March is Women’s History Month. The Latina Book Club begins the celebration
with a guest post from author Chiquis Barrón, who shares with our readers
some of her principles to empower young women with confidence and awareness.
|Desert Arts & Cultural Media|
Open your arms wide to release the old and then embrace the new and unfamiliar with utmost grace and finesse.—Chiquis
Growing up is not easy. During adolescence and early adulthood, most of us go through drastic physical changes as well as deep emotional changes. Social changes at this age, such as starting secondary school, college or getting a first job, also imply spending more time with friends and people outside of our comfortable family circles. Although these changes can be exciting, they can also be incredibly confusing and awkward.
Most of us are familiar with the physical changes that occur during youth as a result of fluctuating hormone levels. The emotional and psychological changes, on the other hand, are not as well known. At this age, people start to think and feel differently. They start to develop their own views on things which may not always sit well with parents or other family members. And this is actually a good thing. They are beginning to claim their independence and shape their sense of identity outside of the family unit, an important survival skill.
As part of this process of becoming more independent, however, there is also an inherent vulnerability that occurs within young people. They are excited about trying new things but understand they may not yet have the ability or experience to deal with everything on their own. As a result, their self-confidence can be shaken up which often comes through as moody or sulky behavior.
For girls and young women, emotional struggles can be a littler tougher yet. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), about one in five teens will experience depression with girls affected twice as much as boys. In addition, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, modern-day lifestyles – including lack of physical activity, poor diets and increased exposure to media and technology – are contributing to unprecedented rates of depression.
After 18 years of working professionally with girls and women looking at the social, cultural and environmental factors that impact their overall well-being, in addition to having survived those chaotic young years as a girl and woman myself, I have learned a thing or two about navigating the world and finding a healthy, happy place for myself in it.
Following I share 5 thoughts from my motivational gift book Good Things for a Young Woman’s Spirit in hopes that it will encourage and fill young women today with confidence and self-awareness as they embark on their own journeys to learn about the world and find their happy, healthy place in it.
Reach for the Stars: Believe. Trust in yourself and in your capacity to do the things you aspire to no matter how far-fetched or improbable they may seem. Naysayers come a dime a dozen. Don’t let them drain you of your confidence and enthusiasm. It is better to reach for the stars and come up short than to allow other people’s reservations to keep you from reaching in the first place. Take a deep breath and extend your arms high with determination. The sky is yours.
Practice Kindness: Practice compassion and kindness toward yourself and others. Nothing defuses feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, or anger better than genuine compassion. It is extremely easy to fall into the alluring habit of malicious gossip and trash talk, particularly when it comes to people you feel have mistreated or offended you. The sense of pleasure it produces, however, is fleeting and mediocre at best and quickly leaves you feeling miserable once again. Show people kindness instead—in thought, word, and action—and you’ll be surprised to witness the wonders it creates both in their spirit and yours.
Cultivate Real Friendships: There have always been people who enjoy collecting friends. They seldom establish any deep, meaningful, or long-lasting bonds with anyone but find a deluded sense of validation and worth by surrounding themselves with hordes of people. The invention of social media has provided the perfect platform for these kinds of collectors to attract and amass virtual friends even when no real or solid connections exist. As you delve into the wonders of modern-day technology and carefully strategize ways to increase those all-important numbers, make sure you don’t forsake your good, old-fashioned, flesh and bone friends. Although they may be few and far between, there is no virtual number that can amount to the extraordinary quality and substance these friends possess.
Let Go: Practice the art of letting go. We often cling to people, traditions, situations, or money even though we know, deep down, that they are not really what we want, what makes us happy, or what is good for us. As we loosen our grip on those ill-fitting aspects of our lives, we open ourselves to the opportunity to receive the things that truly do complement us and suit us well. Harness your strength to let go.
Ease into Change: Any type of change, even desired change, can be quite daunting. It requires that we let go of that which has been a part of us and prepare to receive the unknown. Open your arms wide to release the old and then embrace the new and unfamiliar with utmost grace and finesse. Be grateful for periods of restlessness and adjustment because it means you are morphing into your next phase—that is what growth is. Take the time to adapt; allow yourself to feel the awkwardness of the transition. It’s an important and necessary step in the process and acting on impulse to speed it up is a shortcut that never pans out. Take a deep breath. Unfold with ease into the beauty of your new form. You are safe. It is only change.###
BOOK SUMMARY: Good Things for a Young Woman’s Spirit offers practical and relevant advice to empower young women with the confidence and awareness they need to succeed. The thought-provoking messages and vibrant illustrations by Chiquis and Martha Barrón provide quiet validation for being true to oneself and living a life of one’s choosing – rather than simply going along with the crowd. Young women will be inspired to create a life filled with kindness, compassion, and gratitude toward others – and also toward themselves. And as they become more comfortable with the spirit inside them, they will discover a bright and promising future where they can flourish through everything under the sun.
Good Things for a Young Woman’s Spirit (also available in Spanish, Cosas Buenas para el Espíritu de la Mujer Joven) is published by Desert Arts & Culture Media, a non-profit organization based in Tucson, AZ. A percentage of the profits from the sale of gift books and related stationary products are used to fund community programs that support, motivate and empower girls and women. To learn more about the book, please visit the following links:
Author Website: http://chiquisbarron.com/books-projects/good_things_young_women/
Amazon.com (English Edition): http://amzn.to/1OZfcGE
Amazon.com (Spanish Edition): http://amzn.to/201dpUJ