Archive for November 2009

Being In the Moment

Since one of my biggest goals every day is to practice living the moment, something I’m especially focusing on this week while on vacation, I thought I’d repost a Smart Girls Know Affirmation about doing just that. I hope you’ve all had a great week, and I’ll let you know if I succeeded on my quest to take risks, find balance, and be in the moment when I return next week!

XOXO Debbie

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Smart Girls Know Affirmation: Smart Girls Know How to Be in the Moment

Do you ever find yourself totally preoccupied about something that happened yesterday, last week, or even last year? Do you stress out about things that haven’t happened yet or might not even happen at all?

You’re not alone. It’s completely normal to get caught up thinking about our past and future lives. The problem is, all of this attention on yesterday and tomorrow takes away from our actual lives…what is happening in the now.

Here’s why living in the PAST isn’t a great idea:

  • You can’t change what’s already happened
  • If you’re looking backward, you’ll miss what’s right in front of you

Here’s why living in the FUTURE doesn’t work so well, either:

  • There’s no way to know what the future holds
  • Worrying about what hasn’t happened yet won’t change anything
  • If you’re looking forward, you’ll miss what’s right in front of you

Here’s why living the PRESENT is a GREAT IDEA!

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

It’s clear that living in the present is definitely the way to go. The question is…how is it done? Here are some tips for getting the most out of every day and being fully in the NOW:

  • Notice something beautiful everyday… a gorgeous full moon, a droplet of rain on the car window, the smell of banana bread baking
  • Take five minutes each day to STOP and be still…check in with yourself to make sure you’re making the most out of whatever it is you’re doing
  • Tell the people you love how you feeloften
  • Take a break from multitasking each day…it’s okay to watch TV, text on your cell, and surf YouTube…just not all at once!
  • Do something you LOVE…play piano, go for a bike ride, paint a picture…connect with your personal passion

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Are You a Risk-Taker?

I’m still in Arizona at my getaway vacation, and since I’ll be tackling a desert tight-rope, challenge jump, and other (scary) adventures, today I wanted to repost an affirmation about the importance of taking (healthy) risks. Enjoy!

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Smart Girls Know the Importance of Taking Healthy Risks

We all know that teens are natural risk-takers. Unfortunately, much of this risk-taking involves negative stuff, like drinking, doing drugs, or making poor choices when it comes to sex.

So would it surprise you to know that taking risks can actually be an incredibly positive thing for teen girls to do?

According to a study by Teens Today, teenagers who challenge themselves to take positive risks:

* are 20% more likely than teens who don’t take positive risks to avoid alcohol and drugs
* are 42% more likely to avoid drinking because of concerns about academic performance
* consider themselves to be more responsible, confident, successful and optimistic than their non-risk taking peers
* think through the potential negative outcomes of destructive behavior before engaging in it

For teen girls, the news is even better. According to Girls Inc., “A girl thrives when she knows what she wants, takes risks to go after it, and believes in her ability and her right to enjoy all her successes.”

Positive risk taking can lead to a tremendous boost in self-esteem and self-confidence…two qualities that are often in scarce supply for many girls. With higher self-esteem and confidence, girls make smarter choices, are empowered to speak out, feel more able to pursue their dreams, and are much less likely to let someone treat them badly.

The bigger the risk, the bigger the rewards.

There’s nothing like taking a risk that rocks you to your core to get a new perspective on just how strong, worthy, capable, and powerful you are. If you’ve ever watched someone do a rope challenge course (or maybe you’ve done one yourself), then you’ve seen the impact that taking a risk and moving beyond the comfort zone can have.

The good news is, you don’t have to walk on a tightrope suspended between two poles thirty feet off the ground to reap the positive side effects of risk taking.

Want to take a walk on the wild side? Try out one of these positive risks and see what happens:

  • join a new sports team
  • audition for a play
  • run for class officer
  • sign up for the debate team
  • go to a wilderness camp
  • go rock climbing
  • raise your hand more in class
  • do a ropes course
  • defy the fashion trends and be a style noncomformist
  • participate in an Outward Bound excursion
  • replace the words “I can’t” with “I’ll try” in your vocabulary
  • volunteer with an organization
  • reach out and make a new friend outside your circle
  • join an after school adventure club

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Gutsy GirlsNeed some more inspiration? Read (Free Spirit Publishing), by Tina Schwager, Michelle Schuerger, and Elizabeth Verdick.

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Get Balanced

Hello Smart Girls!

I’m on vacation this week. As in, no computer, spa getaway with my BFF, hiking, sleeping, reading, dreaming, renewing vacation. So I thought I’d post a few of my favorite Smart Girls Know Affirmations of days past throughout the week. Today I write about the importance of balance. It seemed appropriate since that’s what I’m going to try and achieve while I’m away. Enjoy!

XOXO Debbie

Smart Girls Know Affirmation: Smart Girls Know the Importance of BALANCE

Finding “balance” seems to be on everyone’s mind these days. You can’t turn your head without seeing a headline about balancing budgets, a food product promising you a balanced blend of carbs, fats, and proteins, or an article about how to balance work, life, and family.

But what is balance anyway? I like to think of it as a state of being where all the core aspects of who you are – mind, body, and soul – are being taken care of.

Sometimes the easiest way to define balance is to show what it isn’t. Here’s what being out of balance might look like:

  • skipping meals when you’re stressed
  • overeating to make yourself feel better
  • getting so wrapped up in schoolwork that you forget to return a friend’s phone call
  • putting exercise on the back-burner when life gets hectic
  • spending so much time at your part-time job that your social life is nonexistent
  • having trouble sleeping because you’ve got so many things on your mind

So what’s the problem with being off balance? Well, imagine walking across a tightrope. You’re doing fine when all of a sudden the rope starts to wobble and you’re so shaky that the slightest breeze could cause you to tumble.

It’s the same with life.

When you’re off balance, every little unexpected thing can throw you for a loop. But if you’re taking care of yourself and are in balance, you’re ready to handle the bumps in the road life throws at you.

So now the real question: How can you create more balance in your life? Here are a few ideas…

  • Log your activities for a day (or a week) and see if you can notice any glaring imbalances (for example, are you all work and no play or visa versa?)
  • Have periodic check-ins with yourself – every night before you go to bed, do an inventory in your head and see if you’re taking care of you (you ate well, you had some downtime, you did some school work, you laughed at least once)
  • Discover the things that make you feel recharged (for me it’s going for a run, listening to the soundtrack for RENT, or hanging out with my girlfriends), and do one of these when you’re feeling like you need to get back on track.
  • Start noticing what it feels like when you’re off balance so you’ll be better able to recognize the feeling and nip it in the bud

For more ideas on finding and keeping balance in your life, check out my new book Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You!

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Women Break New Ground in Iraq

Iraqi Female Police OfficersThe New York Times ran an interesting article this week about a group of women making history in Iraq. On Monday, 50 women became the first-ever female graduates of Iraq’s police-officer training academy. In a country where women continue to face a steep uphill battle when it comes to achieving equal rights, this accomplishment has the potential to have a big impact.

Women have previously been able to serve doing things like directing traffic, but this is the first time women have been allowed to participate in training academy. These fifty impressive women are now full-fledged police officers who’ll be working investigations and in forensics.

Congratulations to these women for pursuing their dreams and setting an example for more women to follow. And it looks like they’ve already begun…the next group of trainees includes 100 women!

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Teens Are More Stressed Than Ever

Stressed teens

A new study that came out about stress and teens shows that stress related to school and family finances affects teens more than their parents realize. According to the study, 45% of tweens and teens say their stress has increased over the past year and 26% say they’ve worried more this year. But apparently many parents aren’t on the same page. In fact, only slightly more than half the parents of these teens agreed their children’s lives were more stressful. What does this mean? Are parents totally out of touch with what’s really going on with their teens?

Psychologist Katherine Nordal thinks so. “It’s clear that parents do not fully appreciate the impact that stress is having on their kids. What we’re seeing with stress is in line with existing research about parents’ perception of their kids’ engagement in risky behaviors. Parents often under report drug use, depression and sexual activity in their children. Now it appears the same may be true for stress,” she says.

The same study says that teens are experiencing more symptoms of stress, like anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and changes in appetite, even though their parents might not even realize these things are going on.

So, why are parents in the dark? Is it because they are more stressed out in their own lives and therefore don’t have the energy to tune in as well with their kids? Or is it because in this era where teens, especially girls, are expected to do it all and make it look effortless (what Liz Funk writes about in ), teens themselves are not letting their parents know what’s really going on in their emotional lives?

Whatever the reason, the only way this statistic is going to turn around is by people getting real. Because despite all the outside very real causes of stress (grades, money, family pressures, friendship drama, overbooked schedules, etc.), perhaps the biggest source of stress in the lives of teens is the pressure they put on themselves. By being open and honest and real about what’s really going on and the challenges they face, this idea that everyone has to excel at everything will be revealed for what it is – an impossible standard that can never be met.

If you’re experiencing stress in your life, here are some quick stress-reducing strategies to try out:

  1. Scream into a pillow
  2. Escape with a video game
  3. Get some fresh air
  4. Take a brisk walk
  5. Take a hot shower
  6. Break your routine (walk home from school a new way, explore a new place, etc.)
  7. Do a muscle check, notice where you are carrying tension, and focus on relaxing
  8. Find a “theme song” that makes you feel happy, calm, and hopeful (mine right now is I Believe from Spring Awakening)
  9. Give yourself a head massage
  10. Plan a reward for later in day (think of something to look forward to)

For in-depth strategies on chilling out for teens, check out my book Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You.

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The Secrets Girls Keep & Book Giveaway

Secret's Girls KeepHappy book birthday to my friend, colleague, and honorary Smart Girl Carrie Silver-Stock. Carrie’s new book for teen girls, Secrets Girls Keep: What Girls Hide (& Why) and How to Break the Stress of Silence comes out today! I had a chance to check out an advance copy of Secrets Girls Keep a few months ago (you’ll find an endorsement from me on Carrie’s website), and I just love Carrie’s approach for encouraging girls to get real about what’s going on in their lives. I’m a firm believer in being open, honest, and real about the challenges we all face, because that’s how we discover we’re not alone.

Inside Secrets Girls Keep, you’ll find quizzes, real stories from real girls, and tips and advice for handling stresses and challenges dealing with everything from boys, cyber-bulling and family issues. It’s all presented in a very down-to-earth way through Carrie’s inspirational voice.

Carrie is offering a one-day only bonus for people who buy the book through her website. When you purchase Secrets Girls Keep today (11/3), you’ll also get for free:

  • A downloadable 11-page discussion guide and book companion
  • An 8 x 10 Girls With Dreams Manifesto poster
  • 20% off coupon towards a purchase at the teen boutique, Artistic
  • Teen room makeover tips by Kim Gellman at Artistic Sensations
  • Parenting tips by Dr. Tim Jordon, M.D. and coupon towards Camp Weloki
  • E-book called How to Communicate with Teens and Tweens 101 by Vanessa Van Petten

Smart Girls Know is celebrating this book birthday with a GIVEAWAY CONTEST! To enter, leave a comment about what you think the benefits of sharing personal secrets with others might be.

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