be stronger for it! And the story you will have to tell and share with others will be so inspirational!

Now, here's the deal with these four words!!

ACTION - This is knowing you have to do something, i.e. end a relationship, make a phone call, have a tough conversation, and doing it. You know what it is. You know there is an ACTION you need to take that will change your direction. But what will this take?

SACRIFICE - You will realize that the ACTION you need to take will require giving something up. It may mean walking away from a friendship. It may mean walking away from a "habit" you have gotten yourself into. It may mean sacrificing your reputation. Youch. As a society, we don't like depriving ourselves of something.We are brought up believing if something feels uncomfortable it must be bad... sacrifice for the right reasons will still be uncomfortable but it is ALWAYS the right thing to do. So, what happens then?

EMBARRASSMENT - You are going to have to grow a thick skin. Your friends will hate that you are making a wise choice! Your reputation is going to change and teens will have a field day with this. People will see this change and because they aren't in your head, they won't understand it. And that's OK. You need to take care of YOU. Your true friends will know your heart and support your choices. What does this get you?

RELIEF - This is the good news! You will look back on this whole process and be able to breathe a sigh of relief. You got out. You are back on track. You will watch those people who continued down that path you WERE on and you will breathe that sigh of relief over and over when you see them fumble and you realize you got out in time. You didn't get pregnant before graduation. You weren't addicted to prescription drugs. You got into your dream college. You have the most amazing friends that SHARE YOUR PATH and will celebrate with you when you all reach that DESTINATION together!

The key to all of this is realizing AHEAD of time that your DIRECTION IS CHANGING- don't wait until you are LOST...and, like a GPS, re-route your path and get back on the right route before you really don't know where you are!

Let's discuss this some more - tell us YOUR story in the comments below.

Thank you, Andy Stanley, for an AWESOME, life-changing lesson!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Philanthropy... It's Journal Entry Friday

1. The desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed esp. by the generous donation of money to good causes.

This is one of my favorite things to talk to teens about. So often, as teens, you can feel like "you're just not old enough" for anything...not old enough to drive, not old enough to have a job, not old enough to walk to school, not old enough for Prom, not old enough for... well, you can fill in the blanks.

So, I think it is natural that if this message is pounded through your head enough, you start to just ASSUME you are too young to do any BIG thing.

Well, I am here to tell you that is a not the case. There are many teens (and even younger kids) who have changed the lives of many people because they saw a need and they did something to fill it.

I talk to kids all the time about the "Oprah effect" - what's that? Well, it's my own term for feeling like your efforts aren't making a difference if you don't end up on Oprah. It's this kind of thinking, "Sure, I could help stock the shelves at the food pantry but no one would know I did it. So, it's not really helping anyone if it's not making the news."

You don't have to make the news to make a difference. You can affect the lives of the people around you by one simple (even anonymous) act of kindness. I believe we were put on this earth to give back humbly. Giving humbly means to give with your whole heart without NEEDING a "thank you" or any notoriety.

I have gotten many letters over the years from teens thanking me for affecting their lives in a way that helped shape who they are as adults and in some cases, as parents. (Yeah, that makes me feel old!) But I have never been on Oprah or in the news. Does not being on the news cancel out my impact on their  lives? Of course not!

So, what if I decided NOT to help them when they needed it b/c it wasn't going to get me on the news? Sounds pretty selfish, doesn't it?

What ONE THING do you want to affect?
What group of PEOPLE needs YOU?
Who is waiting for YOU to help?

Take some quiet time right now. Close the door, get out your journal, get comfy and close your eyes.

Think about the things that tug on your heart, the things you see about the world that concern you, maybe they are things on the  news that make you cry.

Maybe there are things that affect your life personally?
Is it a disease that needs research funding? (Cancer, fibromayalgia, etc)
Is it something about your family life that you makes you want to bless others in your same situation? (Adoption, single-parent homes, etc)
Some efforts can be for non-humans, abused animals or endangered species.

What is it for you?

Start making a list in your journal. You will probably have a long list.

There are MANY things that move me to tears but only a few that I feel I have the talents and passions to be able to help. Some I can support but don't feel the same passion for as I do for the ones I feel like I could stand up and speak to people about. I am in FULL support of rescuing dogs from puppy mills, but my talents are based in my connections with teens so that is "my" cause.

 Now, narrow it down to a couple that are the MOST meaningful to you.

Now, which one are you passionate enough about that you feel you could speak to a small group of people about and they would "join" you in your activism for this cause?

Your journal exercise today is to write what you would say to that small group about your cause. Write a mini-speech.

Use this journal page if you don't have one of your own:

Your "A HA!" MOMENT! Once you write your "mini speech" you may find yourself imagining organizing help efforts for your cause. Google what other people are doing to raise money or awareness. Some causes simply need people to collect items; winter coats, school supplies, etc.

Which friends would make a perfect committee?

GO! Make it happen!
Come back and let us know what you are doing! This is SO exciting!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


1. The desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed esp. by the generous donation of money to good causes.

I didn't know this word until I was in college. It wasn't something anyone had discussed with me or taught me about until I was face to face with many GREEK organizations that supported so many things. I saw the tens of thousands of dollars that one organization could raise for Alzheimer's or Muscular Dystrophy in a relatively short time.

Of course I went to Penn State which is the home of the Largest Student Run Philanthropy on the PLANET! Dance Marathon! This past February the Greek Organizations of Penn State went above and beyond for CHILDHOOD CANCER and raised...

Yes, you read it right....$9.56 MILLION!!!

When I saw this potential teens had while I WAS a teen at Penn State, I actually wished someone had told me that I could make a difference. ME.

You put a lot of "ME's" together and you get results like this! I wish more teens realized their potential when it comes to touching the lives of others in a positive way.

I have to wonder if all the hopelessness teens feel is not a result of not living this reality. Can you imagine taking a teen who feels like she has no worth, no potential and putting her in a situation where she gets to change the life of one person. The results would be astronomical!

When I was preparing to jump into this world of writing for and speaking to teens, a very wise businessman told me to write my personal mission statement. When I was thinking about teens not plugging into PHILANTHROPIES like they should be, I was reminded of this mission statement.

This is what I wrote:
"My mission is to use my gifts to positively influence children of all ages to love and respect themselves, others and the life they've been given and to empower them with the truth that they can be a changing force that positively influences the world around them."

And that's my challenge to you today. Think about how your want to impact the world around you? Do you find yourself interested in one specific type of charity? Is there something that when it flashes across the TV you are immobile? Something that you wish you had a magic wand to fix? This could be your soul trying to get your attention. What "moves" you?

Here are some great stories about teens making a difference. Check them out and see if anything sparks your fancy. We will be continuing this conversation on Friday with our Journaling Day.

Teen Bakes for Cancer Patients
Teen Girl Uses Her Faith to Guide her Philanthropy Choices
Trading Probation for Running

Where is your heart in this matter?

Monday, May 2, 2011

"the gathering" - a NEW Online HOT SPOT for TEEN Girls

I am so excited to introduce "the gathering" to you and all of your friends. This is a facebook group (just search the words "the gathering" in the search bar and request to join) specifically for teen girls who want to connect with other girls or get some good advice or share a celebration or change the world.

This is a safe CLOSED group that is closely monitored by myself and my Advisory Team of teens.
My whole program...the book I am writing (which is still up for grabs so publishers and agents I NEED YOU), the workshops I run, my Advisory Team of amazing teens, this blog and now "the gathering"...has been built on methods that empower girls with the self-respect they deserve and are ALLOWED to demand and the boundaries only they can set.

Yes, it can be that simple. But do you know why? Self-respect and boundaries don't only have to do with boys...self-respect and boundaries effect EVERY part of your life...

~ your education
~ your friendships
~ your family life
~ your safety
~ your hopes and dreams
~ your career
~ your life's direction
...and so much more

My life's calling is to empower young women through a knack that I have been blessed with, a knack for connection. When I was a first year teacher right out of college, I thought I connected with my students simply because I was only a couple years older than them. Now, at almost 41, I realize this connection phenomenon has only become more obvious and stronger and with MORE girls than ever.

Please come join us on "the gathering," introduce yourself and then invite all your friends... we're going to take the world by storm!