Archive for Personal

My New Site & Life Coaching Offerings

Hello Smart Girls!

I’m so excited to show you what I’ve been up to for the past few months! Some of you know that a year ago, I began training with the fabulous Martha Beck to become a life coach so I could take my work with teen girls and young women to a whole new level. Today, almost one year to the day from when my training began, I’m happy to announce that I’m a certified Martha Beck Life Coach and I’ve just launched a new website and a bunch of special life coaching packages just for teens!

I’ve also written a brand new ebook, What Smart Girls Know: 10 Truths to Discovering You, which I’m offering for FREE to people who sign up for my new newsletter over at This book is a passion project I’ve had in my mind for years, but never published with a traditional publisher. I’m thrilled to be able to make it available to you now…gotta love technology!

Oh, and if you’re interested in life coaching, here some of the one-on-one coaching offerings I’ve put together specifically for teens and 20-somethings. You can get all the details on my new Coaching Page:


In a world where teens are bombarded with mixed, and often harmful, media messages, face ongoing pressure to be a “perfect good girl,” and are stuck somewhere between their big dreams and their current reality, it can be challenging to figure out what sparks their passion, let alone where they want it to take them in their lives. This eight-session one-on-one coaching program is aimed helping girls tune into what makes them uniquely them, identify their values and passions, understand the limiting beliefs that get in their way, and build a personal toolbox for moving forward in life in an authentic, purposeful, and powerful way. For motivated teen girls ages 13 – 19.


Today’s overscheduled, overprogrammed teens are dealing with unprecedented stress levels in their quest to be and do it all. This six-week one-on-one coaching program offers motivated teen girls ages 13-19 simple strategies for juggling it all, managing their stress, and creating more balance in their lives.


Today’s teens are big dreamers, and as a collective, they’ve been told their whole life that they can do and be anything they can imagine. But many are missing the concrete strategies and skills they need to shift from imagine to action. This six-week one-on-one coaching program helps motivated teen girls ages 13-19 working toward a specific goal or goals imagine the possibilities, tackle fear and procrastination, create a foolproof plan of action, and set achievable goals.


For the busy teen juggling schoolwork, extracurriculars, and other obligations, a little organization can go a long way. This six-week one-on-one coaching program helps teens ages 13-19 understand the benefits of organizing all different aspects of their lives and give them solid organizational strategies and tools that will help them prioritize, save time, reduce the chaos in their life, and ultimately create a less-stressed life!


Senior year of high school is an exciting, interesting, and often challenging time as big transitions are looming and teens find themselves at the intersection of their familiar high school existence and the unknown of what comes next. This six-week one-on-one coaching program helps motivated, college-bound high school senior girls hone in on their personal values, discover their voice, learn how to tackle fear, and create a strong foundation for personal self-care.


Project You is a twelve-week coaching program for 20-somethings who are feeling stuck, trapped, and limited by their current reality. This intensive program helps 20-somethings hone in on their limiting beliefs, rewrite their personal story, reconnect with their purpose, imagine their ideal outcome, and gain the strategies and tools they need to make it happen.

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With the start of my new site, I’ve also launched a new blog which will feature less newsy news and more insight and reflections for young women. Therefore, I won’t be updating Smart Girls Know any longer. I will, however, keep this site up so you’ll continue to have access to the past 4 years worth of content, interviews, book reviews, affirmations, and more. Thanks so much for being a part of the Smart Girls Know community, and I hope you’ll join me over at!

XOXO Debbie

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Looking to Hear from Teens for Heart of Gold

Heart of GoldHey smart girls!

I’m excited to share the news about a new online venture I’ve been working on, Heart of Gold. Heart of Gold is for girls ages 14 – 18 who have big dreams and want to impact their world. The site, now in Beta, offers a ton of info, practical tools, and inspiration to help you as you explore and connect with your passion and take creative risks. The focus is on entrepreneurship, social activism, and volunteerism, but there’s also a lot of great content that is all about being the best you you can be.

The goal of the site, and the whole reason I came on board as the editor-in-chief, is to support girls just like you as you work towards your goals and make your big, fabulous marks on the world.

While we’re still in the early stages of Heart of Gold, we’re looking to bring in the voices of the real experts in the teen empowerment landscape… YOU. We’d love to feature you, your projects, your causes…your voice, on the site, in the form of video blogs and guest blog posts.

Interested? Here are a couple of things I’m looking for right now:

Teen Entrepreneurs:

  • Video blogs about your venture / concept / product / service
  • Guest posts about your business
  • Questions about any and all things entrepreneurship for our expert to answer

Teen Social Activists:

  • Video blogs telling us about the cause you’re most passionate about
  • Guests posts about an issue or cause you want to spread the word about

Teen Volunteers:

  • Video blogs telling us about your volunteer life (why you do it, who you do it for)
  • Guests posts about your volunteer life

I’m also looking for a handful of teen girls to review books, TV shows, and movies for Heart of Gold, so if that’s your thing, I want to hear from you.

STILL interested? Then here’s what I need you to do:

  1. with your name and age (19 is the cut-off) and a 2-3 sentence “bio” about yourself
  2. Tell me how you’re interested in participating (guest post, video blog, etc.), and what you would write or video blog about
  3. That’s it! Once I hear from you, I’ll be in touch with more details

Sound good? Great! Oh, and before you get in touch, head over to Heart of Gold and click through the site to get a sense of what we’ve got going on over there!

Thanks, and I hope to hear from you!

XOXO Debbie

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Inspiration Is Everywhere (If You’re Looking For It)

This week I’ve been in NYC on equal parts work and pleasure. I lived in NYC in my twenties, and so when I come back I try to jam-pack my visit with as many meetings and meals as I can squeeze in. What I love most about the city is its energy and the sense of endless opportunities, and this week I definitely got my fix.

But this week, I got something more. I got unexpected bursts of inspiration, whimsy, and hope in unusual places. See, I’ve been working hard at noticing more. Noticing what’s going on around me, noticing how I’m feeling about it, noticing the beauty in just about everything. It’s part of what I’m learning to do through the life coach training program I’m doing with Martha Beck. I’ve discovered that when I tune in more to each moment and what’s happening around me, life just feels better.

So when I was in NYC this week, I decided to notice. And as it turned out, the city had some messages for me. Literally.

The first message was on the stairs leading up from the subway station on 28th and Broadway. I had just dropped my 6-year-old son off at science camp and was feeling anxious about whether or not he’d do okay. They were going on a field trip after all, and he’s not a NYC city kid. I was thinking about what his day might be like as I walked up the stairs and saw these words written in black paint along the back of one step:

Everything is going to be alright

I had to laugh. Thanks universe, I thought to myself. And somehow, I knew that message was for me.

The next message came the following afternoon. I had a free hour to exercise, so feeling nostalgic, I grabbed my iPod, laced up, and ran to Central Park to do my
old running loop. Amidst a ton of other runners, bikers, roller bladers, tourists in horse-drawn buggies, I ran and thought about the meetings I’d had, the work I wanted to do, the dreams I wanted to accomplish. My mind was racing as I tried to sort through my jumble of thoughts about what I should be doing next, where to focus my energies, how to make the most of the opportunities I was being presented with. That’s when I started noticing messages along the running trail. Written in all caps in chalk every couple of hundred meters or so were the following words:

Become Your Dream

Well, that message couldn’t really have been any clearer. I laughed again as I wondered about who had scribbled all these messages, curious about their motivation and thinking about how many people had read and were internalizing this beautiful message. I finished my run feeling sweaty, exhausted, and exhilerated.

The last message (at least handwritten one) of my trip came two mornings later. I was meeting with an old friend at Union Square to share a bagel and sit in the park to catch up. We had a long talk about the things I’ve been trying to practice in my everyday life – living in the moment, being present, and noticing. And as we walked to the subway station to hug goodbye, we walked over the following message scrawled on the sidewalk:

Be mindful even if your mind is full

It was just what I needed to hear, just the send off I needed as I went back to my friend’s place to pack up my things so I could move on to the next leg of my journey. Because that message confirmed to me what all this noticing has pointed out – when you are living your life in the moment (not fixated on what went wrong last week or what might happen in the future), life can be truly magical. And who doesn’t need a little magic in their life?

How about you? Have you ever gotten a message in an unusual way? How did  you know it was for you and how did you react?

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Language of Love Book Launch Party

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, last week I celebrated the release of my first novel, ! Language of Love was originally slated to be part of Simon Pulse’s popular Romantic Comedy series (see the original cover on this version that was supposed to come out last June!), but due to changes in the publishing industry and how bookstores are buying books, Simon Pulse decided to create beautiful 2-book collections of romantic comedies (I say beautiful because look at what a great job they did with my cover!).

My book was paired up with Caroline Goode’s novel Cupidity to create the collection Love, Love, Love, which, as the back of the cover describes, contains “Two sweet stories about finding your one true love.”

Last Wednesday, I gathered a bunch of people together at indie bookstore Secret Garden Books in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle for a night of trivia (a quiz on romantic comedy movies filmed in Seattle), treats (heart-shaped Peeps, cupcakes, and more), and a reading. The turnout was great, and I was especially grateful for the support of some of my fellow YA writers in Seattle, all superstars in their own right, including Kevin Emerson (creator of the Oliver Nocturne series) and three fantastic Readergirlz Divas, Martha Brockenbrough, Holly Cupala, and Liz Gallagher (that’s a pic of me with Holly and Liz below). You can read Liz’s coverage of the book launch and enter to win a free copy of Love, Love, Love over at the Readergirlz blog here.

I’m doing a blog tour on some fantastic YA book review sites in the coming weeks. To stay up to date on the tour, read my guest blog posts, interviews, and have more opportunities to enter and win a copy of Love, Love, Love, !

XOXO Debbie

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Good or Bad, Our Words and Actions Have An Impact

Gabrielle GiffordsHello Smart Girls,

Along with the rest of the country, I’ve been reading, listening, and watching coverage of this past Saturday’s tragedy in which a 22-year-old opened fire on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her staff and supporters – an event which left 6 people dead and 14 wounded – with horror and sadness. That such terrible acts of violence happen at all is incredibly disturbing…it’s the kind of thing that shakes you up to your very soul.

In the days since the shooting, the media and certain politicians have been dissecting the event, trying to make sense of what happened, looking to place blame, to answer unanswerable questions. If you’ve been paying any attention to the media coverage, you’ve probably heard about the hot-button issues currently being debated: the “crosshairs” on a certain map, the hostile and threatening language used by both politicians and some in the media, and whether or not the shooter was politically motivated or just plain crazy.

I think it’s important to examine these different issues, so we can look at them through a different lens. So here goes.

Let’s start with the “crosshairs.” The crosshairs refer to symbols displayed on a map of the United States on a website operated by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The site, which was taken down within minutes of the shooting, was called Take Back the 20, with 20 referring to the 20 House Democrats who voted for Obama’s healthcare bill in districts that Republicans won in the 2008 election. At the top of the map it said, “We’ve diagnosed the problem. Help prescribe the solution.”

Since the shooting, pundits have been going back and forth discussing these crosshairs, saying they weren’t representative of a gun. Rather, they were “surveyor symbols” or symbols sometimes used on maps. Others claim they were simply “bullseyes.”

I understand why some people are denying these were crosshairs. I get it. But even that the symbol is unclear means many will and did interpret it as a crosshair in a weapon. After all – a commonly accepted definition of a crosshair is: “A set of two perpendicular lines in the sight of a firearm, used to align the gun with the target,” not to mention the fact that Sarah Palin is a life-member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), a gun-rights advocate, and has famously said in one of her speeches, “Don’t retreat….reload.” Do I think that Sarah Palin was advocating the shooting of politicians who voted for Obama’s healthcare plan? Of course not. Do I think that it’s okay to use symbols of violence or imply that weapons should be used as tools to advocate for change? Absolutely not.

Let’s move on to the hostile language used by some politicians and media pundits. Name calling, put downs, and threats are so commonly heard on the news that it doesn’t even make many people blink. Whether it’s Sarah Palin encouraging her supporters to “stop cars with Obama stickers” and confront the passengers or Glenn Beck saying he wishes he could kill liberal filmmaker Michael Moore (“I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it?”) or Keith Olbermann calling the Republican party “the leading terrorist group in this country.” At what point did it become okay for adults, grown people with high-powered jobs and matching salaries, to use hate speech? How in the world does this contribute to society in any way, shape or form?

Lastly, we look at the shooter himself, 22-year-old Jared Loughner. As details about the young man emerge, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that this is someone who is mentally unstable, someone who had a personal vendetta with the Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords. Therefore, many say, he was a ticking time bomb, and no hate speech or symbols on a map are responsible for pushing him over the edge. While I agree that there is no way to know what triggered Loughner to snap and take his horrible action, it would be naive to assume that the current political climate didn’t play any role in contributing to this young man’s state of mind.

Okay. Let’s shift gears for a minute. Think about your high school or a school in your community and ask yourself these questions:

  • What would happen if a student posted yearbook photos of kids or teachers from his or her school with crosshairs strategically placed over some of the faces? Should school administrators look the other way and act as if this isn’t a threat of violence?
  • Should a student running for student government be allowed to call his or her opponents hateful names or give campaign speeches encouraging supporters to take violent action to ensure the outcome they want?
  • Should a student be able to say anything he or she wants about another student, even if it makes that person feel depressed, sad, threatened, or ostracized, and claim they have the right to do because of freedom of speech?

Of course not. That’s because to use language or symbolism that is meant to make another person feel threatened, insecure, or negative in any way is called BULLYING. We don’t stand for bullying in our schools and communities among children and young people. So why should we stand for it among our elected officials and the media that we go to as trusted sources of information? What kind of behavior do such high profile pundits and politicians think they’re modeling for the rest of us? Don’t they know that by behaving in such an irresponsible way they are sending the message to young people everywhere that this is the way the world works? That while bullying may not be okay in school, it’s the way to get ahead in real life?

With regards to the Giffords tragedy, the finger pointing and blaming and justifications and back-peddling continues. I’d like to encourage those in positions of power, whether in politics or the media, commit to doing their part to change the climate we live in. To own their role in the discourse. To realize the tremendous responsibility they have to be thoughtful with what they say and how they act.

Last year, Marianne Williamson wrote a piece on the Huffington Post called a Plea to Sarah Palin: Words Have Power. Here’s some of what Marianne wrote in April 2010:

I have defended you since reading the book, particularly when others would make fun of your comments about looking to God’s Will to guide you. But something is happening now that is so critical to this country, with such genuinely significant repercussions, that I implore you to hear me — not just as a fellow American, but as a sister who I know prays to the same God that I do: Words have power. Please modify your words.

To echo what Marianne says, words DO have power. Every word we use has an impact. The way we act has an impact. Our impact can be positive or negative, depending on where we stand, but it will contribute to what’s happening in the world in some way. Please join me in committing to using our words and actions to creative positive change.

Courtney Macavinta, my trusted friend, fellow-author, and founder of The Respect Institute (an institute providing youth, parents, educators, policymakers and organizations with the vision, tools and research they need to build self-respect and spread respect for all), says it beautifully:

“Disrespect is truly contagious. It’s easy to insight each other to be disrespectful – and even hateful towards others – because it momentarily makes us feel bigger, stronger, better than others. Pay attention to how the feeling quickly fades. It does so because it’s false power. The power of respect is so much stronger and sustainable. It creates bridges, solutions, and healthy relationships where they didn’t exist before. But true respect starts on the inside. When you take accountability for how you think about yourself, how you treat yourself, and how you treat others, you can change the world for real.”

With peace & love,


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Congratulations to Nancy Pearl!

Nancy PearlI’m excited to give a special shout out to friend, mentor, and librarian extraordinaire Nancy Pearl, who was just named Librarian of the Year by the Library Journal! As the article making the announcement states, “No one other than Nancy Pearl has so convinced Americans that libraries, books, and reading are critical to our communities. Her passionate advocacy has done that nationwide for thousands of individual readers and library workers in the trenches at the local level.”

I first met Nancy while writing my book In Their Shoes, as she was one of the 50 amazing women I profiled. We met up for tea and a pastry at a cafe in the Eastlake neighborhood of Seattle and she told me about her career journey. What I found most inspirational about Nancy is that she followed her passion – books and reading – and in doing so made an indelible mark on the world of books, fostering millions of readers along the way. Though Nancy worked as a librarian for many years, since retiring she has written multiple books about books, frequently contributes to NPR and other radio programs, and speaks all of the country about the subject she loves most. Nancy reminded me that no matter what your passion is – be it reading or photography or working with people or engineering – with creativity and drive you can create the career of your dreams.

Here are some highlights from my interview with Nancy that’s featured in In Their Shoes:

Me: You knew you wanted to be a librarian from the time you were 10 years old. What is it about being a librarian that appealed to you?

Nancy: I came from a family of do-gooders, people who really believed that you could change the world and make it a better place. And for me, the way that I understood even at 10 that you could make the world a better place was by being a librarian, especially a children’s librarian, and opening up the world of books and reading to kids who might be in unfortunate home situations or in other difficult places in their lives. Books have that unique ability in that you can both lose yourself and find yourself in the pages of the same book.

Me: So now reflecting back, did you achieve your goal?

Nancy: Yes, I do think that librarians make the world a better place. A librarian is not solely a person who retrieves information – the public library is really the heart and soul of a community. I think that through recommending good books to read or through programming that they do, librarians make a library a living, breathing place.

Me: Do you make a distinction between your work and your personal life?

Nancy: Robert Frost has a poem in which he talks about when love and work are one, and I think that should be the goal. I’ve been fortunate enough that there’s never been a separation between what I do in my work and what I would choose to do if I weren’t in this job. I guess that’s one result of knowing at age ten what I wanted to do. I’ve always just loved to read and escape into the pages of a book.

Congratulations on this honor, Nancy!

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Holiday Roundup

It’s gift-giving season, and I often get asked by parents of girls and young women if I have any recommendations for magazines or books that have a positive, empowering message. So I thought I’d do a little Smart Girls Know holiday round-up to draw attention to some of my favorite media for girls. (Let me know if I’ve missed anything by adding yours in the comments!) Here goes:

Ages 13-18

  • Teen Voices: A magazine that supports and educates teen girls to amplify their voices and create social change through media. Teen Voices is the only alternative print magazine created by and for teen girls in the country.
  • Kiki Magazine: Kiki isn’t about gossip, dating, instructions on how to kiss, or tips on getting sexy abs. Instead, the mag uses the college fashion design curriculum as a starting point to encourage girls to explore other disciplines (business, geography, fine art, craft, history, world culture, even math). The magazine is designed to be interactive so that each reader can transform every issue into her own creativity journal.
  • Teen Ink Magazine: A national teen magazine, book series, and website devoted entirely to teenage writing, art, photos and forums. The magazine offers some of the most thoughtful and creative work generated by teens and has the largest distribution of any publication of its kind.
  • Louder Than Words series: This first-ever series of teen authored memoirs presents true, powerful stories written by current teens through unique prose, journal entries, and poetry. (Edited by Deborah Reber)
  • by Deborah Reber: Strategies to help teens find balance and stress-relief despite their overbooked, overwhelming lives, including tips on time management, support systems, self-help therapy, exercise, nutrition, and much more.
  • by Deborah Reber: Teens can discover what they really want to know about career choices through 50 inspiring “Day in the life” profiles, along with a ton of sidebars, lists, helpful tips, and words of wisdom from women in the workforce. Women profiled include Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes, Senator Barbara Boxer, CosmoGirl editor-in-chief Susan Schulz, and NPR radio host Melissa Block.
  • by Becca Werthheim: 18-year-old author Becca Wertheim realizes that being a teen isn’t always easy, but that’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to make the most of the teenage years, and enjoy each and every day. She helps readers discover how to live a life full of confidence, success, and happiness. With an entertaining and heartfelt teenage perspective, Becca offers motivation, empowerment, and inspiration to teens.
  • by Claire Mysko: Published in collaboration with Girls’ Inc, this book offers advice on not-so-easy topics, including how to deal with stereotypes and cliques, figure out the best way to balance school and a social life, navigate the crushes and dating world, and find a place in your family.
  • by Courtney Macavinta and Andrea Vander Pluym: This smart book helps teen girls get respect and hold on to it no matter what, covering topics like body image, family, friends, the media, school, relationships, and rumors, sexual harassment, date rape, sex, drugs, and alcohol.
  • by Heather M. Gray and Samantha Phillips: This straight-talking guide—a veritable Our Bodies, Ourselves for teens—helps girls make up their own minds about what kind of people they want to be while exploring beauty and the media; body image, ethnicity and self-esteem; eating disorders and healthy nutrition; sexual anatomy, safe sex and more.
  • by Carrie Silver-Stock: Our secrets help us, hurt us, and sometimes even haunt us beyond high school. By revealing the personal stories, struggles, and secrets of other teen girls, Carrie Silver-Stock shows how to deal with everyday stresses by being self-reliant, not silent, and how to get real about what matters.

Ages 8-13

  • New Moon Magazine: An inspiring and empowering 100% ad-free magazine created by girls for girls, featuring an all-girl editorial board made up of girls ages 8-12 that drives the content you’ll find inside and edits the magazine. NOTE: Smart Girls Know has partnered with New Moon to offer you a $10 discount off the regular subscription price. Click here to take advantage of this offer!
  • by Deborah Reber: Each of these books (School, Challenges, and Friends) deal with the challenges today’s teens face, and feature 50 true stories written by teens, plus weird facts, cool graphics, fun advice, and quizzes.
  • by editors of American Girl: Provides commonsense solutions to 40 scenarios, quick-fix ideas, and preventive measures to avoid the situation next time.
  • by Valorie Schaefer: This bestselling guide answers all the questions growing girls have about their bodies – from hair care to healthy eating, bad breath to bra buying, pimples to periods. It offers guidance about basic hygiene and health without addressing issues of sexuality.

All Ages

  • Pigtail Pals: Pigtail Pals offers empowering apparel and products for girls to “redefine girls” and show the world just how smart, daring, and adventurous girls can be. NOTE: These awesome products are made by Smart Girls Know friend Melissa Wardy, and she’s offering a 15% off special for shoppers who act fast. To get the discount, enter the code ptp15 at checkout!

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Language of Love is Almost Here!

Just yesterday I received a padded envelope from Simon & Schuster, and inside were two copies of my new book, ! Though it doesn’t officially come out until December 21, my lovely editor popped a few copies in the mail to me so I could feel them with my hot little hands.

I’m most excited about this book since it’s my first foray into fiction writing, although admittedly that has me a little nervous to find out if readers like the characters and story I came up with. It’s a whole different ballgame than writing nonfiction books, which are usually heavily researched and the structure is a little more straightforward.

Language of Love was originally to be part of Simon Pulse’s Romantic Comedies line, but Pulse recently rebranded that series and began packaging them in collections – two books in one. So now Language of Love is part of Love, Love, Love, which also features Caroline Goode’s book, Cupidity. As the back of my book says, Love, Love, Love presents “Two sweet stories about finding your own true love.”

Here’s a little blurb about my book:

Janna is quickly adapting to life in Seattle as a high school exchange student from Hungary. Or at least Julian, the cute boy she met in a coffee shop, thinks she is. The truth is, he overheard Janna using a phony accent, and now she’s stuck playing the part . . . Will Julian want to be with the real Janna? Or will she discover that lies don’t always translate to love?

I’ll be posting more about Language of Love as the official release date nears, but am happy to share that today the lovely and talented Holly Cupala (author of the fantastic novel Tell Me A Secret) is hosting me over at her blog, where she’s featuring an interview with yours truly (she even got me to spill some secrets) and a giveaway. Thanks Holly!

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Celebrating Rally for Girls Sports Day & Girls on the Run

Today is Rally for Girls Sports Day, an annual event hosted by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) to raise address the fact that girls are still not receiving equal opportunities in high school sports programs. According to the NWLC, schools across the country don’t provide equal opportunities for girls to participate in sports, and some are even cutting athletic opportunities in ways that exacerbate existing gender inequities or create new ones.

And there is a ton of research documenting the many benefits of sports in the lives of girls. As outlined by the Women’s Sports Foundation, girls who participate in sports are more likely to get better grades and graduate than girls who don’t play sports, are less likely to have an unwanted pregnancy in school than girls who don’t play sports, have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem and lower levels of depression than girls who don’t play sports, have a more positive body image than girls who don’t play sports, may reduce their risk of breast cancer by up to 50%, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones) in older age, and will learn valuable lessons about team-building, goal-setting and the pursuit of excellence, which crosses over into other areas of life.

When schools don’t offer the same opportunities for girls to participate in sports as they do for boys, they’re creating an unequal playing field for the future (pun intended). As the NWLC’s brief reports:

Playing sports keeps students engaged in school and thus can help to improve graduation rates around the country. Young women who play sports are more likely to graduate from high school, have higher grades, and score higher on standardized tests than non-athletes. Female athletes are also more likely to do well in science classes than their classmates who do not play sports.20 In addition, the availability of athletic scholarships dramatically increases a young woman’s ability to pursue a college education and to choose from a wider range of colleges and universities.

To do my part for today’s Rally for Girls Sports Day, I wanted to highlight an organization that is working hard to ensure girls can reap the benefits of sports.This past weekend I had the pleasure of being a running buddy with Girls on the Run, a learning program for girls ages 8 to 13 years old which combines training for a 3.1 mile running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts. The goals of the programs are to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual and physical development. This fall, more than 350 girls in my hometown of Seattle had a chance to participate.

I’ve been involved with Girls On The Run for the past 5 or so years, coaching girls for a few seasons and being a running buddy for the past three. As a running buddy, I get paired with one girl for both the practice and actual 5K, so she feels supported throughout the whole thing. And me, well, I just get to enjoy the warm and fuzzies from sharing in this experience with a young girl who is pushing herself outside her comfort zone.

And this past Sunday was no exception, especially about the comfort zone part, as it was in the low thirties with the added bonus of what felt like an Arctic “breeze” coming off Lake Washington to make sure we were near frozen before the race even started. Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, my runner, Sophie, kept a positive attitude the whole time. She and her friend decided they wanted to try and be the first Girls on the Run girls to cross the finish line, so we all weaseled our way up to the start line and took off like mad when the starting horn finally went off.

After I caught up with her starting-line sprint, we tackled a killer hill in the first mile, and enjoyed long easy strides as we coasted down it. With the hill out of the way, the rest of the course was pretty flat, so we focused on recovering from the hill, managing our breathing, and finding a pace that we could keep steady. Sophie stayed strong, and with about a half-mile to go, we decided to kick it in, sprinting for the finish line. Sophie came in 4th out of all the girls, and her friend from the start of the race came in 1st! I was so proud of my runner, and so honored to have gotten to share this experience with her!

As a runner and a girl advocate, it’s no surprise that I love what Girls on the Run stands for. I’ve said it many times before on this blog, and I’ll say it again. Running is a HUGE part of my emotional well-being. It has given back to me in more ways than I can possibly list here, and I think it is an incredibly empowering activity for women and girls. So how awesome is it that GOTR introduces girls to running, all the while offering empowering information on everything from media literacy to self-respect and providing girls with true role models to show the benefits of running? Pretty awesome.

Girls on the Run is offered in the fall and spring all across the U.S. If you’re interested in learning more about the program or how to get involved, visit the main website here and look for a chapter near you! And if you’re interested in trying out running for yourself but don’t know where to start, check out my book Run for Your Life: A Book for Beginning Runners!

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On Being Thankful…Again

Well, it’s Thanksgiving Day, and I feel the need to share that for the past few days, I haven’t been feeling very thankful. Truth be told, I’ve been feeling cranky and stressed out. You see, we had a snowstorm here in Seattle on Monday morning, and it kind of interfered with my finely laid plans about what my week would look like. My 6-year-old son’s school closed by noon Monday, and was closed Tuesday and Wednesday. So my few days of work here at home, sitting nice and cozy in my office flanked by Baxter the dog and Alex the cat vanished into thin air. Instead, it’s been a week of sub-freezing temperatures, roads too icy to drive on, and cabin fever, not to mention the fact that until this morning, I hadn’t been able to get out for a run all week. And if you know me, you know that’s not a good thing, since running, for the most part, is what keeps me from turning into what my son calls “mom dementor.”

To top it all off, I feel guilty for not feeling more thankful. I mean, I know I have a ton of things to be thankful for, but I was having trouble getting out of my own head and situation to looking at how wonderful the big picture really is.

So, I decided to look back at a post I wrote here on Smart Girls Know on Thanksgiving three years ago. Here’s what I wrote then:

For many of us, the idea of being “thankful” is a concept we’ve been aware since we were young. And on a day like today, being thankful is very much on our mind.

But how often do you truly experience the notion of thankfulness? It’s almost too easy to get caught up in everyday life and all the little things that go wrong – forgetting to do an important assignment, having a crush say he just wants to “be friends,” getting caught in the middle of a nasty fight between mom and dad, being ostracized by group of friends, feeling for certain that no one on the planet understands who you are or what you’re going through. But it’s times like these that being thankful – acknowledging something or someone in your life that brings you joy, comfort or safety – can actually have the most impact in your life. Here’s why…

Being thankful:

  • shifts your focus away from the negative and towards the positive
  • puts things in perspective by reminding you there is good in your life no matter how bad things get
  • has a positive impact on your emotions and mental state of mind
  • lowers your stress levels

Why not give it a try and see what the results are for you? For the next week, try being thankful for ONE THING every day. Yes, that’s right…ONE THING. And when I say “being thankful,” I’m talking about truly acknowledging and feeling the gratitude. Here are some ideas for things you might be thankful for in case you get stumped:

  • your dog or cat (or other pet)
  • your health
  • your family
  • a teacher
  • your sense of humor
  • your house or apartment
  • your bed or bedroom
  • your love of reading
  • your natural talent (artistic, athletic, etc.)
  • people who love you
  • good friends
  • food on the table
  • movie theatre popcorn
  • your favorite book or television show
  • your ability to read
  • a beautiful day
  • the beach

Remember – even when it seems like there’s nothing to be grateful for, feeling gratitude about even the smallest thing can have a bigger impact than spending your time complaining about what’s missing in your life. You be the judge… let me know how it works for you!

I really do believe in the power of the Thankful exercise, but today, right now, I think I need a little something more than one thing a day for the next week. I think I need to get a little radical. So today, I’m going to write down 100 things I’m thankful for right now, at this moment. Here goes:

  1. My patient, funny, and handsome husband
  2. My smart, quirky, and fascinating son (that’s a picture of him at the top of this post…cute, huh?)
  3. Baxter, the dog
  4. Alex, the cat
  5. My healthy and happy parents, Dale and MaryLou, back in Pennsylvania
  6. My best friend and sister back in Maryland, Michele
  7. My husband’s family in Oregon and California
  8. That my loved ones are all healthy
  9. Running
  10. Running with amazing girlfriends
  11. My amazing girlfriends in Seattle
  12. My dearest friends in NYC (you know who you are)
  13. My hundred-year-old house
  14. Music that transforms me
  15. That I can play the piano
  16. That I can play the guitar
  17. Dancing to Jai Ho with my son in the living room
  18. Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in Singing in the Rain
  19. Reading in bed
  20. Twizzlers
  21. Going to the movies
  22. Being part of an amazing community
  23. My son’s incredible school
  24. My agent, Susan Schulman
  25. The mentors I’ve had and have in my life: Sue Heinz, Angela Santomero, Jess Weiner
  26. Being part of an amazing community of women who inspire me every day
  27. Facebook
  28. Twitter
  29. The ability to work on projects that inspire me
  30. My former life coach, Courtney Macavinta
  31. The occupational therapists, parent coaches, and other professionals who help my family work better
  32. My dear friends in Los Angeles
  33. Sun breaks (Seattle-ites know what I’m talking about)
  34. A working fireplace in my house
  35. Fleece
  36. Financially stability
  37. My husband’s job
  38. The musical RENT
  39. The wonderful people I’ve met through Adventx
  40. My Prius
  41. My garden
  42. My neighborhood of progressive, positive, wonderful people
  43. A view of Mt. Rainier
  44. Microwave popcorn
  45. Diet Coke
  46. Michael Cunningham’s The Hours
  47. Nick Hornby
  48. The public library
  49. My iPhone
  50. My cool computer
  51. Old friends who knew me way back when
  52. My Sleep Number mattress
  53. Our babysitter, Molly
  54. Weekly date nights with my husband
  55. Organizations doing amazing work on behalf of girls
  56. Oprah
  57. Massages
  58. My son’s love of reading
  59. Vacations
  60. President Obama
  61. That I get to work from home
  62. Hot showers
  63. Funny videos on YouTube that make me laugh out loud
  64. Living in a city that is beautiful
  65. Hiking in Discovery Park
  66. Office supplies
  67. CFL lightbulbs
  68. Wool socks
  69. Steak Frites
  70. The South of France
  71. The Jersey Shore (very different from the South of France, but still great)
  72. Tastykakes
  73. Roller coasters
  74. My husband’s foot massages
  75. Public transportation
  76. Large orange creme Jamba Juices
  77. Legos
  78. My ex-fiance who, in dumping me, set me on a path to figure out what truly made me happy
  79. That I spent my twenties living in NYC
  80. Good Chinese food
  81. Friends who know all my dark and twisted secrets and still like me
  82. Independent bookstores
  83. Online shopping
  84. My son’s best friend, Sebastian (and his family)
  85. Hand-me-downs
  86. High-quality Egyptian cotton sheets (not that I own any, but I do love them)
  87. The young women and teens who impact my life on a daily basis
  88. Movies that make me think
  89. Summers in Seattle
  90. Jon Stewart and The Daily Show
  91. Skype and Google Video Chat
  92. Peeps (yes, the marshmallow bunnies and chicks)
  93. Showtunes and piano bars
  94. Dancing
  95. Used clothing stores
  96. Surviving high school
  97. Finding the perfect hat
  98. Sleeping in
  99. Spending Thanksgiving with amazing friends
  100. Knowing I’m on the right path in my life

Phew. Okay. That wasn’t easy. But I’ve just finished writing down my list and you know what? It worked. I already feel lighter and happier. Of course I’m also suppressing a pretty strong urge to dance around the living room to Jai Ho with my son while wearing my favorite hat, eating a Tastyake, and drinking a Diet Coke, but that’s okay. Instead, I’m going to head out to my friends’ house for dinner, with my family and sweet potato casserole (with marshmallows of course) in tow.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I hope you are all able to find things in your life to be thankful for today, and if you get stuck, try what I did. It really works. And if you think of it, drop me a line in the comments and let me know what you’re thankful for today!

Peace & Love,


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