Archive for Emotions

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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Break the Cycle’s PSA Contest

Hopeline and Break the Cycle have just joined forces to create a PSA (public service announcement) competition for teens. If you’re between the ages of 13 abd 18, enrolled in high school in the United States (or US Territories), you’re eligible to enter the “Let Your Heart Rule” PSA Contest. To enter, team up with up to four other classmates at your school and create a video PSA that helps raise awareness about dating violence. Five entries will be selected for a special final round where you, your friends and family can all vote for your favorite PSA. The winning team wins some terrific tech from Verizon Wireless and the chance to premiere their PSA on Dr. Phil. And just so we’re clear on what dating abuse is, here’s how Break the Cycle breaks it down:

“Dating abuse isn’t an argument every once in a while, or a bad mood after a bad day. Dating abuse is a pattern of controlling behavior that someone uses against a girlfriend or boyfriend. Dating abuse does not discriminate. It does not see your gender, your religion or your skin color. It does not care whether you are 14 or 24 or if you’re straight or gay. It can happen to anyone.”

Want to enter the contest? Get started brainstorming and find out more here. Or watch the video below to get inspired. Oh yeah…the deadline is April 14th. Good luck!

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It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

National Eating Disorders Awareness WeekThis week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, a special week aimed at preventing eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment.

The theme for this year is “talk about it.” As the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) explains, “We live in a culture saturated with unrealistic body-image messages and almost all of us know somebody struggling with an eating disorder. Because this is true, we urge you to talk about it and do just on thing to raise awareness.”

Here are three things NEDA wants everyone to know about eating disorders:

  1. Eating disorders are serious illnesses, not lifestyle choices. Eating disorders are complex conditions that arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, biological and social factors. As our natural body size and shape is largely determined by genetics, fighting our natural size and shape can lead to unhealthy dieting practices, poor body image and decreased self-esteem. While eating disorders may begin with preoccupations with food and weight, they are about much more than food. In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Approximately 15 million more are struggling with binge eating disorder.
  2. Education, early intervention, and access to care are critical. In the United States, we are inundated with messages telling us that thinner is better, and when we “fit” our culture’s impossible beauty standards, we will be happy. Did you know that 80% of all ten year olds are afraid of being fat? As a culture, it is time for all communities to talk about eating disorders, address their contributing factors, advocate for access to treatment and take action for early intervention.
  3. Help is available, and recovery is possible. While eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses, there is help available and recovery really is possible. It is important for those affected to remember that they are not alone in their struggle; others have recovered and are now living healthy fulfilling lives. Let the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) be a part of your network of support. NEDA has information and resources available via our website and helpline: 800 931-2237.

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If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, please check out my friend and fellow member of the Confidence Community (TM) Johanna Kandel’s book, Johanna struggled with her eating disorder for ten years before finally getting help. She founded the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness in 2000 to do community outreach, education, awareness, and prevention of various eating disorders, to share the message that recovery from these disorders is possible, and make sure that those suffering from eating disorders don’t have to recover alone.

In her powerful new book, Johanna offers tools and insight for those with eating disorders so they can:

  • Stop self-sabotage and sidestep triggers
  • Quiet the eating-disordered voice
  • Strengthen the healthy, positive voice
  • Let go of all-or-nothing thinking
  • Overcome fear and embrace change
  • Stay motivated and keep moving forward

Complete with inspiring true stories from others who have won their personal battles with eating disorders, this book provides the help you need to break free from your eating disorder and discover how wonderful life really can be.

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Holiday Stress Strategy: Plan of Action = Peace of Mind

While there are lots of great things about the holidays, among them, time off of school or work, a seemingly endless supply of iced sugar cookies, and the giving and receiving of gifts, this time of year also tends to be among the most stressful. It sometimes seems almost as if time starts moving faster, like we’re all caught up in some sort of bizarre holiday season time warp.

For me, the key to getting through the holidays without a major meltdown boils down to two words: time management. Time management is all about organizing your schedule, making the best use of your limited time, and creating a realistic plan for accomplishing everything on your “to do” list. Time management can mean creating a plan for accomplishing specific tasks each day or week or month, being honest with yourself about what you can and can’t actually accomplish, rearranging your schedule to fit it all in, and even knowing when you need to take something off your plate and following through. Plainly put, time management is figuring out the tasks at hand and coming up with a plan for executing them.

So, how does this help reduce stress?

Well, stress often comes from fear of the unknown or being overwhelmed about everything that’s going on. Time management takes the mystery out of the equation. Plan of action = peace of mind.

Here’s how to get real about getting it all done:

  1. Create a detailed, and complete, list of everything you want to get done.
  2. Figure out how long each task will take you (your best guesstimate is fine, but be as realistic as possible)
  3. Come up with “deadlines” for each thing you want to accomplish
  4. Backtrack from the deadline and create mini-goals for completing each task
  5. Add tasks to your daily “to do” list so you can work toward your bigger items each day

If you’re working on bigger tasks or projects that have many steps, you might want to create a separate list for each project. For example, if you’re planning a big holiday bash, you’ll probably want to fill out a template just for that, noting each step involved (picking a date, making a guest list, sending out Evite, getting/making decorations, going shopping for food, picking an outfit, etc.) and their related deadlines.

A few last thoughts on integrating time management strategies into your life so they reduce your stress:

  • Keep your “to do” lists in a visible place where you can easily see them
  • When you figure out your deadlines, put them in your calendar or in your phone (with an alarm)
  • Set aside time each day to check things off of your list (choose a time/place with minimal distractions so you’ll be more productive and efficient)
  • Create a mini “to do” list each morning of specific things from your bigger list you want to accomplish that day
  • Don’t forget to schedule hangout time with your friends or alone time with yourself to recharge!

How do you get it all done over the holidays? What time management strategies work for you?

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For more strategies on beating stress, check out my book Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You!

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There is Life Beyond Eating Disorders

lifebeyond1 If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, please check out my friend and fellow member of the Confidence Community (TM) Johanna Kandel’s new book, which just came out today.

Johanna struggled with her eating disorder for ten years before finally getting help. She founded the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness in 2000 to do community outreach, education, awareness, and prevention of various eating disorders, to share the message that recovery from these disorders is possible, and make sure that those suffering from eating disorders don’t have to recover alone.

In her powerful new book, Johanna offers tools and insight for those with eating disorders so they can:

  • Stop self-sabotage and sidestep triggers
  • Quiet the eating-disordered voice
  • Strengthen the healthy, positive voice
  • Let go of all-or-nothing thinking
  • Overcome fear and embrace change
  • Stay motivated and keep moving forward

Complete with inspiring true stories from others who have won their personal battles with eating disorders, this book provides the help you need to break free from your eating disorder and discover how wonderful life really can be.

Congratulations to Johanna on bringing this very important book into the world!

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Chilling with Young Women’s Leadership Program

This past Saturday I was lucky enough to spend the morning with an incredible group of girls pulled together by the fantastic program Young Women’s Leadership (YWL). YWL is part of the Jenna Druck Foundation, which was created in the memory of Jenna Druck to support families in their darkest and most difficult hours, as well as encourage young women to fulfill their dreams. Jenna Druck was tragically killed while studying abroad in 1996 at the age of 21, but lived her life with compassion and dedication, and as a natural leader with a passion for social justice. From what I witnessed Saturday morning, I’d say her legacy is alive and well in the thousands of girls YWL has and continues to serve.

On Saturday, I talked to the girls about how to tune in to what’s going on and discover ways to reduce the stress in their lives. As I prepared for the workshop over the past few weeks, I’ve been going through lots of stressors of my own, so delivering this message couldn’t have come at a better time. What I shared with the girls is that it’s so important to remember there is no quick fix to stress, and even when things in life are relatively balanced, there are always going to be situations that put your stress response into overdrive. Our best defense is to start practicing tuning in and learning how to assess where we’re at – body, mind, and soul. We all have the ability to listen to our gut and know when something is “off.” Once you start better recognizing when you’re off-balance, you’ll be that much more able to tackle stressors head-on and return to a place of peace and balance.

Feeling stressed? Read this previous post for more tips on de-stressing from my book, Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You.

Me with YWL superwoman Leanne Tibiatowski

Me with YWL superwoman Leanne Tibiatowski

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4 Seconds Away, But Still in the Moment

Iron Girl 5KIn my books and on Smart Girls Know, I talk a lot about striving to “be in the moment.” It’s just one of my things – the way I try to live my life, focusing on the here and now instead of dwelling on the past or worrying too much about the future. As I’ve written before on Smart Girls Know, I know that by living in the present moment, you will:

  • get the most out of every experience
  • be more content and happier overall
  • be much less stressed out
  • see the possibilities in everything

This weekend, I had the opportunity put my money where my mouth is by truly being the moment, second by second, step by step, as I attempted to beat my personal best time in a 5K race.

Saturday morning, I ran the Iron Girl 5K in Seattle, joining more than 2,000 other girls and women for a fantastic event featuring a fast course around Greenlake and lots of powerful all-girl energy. For the past few years, I’ve thought about trying to beat my fastest 5K time, which I set in Central Park in 1997. I came close a few years ago, but haven’t been able to break my personal barrier of 23 minutes, 51 seconds.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to go for it on Saturday or not, since I’m still nursing a foot injury and hadn’t done any speed training this summer. But it was such perfect running weather and there was so much positive energy in the air, that sometime between lining up for the start and the beginning of the race, I decided I would go for it.

I knew exactly what average pace I had to run each mile in order to beat my time – a 7:40 mile. So I pushed it out of the gate and hit my target, running the first mile in 7:35. Ok, Debbie. Just keep it up for two more miles, and you’ll do it, I thought to myself. The problem was, I didn’t know if I actually could keep it up. My breathing was all over the place, I hadn’t found my stride yet, and the finish line at the other end of the lake seemed seriously far away. But I wasn’t ready to give up, so I focused on my pace, my rhythm, and not slowing down.

When I came upon the 2-mile marker, I looked down at my watch. 7:59. Yikes. I had expected mile 2 to be a little slower, but not that slow. I quickly did the math in my head. My next 1.1 mile had to kick some serious booty or I could kiss my new personal record goodbye.

So I sped up. And I stayed focused. The problem was, by this time, I was feeling extremely fatigued, I had a shoulder cramp, and this little voice in my head started messing with me, telling me there was no way I would beat the time, so why bother trying? Why not slow down the pace a bit and just enjoy the run. It’s not going to happen this year, no biggie.

But rather than listen to those thoughts, I replaced them with these: You can still do it. It’s still within your power to beat your time. It’s all about this moment, this step, this mile. Believe in every step that you can do it…the future hasn’t been determined yet!

I repeated these thoughts as I labored through the last mile, rounded the last turn, and spotted the finish line. I saw my husband and son (who curiously enough was holding up a sign he had made for me that said Go Under Sea Mom!) and that gave me an extra bolt of energy. I pushed my legs as fast as they would go, kicking in the last point one of a mile and crossing the finish line in… 23:55.

4 seconds shy of my record.

I caught my breath, and looked down at my watch where I’d clocked my splits. My last 1.1 mile, the one where I’d stayed present and repeated the mantra that I could do it, had almost been as fast as my first mile. It hadn’t been enough, but for some reason I didn’t feel defeated. Slightly bummed, yes. But more than that, I was happy that for the duration of the race, I had truly been in the moment – shoulder cramp, funky breathing, doubtful thoughts and all. No, I hadn’t beaten my personal record, but I came damn close, and I know that with speed training and more time to recover from my injury, I can do it. After all, the power is completely within me.

And when I do it, I promise to let you know!

XOXO Debbie

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A Lesson Learned from My iPod

I went for a run yesterday afternoon like I do most days, but yesterday I decided to put my iPod on shuffle instead of pre-selecting the music that would get me through the humidity, heat, and hills. Now, it probably won’t surprise you to know that I’m a serious planner. I like to prepare, organize, and plan to make sure whatever I’m taking on is positive and successful. So for me, running with my iPod on shuffle is kind of like running with scissors.

As I ran, The random songs popping up were an odd mix of vintage 80s (Level 42, The Smiths, Squeeze, and Oingo Boingo), which was working out just fine. I’d only skipped forward once or twice, usually when a song from my son’s lullaby CD or a track from an audio book came up.

But then it was time to face the HILL. The hill i’m referring to is about 1/2 mile of pretty serious incline. It’s towards the end of my run, and I’m pretty good at pushing up the hill without slowing down, but having the right music was key. So when, about 15 seconds before I turned up the hill the next song on my shuffle came up, I was hoping it would be the perfect running-up-a-ginormous-hill song. It wasn’t. But it wasn’t elevator musak either. It was a decent song…an Ani DiFranco ballad with interesting lyrics.

I had to make a choice. Listen to the rest Ani DiFranco song, even though it wasn’t the perfect song to get me up the hill, or, hit the skip button to see what was next. Normally hitting the skip button wasn’t a big deal, but on the hill it was. Who knew what would come up next? Depending on that day’s shuffle, I might end up running the entire hill in search of the perfect hill song, and never find it.

I decided to take my chances. And the next song on my shuffle was one of the best uphill running song I’ve got – Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire. Psyched and with a grin on my face, I cranked up the hill with power and speed, all the while happy that I pushed the skip button.

Then I got to thinking. How many times in life are we dissatisfied with something (a boyfriend, a job, a major, etc.), but not make a change because we’re afraid that what’s next might not be any better, or maybe even might be worse? When we accept situations that don’t fulfill us or that aren’t as great as we’d like, we’re basically 1) saying that we don’t deserve to have more and be happy, and 2) missing out on all the possibilities out there.

So next time you have a choice to make – shake things up and reach for more or stay static with the safe and familiar – I challenge you to say yes to life and take a leap of faith! Things may not always work out exactly as you had hoped, but when you follow your gut and your heart, you can’t lose.

For more on saying no to fear, check out this previous SGK post!

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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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Do Girls Rock? Definitely!

Girls Rock

I missed catching it when it was in theaters, but now that it’s out on DVD, I finally had a chance to watch the girl empowerment movie Girls Rock!, a smart and fun documentary about a week-long camp where girls ages 8-18 learn how to rock it out and reclaim their voice along the way.

The film follows a handful of girls as they stretch themselves in ways they never imagined, because at Girls Rock Camp, girls are taught that it’s “okay to sweat like a pig, scream like a banshee, wail on their instruments with complete and utter abandon, and that it is 100% okay to be exactly who you are.”

What I love about the idea of this amazing camp for girls is that it takes girls of all ages, from all walks of life, and puts them in situations where they’ll have to do the hard work of growing, learning about themselves (the good and the bad), finding ways to get along with people who aren’t necessarily like them, and overcoming their fears of expressing their inner rock star. While much of the camp (and the movie) is spent in small band groups writing and practicing a song for the end-of-week showcase, girls are also exposed to things like self defense, zine writing, song writing, and screen printing.

To get connected, visit the or . To find out more about Girls Rock camps (they’re now in Portland, OR; Brooklyn, NY; Murfreesboro, TN; Philadelphia, PA; Bay Area, CA; Austin, TX; Washington D.C.; North Carolina, London, and Sweden, click here.

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Want to win the Girls Rock! DVD? Leave a comment below sharing a time you took a risk and let the real you shine through and describe how it felt, and you’ll automatically be entered to win. Two winners will be selected next Thursday, March 5th. Good luck!

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