Never Let Go! - 02/03/18
The word strength is defined as the quality or state of being strong. In particular a good or beneficial quality or attribute of a person or thing. Synonyms listed for strength are advantage, asset, forte, aptitude, talent, skill or specialty. The very basis of EPIC Girl is rooted in strength. In fact, when we define EPIC in all of our classes, we start by saying EPIC is the quality or state of being strong. The synonyms we use to define EPIC are memorable, strong, awesome, monumental, or legacy. EPIC is also a story. So EPIC and strength are basically the same thing. Our EPIC stories are different as are our strength narratives.
When our girls come into EPIC Girl we ask them what makes you strong? Sometimes they define their strength as a physical aptitude such as running, basketball, yoga or lifting weights. They understand that many people translate strength in to a physical attribute. That's when we talk about what other things give you strength like your community, your smarts, your talents, your laughter. Some of our girls aren't runners or lifters but they're amazing artists and the one thing that brings us all together in community of strong girls is shared laughter. Laughter makes us feel safe and loved.
I'm not able to lift much weight probably because I've never trained to do so. I'm more of a runner but I think it's awesome that some women love to lift weights. I celebrate all of us as unique individuals who find our strengths at different points and in different areas. I won't lie- I'm nervous about lifting 200lbs!! What?! But I'm excited too. Excited because it's an opportunity to be with other strong people who have found a way to express themselves in a community of people passionate about strength displayed through lifting kettlebells. That's cool.
So even if it's not your thing- come out and support the cause and support all the strong people who have given their time and talent to this event. There will be some serious, trained, amazing strong women and men who can lift way more than me. And there will be me & Andrea- who will be there because we believe in strong girls and we believe that collectively with our laughter and willingness and their grit and passion we can change the world!
Letting Them "Off the Hook" - 8/28/17
Sometimes in life we have to let people "off the hook"... for being self-absorbed, hurtful, absent, mean, for not being trustworthy, or for not treating us with the respect and value that we deserve. We have to let them off the hook and give them grace because when we do, we let ourselves off the hook-- off the hook for pain, doubt and fear, and then we give ourselves permission to move on. Forgiveness doesn't mean engaging in the relationship again and opening ourselves back up to the same disappointment and hurt. It means we can move on with the assumption that people are doing the best they can with what they have. It's then that we step into true freedom and can become the amazing and EPIC women we are meant to be.
Thoughts On Starting EPIC Girl - 8/3/17
A lot of people have asked me over the past two years why I decided to start EPIC Girl. I could give a long, drawn out answer, and some times I do (let's be honest- short answers aren't my forte). But if I had to narrow it down, I would say this:
I've always understood that it can be harder for women to do things. Career things. In life, we are often told "girls don't do that" or "that's not a job suited for a woman". And then even after we leap obstacles and persevere through the task of balancing of family and career, we are told things like "you only got this because you're pretty" or "maybe you should just observe". We are punished for speaking our minds, chastised for having opinions, and called pushy, aggressive and difficult.
So I started EPIC Girl because I saw girls like me who had dreams and just needed help realizing them. These girls had an unfair disadvantage because of the hand they were dealt. And yet, they still had this glint in their eyes that said "I want more". I just couldn't stand the thought of them floundering, trying to find their way amidst all the messages saying we can't have it all or we're not worthy or good enough. So I thought "hmmm... What if a lot of strong, empowered, sometimes pushy, complex and beautiful women got together and said to the younger women "you've got this"? That would be EPIC!! We should start that and change the world and inspire each other to go for it." And so we did. We started EPIC Girl and we are strong, and beautiful, opinionated and EPIC.
Ps: If you're an EPIC lady and you want support EG go visit our friends at Goodwin and purchase their good woman tee. A percentage is given to EG to support our quest to build strong women.
Some Things Are Best Left to the Imagination - (6/22/17)
Growing up it was common for adults to tell us - especially girls - to "leave something to the imagination". This usually applied to something we were wearing, especially during times of short shorts, midriffs and mini skirts; however, this little saying could apply to so much more.
We live in a time where everything is a photo op. We are constantly posting instagram videos and snap chat stories. Our desire to be known is taking over our good sense. This behavior is expected from teens and young people, but the concern is when you see this from adults old enough to know better.
We are experiencing higher than ever suicide rates for teens. I'm sure there have been a lot of studies and scientific discussions on why this is happening. I believe it may be really simple. Our kids don't know real vs. fake. The obsession with social media and posting every party, every outing and every moment is hurting people. We're so busy concocting moments to post, enthralled in the art of self-promotion, that we've forgotten the beauty of that moment. And the posts we see from others on social media are often assumed to be their day-to-day life, rather than just the highlights.
At EPIC Girl we teach a class on self-esteem because so many of our girls are drowning in bad decisions that are typically made due to the fact that they don't feel valued or wanted. How can we teach them to love themselves when they are constantly measuring and comparing themselves against everyone's perfect life? Especially in a culture of likes, shares and views where adults that you admire can't put their own desire for acceptance aside and be role models for kids who desperately need them.
Don't get me wrong. I love some parts of social media when it's used responsibly. I'm not reprimanding anyone for posting, sharing, or selfie"ing".
Go ahead post your meals, your vacations and your cute families, but stop videoing every activity of your everyday life. You must be the example for our children. They have to know the value of playing a game without a video, having a goofy minute without it becoming internet fodder, or hugging someone without setting up the perfect photo. Life isn't perfect, but we aren't allowing kids to see the beauty of that. You are the adult. Therefore, you will set the bar. Set it high. Treasure privacy and real, authentic relationships. When you do, you give your kids and other young people watching you permission to expect more from their own relationships and to realize that social media is no more than a game that we need to turn off sometimes. You don't have to share every detail of your life. Let people imagine how great it is because some things really are best left to the imagination.
Happy Birthday EPIC Girl! (4/11/17)
EPIC Girl is officially ONE!!
This time last year, I took a leap of faith and left my comfortable place--a place I'd grown and developed for ten years--and started EPIC Girl. The dream was to give girls a safe place to connect and recognize their potential and then be cheered towards their goals. Along the way some truly AMAZING (EPIC) people linked arms with me and we started building this beautiful space for girls to be girls. Reflecting on the past year, I thought I'd jot down a few of the things I've learned in this first year of EPIC.
1- Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Early in my career working in non-profit, a young girl I was serving told me: "the kids I've known on the streets, have spent their whole lives waiting to be rescued. You'll get one chance--you better do it well" . We've been so committed to doing things well and we are seeing the fruits of that commitment. Our girls deserve our best stuff.
2- Every story is beautiful. This year has been full of beautifully broken, amazing stories about girls who are complicated and are learning to live in the moment and be patient with themselves. We've watched girls achieve goals (like quitting a bad habit or getting a job). We celebrate each victory and cheer each other on when they get off track.
3- Patience is a virtue. Some girls buzz through their EG mentor classes and some girls don't. That's ok. McKayla said, "Let's be an organization where girls never run out of chances, 'cause girls like us get the door slammed in our faces a lot." So at EPIC Girl, girls never run out of chances. Because we understand that each of them is on their own amazing journey and it sometimes takes time and patience.
4- You are only as good as your team. Non-profits don't always play nice with others in the field. We live in this weird space of competing for funds and justifying every cent we spend. That makes us competitive and not always very team oriented. The EG team shares the load together--we work 14 hour days when we are needed. We teach at local high schools sometimes for free. We spend countless hours coming up with games & activities, planning graduations, and crying for our girls who are going through hard stuff. My team saves me every day. I am beyond grateful for their passion, commitment and sacrifice. They were meant for this and I'm just glad to be on their team. And additionally we celebrate all the other non-profits who come alongside us, celebrate us, and provide added support to the awesome girls we love so much. The Oasis Center, The Sexual Assault Center, YODA, The REAL Program, Juvenile Court Davidson County, DCS, The Public Defender's Office, Juvenile Court Williamson County all stand in the gap with us and we couldn't do this work without you!
5- I cried alot. It sort of became my mantra. Andrea announces it before every graduation. Something happens to me and my heart swells up. I am so proud of every girl as I see their growth and witness them making changes and wanting to open themselves up to connection. I'm just amazed every single time. We've graduated 23 girls and given them their EPIC bracelets. Me crying happens every time and I like it that way.
For every girl we celebrated, there are the ones that we only barely got to know. We never stop hoping that those girls will find connections to people that affirm and value them. That they will grow up knowing how truly amazing they are and find a safe place to recognize their full potential. We never forget their faces and the time we spent together. We never stop dreaming of them coming back to EG.
6- Different people are really the same. That sounds weird- I know- but something I didn't expect to gain was these beautiful friendships. I learned that though we look different, our experiences are different, and our views may be different; many of our desires are the same. We never disagree on wanting great things for our girls. We've prepared over 40 women to mentor and it's been a privilege to walk alongside them. We are all learning that the girls teach us all a thing or two along the way too.
7- EPIC truly does mean HERO. I've seen so many heroes this year. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I've watched girls navigate difficult situations because they realize they are strong enough to get through it and brave enough to stay. I've seen mentors rally around girls to achieve their goals. I've seen people love and support each other in the most beautiful, honest and authentic ways. My faith in people has been restored so much this past year.
I could go on and on. The truth is, I've learned so much this year- this little blog cannot do it justice. Above all, I've learned the beginning is just a place to start. I can't wait to see all the amazing things we are going to do together to build and encourage strong women. We're going to change the world together! I can't wait!
Congrats, Graduate! (5/25/17)
Since you ventured into kindergarten, you've secretly counted the years until you would be done. Even if you have loved every moment of your school experience, you've added and subtracted your way along wondering "how much longer?". Now that it's here, you can't believe how fast it went. Time is like that. It creeps along and then suddenly flies by, daring you to question its speed.
So now that you've graduated, you look forward to what comes next. Maybe it's college or work, or maybe you're still deciding those next steps. Maybe you're so elated to be done with this process that you're not quite ready to venture into your next project. All of that is just fine. You've got time to figure it out.
This month as we've celebrated you in all your cap and gown glory, we've noticed how excited and apprehensive you are all in the same breath. And it's so beautiful to watch.
What we see are young women standing on the ledge of forever. You have amazing things in front of you. You have world changing things to do. We can't wait to cheer you on and to hear of all the amazing things you'll accomplish.
So girls- be brave. Take risks. Give grace, for no one is perfect. And remember you are EPIC.
We Love You-
All of us at EG