A Self-Love Activity

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This is a self-love exercise that I have planned for Girl Guides tonight.  Here’s how you can do it with your friends or family.

dr seuss cards

Make a card (I chose to include one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes on the front).  Sit in a circle with your friends and lots of markers.  Put your name on the inside of your card.  Pass the cards clockwise, taking the time to write a compliment to each person – here’s an important piece: the compliment cannot be about something physical (the person’s appearance – body, clothes, etc).  Really think about something that you love about each friend and write it down.  (Example: “I noticed when you sat with a girl who was alone at lunch last week.  You have a big heart!”)  Let your friends know that you see the small things about them.  Be thoughtful.  Have fun.  Be creative.

When everyone is done, take your card with you.  Read it and really believe the things that your friends/family have written about you.  I am going to put my card on my bathroom mirror so I see it every day.

Sometimes You Just Need Some TLC

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I just wanted to say that I am feeling euphoric from the last few weeks with family and friends, including an adorable baby, a hilarious cousin, fun-loving parents, supportive in-laws, a loving husband, cuddly dogs, and amazing friends! Went to see my two friends in their last show ever with their band last night and feel-good feelings were flowing. Thanks to everyone for being a blessing in my life.

I Want to Tell You About *Heather

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This Sunday morning, I would like to tell you a true story about a girl named *Heather (real names have been changed).

Heather was someone I got to know in middle school.  She had a friend, *Anne.  Every day at lunch they sat together, alone, at a table in the lunchroom.  Other tables, including the one I sat at, would take extra chairs from other tables and crowd groups of 10-12 around tables meant to seat 8, but there they sat, a table of two.  I remember watching as chairs were asked to be taken from Heather and Anne’s table, sometimes by me, and how the two of them always said yes and kept on with their own conversations.  They were true best friends and everyone treated them terribly.

Heather and Anne were bullied.  Whether it was outright public-shaming or mean words behind their backs, their peers were unkind.  I thank God we didn’t have facebook when I was young.  I can’t imagine what the bullying would have looked like for them.

I remember hearing boys laugh about how they were invited to Heather or Anne’s birthday party or how gross it was that Heather and Anne had crushes on them.  Girls would snicker when the two friends walked by.  The worst thing I recall was when we were taking yearbook photos for student-voted awards; “Best Eyes”, “Class Clown”, etc.  The student body played a trick on Heather which was that they voted her and a boy named *Grant for “Best Couple”.  (The fact that a middle school was even voting people “Best Couple” in the yearbook is beyond ridiculous, but let’s not even go there right now as this is about Heather.)  Heather had no idea it had been a prank orchestrated by Grant and she was elated.  I remember thinking that maybe if she didn’t know it was a joke, it would be a good memory for her and she could actually enjoy one day at school.  I congratulated her when we were walking for photos and she smiled and thanked me.  I noticed that she had dressed up, put a headband in her hair and put on a light shade of pink lipstick.  In fact, she was glowing.  I felt sick inside.  Even though I had not been a part of the trick, I knew about it, and that was enough to make me an accessory.

Grant showed up and came barreling down the outdoor hallway calling after Heather.  He wanted to hold her hand, but first, he held up his finger so she’d wait while he put on latex gloves, then he held her hand.  Others started laughing.  I told those near me to cut it out but didn’t really say enough to make it stop.  The photo was taken – Grant tried to pose in typical cuddling boyfriend positions and I could tell Heather was uncomfortable.  I just wanted this day to be over, and I’m sure she did, too.

Looking back, I should have done something more to save her the humiliation of that day.  It’s sad that out of over 200 students in our class, no one spoke up.

There were a few lunches where my friend *Sarah and I would sit with Heather and Anne.  We felt bad that they were always alone.  They welcomed us and we would talk, but after those lunches, Sarah and I always went back to our group of friends and Heather and Anne went the other way, on their own, again.

The last memory I have of Heather is her singing while her mom played the piano at our 8th grade graduation.  People were saying snide comments to their friends under their breath during the performance – it’s always funny how those who don’t have the guts to stand up and sing can make fun of the others who do.  Heather looked nervous, but I saw her mom give her encouraging glances and she began to sing.  She had a really sweet voice, something I did not know about her.  I can still picture her standing up in front of everyone who put her down and singing a song about friendship and togetherness.  It’s a nice last picture to have of her – she was always kind to everyone, even those who did not reciprocate the sentiment.

That summer, before entering high school, Heather died in her father’s arms in the middle of the night from a brain aneurysm.  My mom got a phone call from another parent at our school.  She asked me if I knew Heather and I said yes.  My stomach was sick.  I cried for her, I cried for her family, and I cried for Anne.

I know others felt guilty for bullying her, but they would never admit it.  It was like this thick, heavy air hung over people whenever she was spoken about after that.  No one said mean things anymore.  People didn’t know what to say because inside all they could think about was the way she was mistreated.  No one had the chance to apologize to Heather or to try to make things right with her.  She is immortalized in the yearbook under “Best Couple” in a photo that brings back the awful trickery of that day, but I remember her on stage, singing.  Thank God for that.

The first day of high school I found Anne, sitting alone at a table, and I sat with her.  I told her how sorry I was and if she was ok.  She seemed so sad.  I imagine Heather and Anne had stayed up late during sleep overs, predicting how high school would change their lives.  There would be new people and new groups to fit in to.  The boys would be cuter, the grass would be greener.  Anne must have felt that hope for a better future at school died with Heather.

I am no saint.  I sat with Anne the first day, but not after that.  I would say hi in the halls, but what was I really doing to help her?  Anne made new friends and I think she had fun in high school, but I don’t know for sure because I never asked her.  I keep up with her on facebook and she has definitely found her stride in adulthood.  A good job, good friends, supportive family.  She recently posted that she’s pregnant with her baby’s due date, and I noticed a comment from a man I am assuming is Heather’s dad.  It said, “That’s Heather’s birthday.”  Isn’t that how it should be?  Anne will always have Heather with her, and I hope that her baby is born exactly on its due date and will share a birthday with Anne’s best friend.

I hope that what people learn from this is to always treat others with kindness.  It’s not fair to Heather or her family that she had a hard 14 years of life.  Be kind.  Speak up when others are not.  We are all capable of kindness.

I love Katy Perry’s “Firework” and I think it fits this especially.  For Heather.

Beauty in unconditional love.

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Check out this article from a German magazine.  I can only wish this type of acceptance and tolerance and love upon all children and families.  Thank you Pickert family.

Father of the Year Helps Dress-Wearing Son Feel Comfortable By Putting on a Skirt Himself

“My five year old son likes to wear dresses,”says German dad Nils Pickert.

Back when he lived in West Berlin, it was certainly a conversation-starter, but not much more than that. Now, however, Pickert and his son live in a “very traditional” South German village where his son’s predilection for dresses is the talk of the town.

“I didn’t want to talk my son into not wearing dresses and skirts,” Pickert tells the German feminist magazine EMMA. “He didn’t make friends in doing that in Berlin already and after a lot of contemplation I had only one option left: To broaden my shoulders for my little buddy and dress in a skirt myself.”

At first, Pickert’s son was reluctant to wear a dress in public, fearing he would be laughed at, particularly by other kids at his preschool. But that all changed one “skirt and dress day” when he and his dad made a resident of the town stare so hard she slammed into street light face first.

“My son was roaring with laughter,” says Pickert. “And the next day he fished out a dress from the depth of his wardrobe. At first only for the weekend. Later also for nursery-school.”

As you might imagine, this story has a happy ending:

And what’s the little guy doing by now? He’s painting his fingernails. He thinks it looks pretty on my nails, too. He’s simply smiling, when other boys ( and it’s nearly always boys) want to make fun of him and says: “You only don’t dare to wear skirts and dresses because your dads don’t dare to either.” That’s how broad his own shoulders have become by now. And all thanks to daddy in a skirt.

The perfect movie for girls!

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Hi gals!  Check out the movie, “Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging”.

It’s a movie about a group of 14 year old girls who are starting to date and are in between being children and being full-blown teenagers.  It sheds light on being true to yourself, dating, friendships and family relationships.  It is hilarious and you can’t help but to love the characters.  It’s on Netflix now, too, if you have that.  It came from a book titled, “Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging”.

I watched it last night and couldn’t wait to share it with you!

…I would encourage her to step outside of her comfort zone!

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I started to go through an old notebook this morning and came across a list I made of things I wanted to do that were outside of my comfort zone.  Since I moved to a new city (and country, for that matter) after marrying my husband, Rick, everything is a new experience.  Some I welcomed, and some I shied away from for too long.  I realized this summer that we were approaching our second anniversary, which made me look at what I had and hadn’t accomplished for myself in a new place in that time.  I made a goal to do one thing that was new, either with someone else or by myself, each week.  I hoped that it would help me learn more about my surroundings and meet new people.  I really haven’t made many friends outside of our family, and I was hoping that by doing new things I would meet new people.

Side note: Have you ever moved somewhere new and realized that trying to make friends as an adult is much like dating?  For example: I met someone at a bar, a friend of a friend, and we had such a great time talking and hanging out.  Then I found myself panicking: how do I ask her for her number?  What if she doesn’t want to hang out?  She probably has enough friends already, why would she want another?  Then, say I do ask for her number in my most care-free way and she gives it to me.  When is it appropriate to call?  Should I even call, or just send a text?  Do I ask her to hang out on our own, or must I invite the friend that introduced us?  Would she be more comfortable in a group setting?  I haven’t been in the dating scene for five years yet I feel all of the same anxieties that I used to feel!  (I am laughing as I write this because it all sounds so ridiculous, but it’s true!)  Making friends is hard!  I am an outgoing person, but I have become more introverted with each year and a little more shy.  I had plenty of friends growing up, but making friends when you’re a child seems so much simpler (mostly because our parents are the ones who really dictate plans with our new friends).  I also lived in the same place my whole life and had friends in college who were in my kindergarten class years before, so I really didn’t have to strive to meet new people in college.  I did have new college friends who were awesome, but I always had my really fun childhood friends, too, which was a safety blanket, I guess.  So, I haven’t made as many new friends as I was hoping by this point, but I am still working on it…but I digress.

So, when I found the list of goals I had made this summer, I read the list over and was pleasantly surprised that I had done five of the things on the list without really consciously thinking about them.  I went to a hot yoga class by myself (several now, in fact), I have explored downtown where I live (by myself and with others), I started a book club (we are on our second book), I attended a new church (several!), and I have explored Toronto more (after all, it’s only an hour train ride and big cities are so cool!).  The feeling of excitement and pride for having done some of the things that I was putting off because of fear or nerves still floods me as I re-read the list and see check-marks next to those five things.  I have to say, that with fall in full-force now (the leaves have almost all fallen to the ground, it has been raining for weeks, and I have switched from a light jacket to my down-jacket), it is nice to have something to brighten my day and make me feel good about myself.

There are still things on the list that I would like to do.  I think I will re-write them and add to it, and this time I will put the list where I can see it daily.  Or, maybe not.  Maybe I should tuck it away again so that when I find it in a few months I can check off lots of items.  Perhaps if it was in front of me everyday I would feel like it was daunting because I would see all of the things that are outside of my comfort zone; maybe I should pick one goal and display it until I do it then put up a new one.  I don’t know.  Whatever I decide, I just hope to keep doing new things and adding check marks to my list.  I do feel much more confident in my surroundings and I don’t feel lost for ideas anymore when friends and family come to visit.  I actually know a few things around town to do!  And, dare I say, I have made some new friends!  I even got two phone numbers last night :o)  Now, should I text or call…ha ha!

Yes it is scary acknowledging the things that make us uncomfortable (writing the list).  Yes, sometimes you have to be willing to try the things on your own and hope for the best (for me, a GPS was incredibly helpful!).  Take it from me, it is worth it.  The anxiety that I had to explore new places on my own, or step into a yoga class by myself and sit in (gasp!) the front row, seem so small now since I have actually done these things.

Sometimes we have to nudge ourselves off of the “cliff” to realize that we were only standing on a curb.  So make a list for yourself.  What is something you want to do, but fear or anxiety has been holding you back?  Simply putting that thing in writing is the first step toward doing it.  Life is short, so we should take advantage of the time we have by not letting nerves run our lives.  Step outside of your comfort zone and relish in all that new experiences have to offer you.  You might just have fun!

…I would tell her, “Ugh, boyfriends”.

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Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em?  Yes you can live without them!

Listen, I was the perfect example of a girl who pined away for a boyfriend ever since my first true crush in fifth grade.  I was not the girl getting “asked out” (AKA-asked to be someone’s girlfriend) and I had to sit idly by and watch all of my friends have boyfriends…granted sometimes it was only for 30 minutes!  Some of my friends went out with boys that they knew I had a crush on and I let it affect me way too much.  First of all, friendships should not end because of a boy, and I am proud to say that none of mine ever have.  My relationships with friends always came first because I have great friends who I trust completely.  If one of them told me my boyfriend was scum, I would listen (even if it still took me a while to totally grasp the concept and dump the guy). :o)  Once, a boy that I thought I was in love with in high school asked my best friend to Winter Formal.  She told him she had to think about it and called me first.  She didn’t want to go with him because she didn’t want to hurt me.  I insisted that she go, though, because I knew deep down that even if she told him no, he still might not ask me and then both he and my friend would be unhappy.  So she went, but not until I swore to her that it was ok with me.  She also knew that great friendships always come first.

Any who, back to fifth grade.  I had the biggest crush on *Emilio (*if I’m going to change someone’s name for their privacy I might as well make it Latino).  :o)  Emilio was everything I could want in an eleven year old.  He was funny, kind, cared about his grades and he dominated the flag football field, which was perfect because I was a tom-boy and needed a guy who was strong.  He and I were no doubt friends and we could talk to each other without getting shy or weirded out.  But I was dying inside for him to LIKE-like me.  You all get the difference between liking someone and LIKE-liking them, right?  I even wrote about us holding hands in my diary.  (It was because the rules in “Medic” dodgeball were that you had to hold hands with someone to get them safely across the mid-line after freeing them from jail, but still!  He held my hand!  Isn’t that what silly girl dreams are made of?)  Well I crushed on poor Emilio for about three years.  I asked him out several times, and even though he always said no, he always made up some nice excuse so he wouldn’t hurt my feelings and damage our friendship.  My favorite was, “Well I like someone else right now, but ask me again in a few months.”  He always allowed me to keep hope alive!  Haha–I am hoping you can detect my sarcasm on some of this!

Sidebar–this brings me to another good point that my dad taught me growing up.  If you want something, go after it.  If I ask a boy out, what is the worst that can happen?  He can say, “No.”  Can I deal with that?  Yes.  Not really a big deal in the scheme of things.  So I wasn’t afraid to ask a boy out and I never have been.  If I wanted to talk to a boy on the phone, I called them.  I wasn’t going to wait around for them to call me, because I knew that even if they wanted to call me they most likely were going to be too gun-shy to pull the trigger and do it.  Do you want to know where this really worked for me and makes me so glad that I took my dad’s awesome advice and just went for it?  School dances and DJ parties.  I was not the girl who stood in a circle of friends HOPING that someone would ask me to dance.  If I saw someone I wanted to dance with, I asked them as soon as the beat of a slow-jam started to play over the speakers.  And do you know what?  They almost always said yes.  The only time a boy said no it was because he had already promised that dance to someone else, but he kept true to his word and danced with me at the next song.  Thank God I asked people to dance and could go home feeling like I was walking on the ceiling instead of regretting that I didn’t seize the moment and go after what I wanted.  I hope that you can find the courage to do the same!

Back to boys.  Emilio and I have been friends all through school, and although we never dated each other, I did give my fifth grade self what she always hoped for during my first night at college.  Emilio and I were celebrating our first night away from home with a bunch of friends and he kissed me that night.  Nothing came of it because we didn’t want to be in a relationship (well, I guess I am speaking for him, but I definitely didn’t want a boyfriend with all the fish in the sea of college that I was about to swim through).  It just felt good and it was something that I think we had both always wanted to do.  After that kiss, the little eleven-year-old tom boy inside of me smiled and walked on the ceiling for a while because after waiting seven years, she got what she wanted.

I guess my point is this: it is a waste of time to pine away for boys.  I know you’ve probably heard it all before, but it’s true.  They are SO not as mature as we are!  And, they really don’t know what they want until sometimes, it is too late.  You should spend your time dreaming of the future and your personal goals for yourself.  Enjoy having a crush but don’t let it consume you.  I was convinced that I would never have a boyfriend, even though I had noticed that boys were paying me more attention in high school.  Yes they talked to me and sometimes I could tell they were “checking me out” but none of them were acting on it!  So I came to the conclusion that I was un-dateable.  Then, my junior year of high school, it all changed.  I went on dates, got my first kiss, had my very first boyfriend and it was all over from there.  Once I opened the door to dating, I could never seem to get it closed again!  Maybe my confidence went up and more people found that attractive or maybe it was just timing.  Whatever it was, the only time I didn’t have a date or boyfriend is when I chose not to have one.  This will happen to everyone single one of you!  Just when you think you’ll never be kissed or get asked to a dance, you’ll blink and suddenly be beating boys off with a stick.  I promise.  So, like I said, pining away is a time-waster and does no good.  Your day will come, and then you’ll find yourself saying things like, “I just don’t want a boyfriend right now, Tommy.  I’m sorry.  I hope you understand and can stop IM-ing me as soon as I sign on,” or, “I just need to be single at this time in my life, Pedro.  Good luck with the election, though.”  Get it?

It is unfortunate how we can draw conclusions about ourselves based on what boys tell us or do/don’t do to us.  They are just boys!  They are living their own lives trying to understand girls.  Which, again, I reiterate going after you want because sometimes the person you want to ask out wants the same thing but isn’t as brave as you are, so go for it!  At least if they say, “no”, you can move on (in my case, it took me three years, but I did move on from Emilio).  Find comfort in your friends and family, and enjoy your present life.  Don’t change yourself into something that you think someone else wants you to be.  I was a total tom-boy and probably the opposite of what guys were looking for, but I never tried to change that about myself.  To this day I say things that sound like they should come out of a sailor’s mouth and I can turn a mean double-play in co-ed softball, but I have a husband who loves me for it, and more importantly, I love ME for it.

Hang in there and enjoy your life because before you know it, you’ll be wondering where the time went and trying to find that stick so you can keep the boys back.

Friendship Quiz

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Hello Girls!  What kind of friend are you?

Friendships are some of the most important relationships that we have in our lives.  Healthy friendships can be fun and fulfilling.  They are full of trust and respect.  True friendships take work and require honesty.

Some friendships can be toxic and unhealthy.  They are usually made up of distrust and have a lack of respect.  Unfortunately, most people learn they have an unhealthy friendship the hard way.  They are sometimes betrayed by their “friend” or left with no support during a time of need.

We can’t control what other people do, but we can control ourselves.  So, what kind of friend are you?  Think about all of your friendships.  Are they different from one another?  Why?

Take this quiz from Nancy Rue’s book Girl Politics to get an idea of the type of friend that you are.  Try to be honest with your answers.  I took the quiz (while thinking of different friends) and learned a lot about why some of my friendships feel better than others.

(This quiz can also be found at faithgirlz.com.)

1. I’m honest with my friend…

a. no matter what
b. unless she might think I’m lame
c. unless I know she’ll get mad at me
d. when she’s clueless

2. When my friend and I have problems, I…

a. always talk to her about them
b. figure it’s probably my fault and try to fix myself
c. don’t bring it up because she might not be my friend anymore
d. tell other people what she’s doing that I can’t stand

3. When my friend and I are WAY getting along, I…

a. tell her how cool she is
b. smile to myself and hope it keeps up
c. don’t say anything because I might jinx it
d. Tell her this is the way it has to be all the time or I’m out of there

4. When my friend has something to tell me, I…

a. listen the way she listens to me
b. think about what I’m going to say when she’s through that’s just as cool
c. don’t say anything while she’s talking, because she’d cut me off anyway
d. listen until it starts driving me nuts

5. When my friend is upset, I…

a. do what she needs me to do (let her cry, bring her cookies, give her a hug, whatever I know works for her)
b. am always afraid I’m going to say something stupid
c. agree with whatever she says so she won’t get upset at me
d. give her advice as soon as I get what she’s talking about (or she’ll go on for days)

6. If somebody’s being mean to my friend, I…

a. stand up for her
b. tell her I would never be mean to her
c. be extra careful not to be mean to her myself
d. take care of it for her because she’s kind of a wimp when it comes to stuff like that

7. If something way cool happens to me, I…

a. can’t wait to tell my friend, because it’s even cooler when she squeals with me
b. wonder if my friend is going to think it’s as cool as I do
c. try not to make it sound as cool as it is so my friend doesn’t get jealous that it didn’t happen to her
d. tell my friend right away because she’s always trying to be cooler than me (and I hate that)

8. If my friend tells me a secret and I promise not to tell, I…

a. keep it to myself because she trusts me
b. only tell people I trust who I want to be friends with too
c. don’t tell anybody because if I did and she found out, she would totally hate me forever
d. only tell other people if she does something that makes me mad

9. When my friend does something, well, lame, I …

a. laugh with her so she doesn’t feel stupid
b. wait to see how she feels about it and then do the same (laugh, cry, hide my head in a bag)
c. pretend I didn’t notice so she doesn’t take her embarrassment out on me
d. laugh my head off because she’s such a klutz all the time

10. I think my friend will always be there…

a. because we treat each other super well
b. if I can be as cool as she is
c. if she doesn’t get mad at me
d. because she knows she needs me

Add it Up!

To understand what your answers mean, copy down the answer grid below on another sheet of paper. Then write the letter for the answer you gave to each of the questions next to the number. (You’ll notice that the numbers are not in order).

Honesty         Respect         Support
______1          ______4         ______5
______2          ______8          ______6

Sharing          Trust
______3          ______9
______7          ______10

What’s it All Mean?

Your A answers tell you that you’re the kind of friend that every girl wants in the areas of honesty, respect, support, caring, and trust. You basically know how to be a great pal when it comes to those things. Now look at your b, c, and d answers, because those are your challenges for being a best friend in every way. 

Your B answers show you the areas that you tend to let your friend make the decisions about your friendship. It’s good to take other people’s feelings into consideration, but you need to be your true self as well. Work on feeling more confident about being honest, confronting problems, and just relaxing and being authentic with your girlfriends. You’ll find out that you are SO worth being friends with.

Your c answers answers help you see the ways that you are somewhat afraid of your friend. Will she be mad at you? Will she think you are stupid? Will she get jealous? Will she dump you? In a real friendship, both girls are equal. Maybe you need to work on those things with your friend—or look for other friends who don’t expect you to tiptoe around them.

Your D answers are in the areas that you really don’t have respect for your friend and may be hurting her without even knowing it. No friend gets to be the boss of the other, or the friendship will fall apart—and that’s not usually pretty. You need to work to find a way to be your strong, confident, go-getter self without knocking your buds down in the process. Once you do, your friendships will rock!

Did you learn anything new about yourself or your friendships?