Hanging On To Hair

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Strange as it sounds, yes, I’ve been hanging on to my hair.  My story may seem vain at first glance, but please ladies, hear me out.

Like so many others, I’ve always struggled with self image and confidence. After decades of makeup experiments and style flops, my hair was the only area that I actually loved (sad but true). Even more so when I was pregnant and even post baby, I was always complimented on my hair. It was long, thick and fortunately I was able to style it decently. As a grown woman, I allowed my hair to define me.  No, it wasn’t naturally luxurious or glamorous, it took loads of time and work.  But it was work that I had time for prior to the birth of my daughter. Shortly after her arrival, it became clear that I wouldn’t have that kind of extra time for a while. I wasn’t able to wash it as often, let alone style it. And as my daughter became an active toddler, my hair was tossed in a bun daily, which had me wondering why I was hanging on to this hair?

As my mom style finally began to define itself (relaxed tees, jeans and flats), I realized that my long, luxurious locks were a thing of the past. Not only that, but my strands were holding me back. I hated that I couldn’t just toss up my hair and roll out the door (at the pace of my kiddo). And after my daughter expressed anxiety over losing her hair during her first trim, my mind was made up. I couldn’t allow her to view hair, makeup, or clothing as an important piece of who a woman is. I want her to see them for who they are and not how long their hair is. I know, she’s only 3 and maybe too young to fully get it.  But, she definitely imitates others and is very curious, so it can’t hurt.

The woman I was 3 years ago has definitely evolved since becoming a mom, and my hair was such a small part of that big transition.  The change as a whole was so much more than I ever expected.  The pre-baby me would have laughed at the thought of staying in on Saturday nights or skipping a shower. I would have snagged the 4 inch stilettos instead of the memory foam flats at the shoe store. After losing the 8 inches of hair, I feel free, comfortable and more momish than before.  Proof that change is good, ladies.

-Kristin S.

Where Would I Be Without My Dad?

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Where would I be without my dad?

That is a pretty simple question, right? The first answer that comes to mind is that I wouldn’t be here at all, and well yeah that’s probably right, but that’s not the answer I am looking for.

I wouldn’t be here today on the verge of turning 38 without the confidence I received from my dad.

I wouldn’t be writing this article if it wasn’t for the confidence I received as a child from my dad. My dad was always one of those dads who never said no if you really wanted to learn something, but I was always one of those kids who might have think twice or even three times before starting something new, and then had to think really hard about wanting to finish it. I remember being 8 years old and my dad taking me to the tennis courts to play tennis with him and my then 5 year old brother. My brother was good from the get go, where as I needed help, and my dad was always encouraging me, and instilling the confidence in me that I could be a good tennis player as well. He did the same thing about 10 years later when our church was forming a choral group for the weekly youth mass. It wasn’t something I initially thought about, but I figured I would show up anyways; the choral group turned into a trio because only 3 girls showed up. I was scared out of mind, but I did it and I learned that as tone deaf as I thought I sounded I could sing in a trio. My dad who couldn’t read a note of music, but could sing anyways had the confidence to join the adult choir, so why couldn’t I?

When I decided to major in communications in college because I wanted to study broadcasting my dad never discouraged me from it because he wanted me to study what I wanted to study. I needed his confidence even more my junior year when I moved 500 miles away from home, and I got an F on a college paper, and wanted to go back to my old university where school hadn’t been such a challenge. Confidence and knowing that I was doing something I loved and my parents approved of kept me going.

When I was offered a full time job crunching numbers for the government a year out of college, did I turn it down because I didn’t take a single business class in college? Nope, I used the confidence I had gained from my dad who had a career as a wine salesman, and jumped right in. Almost 15 years later I am still crunching numbers for the government.

I look at the confidence I received from my dad, and I hope that I am giving that same confidence to my daughters as they grow up. I know the world will think that they gain all of their confidence from their mother, but I really hope that when they are grown up and have children of their own that they know that they got lots of confidence from their dad too.

– Annie P.

Average or Beautiful?

Dove released a controversial video that made me think. If you had to pick a door to walk through, Average or Beautiful, which would you choose?

Personally, I prefer Entrance or Exit. I don’t have to constantly evaluate myself. I don’t have to think of all my flaws before justifying that I’m beautiful. While watching this video, I saw women and young girls alike, hesitating. I even saw someone turn around without making a choice. But I also saw confidence. I saw women leading and encouraging others to walk through the door marked Beautiful. Which door would you choose? Would you hesitate or would you confidently walk through Beautiful?

I know this, I would lead my daughters, my family and my friends, without hesitation, through the Beautiful door! I would be shocked and my heart would break, if those in my life ever thought of themselves as average. They are kind, warm, funny, smart and beautiful! Most people will tell you [inner] beauty is more important than looks, but do we really believe this about ourselves? I believe beauty is more than looks. But THIS DOOR…THIS DOOR, made me think about my flaws, and not all of the beauty I possess. So, how do we change this?

I don’t have all answers but I’m confident in this: if we aren’t actively nurturing our own confidence we stop progressing. So how do I plan to change this? I vow to keep growing, getting stronger, and finding and sharing my beauty because if I ever come across the Beautiful door, I’M WALKING THROUGH IT! As a matter of fact, beginning this very moment, every time I walk through a door it’s marked… Beautiful!

Will you join me in a lifelong commitment to confidence?

-MayLynn

Mark Your Calendars — Confidence & Me: A Toolkit for Empowering To-Be-Teens!

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The Junior League of Long Beach is hosting the inaugural Confidence & Me: A Toolkit for Empowering to-be Teens! on Saturday, April 25th, 2015 from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm at Addams Elementary School in Long Beach, California. This workshop will be on Goal Setting and Decision Making as students are planning for summer and their next steps in schooling. All 5-8th graders and their caregivers are encouraged to attend!

The workshop will include a panel discussion for adults and 5th-8th graders on the importance of making good decisions, setting goals and the ability each person has to change their path no matter the previous decisions made. Following the panel discussion will be lunch, an activity and a nutrition demonstration. After lunch the adults and children will be separated to learn life skills and practical ways to make decisions and to help their children make good decisions.

RSVP is required and the event attendance will be capped. We anticipate a full session so please RSVP early! Please contact community@jllb.org or click Confidence & Me for more information!

JLLB is building upon the success of Especially Me! and expanding to working with community partners in Long Beach to combat bullying through character development and life skills programs for 5th-8th graders and their caregivers that encourage relationship building and respect for self and others. The Confidence & Me Free half-day workshops are held around Long Beach four times a year and include topics on:

  • Self-esteem building
  • Anti-bullying (including cyber-bullying)
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills training
  • Conflict management strategies
  • Decision making/goal setting/life skills
  • Healthy lifestyle choices

DREAMS

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I have DREAMS and they are BIG.  They are deserving of capital letters.  They involve changing the world, making an impact, being the best that I can.  They are exciting.  They keep me from sleeping at night and they eliminate the need for coffee in the morning.

Much like Lauren, I set New Year’s resolutions every year.  But mine blur the lines between resolution and goal.  Mine are small steps for the year that help me get closer to my DREAMS.  I break those resolutions down into things that need to happen each month, each week, and each day.  It’s doing the small things often that help me achieve my resolutions and ultimately my DREAMS.

The beginning of the year is always filled with excitement.  I redraw my DREAMS.  I can see them more clearly.  Each year they seem closer, more achievable.  The things that I need to do don’t sound so daunting.  Anything can be accomplished.

Then today comes around…the middle of January.  Momentum is waning.  My DREAMS are still as exciting, but my resolutions are starting to stretch my comfort zone.  My goals are hard.  My DREAMS seem too big.

So how do I face today?  Today I remind myself that I don’t have to complete the whole goal in one day.  My DREAMS will be a compilation of my life.  If I can move 1 foot forward, that is as much of a success as if I move 1 mile forward.  If I move 1 inch forward, I have still moved. The world has felt my impact.  I have stretched.  My 1 inch today is 1 inch I don’t have to go tomorrow because I’ll already be there.

Today I take advice from this blog.  I ask my friends for help.  I work to refrain from putting my fears into words because I don’t want to give them power.  Instead I redraw my DREAM for others.  I let them share in the excitement.  I ask them to journey with me during this part.  My DREAM is not their dream but we can share this part of the walk together.  We stand in the bathroom with our arms up in the air forming a power pose and laugh at ourselves but gain confidence.  We pretend we are a great leader and only do what we think great leaders would do in this situation.  We retrain our thinking by changing the words we are using. We compliment each other and boy do we give good compliments.  We thank everyone, for everything.

But most of all, I allow myself to move just 1 inch then I celebrate that inch, because today, I have succeeded.

-Jennifer S.

Confidence + Power Poses

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I was in a volunteer meeting recently when a friend told me about a great Ted talk she had heard at work about “Power Poses.” She had shared that there are ways that we can all practice posing that will, in turn, command one more respect, and give off a larger sense of confidence in situations. This could apply to school, work, volunteer, family, or social situations. I, of course, was very intrigued by this and had to hear the video for myself. After listening to the 20-minute talk, I regret that I hadn’t been told about it sooner. I encourage you to check it out as well — it’s called “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” by Amy Cuddy. This is an excellent message to listen to and share. I hope you get the same sense of inspiration to make small tweaks in behavior that will lead to large shifts in life. Enjoy!

Some of the biggest take aways I had from the talk are the following:

-Our onverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves

-We are influenced by body language, and how a few strategic power poses can make a world of difference in our self-confidence and stress levels

-Our bodies change our minds… and our minds change our behavior… and our behavior changes our outcomes

-You can continue to do behaviors, internalizing them, and they will then become comfortable (and it’ll then come with ease!)

-Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes

-Alex W.

Winning Isn’t a Measure of Success… Improving Is

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I had an idea of a blog post in mind yesterday but as I was driving into work today, I heard the most insightful NPR piece, “When Kids Start Playing to Win,” on children’s development surrounding competition, winning, and the frustrations and potential low confidence that comes from comparing yourself to others. I must share this radio piece because it is insightful, has incredible nuggets of truth, and hopefully, will be mind opening to you.

When Kids Start Playing To Win

Great, great piece to read or listen to for an alternative approach to growth, confidence, and measuring success (see link below). One family shares that at age 5, when their son loses, it has a devastating effect on his self-esteem. What is emphasized is that when kids start to compare themselves to others, they are setting themselves up for losing self-confidence. That it’s important to compare yourself to your previous self as a marker of success, and no one else — looking for improvement as a measure of success rather than winning or beating someone else. 

Please enjoy this gem!

-Alex W.