Sometimes, life happens.

This afternoon I came across this absolutely horrific, but yet inspiring, story on BuzzFeed. Last week a, beautiful and very sweet, 12-year-old girl from Tennessee died suddenly from pneumonia complications. A completely heartbreaking story that I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue to read. According to her father, Taylor only had minor flu-like symptoms and even tested negative at the doctors. Like any good parents, they got her the right prescriptions and set her up with all the necessary tools to ride out this yucky, but what seemed to be minor, virus. But apparently, that wasn’t enough. Again- why was I reading this? This is a horribly depressing story that I really wish these parents, or any parents, didn’t have to go through.

Nevertheless, I went on reading and I’m really glad that I did. While sorting through some of Taylor’s stuff her parents found a letter that she had written to herself, to be opened in ten years. Her parents did not know about this letter and had no idea what they would find on the inside. You should really go check out the letter for yourself because Taylor was one amazing, funny, and caring little girl. There was one line that really stuck out to me the most, it was the last line of the letter:

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Now remember, this girl is only 12-years-old. I know many people in their fifties and sixties who don’t even think like this. But, with only a mere 12 years of life under her belt this little girl had the intelligence and insight to write this as advice to be given to herself at age 22. To me, that’s amazing and completely inspiring. And the best part about these few simple words? They are completely true.

Life isn’t always easy. I know many of us wish life was always happy and filled with success, love, and prosperity. Let’s stop for a moment, is that what we really want? Thinking about it now, after reading those words- I think a perfect, easy, problem-free life would be boring and unfulfilling. If nothing ever went wrong in your life, if you never had to overcome a challenge, how would we learn? People become who they are from their struggles and from the challenges they overcome. Most of the time that “new” person is better than the one they were before. We can’t always expect the best outcome in life, we can certainly wish for it but we also need to be prepared for the worst. You can’t prevent life from happening to you. There’s actually very little you can control. What you can control is how you handle these problems you are faced with- what you learn from it, how to choose to grow as a person, and what you decide to pass on to others. We all struggle in our own way, there is not one single perfect life out there. I hate to break it to you but something bad is probably going to happen to you at some point in your life. The more we embrace that reality, the better prepared we will be and the more we will get out of the one life we have to live. In the end, be thankful for the very simple fact that you are still breathing. There are many people that would have wished they could have one more day, one more moment to live their life. You have this moment, you have this life. Don’t take it for granted- live, grow, and learn every day. No matter what.

In the wise words of one kick-ass little girl: stuff happens, “go with it.”

Building Bridges of Hope

In lieu of my recent college graduation I feel the need to get a little educational on you all so bare with me but I promise you won’t regret it. In one of my history classes this semester we talked about Ruby Bridges (now Ruby Bridges Hall). Ruby was an exceptional little girl and still continues to make a difference in people’s lives well into adulthood. While I was sitting in class, listening to my professor talk about Ruby, it suddenly hit me- Ruby Bridges Hall is a lipstick confident woman. I knew then that I needed to do a blog post about her for those of you who already don’t know who she is.

Long story short, at the age of six Ruby was the first African American child to attend an all white elementary school in the South (more specifically the William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans). Many white parents withdrew their children from the school and all the teachers refused to teach a colored student. This alone leaves Ruby to be one of the most lipstick confident women I know. At such a young age of innocence and naivety it takes a lot of confidence to be able to walk into a place you aren’t wanted with your head held high. The Deputy Marshal described Ruby’s sense of purpose and determination on that life-changing day, “She showed a lot of courage. She never cried. She didn’t whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier, and we’re all very proud of her.”

The school hired Barbara Henry to teach Ruby since all the other teachers refused. For a year, Mrs. Henry taught Ruby alone. The public continued to harass Ruby and her family- threatening to poison her, protesting daily outside the school, her father lost his job, and her grandparents were driven off their land. But the Bridges never gave up on what they believed in- they had each other and that was all that mattered. The little support the Bridges family did receive from their community encouraged them to continue as well. Some families sent their children to school despite the protests in support of the family, a family friend gave her father a new job, and neighbors took shifts protecting the Bridges household.

Ruby turned her childhood experiences into a life mission. In 1999 she formed the Ruby Bridges Foundation to combat continuing racism in schools and communities today. Ruby particularly focuses on the use of children as a tool to spread racism. Ruby works to connect students, parents, and educators with the realities of racism and its effects. The foundation works to involve students in service projects that encourage community responsibility and team work. From these projects, students learn skills needed to participate in meaningful causes. The Ruby Bridges Foundation starts at the bottom, focusing on children in order to inflict change on the society as a whole. Children can educate their parents just as much as parents educate and influence their children. Ruby also travels around the country on frequent speaking tours and has received many awards and recognitions such as the Presidential Citizens Medal by Bill Clinton in 2001.

Ruby Bridges Hall has seen a lot of ugly in her life but instead of giving up she pushed through the negatives to make a positive. Not everyone is capable of doing this, but to a lipstick confident woman there is no other choice.

Find something your passionate about and get involved (no matter how small a contribution) and practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

Overcoming Obstacles: Real Life Lipstick Confidence

This week I am doing something a little different because I came across a really awesome article in The Wall Street Journal that I would like to share with you all.

In 1992, Jill Chalsty launched a program called Overcoming Obstacles for middle and high school students. Overcoming Obstacles is a life-skills program in which students learn concepts and skills such as confidence, responsibility, respect, teamwork, stress management, problem solving, etc. With the high school students they also focus on college and careers (they learn about scholarships/loans, prepare resumes, and practice interviewing skills). Lastly, the program also stresses community service, guiding the students through the process of starting a community project using knowledge they have gained in the classroom. The program has been used by 2.5 million students in New York, Charleston, Jersey City, and Los Angeles.

Previously, school districts who have participated in the program had to pay from their own funds. The curriculum includes 80 lesson plans, 500 activities, and 180 hours of instruction. But Mrs. Chalsty and her husband have decided that with recent budget cuts faced by many school districts it is time to make the program FREE. Therefore, they launched a $10 million “gifting initiative” in order to do so. The Chalsty’s kicked off the fundraiser by donating $500,000 of their own money.

I think that this program is a great idea and something that all middle and high school students need. Many school programs quickly breeze over bullying, time management, and study skills but very few focus on other life skills such as confidence, style tips, and common etiquette. Overcoming Obstacles seems to cover it all and perhaps if I had gone through this program myself I wouldn’t be so nervous about entering into the real world. I really hope more schools start to adopt this program.

Check out the Overcoming Obstacles website here.

Mrs. Chalsty is definitely a ‘lipstick confident’ woman, now go practice yours!