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Be The Bra: The Tools You Need to Lift Up & Support Your Girls.

4 Simple Ideas that Express Love & Gratitude this Valentine’s Day

(2.5 minute read) I’m no Grinch, but I must admit that some might consider me a curmudgeon when it comes to holidays.  I can’t tell you why, but I just don’t feel the need to make a big deal out of them, not even birthdays.  While I admire those who decorate their house for every occasion, and have special plates and napkins, this simply is not in my dna. I know how I feel inside about the true meaning behind each holiday and to me that’s what’s important.  As I started writing (and thinking) about this, it occured to me that my stance on this is similar to posting on social media. I do not subscribe to the idea that I need to broadcast, or prove that I have love, happiness and success in my life – my personal  highlight reel. That is not to say I don’t enjoy scrolling and seeing what others choose to share with the world. In fact, I actually love seeing the celebrations, milestones, and achievements, and the pure joy on people’s faces. I admire how much people have grown / changed and yes, even those who aged.  I even appreciate learning of sad news as I then keep those people in my thoughts and prayers. I’ll be honest, while it’s mind-blowing to me that people choose to spend so much time on social media, it’s equally as baffling that people put so much effort and energy on holidays-whether big or small, real or fake. And by fake I mean the hallmark-celebrations, like the upcoming Valentine’s Day. I am totally comfortable with my lack...

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Be Seen as a Strong (not bossy) Leader: 4 Qualities for Females to Lead Successfully

(3-minute read) It’s no secret that female leaders are often labeled as bitchy or bossy. In fact, recent research shows that women who exert their leadership by behaving like men are seen as “bossy” and “less effective” than their male counterparts who behave the exact same way (but are praised for it). I know it’s hard to believe, right? What makes matters worse is that some women even perceive other strong women in this negative light. This can obviously have a detrimental effect on our future. As women, we need to work together to redefine what it means to be a leader – regardless of sex. As mothers, it is our responsibility to nurture our daughters so they can become valued and respected leaders.  Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a magic recipe for how to do that.  Having said that, one of my GAALSters seemed to find just the right blend of ingredients that resulted in her ability to lead in a confident yet reserved manner, while being highly respected by her peers. Sometimes the most unexpected combinations make the best dishes. Turns out people are the same way. At the end of sixth grade, Ella decided she no longer enjoyed swimming (despite excelling on the swim team for three years prior). Ella’s parents, although reluctantly, decided that she did not have to continue competing as long as she chose an alternative activity that provided some sort of exercise. It could be anything. While dancing would have been her first choice, she unfortunately was not able to join her friends at the local facility. Despite her keen interest and...

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My Unexpected Journey to Mindfulness: How You & Your Kids Can Get There Too

(4.5 minute read) Who would have guessed that the two things I fought my husband hardest on in our 20 year relationship would end up being the same two things that have drastically changed my life for the better? (Don’t tell him I said this…but I should probably listen to him more often. He seems to know me better than I know myself.) First of all, if you would have asked me seven years ago, I would have told you that I was born to live in NYC. I loved everything about my life there: raising my daughters with everything I needed at my fingertips, being able to walk everywhere, the high-power corporate job I worked so hard at. I ate up that fast-paced, hustle-and-bustle lifestyle that is so characteristic of the city. It fit my personality to a T. I used to pride myself on how well I was able to juggle everything, my ability to multitask. People would marvel at how much I could get done in a day. And I love it. My self-esteem was somewhat based on my productivity, and being praised for it only increased my desire to be just that…productive.   So, as you can imagine, when my husband sprang on me that he wanted to move to the burbs, get a dog, and have a third child, my reaction was not exactly supportive. “No, no and absolutely NO!” My world (that I seemingly managed so well) was about to turn upside down. Lo-and-behold, a year later I found myself living in Long Island. Being out of the city allowed me to think about...

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No More Girl Drama-Mama Please Help (The Effects of Cliques)

(4.5 minute read) In an ideal world, the topic of friends would elicit nothing but warm, fuzzy feelings and fond memories. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. I hear stories on a daily basis about girls feeling excluded and/or judged, and about them doing/saying things just because of their deep desire to fit in- typical girl drama. Unfortunately, these sentiments are at their worst in middle school, when girls are experiencing physical changes to their bodies and hormones are raging. At this same time girls start to separate from their parents in an effort to figure out who they are and who they want to be. And friends begin to yield a greater influence on our daughters than parents. As a result, girls begin to focus on things like popularity, status, fashion, and appearance. They try to find the right group, believing it will ultimately lead to happiness. But when girls befriend people just for the sake of fitting in, looking impressive, or maintaining the status quo, the pressure they feel makes it difficult to think and act for themselves. Thoughts like “everyone is wearing that new style of shoes, I have to get a pair” or even “she has the best figure, I need to eat what she eats,” can become all-consuming. Most girls focus on “keeping up with the joneses” instead of being their own person. These unhealthy patterns of group thinking are perpetuated (and even rewarded), as girls bow down to the queen bees of the world and blindly follow their lead. For instance, if the queen bee of a particular group likes one person, then...

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When Your Daughter Has An Inflated View of Self. Is it Good or Bad? What Should You Do?

(3-minute read) Not only do I lead organization specifically for girls, but I am also the mother of two daughters – one preteen and one teenager (all thoughts and prayers are welcome). In both of these roles, I have become acutely aware of how a girl’s sense of self, particularly her esteem, changes as she grows.  Unfortunately, it typically dwindles as she grows. Pressure increases. Opinions are shared. And she is inundated with the often unrealistic standards set by society at large. In an effort to help girls build confidence in themselves and their abilities throughout their development, I’ve read books, attended seminars, spoken to professionals…you name it. The most rewarding part comes when I am fortunate enough to witness firsthand this increased sense of self, whether it’s under my roof with my daughters or through GAALS programs with one of our GAALSters or from one of their parents. You can imagine my surprise when one mom, let’s call her Kim, came to me with the opposite problem. She called me concerned, saying “I’m worried. My daughter sees herself as better than she is. I don’t know what to do.” Of course…this piqued my interest. A young girl with an inflated view of herself? In my experience, this was rare. Kim continued, telling me that her daughter is a good student, but not great. That she is a good lacrosse player, but not great. Despite what I termed exceptional mediocrity, Kim expressed that her daughter repeatedly says she would like to go to Penn, and even thinks she will get a scholarship to play lacrosse there. Although I could...

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Encourage Your Children To Set Resolutions for 2019 & Use These 10 Tips To Foster Success

New Year’s resolutions are an opportunity to inspire change. But, contrary to popular belief, they aren’t just for adults. There is plenty of room for every individual to learn and grow, especially with all of the promise and opportunity that a brand new year provides. Even preschool aged children can set age-appropriate goals when given the right guidance and support. So why not encourage your child(ren) to share in this age-old New Year’s practice? Finding simple and practical ways for everyone in the family to make the right resolution for them, whatever that may be, can be a healthy and positive experience. Plus it can be a lot of fun! Remember, resolutions don’t need to be limited to one, and they don’t need to be overly ambitious or complicated. You could have many – for example, one as a family and one or more as an individual. They can pertain to various different aspects of life: academic/business, physical, social, artistic, etc. Here are 10 tips to foster your children’s success in making (and keeping) resolutions Make it a family tradition.  Traditions not only bring families together, they create lasting memories. In a survey that asked children what they remember most about their childhood, a majority of kids responded by talking about simple traditions. Be a role model. Share your resolutions as parents, both success stories and failures. It’s not only good for your children to know you’ve been successful, it’s important that they know that on the path toward success, you overcame obstacles. It’s in the face of adversity where we show great strength. Avoid the negative.  Language is...

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The Perfect Staycation Plan for Families: Playful & Productive

(4.5 minute read) Home for the vacation?  Well, you’re in luck. I spent time putting together the perfect staycation plan for families because I believe the staycation is highly underrated. They are relaxing, enjoyable, and budget-friendly. I mean, actual vacations aren’t always realistic. Whether it’s time, money, work obligations, or something else that keeps us from a vacation spent basking in the sun, making our own home a vacation hotspot is a great alternative. In fact, with the right mindset and little bit of creativity, your own home can offer unique adventures and boatloads of fun! Despite this belief, sadly though, I must admit that with the rise of social media, I have allowed it to taint my mentality. When I’m home looking at pictures, posts, and stories of gorgeous vacations that every person in my town is enjoying (or so it seems), it’s a lot harder to relish – and appreciate – my staycation. As much as I hate to admit it, it does make me a bit jealous. Avoiding social media helps; but I still hear about others’ fantastic adventures. To make matters worse, my kids see and hear all of these same (if not, more) vacation highlights. I cannot help but feel guilty that I am not providing them with these same experiences. In order to shift back to the right mindset, I have to remind myself that it’s not about what other people are doing, or where they are going. There are always going to be ways for others to superficially top what my husband and I can and choose to do. However, what others do doesn’t...

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Have Holiday Gifts For Our Children Gotten Out of Control?

(2.5 min read) When I was a child, celebrating Hanukkah was filled with love and joy. I learned about its history, and on each of the eight nights we spent time talking about the destruction of the temple and the miracle of lights. As part of our celebration, we also sang melodic songs, ate delicious fried foods (to symbolize the oil that burned for longer than expected), and let the lights on our menorah shine bright. The festivities continued with gift giving. One gift for each of the eight nights. What’s not to love about that? Especially as a kid. Regardless of how much I enjoyed Hanukkah, and how special my family made it, it didn’t seem like enough in comparison to Christmas. When shopping for our holiday, a jolly ole Santa was there smiling and holding a sack of gifts while Christmas tunes filled the air.  Television programs showed families gathering around a beautiful tree opening up the neatly wrapped gifts that sat underneath.  As a child, I couldn’t help but wish that our holiday could be more similar to Christmas. Hanukkah didn’t seem like enough. As a parent, I didn’t want my children to feel this same sense of religious separation. The good news is that it hasn’t been an issue.  The bad news…there seems to be an even greater separation happening: a complete disconnect regarding what the holiday is truly about versus what children seem to think it’s about…presents. This seems to hold true for Christmas as well. Unfortunately, this theme of “not enough” tends to be a common one for many middle-class children. It appears...

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Help Your Children Use Technology in a Way That Reflects Your Values With These Usage Guidelines & Information

It’s hard to think about life before technology. When I was growing up, phones were connected to walls. Computers were few-and-far between. And music was played on cassettes. Now technology is an essential part of our world – an invaluable resource and tool for our children, and for us. We use it for communication and socializing, as well as for work and education. Given this (plus the fact that technology is constantly changing), it is difficult for us as parents to determine how it’s usage aligns with our values and our lives in a productive, enjoyable, and healthy manner. For years now, I’ve been engaging in regular conversations with other parents about the challenges technology presents for our children. We ask each other lots of difficult questions with hopes to find the “right” answer. When is the right time to give my child a phone? What type of phone should they have? Should they have free reign on the internet? Should they be allowed on social media? How much time should they should spend on their device? Do I need to oversee everything they are doing? When tasked with figuring out the answers for our family, I must admit that it seemed easier to just let my daughters do whatever they want and let them learn from their mistakes. But I could not in good conscience choose that path. Technology usage, and all that comes along with it is a big deal (especially for girls).  In most cases, problems do not arise through the USE of technology, but rather through OVERuse and/or MISuse of it. As a parent, I...

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9 Everyday Situations & How to Respond In Ways that Teach Your Child Valuable Life Lessons

(3-minute read) Growing up, feeling good about myself was a daily challenge. I recognized that I was friendly, independent, active and fun-loving, but the fact that I was a little chubby and uncoordinated was always on my mind. I let those flaws overshadow my many positive qualities. Although I’ve come a long way since I was younger, I brought  those same insecurities into adulthood, which has resulted in me being critical of myself inside and out. That being said, when I became a mother I took seriously my responsibility to model the behaviors and traits that I wanted to see in my daughters. This meant keeping those two insecurities to myself. I didn’t want them to creep into my daughter’s heads and somehow influence their self-esteem and confidence. For example, until a few years ago they never saw me participate in sports when other parents were playing, because I didn’t want them to see my lack of ability. They never heard me comment about myself looking fat or not looking good in an outfit. Nor did they hear the opposite, that I was feeling good or pretty.  Yet, I would tell them not to worry about what others might think, to simply be themselves – to just get out there and have fun. Despite my best intentions, as a result of trying to hide a part of myself I was sending confusing and contradictory messages. By doing one thing and saying (or not saying) another, these messages could have the exact opposite effect of what I hoped on my daughters. When I realized this, I began to pay attention to daily...

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