How do you feel when someone tells you that you look nice today? Or your hair looks good? Or that you’re smart? However, those staple compliments pale in comparison with the most important, perhaps the most clichéd, one. “I appreciate you.” Everyone has heard the classic “tell your loved ones you love them,” or “tell them how much you appreciate them,” when the truth is no one does it anymore.
I’m not saying you have to write your best friend some cheesy, sappy love note gushing about how amazing they are. All you have to do is thank them when they listen to you, or when they do something nice for you, or when they look out for you. It’s really not that hard to tell someone they’re being a good person.
People come into your life for all sorts of reasons, good or bad. The one’s who make your life better, the ones who put a positive impact on your life, should be celebrated. Whether or not they’re family or just your friends, they deserve to be told you love them. It’s become such a lost art to tell your friends that you love them and I’m not sure why. We love to feel appreciated and liked, it’s human nature, yet somehow we’ve managed to stray from telling the most important people in our lives that they are, in fact, important. You don’t have to do it that often, you don’t have to be too wordy or cliché, all you have to be is sincere.
Teen Blogger, Girls With Confidence
Welcome to our Guest Blogger- Leslie Blanchard. Read more about Leslie at the bottom of her blog. Take time to read this one...well worth it!
I will never forget the day my daughter told me that Bethany, a girl in her 4th grade class, was annoying her. “What is she doing to you?” I questioned, instinctively protective. “She’s following me around on the playground and sitting by me at lunch!” she quipped, as if that would sum things right up and get me squarely on her side of the matter. “You mean she’s trying to be friends with you?” I asked incredulously.
I realized immediately that I had a problem on my hands. I was raising my own worst nightmare. Smack dab in the middle of my brood of five kids, was a charismatic, sassy, leggy, blonde, dance-y, athletic girl oozing confidence … and apparently annoyance, directed toward another little girl that wasn’t lucky enough to be her. Inconveniently for my daughter, her own mother WAS Bethany in grade school. Freckled of face and frizzy of hair, I was an Army brat, always the new girl clamoring for a friend, drawn to the natural confidence of girls like my daughter. This conversation found me vacillating between heartache and fury, but one thing I knew for sure: Mama was about to put her money where her mouth had been all these years.
The battle of two very strong wills ensued at my home the next morning. It wasn’t pretty, but I prevailed. My daughter attended a private Catholic grade school, where on any given day, she and a handful of her cohorts ruled the roost. One quick phone call to Bethany’s mother that same evening confirmed my worst fears. My daughter and her posse were using everything short of a can of “Cling Free” to rid themselves of the annoying Bethany.
I’m sure there are parents out there who will say I overreacted. But, I firmly believe we’ve got to start to address our country’s bullying epidemic right at the heart; by re-defining bullying at its very core. To me, the rejection and complete lack of interest my daughter and her “clique” displayed toward Bethany was the beginning of a subtle type of bullying. It is true (confirmed to me by Bethany’s mom and teachers), that there was no overt unkindness or name-calling, etc., just rejection; a complete lack of interest in someone they wrongly concluded had nothing to offer them. After experiencing childhood myself and raising five of my own, I’ve been on every side of the bullying social dynamic, and I am convinced this is where it begins. A casual assessment and quick dismissal of an outsider.
We would serve our children well, in my opinion, if we had a frank conversation with them about what motivates human beings to accept and reject others. It happens at every age and stage of life, race, creed and religion. It has its roots in our own fears of rejection and lack of confidence. Everyone is jockeying for their own spot on the Social Food Chain. I feel like I have experienced demonstrable success with my children by tabling this dynamic right out in the open. Parents need to call it by name, speak it out loud, shine a bright light in its ugly face. We need to admit to our children that we too experience this, even as adults. Of course it’s tempting to ‘curry favor’ and ‘suck-up’ to the individual a rung of two above you on the Social Ladder, but every single human being deserves our attention and utmost respect. In spite of this, we have to constantly remind our children and ourselves that everyone can bring unexpected and unanticipated value to our lives. But we have to let them.
It’s simply not enough to instruct your children to “Be Nice!” You’ve got to be more specific than that. Kids think if they aren’t being outright unkind, they are being nice. We know better. Connect the ugly dots. Explain the social survival instinct that’s often motivating and guiding their impulses. I promise you, they can handle it. They already see it on some level anyway. They just need YOU to give it a voice and re-direction.
As for my girl, I instructed her that she was going to invest some time and energy getting to know Bethany. I assigned her to come home from school the next day and report three cool things she found out about Bethany, that she didn’t previously know. My strong-willed child dug in. She did not want to do that. I dug in deeper. I refused to drive her to school the next morning, until she agreed. It seemed that, at least until now, I had the car keys and the power. Her resistance gave us time to have the long overdue conversation. I walked her through my “ATM Machine Analogy.” I explained to her that she had social bank to spare. She could easily make a withdrawal on behalf of this little girl, risking very little.
“Let’s invest!” I enthused and encouraged. She got dressed reluctantly and I drove her to school. She had a good day—what was left of it. But, she was still buggy with me when I picked her up, telling me that her friends’ mothers “stay out of such matters” and let their daughters “choose their own friends!” (Such wise women.) And then she told me three cool things about Bethany that she didn’t previously know.
I checked back in with Bethany’s mother by phone two weeks later. It’s called follow through. (I don’t think enough of us are doing that. We “helicopter” over our kids’ wardrobes, nutrition, sleep schedules, hygiene, science fair projects and then pride ourselves on how “hands off” we are on social issues. If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to say, “Seriously? You micro-manage the literal crap out of every thing your child does from his gluten intake to his soccer cleats, but THIS you stay out of?” No wonder there’s zero accountability and a bullying culture!) Bethany’s mother assured me that she had been welcomed into the fold of friendship and was doing well.
Bethany’s family moved to another state a few years later. My daughter cried when they parted ways. They still keep in touch through all their social media channels. She was and is a really cool girl, with a lot to offer her peers. But the real value was to my daughter, obviously. She gained so much through that experience. She is now a 20-year-old college sophomore, with a widely diverse group of friends. She is kind, inclusive and open to all types of people. When she was malleable, impressionable and mine to guide:
—She learned her initial instinct about people isn’t always correctly motivated.
—She learned you can be friends with the least likely people; the best friendships aren’t people that are your “type!” In the world of friendship, contrast is a plus.
—She learned that there are times, within a given social framework, that you are in a position to make a withdrawal on behalf of someone else. Be generous, invest! It pays dividends.
But, most importantly, she learned that, while I may not be overly-interested in what she gets on her Science Fair project, couldn’t care less if she’s Lactose Intolerant or whether her long blonde hair is snarled, she’s going to damn well treat people right.
Parents—your kids are going to eventually develop the good sense to wear a jacket and eat vegetables, invest your energy in how they interact within society. If we insist on being the hovering Helicopter Parent Generation, let’s at least hover over the right areas.
~ Leslie Blanchard, Blogger
Brilliant words by Leslie Blanchard. We came across this article on Facebook and loved it. We connected with Leslie to request her approval to share it on our blog and she was excited we wanted to share this with our parents. We hope you enjoyed it and please feel free to share with your friends.
About the Author: Leslie Blanchard is a wife and mother of five, who tattles on her husband, her own mother and her children by chronicling the insane and mundane in all of their lives in a fairly public way. Collectively, her family more or less rues the day they purchased her an iPad. Now that she’s officially a blogger, Leslie lies in the tub, neglecting her considerable responsibilities and muses about marriage, motherhood, friendship and other matters of life outside the bubbles. Read more from Leslie on her blog A Ginger Snapped: Facing the Music of Marriage & Motherhood- https://agingersnapped.com/.
You’re running late, you spill your $5 iced coffee and you’re stuck in traffic. God, this day is gonna be terrible, now you’re in a bad mood. I’ve been alive for 15 years, 185 months, 806 weeks, or 5,647 days. The Earth is 4.5 billion years old. So yeah in retrospect, my impact on Earth thus far has been minor, to say the least. The average human lifespan is 71 years. That’s one thousand seven hundred seventy five hundred billionths of the Earth’s lifespan. And you’re having one bad day? One day of all of that? Every second your body is producing 25 million new cells. An adult human body has 7 octillion atoms. That's a 7 with 48 zeros. Our never ending universe has hundreds of billions of known galaxies, each of which have billions of stars inside of those. Even the sun rays hitting us right now, are 30,000 years old. But yeah, you went to grab breakfast at Chick fil A and now you’re stuck in a traffic jam on Dale Mabry, it’s the end of the world. Your world, at least.
I know it sounds like I'm having an existential crisis, but trust me I’m not. I’m just saying, that whenever I’m inconvenienced or annoyed, I just kinda think it’s important to remember all the amazing, astounding things that are happening around us. Why don’t we just start small right now. You were late to school. Sure, but did you know that at one point for about thirty minutes, you, like your individual self was one single cell. All of us actually, every single person has at one point been one singular cell. Let’s branch out a bit. The closest galaxy to us is 2.5 million light years away, and if it was just a little bit brighter we would be able to see it, and it would look six times larger than our full moon. I mean it takes 230 million years for our solar system to orbit around our own galaxy.
In your life you are going to do so many things, go so many places, meet so many people. Even though compared to this big mess that we call the cosmic web, we’re irrelevant. Sorry that’s the truth, but that shouldn’t matter to us. We should be spontaneous, show emotion, build relationships, communicate because that’s our lives we’re talking about here! We only get to do it once. In today’s day and age everyone is so mad and everyone is so judgmental but we don’t have to be this way. In comparison, yeah, we’re a teeny tiny spec in this universe but we don’t have to live like that. We can make our lives worth living all by ourselves, we are capable of living without regrets if we want, we just have to want to.
We all have dreams, plans, ideas for our future. Your crappy morning won’t matter, that kid in your class pissing you off won’t matter, that embarrassing moment when you tripped up the stairs or when you send that ugly snapchat to the wrong person won’t matter when it’s all said and done. One day you’re going to wake up and we’re gonna be making pancakes with the love of our life, publishing your first book, starring in a movie or whatever. No matter what what you want out of life you can and will get there. We only have so much time on this earth to achieve those dreams, plans, and ideas, and you won’t get them done with a pessimistic mindset. One day those dreams and plans become reality, and those terrible, rough, god awful days just won’t matter.
So make your life worth living. Make it something that when you look back on it you can honestly say you loved it. Don’t be paralyzed by fear. Living life is the longest thing we ever do, take that chance, do what makes you happy, make it important because it is.
Teen Blogger, Girls With Confidence
Some of you might know me, and a lot of you probably know my story, but if you don’t, my name is Sarah Kosid and almost five years ago I lost my best friend to cancer. My dad was 46 when he passed away from esophageal cancer. He had been battling the disease for two years when he defeated it and was taken to heaven. You see, my family doesn’t believe that cancer beat my dad because he fought too hard for that to happen. We like to think he’s the real winner. Not only is he no longer suffering, but we know that now he is with our sweet Jesus. As a former Marine, we also know that he is guarding the gates of heaven and waiting to greet each and every one of us on the day we get there.
When I was a junior in high school, I was blessed with the opportunity to be the team captain of my Relay for Life team. It was a lot more work than I had expected, nor was I ready for what was in store. I knew what I was doing was for the right cause, but trying to balance that and school was a lot to handle. When the event started I couldn’t help but be reminded of how amazing the support group is behind cancer. I saw it in my friends, but I also saw it in strangers. There were so many people here who had been affected by cancer yet they weren’t sad, they were rejoicing over their life. I think that’s why they call it Relay for LIFE.
That night I told my story to a crowd of people whom I mostly didn’t know. I was a little junior in high school and wasn’t as prepared for public speaking as I would have liked to have been. My mom (being the crier that she is) hugged me with tears in her eyes before I went in front of everyone. When I began talking, I was comforted by reminding myself that my dad had a front row seat to this night. He was proud of me and he loved me! I stood up there and blabbered about cancer and how it sucked for about two minutes before I was overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry. You don’t really think about cancer unless you have to, and in that moment I was doing a lot of thinking about cancer. My friends immediately jumped up and hugged me and supported me while I continued to try to come up with words in between sobs. When I finished talking, I couldn’t believe the amount of strangers who came up to me and hugged me and told me how inspiring I was. Here’s the mistake though: I wasn’t inspiring. My story might have been… but the real inspiration here is my dad. He’s the one that fought cancer. He’s the one that played in a hockey tournament after chemotherapy. He’s the one that bought a new bicycle while he was sick because he knew he wasn’t done fighting and was going to ride again. He’s the one that gave his best and biggest hugs, even when it hurt him to do it. So no, the inspiring one was not me. It was him.
I think cancer patients are so amazing. I think we should celebrate them every chance we get: their victories, their memories, and their lives. Relay for Life was one of my favorite times to celebrate. Please consider joining our Girls With Confidence Relay Team. It will be a wonderful and positive experience for you and your daughter. Click on this link to learn more-
Social Media Intern
Girls With Confidence
In our last post, we introduced you to our new blog and what we hoped to accomplish by having this blog. Now in our 2nd post, I thought it would be helpful to share more about myself and why I started Girls With Confidence. And answer the most asked questions I get “Why do you work with girls when you don’t have a daughter yourself?”
The seed was planted back in 2005 when I was at a networking event and remember hearing the speaker say “We all have things that happen in our lives that impact us- some positive and some negative. When it’s negative…find a way to change it into a positive.” She shared several ways to do that and one example she gave was to volunteer and give back. It was a pretty simple statement but one that really impacted me. I didn’t have to think long and hard about what I would do with the “negative” that had happened to me.
I grew up in an upscale suburb outside Detroit and I seemed to have it all in terms of a teenage outlook. I was outgoing, friendly and social. I was popular and had a ton of friends. I didn’t have a hard time getting dates or boyfriends and I was homecoming princess. But I had a big secret that I kept inside for many years. I was suffering from an eating disorder. No one knew, not my Mom and Dad, my friends, not even my closest friend Wendy. And until I was in college and was really sick, I decided to open up to a friend who encouraged me to get help. Once I started getting therapy, I found the courage to open up to my family. They did their best to be supportive and help me. I remember my parents telling me that if I continued with that behavior, that I would end up killing myself. You would think that would be enough to stop but it wasn’t. And years continued with the eating disorder…telling people that I was better when I wasn’t. Most people do not understand why anyone would do this to themselves. Typically it’s due to some underlying causes, mine was sexual abuse by some neighborhood kids when I was 9 years old. And because of that experience I endured guilt, lack of trust and extreme self-loathing and insecurity.
And it wasn’t until I met my husband that I truly got the help I needed. Years of therapy and finally getting to the root cause. I got better. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I still struggle. It’s similar to being an alcoholic I think. It’s a daily challenge but I am healthy now and I believe in the end, I am blessed. I know that sounds hard to believe. Yes, I had some bad things happen to me but I did take that negative and turned it into a positive. And that positive is Girls With Confidence.
I love what I do. I feel that God has given me this opportunity to help girls feel good about who they are. I AM blessed that I get to work with young girls and feel that our programs really impact girls to be more confident about themselves, their friendships and their life. In all our workshops and events we hope girls learn that perfection does not exist. We want them to have strong relationships with their parents, so when they need help, they can go to them for support. We want girls to learn to communicate and share what’s on their mind. And we want girls to love and accept themselves no matter what negative experiences they’ve had happen. Our goal at Girls With Confidence is to empower girls with knowledge and skills to be confident in themselves and know that they can be anything they set out to be.
Founder and President, Girls With Confidence
Finally our first blog post. Thanks for your patience in launching our new blog. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but felt intimidated by it. I could go on and on about why I “feared” starting a blog but I’ll focus on the positive- “I’m here and I’m ready.”
As many of you know, a blog is a way to share experiences, observations and opinions in an informal and conversational way. So our blog will do just that. I’m excited to use this blog to SHARE, EDUCATE and INSPIRE parents of girls.
We plan to EDUCATE parents on what goes on in our workshops and share in an anonymous way, all the interesting and funny things girls talk about in our classes. I promise we’ll have some serious stuff to share but also some down right hilarious stories. I could write a book with all the funny things they say and also the most profound and impactful comments they share. One day...
We will also use this blog to SHARE resources with parents and provide strategies, tips and advise on raising confident daughters. From time to time, we will invite guests to share their expertise on various relevant topics girls are dealing with.
Most importantly we hope to INSPIRE you. Maybe to be a better Mom, Wife, Friend, Daughter, Sister, Co-Worker, etc. As you all know, no one is perfect and I hope through this blog, we can encourage Moms to believe more in themselves, trust their decisions and love the kind of person and parent they are. We want you to accept and embrace your imperfections and to not constantly focus on trying to change them. Young girls need to learn early in life the importance of loving and accepting themselves from the inside out and they can achieve this if they see their Moms can do the same.
I promise our blog posts will be honest, transparent, real and helpful. I read this quote the other day and feel is so true, “Confidence is not a destination, it’s a journey.” In all our workshops and events we hope to instill a little more knowledge and empower girls to be more self assured, contributing to their journey.
Our next post will share more about our vision and goals for Girls With Confidence and I’ll also answer the most asked question I get “Why do you work with girls when I don't have a daughter”? Can't wait to connect again soon. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!
Founder and President, Girls With Confidence