Archive for Affirmations

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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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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Can Empathy Be Taught?

EmpathyI just read a really interesting article in the NY Times about how schools across the country are taking a stand against bullying by making empathy a formal part of the curriculum. School administrators have pointed out the disconnect between having a student body who’s super aware of human rights tragedies such as what’s happening in Darfur, yet so clueless about the social injustices peers face in their own schools.

According to the article, some schools give rewards to students for displaying empathy (like sitting with a new student at school or helping a peer out who’s feeling scared or anxious). Others are creating special research projects to help students identify with physical and mentally disabled people.

I still remember the people in my high school who were at the receiving end of the relentless teasing and ostracizing. It wasn’t pretty. I remember feeling bad for the victims of the teasing, but I don’t know if I truly knew how to put myself in their shoes and see the situation from their vantage point. I love that schools today are taking empathy seriously, since when it comes down to it, it’s all about respecting ourselves and others, getting real, and acknowledging that we’ve all got feelings.

Do you go to a school where empathy has been formally taught? Do you think the empathy curriculum has made an impact at your school?

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For a crash course in empathy, check out the FX show 30 Days. The show features filmmaker Morgan Spurlock or others immersing themselves into a completely unfamiliar lifestyle (such as being in prison, working for minimum wage, etc.) for 30 days.

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Can President Obama Fix the Economy?

Barack Obama HopePresident Obama inherited a seriously sick economy, but if you’re like many teens, you believe he has what it takes to get the country’s finances back on track. A new study by the Scarborough Kids Internet Panel (S.K.I.P.) found that 75% of teens are “optimistic that the new administration will help solve current economic problems.”

The study also found that 74% of teens are “very worried” about the state of the economy, and many live in households that have made adjustments to accommodate changing financial situations. According to the study:

  • 15% of teens dropped out of a sport or recreational activity
  • 13% missed doctor’s appointments
  • 11% stopped or cut back on taking vitamins
  • 33% changed eating habits (the most frequent change is a reduction in eating out)
  • 20% have cut back on eating organic food

I’ve definitely made some changes to try to be more money conscious in the past few months. In particular, my family has been stretching out meals by making sure we eat all our leftovers, going out to dinner less, and picking up clothes at thrift stores or consignment shops rather than brand-new and off the rack.

What about you? Have you made any changes in your spending habits to be smarter about your money?

On a related note, if the economic crisis is creating stress in your life, see my recession stress busters here!

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The Reality of “Sexting”

Cell Phone<br />There’s a lot of buzz in the news lately about teens and “sexting” – sending sexually explicit pictures over a cell phone. This meant-to-be-personal content often gets shared and passed around, and that’s when things get really complicated. Besides the obvious issue that pushing the “send” button can’t be undone and that these images will be floating out there in cyberspace forever, recently, teens caught sexting are facing legal charges of obscenity or child pornography.

I did a little digging and found this interesting new study from CosmoGIRL! and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and was surprised to find out just how common sexting is:

  • 22% of teen girls say they have electronically sent and/or posted online nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves
  • 37% of teen girls are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages
  • 21% of teen girls say they’ve sent such content to someone they wanted to date or hook up with
  • 15% of teens who have sent or posted nude/semi-nude images of themselves have done so to someone they knew only online

Legal charges and media buzz aside, sending any personal, explicit electronically is bad news – for your self-worth, your self-esteem, and your self-respect. Even if your messages and pictures are meant for the eyes of your loved one only, there’s no guarantee the material will remain private (as Vanessa Hudgens would be the first to admit).

Here are some other things to think about before you hit the send button, courtesy of CosmoGIRL! and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy:

  • There is no changing your mind in cyberspace – anything you send or post will never truly go away
  • Don’t give in to the pressure to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, even in cyberspace
  • Consider the recipient’s reaction (something you mean as a joke might be taken the wrong way, etc.)
  • Nothing is truly anonymous

UPDATE: The issue of “sexting” has gotten a lot of media play, but a recent article featuring teen online expert Anatasia Goodstein (author of Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens Are Really Doing Online and creator of Ypulse) points out that this phenomenon isn’t as rampant as we’re being led to believe. Check out the article here.

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New Fab Site for Girls

I Heart DailyHi Smart Gals,

I wanted to share the news with you about a great new site for girls! Fellow YA author and friend Melissa Walker and her colleague Anne Ichikawa have just launched a new site for smart girls called I Heart Daily. Here’s how Melissa and Anne describe their new venture:

I Heart Daily is a free newsletter of stuff we like. Each day, you’ll find out about one thing: The band you should hear, the girl who’s kicking ass in the world, the lipstick color that looks good on everyone, the designer who doesn’t have a fashion show yet but is completely amazing… you get the idea.

I Heart Daily is broken down into four categories: Fashion, Entertainment, Beauty, and News, and the bite-sized blog posts are the perfect way to keep you in the loop on the latest and greatest. Check it out!

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December Newsletter: Interview with author Tanya Lee Stone, Affirmation of the Month, and More!

Happy Holidays, Smart Girls!I hope everyone is finding ways to stay peaceful and chill during this strange time in our history. There’s so much talk these days about recession doom and gloom, and it’s all-too-easy to get sucked up into that way of thinking. But really, what’s the point? We can’t control what’s happening in the economy. But we can control how we choose to think and feel about what’s going on.

So, I’ve been focusing on thinking positive thoughts – doing my thankful lists every night, spending time with friends, and putting my energy into fun, creative projects. Smart Girls Know is one of those fun projects, so I’m sending out the last SGK newsletter for 2008! And as this year draws to a close, I wanted to mention a few things I’m especially grateful for:

  • my wonderful family, all the way from my fabulous main squeeze down to my dog Baxter
  • my fantastic friends, who have reminded me that I’m never alone
  • YOU, the young women in my life who share your thoughts, hopes, and dreams with me
  • my community of YA authors and other amazingly cool women, which makes me feel incredibly supported
  • the opportunity to create a cool, new book series for teens
  • inspiring music
  • cozy, wool knee-highs
  • my love of running
  • Strawberry Twizzlers

Thinking about all the things I’m grateful for is a great reminder all the positive in my life. So how about you? I challenge you to grab a piece of paper or open your journal, and jot down at least 5 things you’re grateful for in 2008. It’s a nice way to end the year on a high note as you shift your focus towards the things you hope to see happen in 2009!

And now, without further ado, here is December’s Smart Girls Know Newsletter, featuring:

  • Affirmation of the Month: Smart Girls Know How To Be Real
  • Ashoka’s Youth Venture Needs Your Help
  • This Month’s Must Read: A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl
  • Interview with author Tanya Lee Stone
  • Teen Memoir Update

Peace & Love, Debbie

Affirmation: Smart Girls Know How to Be Real

Has anyone ever told you to get real? Maybe they were just using an expression, like “get outta here” or “are your serious?” Or maybe they were saying it’s time to actually get real in life.

Getting real is all about letting it all hang out, and no, I’m not talking about skipping the bra or getting a day pass at a nudist camp. I’m talking about being ourselves all the time.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but believe it or not, truly being ourselves doesn’t come naturally to many of us. We’re too worried about how other people will think of us, perceive us, and judge us.

It might be easier to talk about being real by seeing what it looks like to not be real. Here are some examples:

  • censoring what you do and say when you’re meeting someone new until you get a better sense of who they are
  • holding back at something you’re really good at because you don’t want to come across like you think you’re all that
  • only talking about the great things in your life, and staying mum about your challenges, disappointments, and failures

The problem with not being real is that it holds us back in our relationships. Think about it. If we’re always focused on controlling how others view us, they’ll never get to know who we really are. And chances are, the people around us won’t let us in on their real life either.

So, why not try “getting real” and see how it feels for you? You just might find that your refreshing and open approach to life will become infectious! Here’s how to start:

  • ignore that voice in your head that tells you what you’re saying isn’t important or interesting
  • remember that being open about the things you’re good at doesn’t mean you’re bragging…you’re being honest
  • share your disappointments and challenges with other people…reminding them you’re not perfect will help them feel better about not being perfect, too!

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You Can Change the World

Youth VentureSmart girls have the power to change the world, and that’s why Smart Girls Know is partnering with entrepreneurial organization Ashoka, Youth Venture, and Best Buy Co., Inc.. Together, these organizations have created the Best Buy @15 Challenge, which empowers teens ages 13 – 18 to see their ideas for social change come to life.

Now they need you to vote among the 30 finalists to choose the Venture Team project that shines when it comes to creativity, community impact, and sustainability. You can vote online voting through January 9, 2009. Fifteen winning teams of youth social entrepreneurs will each receive $10,000 from the @15 Fund to support their ventures.

What’s in it for you, you ask (besides using your power for good)? Voters can register to win a free iPod shuffle and $500 to donate to their school or favorite nonprofit. In addition, funding is available through this partnership for 300 additional youth-led Venture Teams in the United States.

Find out more here!

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This Month’s MUST READ! A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a GirlI just finished reading Tanya Stone’s powerful debut novel, (couldn’t put it down actually), and have to share it as this month’s must read.

A Bad Boy tells the story of three different high school girls – Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva – who unfortunately all fall prey to a charming senior with smooth moves who wants to sexually conquer as many girls as he can. Luckily, his first victim, Josie, realizes she’s being played before she makes a mistake she won’t be able to take back. She decides to warn other girls at the school about the good-looking predator by scrawling an anonymous note in the one library book she knows all the girls in school eventually read – Judy Blume’s Forever. She ends her warning, Forewarned is forearmed. Forever. Despite the rumors circulating around school and the Forever note, Nicolette and Aviva still get swept up in the boy’s game, and learn painful lessons as a result.

A Bad Boy isn’t one of those happily ever after books – parts of it are painful to read and the girls’ experiences are told in powerful verse that will leave your heart aching – but ultimately it shares with the reader the importance of trusting our gut, believing in ourselves, and knowing we’re worth it.

When author Tanya Lee Stone was asked what she hopes young women know about themselves for the book’s reading guide, she answered, “That they trust themselves. That they should listen to their own voice and not doubt it so much. That they can make mistakes and still be okay. Sometimes you have to take a misstep in order to learn what the right next step is. Following your own instincts will always serve you better than following someone else’s.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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Meet Tanya Lee Stone

Tanya Lee StoneAuthor of Tanya Lee Stone took time out from her writing schedule to chat with Smart Girls Know:

SGK: What is it about writing for teens that appeals to you?

Tanya: Being a teen is simultaneously one of the most exciting and angst-ridden times of life. There’s so much built-in tension, conflict, introspection. It was a great time of life for me and I enjoy reflecting upon it. And creating YA characters is rife with possibilities.

SGK: Is the story (or part of it) based on your own experiences with a bad boy?

Tanya: I certainly had my share of noxious experiences with guys, but none of the specific plot points of the story are autobiographical. Instead, I drew on the emotional truths of figuring out what and who I wanted for myself. It’s all about choices. The choices we make and the paths we take. And how all of those experiences make up who we are and who we ultimately want to be.

SGK: How did you get inside Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva’s heads in such a convincing way?

Tanya: Well first off, thanks for the compliment! Writing Bad Boy was a very natural, almost organic, experience for me. It was the first novel I wrote and I think that inexperience actually helped in an odd way. I didn’t worry so much about whether or not I was doing things “right.” I also tapped into my theater background and did a lot of character role-playing in my head. That, combined with writing in poetry – in the voices I heard the girls speaking in – let me walk in their shoes for a time. I know these girls really well now and have a good sense of who they are and how they would react to almost anything you could throw at them. It’s like having a few extra friends. Weird, right? Oh – and it’s been performed a bunch of times as a short play with teen actors, so if any theater kids are reading this don’t hesitate to get in touch!

SGK: What are you working on now?

Tanya: Ah, I am glad you asked, because everyone reading this is officially invited to participate! I am working on a nonfiction book about the history of the Barbie doll and its impact on girl culture. Did you love Barbie? Hate her? Play with her endlessly? Torment her? Make her just like you–or just like you wish you could be? Just your (150 word or less) story with your first name, and your age, and I might select it for inclusion in Barbie: For Better, For Worse (Viking, 2010).

SGK: Can you share one piece of advice for all the smart girls out there?

Tanya: Always listen to that voice inside – even if it’s faint and small. The more you listen, the stronger it will get. And that voice – YOUR voice – will always show you the way. Trust yourself.

Thanks so much for asking me to stop by, Debbie! Oh, and by the way, if anyone’s looking for me, they’ll find me at my website, as well as on MySpace and Facebook.

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Teen Memoir Update

I’m excited to announce that I’m currently working with three incredibly talented writers on the first round of books in the new teen-authored memoir project I’m developing. Each of the authors is busily working putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and sharing their unique and interesting perspective on their world.

I’m still looking for authors for the next round of books, so if you’re an avid writer and have a real-life story to tell, and I’ll fill you in on the details and tell you everything you need to know about applying.


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Do you have friends who would like Smart Girls Know? Please send them the link to my blog and encourage them to sign up and be part of the SGK community!

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Help Me Out and Win a Book!

Hey SmartGirls!

As many of you know, I’m working with a publisher to create a new series of nonfiction teen “memoirs,” written by teen girls for teen girls. If you’re between the ages of 12 – 18 and have a few minutes to answer some questions about the development of the series, I’d love to hear from you!

Just with your first name and age, and I’ll send you the questions. BONUS: The first 10 girls who write back to me will win a free copy of one of my books (your choice)!

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Is Cheating the New Norm?

Cheating on tests and flirting with shoplifting has been part of the teen experience for as long as I can remember (certainly it was going on when I was a teen in the 80’s and 90’s). But according to an article by the Associated Press, today’s teens are cheating and stealing more than ever. The article refers to a recent study by the Josephson Institute, which surveyed nearly 30,000 students from 100 different high schools nationwide.

Here are some surprising stats from the study:

  • In the past year, 64% of U.S. high school students have cheated on a test
  • 35% of boys and 26% of girls acknowledged stealing from a store within the past year
  • 35% have used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment (up from 33% in 2004)

Considering this generation of teens is the most overscheduled and overstressed of any before, it’s not surprising to me that these numbers are on the rise. The pressure to succeed, stand out, and do it all is overwhelming, and taking short cuts might sometimes seem like the only choice.

Some school administrators, like Andover High School principal Peter Anderson, agree. From the article: “This generation is leading incredibly busy lives – involved in athletics, clubs, so many with part-time jobs, and – for seniors – an incredibly demanding and anxiety-producing college search. We have to create situations where it’s easy for kids to do the right things. We need to create classrooms where learning takes on more importance than having the right answer.”

What do you think? Do you think this study on teen cheating and stealing reflects what you see in your schools and community?


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Smart Girls Know Update

Affirmation: Smart Girls Know How to Deal With Anger

How many different emotions do you experience on any given day? If you’re like most people, you cycle through a bunch of different states of mind as you go through your daily routine – happiness, worry, frustration, excitement. It’s all part of being a thinking, feeling human being. Most of us recover quickly and move from one emotion to another without giving it a second thought.

But there’s one emotion that can stop us in our tracks and do serious damage in no time – anger.

Anger can come out of nowhere, and when it strikes, can turn even the coolest cat into a raging monster (I’m speaking from personal experience here). And even though we all know there’s no such thing as a “bad” emotion, sometimes it can be hard to see the upside to losing our cool.

So here’s a positive way to think about being mad, angry, irate, incensed…you get the gist. Anger can:

  • be a powerful motivator to take action
  • give you clear messages that something isn’t right
  • shed some personal insight into who you are
  • help you release pent up emotions

I think the toughest thing about this unwieldy emotion is that it can appear so unexpectedly and has the potential to get us into pretty sticky situations. So how can you turn your anger into a positive thing (or at least not let it land you in detention or worse…)? Try this:

  • be okay with how you’re feeling – don’t try to squash the emotion…instead, recognize that your anger is your body’s way of telling you something isn’t right
  • figure out what calms you down – whether it’s reading, listening to music, or going for a brisk walk, identify those things that help you go from rage to zen
  • find safe ways to express your anger – I’m a big fan of screaming into or punching a pillow
  • reflect when the anger has past – think about the process you went through and notice what ultimately helped the feelings of rage disappear

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Teen Publishing Project

I’m still accepting submissions for the exciting new teen book series I’m developing in conjunction with a major publisher. if you’re an avid writer/aspiring teen author and have a real-life story to tell, send me an email and I’ll fill you in on the details and tell you everything you need to know about applying.

If you’ve already sent me a writing submission and haven’t heard back from me, hang in there…I’ll be updating the first round of applicants on their submissions’ status in the coming weeks!

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This Month’s MUST READ! You’re Amazing

You're AmazingI’m so excited to share this month’s must read book with you because it is so true to my heart and is full of the kinds of insight and info that is exactly what Smart Girls Know stands for.

by Claire Mysko is published with the support of the fabulous organization Girls’ Inc., and explores the “Supergirl Dilemma,” which is the idea that today’s girls feel incredible pressure to try to do and be everything and anything perfectly all the time. Possible? NOT. And that’s exactly what this book is all about. By encouraging girls to stop trying to be supergirls and instead just be the amazing girl that they already are, Claire hopes to help a generation of girls find more happiness, fulfillment, and hope in their lives.

You’re Amazing has chapters on stereotypes, looks, friends, relationships, stress, and the future, and is full of sage advice, voices of today’s teen girls, and a ton of thoughtful journal exercises that will give you the tools you need to take control of your life and, like the subtitle says, be your best self. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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Meet Claire Mysko

Claire Mysko

Claire is the smart girl behind , and recently she answered a few questions for Smart Girls Know about her life and work:

SGK: Why did you want to write this book?

Claire: I wrote this book in response to the Girls Inc. “Supergirl Dilemma” study, which shows that girls today are feeling increasing pressures to be perfect and please everyone. I wanted to help girls stop trying so hard to be “supergirls” and start celebrating what makes them amazing.

SGK: How is the content of personally related to your experiences as a teen girl?

Claire: I grew up putting a lot of pressure on myself, so I was very personally connected to the themes of this book. I struggled with my body image in my teens and I got caught up in the idea that losing weight would be a magic solution that would make me happier and more confident. As girls and women, that message is reinforced constantly on TV and in movies and magazines. It just doesn’t work that way in reality, though. Happiness and confidence have to come from the inside.

SGK: If you were to name one thing that you see as the biggest pressure faced by today’s young women, what would it be and why?

Claire: In my work and in the “The Supergirl Dilemma” study, one of the biggest pressures on girls is to have the “right” look. That’s not just about weight and body image, but also about feeling the need to have certain brands and styles. Girls want to fit in with their peers. They also get appearance pressure from the media and sometimes family members, too.

SGK: What is your greatest hope for the girls who read ?”

Claire: My greatest hope is that girls will feel less alone in the pressures they face. I interviewed many girls and women for this book. While their individual experiences were unique, there were common themes that came up again and again. The quest for perfection is a lonely road, and the big news flash is that we’re never going to reach the destination because that kind of perfection just doesn’t exist! I want girls who read the book to know how important it is to take healthy risks, to make mistakes, and to reach out and support each other.

SGK: Many of the young women who subscribe to Smart Girls Know are aspiring authors. Can you share with us what you love about the book writing process?

Claire: I write mostly non-fiction, so one of my favorite things about the writing process is interviewing people and having the opportunity to tell their stories. It’s also pretty great when I start to get in that zone where things are just coming together–sometimes in ways I never expected.

SGK: In your own words, what does it mean to be “strong, smart, and bold?”

Claire: There are so many outside voices telling us what we should look like, act like, and what we should achieve in life. I think being strong, smart, and bold is about finding the courage to turn down all the static and follow your own inner voice.

To find out more about Claire, visit her site and blog:!

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YA for Obama

YA for ObamaUnless you live under a rock, you know that the political season is in high gear. For the sake of keeping it real, I’m a fervent supporter of Barack Obama, and am part of an online community started by author Maureen Johnson (13 Little Blue Envelopes, Devilish, Girl at Sea, Suite Scarlett) called YA for Obama. And I want you to join me!

Here’s a quick description of the site from Maureen:

YA for Obama is a community of YA writers and readers and friends who have joined together because of our commitment to Future United States President Barack Obama. We think he’s the right person for the job.

This is a social networking site, which means that when you join (it’s free! easy! takes about a minute!) you can do LOADS of stuff around here. You can make your own page, contribute to the forum, upload your own photos and videos, and make friends who love Obama as much as you do.

YA for Obama members and bloggers include incredible authors like Judy Blume, Megan McCafferty, Scott Westerfield, Ellen Hopkins, and on and on.

If you’re an Obama fan and want to have a cool, new way to connect with and hear from your favorite YA authors, join the site. And when you do, be sure to invite me to be your friend and send Maureen a message telling her you heard about the site from me!

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One last thing… I’m trying to spread the word about my blog Smart Girls Know and I need your help! Please forward this newsletter to friends you think might be interested and encourage them to sign up!

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