The FIERCE Girl 2015 Teen Summit: Raising FIERCE Women

Posted by Nancy Arroyo Ruffin

It’s not easy being a teenage girl now-a-days.  The teenage years can be some of the most challenging for a young person as they are trying to find themselves and how they fit in with the rest of the world. With a world full of mean girls, reality television, and fashion magazines full of photo editing, girls can easily fall prey to low self-esteem. The popularity of the internet, social media, and sites like Instagram further contribute and promote the #Selfie culture, with many young girls and women willing to bare it all just to see how many “likes” and “followers” they can amass. As if, these numbers somehow validate their beauty, worth,  their existence even. This obsession can be distracting and can lead young girls down the wrong path looking to celebrities and reality TV personalities for cues on how to look, speak, and act.

As a very active user of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter it can be a very lonely and scary place to be if you’re not confident and sure of who you are. Social media has made it very easy for someone to become a target of bullying leaving oneself open to criticism and ridicule by people who have no clue of who you really are. As a mother of a little girl and aunt to two pre-teen girls I worry about the images they are exposed to. I worry that they will allow this fixation with Instagram and the media to influence how they see themselves and place value on the wrong things. One of my responsibilities as a mother, aunt, and self proclaimed #FIERCEWoman is to make sure that I raise #FIERCEGirls and cultivate the same values in other young ladies.

I believe that the key to creating F.I.E.R.C.E Women is to create F.I.E.R.C.E Girls. By engaging our young girls between the ages of 12-19 in discussions about positive body image, self-esteem, dreams, goals, and how to accomplish them we begin to expose them to the qualities and traits that The F.I.E.R.C.E Woman embodies. These include self-confidence, kindness, empathy, strength, humility, gratitude, and a responsibility to give back to our communities. We as parents, guardians, and role models have to give our young girls other images to aspire to. We have to be the models they look to for their cues as young women. We have to exhibit the qualities we want them to embody.

Carolyn Danckaert, founder of A Mighty Girl, an online resource for parents to find media, books, clothing and toys that feature girls as leaders, heroes and champions that save the day, rather than just damsels in distress, says:

“The types of media a child is exposed to — books, films or music — have a tremendous impact on how they see their place in the world. Girls can’t be what they can’t see, so exposing girls to these types of empowering messages from a young age is essential.“

They may  not always see positive images online and so we have to be the messengers of the types of messages we want them to see, learn, and adopt.

This past Saturday, August 29th, The FIERCE Woman held it’s first annual FIERCE Girls Teen Summit. It’s purpose was to prepare  teen girls for the upcoming school year by providing them with the tools necessary to set goals and achieve them. The event program included a

  • Vision Board Workshop – vision boards have proven to be a useful tool to help clarify, concentrate, and maintain focus on a specific life goal. We will teach the teens to identify their vision for the upcoming school year. We will help make their vision clear, specific, and set realistic time frames. We will teach them how to reinforce their vision through the use of daily affirmations and to use the vision board to help keep their attention on their intentions.
  • Self-Esteem/Body Image Workshop – For many young girls entering their teens and starting high school, self-esteem and body image becomes very important. This workshop will focus on helping to foster positive self-esteem, learning to love ourselves wholly and completely despite our differences. We will talk to the girls about embracing their uniqueness and the things that make them stand out from the rest. We will briefly discuss how to handle unwanted sexual attention and harassment
  • Skin Care and Make-Up presentation – A professional make-up artist will talk to the girls about proper skin care, offer make-up tips and product recommendations that are suitable and appropriate for their age group.

The event proved to be a success with over 40 attendees. Despite starting a little bit behind schedule the event was everything I hoped it would be. It allowed these young women to come together, network, and be inspired.

Our 18 yr old guest speaker & 2015 FIERCE Girl of the Year, Miczjhane Clay spoke to the girls about the importance of planning ahead and setting goals.  She  spoke to them about how she started her fashion design company, Destined Designs and how her grandmother was the inspiration behind the name of the company. Destined Designs is founded upon knowing your self worth & embracing it through your sense of style. Micznhane’s mission is to design clothes that make women feel beautiful whenever they were them.

As I walked around the room and spoke to some of the mothers and young ladies in attendance  they thanked me for putting the event together and stressed the importance of building up our young girls and speaking success into them.  We have to take an active role in the success of the young women we are raising .Together, we can take over the world. That’s how you raise FIERCE Women.

 

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Don’t forget to follow The Fierce Woman™ on Facebook to stay updated on all future events and workshops.


 

Writer Bio: Nancy Arroyo Ruffin is an award winning author and motivational speaker. Her work has been cited and published online at The Elephant Journal, The Daily Voice, La Respuesta Magazine, For Harriet, Duende Literary Journal, Poets & Writers Magazine, The Sunday Tribune-Spectrum, MUTHA Magazine, Moms Magazine and CentroVOICES. You can follow Nancy on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram @IAmNancyRuffin, on Facebook @ Nancy Arroyo Ruffin or by visiting her blog at http://www.nancyruffin.net

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On love and finding the person who completes you

“i found god in myself and i loved her. i loved her fiercely.”  – Ntozake Shange

Most of us spend a great deal of our lives looking for love, chasing love, recuperating from love or complaining about love. Never realizing that in our quest for love we are neglecting the person that matters most.  Ourselves.

I believe that as women we often disregard our own needs as a result of always taking care of other people. We spend so much time seeking out and working on developing external relationships that often times we forget to work on the relationship within.  We give so much of ourselves emotionally, physically, and spiritually that  eventually we end up depleted seeking fulfillment from someone else.

However, we can not look to another to fulfill us, “to complete us”, as eloquently stated in Jerry Maguire. We can only seek to fulfill ourselves, to give to ourselves that which we freely give to others; others, who often times don’t deserve it and that is LOVE.  Learn to fall in love with YOU!

Love yourself! Deeply and profoundly! Know that the most important relationship that you could ever have is the relationship that you have with yourself. When that relationship is strong you will see that you will be happier, healthier, and that you will no longer put up with or accept mediocrity from anyone.

Walk in your divine self. You are love, made from love and made to be loved. By loving yourself you teach others how to love you.  Love is not something that comes from someone else; it is an extension of our own minds, reverberating back to us in what seems to be another person’s smile (Williamson, 1993).

When you learn to truly fall in love with you, your entire life begins to change. It changes because when you are in love your main priority is making the person you’re in love with happy. Imagine applying that concept to yourself. Imagine putting your own happiness first. Only you have the power to do this. When you take back your power you take back control of your happiness because you now realize that happiness comes from within. Any happiness that you find with someone else is in addition to the happiness that you already have.

There is no other person on the Universe that can complete you. You were born a “whole” individual, you were not born in pieces. Movies and music will have you believe that in order to be completely happy you need someone else. This is a fallacy. When you allow yourself to believe this you are saying to the other person “I can only be happy if I am with you”…This sort of thinking is the thinking that allows many to stay in hurtful, dysfunctional, abusive relationships because the individual believes that they can only be happy with this abuser. Here’s a reality check if it hurts chances are you aren’t happy. Therefore, why stay in a hurtful situation? Love isn’t supposed to hurt. It’s supposed to encourage, uplift, inspire, motivate, empower. Love is supposed to feel good. When you love yourself you don’t hurt yourself. Therefore, you should never allow someone who says they love you to hurt you either. If they do then it’s time to kick them to curb.

I am aware that until we get to the point where  we’ve had enough of things that hurt and long more than anything for a peaceful love, we are bound to take painful roads. We are destined to play out frivolous disasters until we declare ourselves finished and done with them (Williamson, 1993). This is the nature of life, but when you truly love yourself you will put up with far less nonsense and get out of that unhealthy relationship much sooner.

The following passage I read somewhere and post here for all of you. It reminds me of the power that I have when I choose to take control of my thoughts and feelings.

You can completely transform any relationship, no matter what it’s like right now.  Every single relationship you have is a reflection of how you feel inside about you. You are a magnet attracting to you all things, via the signal you are emitting through your thoughts and feelings. Every relationship you have and every interaction with every person, is a reflection of your own thoughts and feelings in that very moment. To transform every single relationship you have in your life:

Fall in love with YOU!

Make lists of the hundreds and hundreds of wonderful things about you. Keep adding to it every day. Know that you are perfect. Do not think any negative thoughts about you. Know that you are worthy and deserving of anything and everything you could possibly want in your life. Focus on the wonderful things in every person. Look for only those things. Do not blame or criticize anybody, ever. Set an intention that you are going to see the best in everything and everyone. Make your happiness the number one thing in your life. Happiness is an inside job. Free yourself of the responsibility of trying to make other people happy. Respect and love them enough to allow them to take care of their own happiness. Get your attention off those things in others that don’t make you feel good. Appreciate and love yourself in every moment you can. Do not expect others to behave in a way you want, so you will be happy. Release yourself forevermore and know that you alone control your happiness and it is a choice, no matter what anyone else is doing. Love and respect yourself completely. Know that you are perfect right now.- Unknown

Because you are.

The FIERCE Woman™

On gratitude: Setting our minds for success and victory

Today I am reflecting on all of the new connections that I have made the past couple of years. Building relationships with encouraging and supportive women is so important. It’s one of the reasons I started The FIERCE Woman™. I have been blessed with an amazing network of sisters that ranges from my fellow FIERCE Women to my childhood friends to those who share my love for creativity and the written word. In short, today I am feeling grateful. Grateful for all of the women in my life and for all of the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. Sometimes we get so caught up in life and in our daily routines that we forget to step back and just appreciate ourselves, our lives, and the people in it. We often lose focus on what we have because we are too busy worrying about what we don’t have. We have to quit looking at what’s wrong in our lives and start being grateful for what’s right without losing sight of self-improvement. I would like to share the following passage with you:

Everything may not be perfect in your life, but if you don’t learn to be happy where you are, you will never get to where you want to be. Do you get up every morning passionate about your dreams? Are you grateful for the home in which you live? We must learn to be happy right where we are. Sometimes we lose our enthusiasm because we let what was once a miracle become too common for us. We get used to it and it becomes routine. We need to go back and remember how God, spirit, and our higher being have brought us to where we are. We need to fan our flame. We need to set our minds and keep it set to higher things. -Joel Osteen

I believe the higher things are the positive things, so first thing every day, we must set our minds in the right direction. Set our minds for success and victory. Set in our minds that we are going to enjoy this day. Then rise higher and just do it. Remember, that you have seeds of greatness in you. You weren’t made to be stagnant; rise out of complacency; keep growing, keep reaching for new heights. Your best days are still out in front of you. As you keep stretching to the next level, improving your life, and reaching for your highest potential, you will not only give birth to your dreams, but you will become a better you, better than you ever dreamed possible.

The Power of the F.I.E.R.C.E Woman Brunch unites F.I.E.R.C.E Women

This past Sunday, April 13, 2014 I held the first Power of the F.I.E.R.C.E Woman Brunch at Katarina’s Bar & Grill in Kew Gardens. From the moment I woke up that morning I knew that the day would be full of beautiful moments and energy. Mother nature, in all her F.I.E.R.C.E-ness cooperated. The weather was perfect. The sun was radiating, a reminder that when we bask in our own light there is no one or nothing that can take away our shine. The sky was a beautiful azzure blue  without a cloud in the sky. The 75 degree temperature was an indication that Spring indeed had arrived. As the Spring weather wrestles its way in this was the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate, re-assess, and re-invent ourselves. 

The Spring is often used as a metaphor for new beginnings especially as we begin to transition from the cold and barrenness of the Winter. In Spring the flowers are reborn again and begin to blossom. The birds fly back East and can often be heard in the early hours of the morning singing their songs. It’s rather hard not to notice the beauty and spiritual meaning connected to this season.

Like the birds, we too have our own song to sing, but how many of us are actually brave enough and  fearless enough to sing our song and share it with the rest of the world? Re-connecting with ourselves and our god given gifts was the impetus behind the Power of the F.I.E.R.C.E Woman Brunch. I wanted to not only unite and connect women from all walks of life, but I also wanted to prove to them how powerful they are. By bringing them together I was providing them each an opportunity to network and to create connections with other women that they otherwise would have never had.

We had over 50 F.I.E.R.C.E women in attendance. The venue was packed from front to back and at times was standing room only. The turnout was everything I had envisioned it to be. These ladies showed up and showed out, each one so well put together that just by looking at them you could tell that they indeed embody all that a F.I.E.R.C.E woman is.

Our guest speakers, Justine Hornedo and Wendy Angulo (both successful in their own right) were phenomenal. They each shared with us their own stories of success and despite the many challenges and obstacles they’ve encountered they demonstrated to every woman in attendance that success is inevitable if you believe in yourself and work hard.

As I connected with the women in attendance I saw in each of them a bit of myself. I saw pride. I saw excitement. I saw nervousness.  I saw heartbreak. But most of all I saw hope. Each woman that came to the event came because something propelled them to be there. Even if they didn’t know what the reason was at that moment, they were meant to be there. There are no coincidences. They were meant to hear the message that the brunch was designed to convey. Sometimes we lose hope and when we do the Universe works its magic and puts us right where we need to be at exactly the right time.

To the women who showed up, not only for me but for themselves, I commend you. I commend you for showing up. You took the first step in transforming your life. You have planted the seed to re-inventing yourself. You have put out into the Universe, by your actions, that you are ready to stand and walk in your F.I.E.R.C.E-ness.  You have made the choice, now make a plan and execute it. I look forward to seeing you all again at the next Power of the F.I.E.R.C.E Woman Brunch. Shine on my sisters and stay F.I.E.R.C.E.

Motivational Speaker Justine Hornedo talks to us about the importance of speaking into existence what you want. “If you speak it, it is possible.”

 Author & Motivational Speaker Nancy Arroyo Ruffin talks to us about the importance of dreaming BIG.