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My First Triathlon: What Motivated Me

  • Health and Fitness
  • Architects of Change

10/18/10 | Juju Chang | 0 Comments

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Juju Chang, Good Morning America News Anchor

More than a third of my body was FAT. No joke. That’s what did it. That was the straw that broke this out-of-shape camel’s back.
 
I’ve been pregnant or nursing for six of the past ten years. I hit my forties. I got a new job last December.
 
As the new news anchor at Good Morning America, I went to Haiti after the devastating earthquakes. I interviewed a 14-year-old girl named Frangina who’d been trapped in the rubble for 5 days. She’d had a nail puncture her thigh, but it was healing nicely. I met her a week after she’d been pulled from the rubble, and she had yet to receive any medical attention. She complained of a headache. I gave her my ibuprophen.
 
Hers and the hundreds of other faces of the people I encountered in Haiti stayed with me for months. Mothers nursing in the open air camps; children dragging cars fashioned out of milk bottles….
 
As news of the earthquake was crowded out by the Gulf oil spill, I was assigned a story about normal weight obesity. The doctor measured my body fat and told me that despite my relatively “NORMAL” weight… my body fat percentage  put me at risk for obesity related diseases.
 
So I embarked on a mission: train for a triathlon, raise money for Haiti and do it by the end of summer. I enlisted the help of Tom Holland, author of the The 12-Week Tri-athlete and Lucy Danziger, editor-in-chief of Self Magazine. I needed deadline pressure. September 11th in Danbury CT…  ¼ mile swim.  12 miles bike.  3 mile run.  Not crazy, I could do that. Right?
 
I signed up dozens of my friends and colleagues. UNICEF signed on to give team members their own homepage to get donations. It was the perfect recipe for success 1. a goal. 2. peer pressure and good company 3. the kids of Haiti.
 
I started out running 1 mile, huffing and puffing.  Then 2 miles. Then THREEE.  Biking was more fun.  I had my “mommy bike” with my 2-year-old on the back. We looped around NYC’s central park. 6.2 miles.  The Harlem hill is HARD with 25 pounds of baby on the back… I biked more and more comfortably. Despite weeks of my protesting, Lucy finally talked me into buying a “road bike”…  she was right. I felt as though I’d sprouted wings and learned to fly on my new bike.
 
The swimming was the hardest to fit into my schedule, but I managed to use the YMCA pool near work.

And finally there it was.. RACE DAY. I tried to hold back my fear. We all did well, but it was my friend Caroline who inspired us all. She overcame her fear of swimming, got LOST on the bike leg…  and when she got back to transition, Sean, the race director, who didn’t know that she’s of Haitian decent, but saw the steely determination in her eyes…  ran the final leg with her.  She raised 5 thousand dollars for Haiti!!!!

All told, we raised approximately 60k for Haiti and we got fit.

Juju Chang is the news anchor for ABC’s “Good Morning America” and an Emmy Award-winning correspondent for “20/20” and “Nightline.” She also hosts “Moms Get Real,” a digital show for ABC News NOW aimed at cracking the façade of perfect mommyhood.

Juju Chang will be speaking at The Women's Conference 2010. Watch the webcast of the Conference on October 25th and 26th here on www.womensconference.org

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Announcing The Great September Giveaway

  • Architects of Change

10/15/10 | The Women's Conference | 0 Comments

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Our September Great Giveaway, launched with Conference Presenting Sponsor Kodak, invited members of The Women’s Conference community to share a photo and a brief paragraph of their favorite summer moment.

The entries reflect the moments that touch us all – unfettered childhood bliss, adulthood epiphanies -- illnesses weathered, help offered and received. We’ve chosen our winner – Sabeen, the author of “a face of perfection… one moment in time.” Her photo illustrates the joy that can come even in the face of disaster, in this case – the Pakistan floods. It also illustrates our community's commitment to giving back – she will return to Pakistan in December to continue to help rebuild the country. Her photo, and those of our runners up, illustrate our power as women – to help others, and to help ourselves.

Sabeen

a face of perfection...a moment in time


 

My summer moment came in knee high waters. Labeled a disaster of recent times. It came with hunger, destruction & disease. It came in the face of a little girl. She wore no shoes, but walked on happiness. Had no music but danced to life. She did not care about what life had not given her- she was just happy with what she had, a sash, hope and two little bags of food. Her moment came not wrapped with bows of perfection, as a hand out or even from circumstance-her moment came from choice-and sharing her moment changed my life. My summer moment came with the realization that with the gift of having a voice, and the freedom of writing and speaking my mind, comes the responsibility to stand up, to speak up and to share the stories of those who live a life unheard. So I share with you this moment. And while I know that no lens, no portrait or prose can ever capture it’s essence again- I hope that you too will find a moment of perfection in the face of this little girl.


Runners Up

Ruth

Fully Fearless

 

 

 

Ruth, the World Changer I wish I could say that it was courage that made me finally step out of a loveless, dead-end relationship with a man that would never quite commit to marrying me—but it wasn’t that. It was something else entirely…loss of fight. I was fighting for someone that wasn’t fighting for me. In fact, the thing I feared most was to actually let go...to stop being the tenacious one. All my life I’ve fearlessly skydived, marathoned and more. Being alone was the only adventure that I ever ran from. So one day this summer, I set my heart free. Days later, I stepped into a boat with six other strangers to tackle a level 5 rapids on the Chattooga River. Amidst the titillating thrill of the river run, the heavens opened and the rain came pouring down. As we anchored the boats, I jumped into the river and threw up my hands with an internal Hallelujah. I did it! What a ride! Like life, it had been a bit rough at times, but this moment was all mine. A fearless adventurer



Wendy

Freshman Year

 

 

 

I drove my niece to start her freshman year in college - 9 hours from home - and her boyfriend came along. Walking into the dorm room for the first time made both of them reflect on what it was going to be like to be so far apart. It was a bittersweet moment to observe. She was so hopeful. He was encouraging, but cried when we drove off and left her to her new life as an honors science major. He's back home trying to get a job at the steel mill. It was a moment packed with a lot of emotion.

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The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Takes on Alzheimer's

  • Family and Friend
  • Health and Fitness
  • Architects of Change
  • Maria's Post

10/14/10 | Maria Shriver | 5 Comments

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Maria Shriver

 

 

 

 

I am a child of Alzheimer’s.

My father, Sargent Shriver, was the smartest person I ever knew. He was sharp and witty, a walking encyclopedia—his mind a beautifully tuned instrument that left people in awe and inspired. That was then. Today he doesn’t know I’m his daughter, and he doesn’t even know my name.

Every minute or so—in fact, before you get to the end of this page—someone in this country will develop Alzheimer’s. It’s an epidemic and a mind-blowing disease—not just for the people who get it, but for everyone around them. No matter who you are, how old you are, what you’ve accomplished, what your financial situation is—when you’re dealing with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s, you feel powerless.

A year ago, The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything explored the transformational moment in our nation’s history when women become the majority of the workforce—and the primary or co-breadwinners in almost two-thirds of American families.

Now, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, the second landmark study -- The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s -- finds that women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s epidemic. We make up 65 percent of the people with Alzheimer’s— and up to three-fifths of all Alzheimer caregivers. That’s 3.3 million American women with Alzheimer’s and another 6.7 million women providing care for a friend or loved one. Consider that by mid-century as many as 8 million women will have the disease. We are in the midst of a national emergency, and we’re woefully unprepared.

What we need is a new kind of national conversation about Alzheimer’s and growing old in America—just like the conversations heard around kitchen tables all over the country. My hope is that this Shriver Report triggers that conversation -- focused on this disease and its ramifications. It’s time. We must face up to some big questions: With Americans living longer and with the incidence of Alzheimer’s growing, what’s going to happen to our women, our families, our workplaces, our attitudes, our society, as the Alzheimer wave hits over the next few decades? We’re talking crisis.

My hope is also that as the veil is lifted, as information and funds and support programs are made available, families will see that they’re not alone. As more people, like the ones you’ll meet in The Shriver Report, speak out and share their personal journeys with Alzheimer’s, more families will see that there’s nothing to be ashamed of—that there’s hope out there because, together, we are finally making Alzheimer’s a national issue.

The truth is that we simply must put Alzheimer’s on the front burner because if we don’t, Alzheimer’s will not just devour our memories, it will also break our women, cripple our families, devastate our healthcare system and decimate the legacy of our generation. But if we do, I’m convinced that this Woman’s Nation will be able to say that, believe it or not, there once was a time when there was no cure for Alzheimer’s.

If you want to help defeat this mind-blowing disease, I invite you to join me and thousands of people on Sunday, October 24 for my March on Alzheimer’s to kick off The Women’s Conference 2010 in Long Beach.  If you can’t attend, please consider making a donation.  The march will benefit the Alzheimer's Association, the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research.  You can learn more about the event and sign up or donate here.

Please join us. We are the hope.
 
You can read the full report at The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s at http://www.shriverreport.com/.



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It’s Time...to End Insurance Discrimination Against People with Autism

  • Health and Fitness
  • Architects of Change

10/13/10 | Holly Robinson Peete | 2 Comments

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Holly Robinson Peete, Actress, Author, Activist, Philanthropist

 

 

 

I think a lot of us assume that “regular” people can’t really make an impact anymore.  The idea of “grassroots movements” can sometimes be written off as idealistic, impotent or inconsequential.  That’s why I want to shine a light on an incredible effort going on right now – led by some remarkable, passionate parents -- to end a terrible form of discrimination against people with autism.  It’s something we can all be a part of, without much effort.

I’ve blogged before about how insanely expensive it is to treat a child with autism – intensive, one-on-one therapies can cost tens of thousands of dollars every year.  That’s obviously beyond the means of most families affected by the fastest growing disorder in America, which is why there are a lot of moms and dads out there – as well as siblings – making incredible sacrifices so that their loved ones can get the therapies they desperately need.  Families are taking out second mortgages and emptying out savings accounts and college funds.  They’re going broke.

Our HollyRod Foundation (www.hollyrod.org)  has a mission to help uninsured disenfranchised families with very limited resources access treatment.  I speak with these families regularly and feel blessed to be able to help alleviate their financial burden in even the smallest way.

But, what’s really crazy is that a lot of families affected by autism actually have perfectly good health insurance.  The problem is, in about half of the states in this country, insurance companies can explicitly exclude coverage of critical, medically-necessary therapies and other medical services for kids with autism.  So if you live in California or West Virginia, for example, you may be paying big bucks for what would seem to be good health insurance.  But if your child has autism, you’re going to have to pay out-of-pocket for things like ABA therapy, the most common treatment for autism.  Most likely, you’re going to cobble together whatever help you can for your child – whatever you can afford, even though it’s probably not as many hours of therapy as your child needs.

My family is among the small minority who can actually manage to pay out of our own pockets for the therapies our son needs -- but with four children, we still feel it, so I share the anger  and empathize with the massive frustration our fellow families feel.  Because our kids have autism – and not diabetes or cancer – they are out of luck.

Parents across the country have banded together and fought to change state insurance laws to end this injustice.  In just four years, they have already won the fight in 23 states, and the battle continues. They’re fighting against some powerful people, including the insurance companies and their lobbyists.  They’re also fighting against ignorance. But these parents are smart, they’re organized and they’re truly inspirational.  That’s why they’re winning.

Autism Speaks has a wonderful advocacy web site, AutismVotes.org (I serve on the organization’s board) with information about the insurance reform effort.  Check the map and see if your state has done the right thing yet.  If not, you’ll find out how you can get involved and help make important change happen for people with autism.

Actress, author, activist and philanthropist, Holly Robinson Peete has been touched by the entertainment industry all of her life.  Her career as an actress dates back more than two decades and has led her to becoming a voice for her father, her son and her community. In 1996, Robinson Peete and her husband, Rodney Peete, formed the HollyRod Foundation, inspired by her father’s inspiring battle with Parkinson’s disease, with the mission to help improve the quality of life of people plagued with devastating life circumstances. In 2005, inspired by their son, hollyrod4kids was formed to focus on children’s causes and improving the lives of children affected by circumstances beyond their control, specifically autism.

Holly Robinson Peete will be speaking at The Women's Conference 2010. Watch the live webcast of the Conference here on www.womensconference.org on Monday, October 25 and Tuesday, October 26.

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Getting Published (Thanks to The Women's Conference)

  • Work and Money
  • Architects of Change

10/12/10 | Mary Ann Wasil Nilan | 5 Comments

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Mary Ann Wasil Nilan, Author, A Diary of Healing, Executive Director & Founder, The Get In Touch Foundation

 

 

 

 

I answered my cell phone as I was stepping out of my local post office one swelteringly hot day this past August.  Okay, I admit, I didn’t exactly hear the caller introduce herself, I didn’t recognize the out-of-state number, and someone was honking (a lot!) at the group of kids crossing the street to get to the local duckpin bowling alley…so I answered with the generic and distracted pleasantries, “yes, hello,” “uh-huh,” “oh, thank you.”

And then - in between beeps - I thought I heard her say the word “congratulations,” and then say that “Jan Miller” would be in touch with me in the next few days.

“What a minute…who is this?

“It’s Lacy from Dupree/Miller & Associates - we got connected through The Women’s Conference.”

“The California Women’s Conference?!”

“Um, yes…”

“I’m sorry – did you say Jan Miller?!

“Yes…Mary Ann – she is looking forward to speaking with you to congratulate you herself!”

“Wait, wait, wait…are you saying I won The Women’s Conference Publishing Contest?!”

“Yes, Mary Ann…”

WHO is this?!?

And so, for the third time in less than a single minute, Lacy patiently re-introduced herself and told me that I had won the contest I had entered after attending The Women’s Conference 2009, and that they were excited about working with me to publish my book.

By this time I was sitting in the hot silence of my car and grabbed hold of the handle alongside my seat and put the seat back – alllll the way.  I was afraid I might faint, and the sudden throbbing in my right eyeball felt odd, to say the least.

Someone walking by my car looked in at me laying down and through the closed window asked, “Are you okay?”  I gave her a thumbs-up and slowly brought my seat back up to a sitting position. 

I met literary agent Jan Miller at The Women’s Conference 2009 at a session she spoke at entitled, “Getting Published.”

Attendees at the Conference were invited to participate in a contest in which they could submit a fiction or non-fiction writing sample for consideration for publication.  One winner would be chosen, her book would be published, and she would be invited to speak at the Conference the following year.

My submission was slightly unconventional, a patchwork of timelines and stories and speeches and presentations I’ve given over the last six years of “survivorship.”  I always feel a little “jazzed” when I write about my big adventure with breast cancer – it’s pretty shocking, actually, and I usually wind up thinking, “Wow, that chick’s been through the ringer!”  And then I realize that chick is ME!  I have always hoped that my story could be any-woman’s story, and hoped that the judges would feel the same way I did.  I crossed my fingers and my toes and clicked “SUBMIT.”

I won!

I’m a breast cancer kickin’ survivor with a unique story – my plastic surgeon once said to me, “Mary Ann, you’re worst-case-scenario.  Women will take one look at you and say, ‘I don’t have half the battle she’s had – I can do this.’”

You can do it…you can do anything.  My story is not a “how-to” book, but an “oh, yes you can!” book.

And so…I’ll be winging my way west from Connecticut to California, where I will join Jan Miller onstage during The Women’s Conference Day of Transformation to talk about the contest, how I won and what happens next.  Transformative?  Oh, yes!  And I am thrilled that you are all joining me on this next big adventure!

Let’s just say if you learn nothing else, at least know that you never really know why that lady next to you in the parking lot in the post office is lying down in her car!

Mary Ann Wasil Nilan will be speaking at The Women’s Conference A Day of Health, Wellness & Transformation on October 25th.  Mary Ann is a six-year breast cancer kickin’ survivor and the Executive Director & Founder of the non-profit organization, The Get In Touch Foundation, and is currently at work on her book, “A Diary of Healing – There’s a Pony In Here Somewhere!”

Read Mary Ann Wasil Nilan's earlier posts:

Expect The Unexpected: A Mother's Story of Breast Cancer

It's Never Too Early: Get In Touch Girl!

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I Was a Food Addict...

  • Life Balance
  • Health and Fitness

10/4/10 | Jennifer Joyner | 0 Comments

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Jennifer Joyner, Author, Designated Fat Girl

By the time I was finally able to wear my wedding rings again, nearly sixteen years had passed since my wedding day. A year after I was married in 1993, my fingers were too fat to fit the diamond engagement ring and two gold bands I wore on either side.  I’d gained a hundred pounds in my first year of marriage, and that sent me on a 16-year struggle with obesity and morbid obesity.  I developed hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.  I gave birth to a 12-pound baby because I couldn’t get my gestational diabetes under control.  I broke toilet seats and was unable to bathe properly.  I was killing myself with food.

I was a food addict, but I didn’t know it.  None of the many doctors I saw ever suggested that I was addicted to food, so I didn’t consider it a possibility.  All I knew was that I desperately wanted to lose weight and I couldn’t.  I tried everything, every meal plan, every exercise routine, to no avail.  I thought I was going crazy.

Finally in March of 2008, I took drastic steps to save my life.  At 336 pounds, at 34 years old, I had gastric bypass surgery.  I was reluctant to do so; I thought having the surgery and “not losing weight on my own” was taking the easy way out.  Boy, would that prove to be a stupid thought.  I had terrible complications from the surgery that put me back in the hospital twice and caused me to have two subsequent surgeries.  I was terribly sick for months, and hopelessly depressed, thinking I’d made the worst mistake of my life.

But slowly, the sun started to peek through the clouds.  The weight came off so quickly my head couldn’t keep up with my body, and yes, that was nice, but something more important started to occur to me:  food did not have any power over me.  I was not a slave to the scale, and thoughts of what to eat did not rule over every minute of every day.  I was free.

I can’t remember getting below 300 pounds; I was too sick to really notice or care.  I do remember getting below 200 pounds, and I did celebrate, with a happy naked dance in my bathroom, alone.  And then I simply went about my day.  They were just numbers on a scale, and I didn’t need a scale to tell me how to feel.

But I absolutely remember putting my wedding rings on again.  My daughter Emma, then four and a half years old, had never seen the rings.  She grabbed my hand and exclaimed, “Mommy!  They are so shiny!  You look like a princess!”

I smiled down at her, gazing at my diamonds.  And then I glimpsed myself in the mirror.  Finally, I felt like a princess, too.

Jennifer Joyner is a mother, wife, writer and journalist. She is the author of Designated Fat Girl, a memoir about food addiction. Learn more about Jennifer Joyner on her website.

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Healthy Change Is a Family Affair

  • Family and Friend
  • Health and Fitness
  • Architects of Change

09/28/10 | Latisha Lawson | 0 Comments

Latisha Lawson
Latisha Lawson & Family

 

 

 

 

By Latisha Lawson, Champion Mom, Sacramento, CA

Today is Family Day in California, and First Lady Maria Shriver has asked families to celebrate by sitting down and sharing a meal together. She’s a mom, and she gets it. Moms know that many important life lessons are learned at the dinner table.

My family’s dinner table is the centerpiece of our home. Eating together is as much about connecting with my kids as it is about teaching them healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Meal time is my chance to learn about their day and share about mine – all over delicious, nutritious food.

Of course, it isn’t always easy. Sometimes things that are good for kids are things they don’t want to eat. But I’ve learned that when kids help choose and cook food, they are more likely to eat it. Younger ones can tear lettuce for salads or rinse fruits and vegetables, and my older kids help me chop and slice.

My kids are also more likely to eat healthy foods when they see my husband and I eat them. That’s why I make a point of eating all kinds of fruits and vegetables. In my house we’ve learned that what we eat affects our health, so every bite counts.

I know all too well what can happen if you don’t take care of yourself and your family – my father died from diabetes at the age of 33. While it’s hard to get loved ones to make healthy choices, it’s much harder to watch them deal with the consequences.

Nothing is more important than the health of my family, and I am doing everything I can to prevent this disease from impacting my children. Even small steps – like having a healthy family dinner at home – can lead to big health improvements. So I changed the way I prepare and serve my family’s food. I make it easy for my kids to snack on fruits and vegetables and to drink plenty of water.  In fact, sugary drinks aren’t allowed.  

Working multiple jobs in a tough economy, I know how hard it is to make ends meet, keep my kids active and put healthy food on the table. But I have the power to make healthy choices for my family.

With the rising prices on just about everything these days, I have learned that eating healthy doesn’t have to cost a lot. You just need to be resourceful. I make a shopping list whenever I go to the store so I don’t buy things we don’t need, and I visit my local farmer’s market to buy produce in season when it costs less.

Lots of families like mine are living on a tight budget and facing issues like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer that are linked to the growing obesity epidemic in California. I believe everyone deserves a healthier future, so I am speaking up for healthy changes in my community. I even helped bring a farmer’s market to a neighborhood where there were few places to buy produce, and too many places to buy unhealthy foods.  That success inspired me to think about the future.  My vision includes communities where sugary drinks aren’t allowed in schools, where schools provide kids with free drinking water and a place where kids have safe places to play.

I see a future filled with healthy communities where it’s easy for kids and moms to make healthy choices, and where eating more fruits and vegetables and being more physically active will help kids concentrate and do better in school, feel good about themselves, grow and develop strong bodies and live longer, healthier lives. I think that’s something every mom wants for her children. But moms need the support and encouragement of other moms who are overcoming challenges, especially when times are tough.

That’s why I’m thankful for the First Lady’s support of Family Day and this opportunity to share my story with you. If I can do it, you can do it.

Please join the First Lady Maria Shriver, me and millions of other moms to celebrate Family Day.  Healthy change is a family affair so gather your family together tonight. Sit down with your children and connect. Share a healthy meal. You’ll be glad you did.

Latisha Lawson lives in Sacramento with her husband and three children. As a Champion Mom with the Network for a Healthy California, she empowers other moms to be Champions for Change.


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Honoring Eunice Kennedy Shriver

  • Architects of Change

09/23/10 | The Women's Conference | 0 Comments

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver

In honor of Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day, September 25th, Maria Shriver is inviting members of The Women’s Conference to follow in the footsteps of her mother by finding small ways in their everyday lives to help others.

Two women – the owners of Cape Cod’s Centerville Pie Company, Oprah, Cape Abilities and Harry & David have teamed up to make honoring Eunice’s memory – and her mission to help people with disabilities – easier for all of us. Together they are helping bring employment, housing and other services to people with disabilities.

A year ago, when Oprah and Gayle King attended Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s funeral on Cape Cod, Laurie and Kristin, the founders of Centerville Pie Company, delivered a chicken pie to Oprah’s hotel room. Despite the heavy security, their pie got through (thanks to Gayle King), and the rest is history.

Oprah calls this pie, “The best I’ve ever tasted!” And even better is the fact that every pie purchased supports people with disabilities. The pie company employs 30 people with disabilities, and a percentage of every pie bought through Harry & David will go to Cape Abilities, a nonprofit that supports and helps employ people with disabilities.

This fall, we can honor Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s memory and help support the developmentally disabled. It’s as easy as pie.

To order a pie, visit Harry & David | Centerville Chicken Pie or order toll-free: 1-877-322-1200.

To learn more about the amazing life of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, visit the Special Olympics website.

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What I Wish I Would Have Known at 13!

  • Life Balance
  • Health and Fitness

09/15/10 | Jess Weiner | 1 Comments

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Jess Weiner, Global Ambassador, Dove Self-Esteem Fund

I'm sure you've done it. Fantasized about going back in time and battling all those teenage woes with the wisdom you've garnered now as an adult.

Maybe you'd tell your thirteen year old self that she is beautiful. Just the way she is. Braces, freckles, acne, frizzy hair, stringy hair, over developed, under developed, lots of friends, no friends, band geek, drama geek, sports geek -- that it all doesn't matter in the end. That finding true self-acceptance is about loving who you are (even in the 'imperfect' moments) and that believing in yourself is one of the best choices she could make.

Maybe you'd tell your thirteen year old self that she really can reach her full potential in life if she follows her dreams, takes good care of herself, and gathers around her a group of people who support her, listen to her, and talk to her. Maybe you'd tell your thirteen year old self that the heartache she feels right now because she feels rejected, alone, ugly, stupid, or defective are really just passing moments of emotion. That they aren't the truth. And that she will get through her hard time. And go on to flourish! Maybe you'd tell her that she is loved. Just because. Just because she is worthy of being loved. Maybe you'd tell her that she should take a risk and try out for that school play or present her science project in front of the class because taking those risks will help her cultivate a sense of confidence that only comes from doing the things that really scare you (and living to tell about it!) Maybe you'd tell her that she isn't alone. That other girls (and adults) feel the same way she does. And that if she can just raise her hand, ask for help, or try to find the right words to express how she feels that there will be someone on the other end more than happy to lend an ear or a hug.

Or maybe your conversation might look a little like mine would - if I could go back in time.....

Jess Now: "13 year old Jess, I promise you -- your hair will grow back."

Jess 13: "Really? You promise? Because this is the worst hair cut ever!"

Jess Now: "Yes, I promise. And one day you'll make peace with your curly hair, too. Do you know people pay a lot of money to get perms?"

Jess 13: "You sound like our mother. She always tells me that."

Jess Now: "Well, don't tell our mom, but she was right. You'll come to love and appreciate all the things you think you hate about your appearance."

Jess 13: "Impossible"

Jess Now: "No, really. You'll soon discover that all the time you spend on hating those things can be spent on appreciating and accepting your own real beauty. You'll even make a career out of sharing this message with others."

Jess 13: "No way."

Jess Now: "Way"

Even if we all can't go back in time to re-do our teenage years, we can do simple small things now to help a girl in our life. Just by spending time having a conversation about self-esteem and confidence you can truly make a difference in the life of a girl. Those minutes you spend can help erase negative messages, confusing relationships, and age appropriate self-doubt by replacing it with a meaningful moment of connection. Don't ever underestimate the power of your words and your time. To you they may be just moments but to her they are the wisdom and moments that change her life. Join us in the vision of the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem where beauty is a source of confidence and not anxiety and tell us what you wish you would have known at thirteen here!
 
Blessings,
Jess

Considered this generation’s “Go to Girl” for self-esteem, Jess Weiner is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of Talk to Jess, LLC and the Actionist® Network. She is also the author of two best-selling books, "A Very Hungry Girl" and "Life Doesn't Begin Five Pounds From Now". She currently serves as the Global Ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Fund and travels the world speaking and hosting workshops on self-confidence.

Jess Weiner will be speaking at The Women's Conference 2010.

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Join Us in Creating a World Where Beauty Is a Source of Confidence

  • Life Balance
  • Health and Fitness

09/15/10 | Jess Weiner | 0 Comments

Jess Weiner 2
Jess Weiner, Global Ambassador, Dove Self-Esteem Fund

 

 

 

 

As a kid, whenever I would struggle with tackling a new skill (like tying my shoelaces) or learning a new craft (like jazz dancing) my Grandma would always tell me "everything worth doing takes practice." Honestly, at 8 or 9, I had no idea what she really meant. All I knew was that she was my biggest champion, showing up for every school recital or home made art show I put on. But in thinking about that concept now "everything worth doing takes practice" -- I choose to apply it to my own development of self-esteem, self-worth and confidence.  

If you think about it - a musician must practice hours before improving their skill, same for a mathematician or a visual artist. So it would also make sense that if we want to change the level of confidence and esteem that our loved ones (and ourselves) have - we have to practice.

Every moment we spend with our family is a chance to send a positive message of love and esteem. Every word we speak is an opportunity to practice more kindness and less negativity. Every thought we think allows us a chance to practice compassion and forgiveness. When you turn your life into a practice ground for encouraging word, thought, and deed - you are more than likely practicing your way to higher self-confidence.  

The more we practice at developing a positive relationship with our own beauty the more we have to offer the girls in our lives who look to us to help them nurture and reach their full potential. Part of this mentorship is establishing with the next generation that beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. We want the next generation to learn from our own struggles with beauty and self-esteem. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been prompted by Dove to answer, “what do you wish you’d known at 13?” [link to tab] How can we help loved ones navigate the same confidence waters that we did? It’s time to have these conversations with the ones we love.

The more we can all collectively participate in the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem's vision, the more vibrant our community of confidence grows. Now here's what you can do to further practice your commitment to this vision: Join us for the Dove Self-Esteem Weekend October 22nd - 24th. Nationwide, people are committing to spend one hour of time that weekend with a girl (or girls) in their lives. Mark your calendar!

There are a variety of ways you can get involved and get the conversation started:

Remember, one hour with a girl in your life during the Dove Self-Esteem weekend makes a world of difference. It’s time to practice with loved ones on how to reach a positive relationship with beauty this October.

I look forward to seeing our event map grow with registered ideas and inspirations on how you are going to spend time during this important weekend.

Blessings,
Jess

Considered this generation’s “Go to Girl” for self-esteem, Jess Weiner is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of Talk to Jess, LLC and the Actionist® Network. She is also the author of two best-selling books, "A Very Hungry Girl" and "Life Doesn't Begin Five Pounds From Now". She currently serves as the Global Ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Fund and travels the world speaking and hosting workshops on self-confidence.

Jess Weiner will be speaking at The Women's Conference 2010.

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