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Mother’s Day Gift

We are all born to be a blessing, writes Rachel Naomi Remen.

As Mothers ....

~~~ and please remember that we do not need to be biological mothers to be mothers in the broadest sense ~~~

... when we gift ourselves by claiming our Beauty and "blessing-ness", we give those gifts to the world and particularly to our collective daughters.

Tania Wursig

Would you please pause and drink that in?  

For it is truer than true.

Then give yourself a Mother's Day Gift by repeating these lines to yourself:

I am a blessing to this world.

I am full of Beauty. Ravishing, astounding Beauty.

I delight the Universe.  My presence brings Joy.

I offer gifts to everyone in my life.

I am a blessing to this world.

Melissa Harris

Many of us did not receive this mirroring as children. The adults around us did not reflect back to us our indescribable Beauty, our limitless delightfulness, our unique gifts.

And then our Beauty becomes hidden and silent and unknown.

Tania Wursig

Often we unconsciously turn to other people, hungry for that mirroring and hoping (usually unconsciously) that they will heal us.  

We find, inevitably, that they can't heal us.

But we can heal and whole ourselves.

We can mirror back to our Young Selves
and our Whole Self
the breath-taking, heart-stopping Beauty
that is us.

Richard Davies

As your Mother's Day Gift to yourself: Take up the way of mirroring back your own Beauty to yourself. Daily. Seriously, spend 5 minutes a day, 10 if it feels good.  Use the phrases above or create your own.  Continue for 4 weeks - and keep going, if you like.  

Notice how you feel before, during and after this practice. Notice how the flow of your life evolves over time with this practice.  As well, how does your view of your Self and the World shift?

This practice can be truly world-shaking.  We return to our innate
Beauty and Blessing-ness.

May all mothers, daughters, sisters, fathers, sons and brothers be blessed with these gifts.

Sisters, would you please share you respond to this?  That would be one more gift.

Donna Iona Drozda

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Menarche: Preparing for the First Moon

In many families, no traditional rite of passage has been offered to its young people for countless generations. For many first-time menstruants, there was no menarche celebration, no first moon preparations, no honoring, scanty information, but plenty of silence, embarrassment and/or shame when they began to bleed.  

And as their bodies and Selves evolved through adolescence, no one spoke of the sovereignty of their bodies, the naturalness and goodness of pleasure, the importance of tuning into intuition, of speaking one's Truth, of aiming to keep one's commitments, of consent and boundaries and what a healthy relationship looks, sounds and feels like. 

Where to Turn for Guidance?

As we recognize how essential is this missing piece of the human journey, and feel the hunger to reclaim it for the next generation, we may turn to other cultures for hints as to how to proceed. In my view, it's important not to simply appropriate another culture's rites. If they do not belong to you, it is not right to take them as your own; also, they will not carry the same meaning in the context of your lives.

One can also research one's own ancestral heritage for ideas. You may be able to find books, online resources or local groups to help you connect with your cultural traditions.

We can learn about the essence, the core pieces, of the rites of traditional cultures, and aim to create modern adaptations that intuitively fit for our family.

A Menarche Party or Ceremony is a Good, but even better...

Offering a Red Party or Menarche Ceremony is increasingly popular. If the young person is open to it, it can be a memorable, affirming celebration.

Even more powerful is to spend a year or two preparing your child for puberty, adolescence, their moontime and their human journey.  As a way of connecting in particular with their menses, an easeful yet deeply fulfilling approach is to work with some of these wonderful books as a guide:

  • Reaching for the Moon by Lucy Pearce
  • Menarche: A Mother-Daughter Journey by Rachael Hertogs
  • Moon Mother, Moon Daughter by Janet Lucy and Terri Allison
  • A Blessing Not a Curse: a mother-daughter guide to the transition from child to woman by Jane Bennett

You work with these books as a mother-and-daughter pair or in a mother-daughter circle.  Please note that these books tend to conflate menstruation with gender.

Another great new book written especially to help you create a wonderful mother-daughter group for cultivating many of the skills and knowledge girls need is The Heroines Club: A Mother-Daughter Empowerment Circle by Melia Keeton-Digby, who I'm proud to say is a graduate of the JOYW Mentoring Girls Training.

The Heroine's Club mother daughter

And/or, you could ask an adult to talk with them, mentor them, and be a resource to them.

And/or, you can find a MentoringCircle led by wise, caring mentors.  It is the mission of Journey of Young Women to train mentors so that girls everywhere will have this opportunity.

And of course, any of these ways of sharing the lore of humanhood with a young menstruant can include a First Moon Party or Ceremony.

It's Never Too Late! And it's always worth it!

And, in case you did not teach your child or arrange for them to be mentored before their first moon, you can seek that out on their behalf - and as well encourage them to find a mentor or mentored experience.

However you structure it, the more your child learns to love, honor, respect, understand and care for their amazing body and Self, the more capable they will be to step strongly forward on their path as a young adult.

What have you experienced or heard about that is working well for young people, before and after menarche?  How do you see this impacting their lives?  Please share your stories and ideas.  

Sister Circle by Karen MacKenzie, detail - menarche mentorship

Image credits: Art by Karin Hoogesteger; Sister Circle by Karen MacKenzie, detail

Mentoring Girls Essential Training

JOYW's Mentoring Girls Essential Training is open for enrollment.

New content and new collaborative opportunities have been added to the Training.  Leadership roles are opening up.  And we're building our post-graduation support platform.  Partial scholarships are available. 

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Coming of Age Ceremony for Girls Filmed

Under the light of the Full Moon, I am trembling to share my enormous gratitude to everyone I have ever circled with.  It is thanks to my friends, students, colleagues, teachers and family that I stand here with the capacity to celebrate and share with you that there is a practical path toward toward the vision that every girl on the planet can be mentored in the lore of womanhood.

Fort Collins Coming of Age  Ceremony Filmed 

Most especially I wish to thank the women and girls of Maiden Discovery Circle, Fort Collins, Colorado, who invited Journey of Young Women and Warrior Films to their Coming of Age Ceremony for Girls last weekend.  We captured some amazing video footage of ceremony under the open sky as well as interviews with moms, mentors, and the girls.

Coming of Age Ceremony

Coming of Age Ceremony, Fort Collins, CO, 11-21-15. Photo by Lillian Krueger

It took my breath away when this community agreed to open up their coming of age ceremony to be filmed - a courageous act of vulnerability in service to vision. These woman and girls are on fire to show the world what it looks, sounds and feels like to usher girls into womanhood with intentionality, joy and mentorship. To show moms what is possible for their daughters, and for themselves. To remind everyone that girls thirst for mentorship and for circling with women and girls....and that every woman has gifts to offer girls on their journey to womanhood.

Co-led by Gina Loughrige, a graduate of the JOYW Mentoring Girls Certificate Training, this Girls' Circle has been meeting every other week for two years.  I cannot wait to share some of the video footage of this coming of age ceremony with you and to tell you more about their story.

Warrior Films

I am delighted and grateful beyond measure to be working in collaboration with Frederick Marx and Warrior Films whose pioneering work in mentorship and rites of passage is already shaking the world and on whose Board I am proud to serve. 

Frederick will use the footage from this Coming of Age Ceremony as well as the interviews of participants to support his World Wisdom Library on the subject of youth rites of passage and mentorship. He may also use it in his long form film on the same subject.

Opening a Flow of Resources into Girls' Mentorship 

What's next?  How can we bring coming of age ceremonies, mentorship, and girls' circles to every girls on the planet?  How can we make this happen NOW rather than in some hazy future?

We are going to gather the women. We are going to welcome all ages and all genders. We are going to work together collaboratively to spread the good news about rites of passage and mentorship for girls, and to empower women locally, globally and online to mentor girls, lead Girls' Circles, and offer Coming of Age to Girls. 

We are going to open a flow of resources into Girls Mentorship!

A Collaborative Process 

We'll create this together in collaborative process that is also online, global and local and that empowers and nourishes everyone as we move forward.  Once the collaborative process begins, much practical inspiration and resources will emerge, which we'll translate into do-able actions steps in the real world and online. We are moving toward the truly possible future of impacting the lives of ten million girls over the next five years.

This process will be bigger than Journey of Young Women, and we'll be partnering with and supporting others to fulfill their own complementary visions. We will be giving away power and empowerment and resources as fast as we can. 

Please stay tuned for news about how you can freely participate in the powerful process that is about to unfold.  If you can't wait, simply contact me to let me know you want information about how you can participate, locally or online, as our project moves forward.  We'll be in touch with you!

Full Moon Gratitude

So, community, now you know why I am trembling with gratitude. Look what is before us!  One short video (and more to come) that tells the simple but powerful truth that women can work together to help girls step forward as strong leaders and wise women - and in so doing create massive beauty, deep healing and vibrant community. In these troubled times, we can change the world and we will.

That is something to celebrate. We can sing, dance and weep to sky and earth with joy and gratitude.  

We are enough and we have enough to co-create this! 

If you're not feeling it yet, stay tuned! This is going to happen.

Look for more news with the next New Moon.

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Empower Girls to Be Who They Are

positive body image for girls

Be who you are. That's what we want for our collective sons and daughters, right? Being rooted in one's own being-ness - rather than defining oneself according to external standards and expectations - is essential for self-esteem and empowerment, for tuning into one's passions and purpose, and for all the things we want for ourselves and for young people.

Here are 15 doable ways to empower girls to Be Who They Are. And as it happens, these apply to all genders.​

We all have a role in supporting children and youth. Since my primary personal mission is to empower girls through mentorship and parent education, I'm often speaking to parents of daughters - or more generally, women who are called to girls' mentorship.

But the differences between what girls need and what boys need are limited.  What I'm often talking about is what all humans need.  And in fact, once we undo the culture's restrictive gender stereotyping, there will be fewer differences - especially as we move past the gender-as-binary model altogether.  

So here's a girl-languaged list of positive, doable ways to help everyone Be Who They Are.  Some are primarily for parents, but most of them could be offered by any role model.  

Many of these call for some inner work on your part, to bring more consciousness and light to a feeling, belief or story that is not in alignment with the message you want to bring.  Are you up for that? That's what we're here for, right?

As you read this, notice how you respond in your body.  Which of these resonate, which puzzle, which repel? 

empower girls

Art by Tammy Wyatt

15 Ways to Empower Girls to Be Who They Are

  1. Tell your daughters, "I believe in you" - and mean it. If you find yourself unsure of that inside, work with that, perhaps starting with believing in yourself. 
  2. Teach and model from birth that her body belongs to her. She chooses who gets close to her, who touches, hugs, tickles, or kisses her .. or throws snowballs at her.  She will learn to stand up for her body's sovereignty, and to offer that same respect to others.
  3. Name all the parts of her body including genitalia.
  4. Teach her that pleasure is her birthright.
  5. Talk to her about the changes of puberty and sexuality in accurate, relaxed and positive ways.
  6. Teach her to understand, revere and respect menstruation.
  7. Encourage her to listen to her intuition, her inner knowing.
  8. Encourage girls to explore whatever activities and learning call to them. Consciously set aside genderized limitations or expectations; if they persist, work with that. 
  9. Cultivate non-gender-binary, non-heteronormative, non-cis-gender-exclusive language and worldview. Don't let labels, stories or expectations impede you from being curious, respectful and awed by who your child actually is, right now.
  10. Tune into and respond to her ideas, passions, and skills. Limit your vocal and energetic response to her appearance.
  11. Limit praise - or more broadly, evaluation - so she develops intrinsic motivation and a connection to her Inner Compass, rather than relying on outside approval for self-esteem and and external expectations for direction.
  12. Encourage mistakes. Remove shame/judgment from mistakes. Without mistakes, there is no learning. Teach and model that failing magnificently is awesome.  If you don't feel the truth of this in your body, work with what you do feel in a tender way. 
  13. Allow her to seek her own answers and solutions. Humans - especially children - are natural explorers and seekers of mastery. Allow that to unfold.
  14. Teach and model media literacy from an early age. Help her to understand and filter the various sorts of toxic messages in advertising and popular culture.
  15. Show her how to be assertive - to ask for what she wants, to decline what she does not want, and to express her opinions and feelings.
empower girls

Photo by Rebecca Droke

To empower girls and all genders, start simple

Don't let a long list intimidate you.

As intentional people, I'm guessing that most of you already bring many of these to the children and youth in your life. Notice that, celebrate that, and keep on!

Of those items that resonate for you, but you don't see as your strong points, pick one or two.  Talk about them with your adult allies to help you flesh out why it matters to you, what messages you received as a child and the impact of that,  and to reflect on skillful ways to incorporate those pieces of empowerment into your life and the lives of the young people you care about. 

Thanks in advance for engaging with this. Truly we rise together!

Without reflection, there is no learning.  

Learning doesn't "stick" without reflection. The best reflections include our bodies and emotions, not just our minds.  

So pause for a few moments to ask yourself: What's my response? Where was I inspired or discouraged? What was puzzling? Clear as a bell? What would I add, remove or change? What information or support would I love to receive? Which items on the list will I aim to include (more) in my life?

Would you share your reflections? Please leave a comment below or contact me.

Much love and many blessings, 

Learn to mentor girls & lead Girls' Circles

Do you feel called to mentor girls?
Learn about JOYW's
 Mentoring Girls Certificate Training.  

You'll enjoy new content, new resources and new collaborative opportunities in addition to an extensive interactive resource platform offering post-graduate support beginning in 2017.

Payment plans and partial scholarships are available.

Learn more here.

JOYW Girls' Circle by JOYW artist Karen MacKenzie

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Should My Daughter Be Wearing A Bra?

"Should my daughter be wearing a bra?" is a question that some parents never pose to themselves.  Other parents are unsure. "Listen to your daughter" and "Let go of the idea that breasts are something that need to be hidden" suggests Meagan Murphy in this pithy, powerful guest post.  ~ Katharine

Does my daughter need a bra?

The decision to wear a bra or not wear a bra, or in the mother’s case, whether to buy a bra for your daughter, is one that merits careful consideration.

Breasts are emblems of nature, little buds that grow into unique flowers. These flowers are part of a woman’s body for the rest of her life, and will change as she gets older.

The impulse that these flowers should be tamped down, that breasts should be hidden by bras from a young age, is the same impulse that drives humans to disconnect from nature.

Tips to help you and your daughter make a choice about bras:

  • Decide whether or not bras are something that make you feel comfortable by either trying one on or letting your breasts be free.
  • Listen to your daughter as she discovers how she wants to cultivate her own “flowers” (breasts). Young girls hold a wisdom that has yet to be touched by societal influences.
  • Interact with nature.
  • Interact with your breasts 

The culture says we need bras to disguise our breasts

Let go of the idea that breasts are something that need to be hidden. These thoughts are one imposed by our culture, and while it is necessary to work within societal norms in some contexts, the home you share with your family can be a place of growth and comfortability.

~ Meagan Murphy 

Meagan Murphy is the producer of The Breast Archives (to be released this fall). She brings 20+ years of experience in film and broadcast, including 12 years with PBS. Meagan earned a Communicator’s Award for her work with teens and a Medical Journalism Fellowship. She also completed a 2-year women’s mystery school and Journey of Young Women's Mentoring Girls Certificate Training.

Find The Breast Archives on Facebook. Watch the trailer.

Art by Emilano Ponzi and Daniela Uhlig