Bold. Brilliant. Beautiful. These words describe my baby girl…she just turned 3 in August. She is smart, strong, sassy, and spirited. I had no idea just how much my world would change upon her arrival.
I’ve always been a big thinker, go-getter, and visionary. I’ve always believed in following my passion and purpose. I’ve always felt convicted to stand up and stand in for those in less fortunate situations.
What I wasn’t prepared for were the long nights of no sleep, the trips to the doctor and ER, and the always needing your attention that comes with motherhood and raising a child. Four months prior to delivering my daughter, Amy Thompson and I hosted our first Gals Lead Teen Workshop. A program dedicated to igniting the flames of self-discovery and life-long personal growth and development in teenage girls. It was a dream I held so close to my heart for nearly 10 years and it was happening.
Filled with the same anticipation of my daughter’s arrival, I walked into that classroom thinking I was fully prepared. What unfolded was quite different. A room full of “why-am-I-here”, “what-is-this-all-about”, and “what-are-you-going-to-teach-me-that-I-don’t-already-know” teenage girls wanting real answers, seeking real solutions for real challenges they were facing. The challenges included everything from improving their grades to figuring out what to do with their lives after graduation. And under these challenges were the subtle, unspoken challenges – people make fun of me (am I likable?), I’ve been really hurt by others (how can I learn to trust again?), and the pressure facing me from parents, teachers, and others in places of authority making me feel like I have to have it all together (do I?).
In less than one hour, I realized that the 10 years of preparing for this dream come true was going to take everything I had, knew, and studied to get these girls to the other side. The side where they believed in themselves, had the confidence and clarity to move forward, and the side where they trusted just a little more in the story of THEIR life. Whew! Thank God we had 2 days.
Now, I know right about now you might be thinking, 2 days – I’ve been doing this for years and still haven’t figured this out? Here’s the thing: It only takes one shift in perspective to change your direction. It only takes one new tool to realign your decisions. And, it only takes one person sharing and receiving you, to understand love. And, this can all happen in a moment.
It’s been 3 years now since that first workshop, and we’ve had dozens of young girls from Southern Maryland come through our two-day weekend workshop. Many have had their lives transformed in a moment and created incredible results. My deepest desire is that every young girl have the opportunity to embrace who she is at a young age so that she can blossom into the passionate, purpose-filled woman of tomorrow. I believe the key to this is life-long learning. The education system can teach math, science, history, and art. What it doesn’t have the capacity to teach right now is love, acceptance, and forgiveness. There isn’t space inside of the classroom to dive deep into the art of being a young woman. There isn’t a toolbox provided that helps to realign our daughter’s hearts and souls on the path to their highest and purest purpose outside of conscious churches and families. Gals Lead is that program. In two days, we dive deep and get personal. We give your daughters a success toolbox to navigate the waters of womanhood with 4 Pillars: Know Yourself, Dream Big, Overcome Obstacles, & Take Action. These pillars have carried me through the triumphs and trials of life – from births and deaths to lessons and legacies. It’s the toolbox and sisterhood that transform the realities of life into the magnificence of living.
And, here’s the heart deal for me. I can create the world I wish to see inside of my home for my daughter and I, but then we have to go outside. Outside is where the culture lives. A culture that is currently divisive and broken. A culture that would rather defeat and defend that uplift and inspire. I choose to make a difference in the culture by providing a safe place for hearts to be opened so that healing may begin. As the Dalai Lama once said, “The world will be saved by the Western Woman.” Will you and your daughter be one of them?
The next Gals Lead program happens November 5 & 6 at the Holiday Inn Express in California, Maryland. Application fee to attend is $25. For more details on the Gals Lead Teen Program, enrolling your teen, getting involved, or donating to support the program visit www.GalsLead.org. Our annual women’s fundraiser conference is happening March 4, 2017. Join the Dream Queen Association at www.YourDreamQueen.com to get updates and details on the Stand Out: Embrace Your Possibilities Experience.