Wholehearted Parenting

The other day a good friend of mine told me this;

“Deanne, everyone thinks we’re the perfect family and that our teens are so amazing. But the truth is, it is SO hard to raise teenagers!  Just the other night, our oldest son was out driving around the next town in the middle of the night, when he was supposed to be home looking after his younger brother… We’re far from perfect”

Can you relate?

Parenting teens is tough, it always has been, but in today’s fast-paced world driven by IMAGE, we’re constantly comparing how everyone else’s life LOOKS compared to how our life FEELS.

As parents, we’ve worked hard to get an education, a career, a home, a partner, have children…and just when we feel like we’ve figured out how to parent our kids, they go sideways.

They’re driving around town in the middle of the night.

They’re failing a class.

They’re getting fired from their part time job.

They’re totaling the family car with 4 of their friends inside.

Not to mention the terrifying times when we’re worried about their mental health.

When we feel on top of our game in so many aspects of our adult life, it’s hard to be right back in the vulnerable, confusing, overwhelming messiness of figuring out life with a teenager.

That’s why I’ve  been capturing on camera my conversations with parents who are willing to share what parenting in real life looks like (and how it feels). I’ve put these conversations together into an incredible FREE global virtual event, so that YOU know that whatever you’re going through with your teen,

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

We’re creating a global movement of parents who are committed to LEANING IN to the messiness of raising teens, and telling the TRUTH about how that really looks and feels. This event is called,

Wholehearted Parenting: Supporting resilient, confident and purpose-driven teens

I’ve interviewed over 21 thought leaders (many of whom are parents, but not all) to share their very best practices and insights so that you have the inner strength to work through your fears, lead your teen from the HEART, and learn to trust yourself as a parent. 

CLICK HERE FOR FREE ACCESS

Through this interview series you’ll discover

  • How to be responsive to your teen, not reactive
  • How to trust your intuition about how to bestparent your teen (despite what all your friends and family are telling you)
  • How to powerfully connect with your teen even when they’re pushing you away
  • How to see the conflict you have with your teen as an opportunity for growth (theirs AND yours)
  • How to step back so your child can solve their own problems
  • How to reinvent your relationship with your teen as they grow into adults

<<<CLICK HERE>>>  to reserve your FREE all-access pass!

This movement has the capacity to release an entire generation from comparison, isolation, and a fear of failure and give rise to a new generation of parents and teens who are willing to be lead with courage and cultivate resilience, creativity, and purpose.

Wouldn’t it me amazing to be part of a global movement of parents who are committed to leading with the heart?

The huge shift is happening. Let’s inspire wholehearted living by parenting our teens that way.

CLICK HERE  for access to every interview AND more than 20 bonus resources for you and your family!

If you’re ready for a real change, I invite you and any of the parents in your life to join us for Wholehearted Parenting.

With gratitude,
Deanne

P.S. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be part of a global movement that inspires parents to lead with their whole heart? Here’s your opportunity to be part of that inspiration. Would you kindly share this with your friends, your neighbors, and any other parents who you know could benefit from hearing the TRUTH about raising teens today.

 

RETREAT into gratitude!

Are you feeling overworked and under-appreciated?

Have you been putting your own needs on the back-burner so that you can take care of EVERYONE ELSE?

Here’s what I know for sure:

There are seasons in our life when we need to take care of others, but when that becomes our default setting, that leads to exhaustion, resentment, and sickness!

Sometimes, we need to take a step back from our default setting, and re-calculate how we’re operating day-to-day.

If you’re willing to open up to GRATITUDE, it’s easy!

That’s why I’m so excited to invite you to join me for a GRATITUDE RETREAT.

Step back from your life for a weekend, and allow me to guide you into GRATITUDE

(It’s my superpower, and it can be your superpower, too!)

With gratitude, you shift out of stress and into your heart. Through gratitude you gain:

  • CLARITY around who you are, and who you’re not
  • CONFIDENCE in your ability to take care of yourself through the stressful times
  • CONNECTION with your own inner spark, AND the people you love

CLICK HERE for the full invitation

With gratitude,

Deanne

P.S. If there’s someone in your life who seems to have lost their spark, please copy and paste this link, and invite them to retreat into gratitude!

Back to School Stress

Are you feeling the fall pressure?

Does your calendar ALREADY look completely packed?

Instead of falling into the old patterns of overwork and overwhelm from years past, take some time to make the bold commitment to

DO THIS YEAR DIFFERENTLY.

I’m challenging you to schedule time in your calendar for DOING NOTHING. Schedule in some time every day (10-20 minutes) and a larger chunk of time each week (1-3 hours) when you don’t have a “to-do” list to accomplish.

This is a time to do only what you WANT to do. Do what you’re inspired to do IN THE MOMENT. Sit down, drink a cup of tea, draw, stretch, lay on your bed and listen to music.

Stick to your commitment of allowing yourself this down time (this is for teens AND parents!)

Here’s why: when we give ourselves time to stop, breathe, decompress, rest, and listen to what we need in the moment, our rested mind and body is able to make clearer decisions the rest of the day (so we actually end up saving time!)

Can I tell you a quick story about doing things differently?

Last weekend I ran a 10 K race. There was a woman ahead of me who would run, then slow down to a walk, then run again. I had used this strategy in my training, but on race day I was committed to running at a strong pace for the entire race. I was SO FRUSTRATED that this woman was actually moving at the same pace as me!

Here’s the lesson: We fool ourselves into feeling like we need to push-push-push all day long to be productive and successful, when in fact, varying our pace allows us to use our energy more efficiently, and gives us some much needed VARIETY in our lives so we don’t get burned out from the push.

Give yourself the gift of taking a break EVERY DAY!

 

You are WORTH IT!

Deanne

When I Met Resilient Me- by Jennifer Cahuantzi

My favorite outfit of all-time was a kelly green, terrycloth jumper. It had solid block colors across the front in red, yellow and blue, with strings at the shoulders that tied at the top. I loved that thing, but I would only wear it in my bedroom because the shoulder strings exposed my arms. My plump, padded arms. They lacked any definition and for that,

I refused to let anyone see them. This was middle school. I was not, by any means, overweight. My family often joked that I ate like a bird and usually fell asleep before dinner was on the table, but by high school, I was dieting.

I remember walking down the hall in high school and thinking to myself, “Wait a second … is that my rear shaking behind me?” And it was! So I made the necessary changes and started eating a Granny Smith apple and two Quaker rice cakes everyday for lunch, for years. My family didn’t know, but it didn’t feel like a secret. It felt more like brushing my teeth twice a day. It was just something I had to do.

I was already very active. I’m from the generation of kids that immediately went outside to play after getting home from school in the afternoon. I’d also been dancing since the age of six. Everyday, after school, Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings. Performances, Recitals, Competitions, After-school Intensive and Dance Company.

Since I didn’t know where I wanted to go to college, I attended a community college for a year and continued my dance training at the Artistic Dance Centre. I also joined a gym and went to a cardio class everyday. If I couldn’t make the gym, I did one of my mom’s workout videos at home. I felt great! And I was thin. And that felt incredible.

* 17 years old

* 5’8”

* 120 lbs

Pretty perfect dancer specs. Or so I thought.

In that same year, I discovered a university whose primary focus was dance and musical theatre performance and that’s when I knew that that university was exactly where I wanted to be.

One hundred thirty-two dancers auditioned for the university’s dance program in 1993. Fifty-seven made it. Sitting in the front seat of my mom’s Volkswagen Cabriolet, parked at the top of our driveway, I opened the envelope from the university and cried when I read the letter.

I was accepted as a Dance Performance Major. I was one of the fifty-seven and I was elated.

This was not your typical dance school. Most colleges focus on Ballet and Modern. This program was modeled after the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, offering Tap, Jazz, Ballet and Musical Theatre with an acute

focus on creating a triple threat … someone who can sing and dance and act, so they’re more marketable in the industry.

Leaving home for the first time, so many emotions swirled within me … excitement, fear, anticipation. I moved from Maryland to the Midwest where the school was planted and fell in love with my decision, my new place in life and the personal path I was beginning to carve for myself. Something about being there on campus, finding and connecting with new people, my people, felt so freeing and meaningful.

With that joy and excitement came hardship, too. At least for me it did. Part of the industry, I learned, pays particular attention to body image. Just as the Rockettes and many other shows do today, dancers are required to make and maintain a certain weight. So in preparation for the real world, we were required to weigh in. No problem, I thought. I was slim and dancing everyday would only make me slimmer. We weighed in three times a semester and our weight was a part of our grade, but as the semesters passed, even though I was a proficient dancer, I began to receive low marks because of my body. It did not match what they wanted.

And then the dance faculty addressed my weight directly. They told me I needed to lose. I was shocked at first. Me?! I mean, I was thin. In fact,

I was thinner than most. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t understand their logic, but I was also too afraid to ask questions. Instead, I began to watch and study and try to determine how they were making their decisions. It just did not make sense. It appeared to me that they were holding me to the 122 lbs I came in weighing in my freshman year. And while other girls weighed more and had more body mass, if the other girls lost 1 lb, but I gained 3 lbs, they were ‘good’ and I was ‘bad.’

So what did I do? Well, a natural-born people-pleaser, I wanted the dance faculty to like me, so I tried to lose the weight. Dancing 4-6 hours a day and afterwards, hitting the gym, I ate as healthy as I could at the time, but also regressed into binges with friends on the weekends.

So I began to manage my weight in ways I had never tried before. Restrict. Diet. Binge. Restrict. I tried not to eat what I thought was ‘bad.’ I tried to control my eating. I tried to control what I ate, the amount I ate and when I couldn’t take it anymore, I’d cave and binge. Restrict. Diet. Binge. Restrict. Smoke. Restrict. Diet. Drink. Binge.

God, I hated those next mornings. Peeling myself out of bed with guilt and shame bound to my body like dead weights at my ankles.

I was devastated and at 5’8”, now weighing in at 128 lbs, my body was beginning to affect my path as a dancer. I was cut from the Dance Company and forgotten, or so it seemed, for Choreography Shows. For all the performances, I was required to work backstage, helping dancers make quick costume changes and then re-hang their costumes on hangers, or I was required to work front of house as an usher rather than being onstage where I wanted to be, where I was training to be, where I belonged. It was diminishing. I hated it. I hated me. I hated me for not being able to get this right. I hated me for not being able to fix myself.

I hated my body for failing me, for not losing weight, for its bone structure and for having cravings I couldn’t control. I hated myself. I was ashamed of myself. I was embarrassed that I’d been rejected. Couldn’t they see? Didn’t they know? Didn’t they know how hard I was trying? Apparently not. So I tried even harder.

Restrict. Diet. Binge. Restrict. Smoke. Restrict. Drink. Binge. Diet. Restrict. The cycle continued again and again, until I had an idea.

I decided one night in my sophomore year to try something I’d never done before, but just this once. I was only going to try it once. I ordered a Domino’s pizza for delivery. Again, it was just this once. No big deal. And then, my brighter idea. “If I’m gonna do this, I might as well add ice cream.” But again, just this once. So I raced to the Braum’s on the corner, purchased a hot fudge sundae – no nuts, no cherry – and raced back home before the pizza arrived. Just this once. Just this once. Sitting and waiting for the doorbell, I tried to remember the last time I had had pizza or ice cream, let along both on the same night. Had it been two years? Two and a half? I couldn’t remember, but you know, just this once.

*ding*

Here we go.

I really don’t remember tasting a thing. I packed it in swiftly and raced to the bathroom. Knees down. Lid up. Fingers down. Food up. Flushed down. Cleaned up. And that was that. Just this once. It was almost a little too easy, but again it was just this once. Yeah. Just this once. Until it wasn’t. Until it was 13 years later.

What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I stop this? Where was my strength? Where was my will? Every time I knelt down to make myself sick, I would prop my elbows on the toilet seat, interlace my fingers, rest my forehead on my clasped hands and sincerely pray, “Please God … please don’t let me die from this. Please don’t let me have a heart attack. I know You’re going to use this for Your will and purposes someday. Just please don’t let me die.”

I tried so many times to stop and I couldn’t. I kept it a secret as long as I could and then I couldn’t. I tried to get help and take their suggestions and I did and then I couldn’t. I went to see a nutritionist, a therapist and a hypnotist. Nothing worked long term. Therapy, with a handful of different professionals, helped for a session or two. I was able to vent

about things I was holding onto and the therapist, who knew nothing of my past, politely sat and listened. I appreciated that, but I needed more.

I wasn’t changing. Nothing was changing. And I was getting frustrated which only lead to more episodes.

This went on for years. When I thought I had it licked, it returned. It rarely got better. It only got worse. One of the therapists even told me flat out, “You know you’ll never get over this. You will have this forever. It will get better at times, but it will never go away.” Her candor shocked me. I refused to believe her. That couldn’t be true. Because I didn’t always have this thing and if I started it, I could stop it. Oddly enough,

it was comments like hers that kept me fighting and so I did. I kept on fighting. I never stopped fighting. I just kept fighting. And it was a living hell.

In my late twenties and through my thirties, I studied under the tutelage of a Spiritual Director. God had had a tug on my heart since my youth and at this time, I wanted to explore more. It was what my Spiritual Director said that finally flipped the switch. Not a switch that turned the disorder off, but a switch that turned me on. A switch that ignited something new in me. Knowing my struggle, she asked me what God would think of me having an eating disorder. I’d never thought about that.

I didn’t know the answer. And when I took time to consider it, I couldn’t connect the dots. What I could do, though, was consider what my dad would think of me having an eating disorder. And that struck something deep within me that started a slow, but continuous shift. My dad had passed away suddenly in my junior year at that university.

I missed him terribly and to think how he might respond to learn that his daughter, his baby girl, his only girl was suffering and struggling and failing and depleted. I could definitely connect to that. It broke my heart and that breaking began my rebuilding.

It didn’t happen overnight, the way I wished; the way it seemed to start. It was and has been a very long road and it is possible. Here are a few of my takeaways:

• Acceptance. Yes, acceptance. I spent most of those 13 years waiting wishing and hoping my life were different, that I was different. Yet, waiting, wishing and hoping only distracted me from exactly what was happening. I was suffering. When I let go of the idea that there was something wrong with me and accepted that I was suffering, I got curious about my suffering. I got curious about me. Instead of running away from me, I started to learn who I was, what I needed and how to meet those needs.

• Start Something New. Have you ever tried to stop something? Like, stop eating after 7pm? Or stop eating the pint of ice cream? Or stop smoking? It sucks! It’s hard! I don’t want to stop anything! I’m not a quitter!!! What I’ve learned I can do is start something. Start something new. Start calling someone you care about when the clock strikes 7pm. Start eating ice cream from a bowl versus directly from the container. Start a new class at the gym or buy a bike and go for a spin. I’ve never been good at stopping anything, but when I start something new, the old thing, the dead thing that no longer serves, starts dissolving into the background.

• Become Your Own Best Friend. For God’s sake, do this. Start treating yourself like one of your own, one of your inner circle, one of your buddies because you are. You deserve the love and attention and kindness and compassion that you probably extend to most other people without a thought or question. For the love of all that is good in this world, toss your loving self into that category. Spend some time with you and give yourself the gift of your own friendship.

• Come Back to Life. Ever notice how much our struggles with body and body image issues cause us to retract and hide from life? I know I did this. A lot. I missed out on so much because I didn’t like the way I felt or looked. Even if I showed up, I couldn’t let myself be seen. I hid inside my life and so coming back to life has been an exciting adventure. Bringing people back to life is essentially what I do as a Coach. I give my clients the tools they need to see themselves and to let themselves be seen. Be in your life. Stand in your life. And whenever you find yourself hiding away, come back. Come back to life.

So do I ever slip up and regress? Heck, yes. Do I still purge? No.

I haven’t for over nine years. I can, however, still put some sugar down, but it no longer takes me where it used to. And when I indulge, I choose the best of the best. The best ice cream. My favorite candy. I only want the best because, for me, it’s the best that satiates.

And when I’m done, I’m done. And I start back clean again. And I rarely feel the guilt and shame for being who I am. Do I still love candy? Yes. Always have; probably always will. It’s just that these days, the difference is, I love me, too, and these days, I choose to include myself in life and living.

My hope is, if you need to, you will get there, too.

I know you can. I know it.

And that, I know to be true.

* * *

For over two decades, Jennifer Cahuantzi, a professionally trained dancer, has worked with celebrity clients as a Pilates Instructor and Personal Trainer – an experience that has inspired her development as a Certified Fearless Living Coach and Certified Fearless Trainer – training people from the inside out.

Through triumphs and trials, getting it right, but more often getting it wrong, struggling with addiction, overcoming addiction and learning to live life versus just survive it, Jennifer has learned some incredible lessons along the way.

Through IgniteSheShines, she expands her clients’ awareness and equips them with tools that empower them to build confidence and stand in the freedom of authenticity.

The real reason why I started Gratitudeworks

I’ve spent 14 years working with teens EVERY DAY as a high school English Literature ( or as we say here in Calgary, English Language Arts) teacher.

In my local school district, students have been reporting increasing levels of anxiety and depression each year. In my last semester of full time classroom teaching, two of my students were hospitalised for their mental health. It was then that I realised that my purpose was no longer to be a classroom teacher, but to teach teens, parents and teachers how to incorporate strategies into their lives that would support their mental health.

We’re all so busy, worried, frustrated, and overwhelmed and

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!

I’m on a mission to transform the lives of teens and parents LIKE YOU through

SIMPLE

DOABLE

SUSTAINABLE practices to improve the quality of YOUR LIFE.

Mindfulness is one of those practices.

I know that going to a concrete building swarming with teens can wear you down! Mindfulness practices, whether that is quietly drinking a cup of tea, or sitting for meditation for 5 minutes, or 20 minutes,  are what have sustained me in the busyness of school for years. Research has shown that mindfulness practice is effective in improving sleep, lowering stress, and improving self-compassion. No only do our thought about ourselves improve, but our perspective about life shifts to be more positive with mindfulness.

In October 2016, I interviewed Dr. Dzung Vo, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at British Columbia Children’s Hospital, and clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver, Canada. Dr Vo  has created a mindfulness based stress reduction program for TEENS as a response to the stress and depression that he is seeing in his teenage patients in Vancouver, Canada.

If you’ve got 3 minutes, I invite you to CLICK HERE and watch the video on Dr Vo’s mindfulness for teens website, the video is called “Youth Voices” where you’ll hear from REAL TEENS about how mindfulness has transformed their lives.

On his website, Dr. Vo also shares REE DOWNLOADABLE GUIDED MEDITATIONS

If you don’t have time to try some of these meditations right now, just pull out your calendar and schedule in 15 minutes later today to check them out.

You deserve a life that FEELS GOOD!

Be well,

Deanne

 

 

Teens choose electric shock over spending time alone!

I was just reading Growing Up Mindful by Clinical Psychologist Christopher Willard,  and I was SHOCKED (forgive the pun) when I read that, “A recent study found that young men would rather receive ten minutes of low-level electric shocks than spend ten minutes alone with their thoughts, without electronics” (pg 3, Growing Up Mindful)

This is the heartbreaking truth for many of our teens today: They would rather CHECK OUT with social media, shopping, eating, drugs, etc, than CHECK IN with their own thoughts and emotions.

WHY? Because they have never been TAUGHT how to CHECK IN, and SHIFT their thoughts and emotions.

Checking in with your own thoughts and emotions is a CRITICAL SKILL for life which generates:

  • Authentic CONFIDENCE
  • Healthy BOUNDARIES
  • Healthy DECISION MAKING
  • EMPOWERMENT

If you are a TEEN, or the parent of a TEEN, It’s time to learn how to

CHECK IN to your authentic confidence (this doesn’t mean taking over the room, it means knowing what you stand for and not second-guessing yourself)

CHECK IN to your POWER and WISDOM

You’re invited to CHECK IN to Power Centers: Unlock the power of your LEGENDARY SELF by learning to CHECK IN not CHECK OUT

This 8 week program will guide you step-by-step through a process of CHECKING IN with yourself

CLICK HERE to register

In this 8 week series, you’ll learn how to

  1. Accept yourself
  2. Balance Creativity and Discipline
  3. Develop Authentic Confidence
  4. Love yourself
  5. Speak UP
  6. Trust yourself
  7. Connect to your Purpose
  8. Set Healthy Boundaries

I’m SO excited to share this with you!

CLICK HERE to grab your spot!

With gratitude for YOU!

Deanne

P.S. We start on Tuesday, February 21st, so don’t delay! CLICK HERE to register

What’s your current AWESOMENESS level?

Have you ever wondered how some people manage to just be so AWESOME?

DO you sometimes wish for a user’s manual to YOUR life?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to tap into your LEGENDARY SELF?

You know, the parts of you that are the most awesome, the most funny, the most talented, and to make your decisions from the centre of your own awesomeness?

If you’re ready to UNLOCK the POWER of your LEGENDARY SELF, then join me for a FREE webinar training to take the first steps to YOUR authentic power.

Saturday, February 18th at 9:00 am PT

CLICK HERE to register for YOUR LEGENDARY SELF: Rock solid strategies to live YOUR life not someone else’s

In this webinar you’ll learn the first steps in

1.       Accepting yourself

2.       Balancing Creativity and Discipline

3.       Developing Authentic Confidence

4.       Loving yourself

5.       Speaking UP

6.       Trusting yourself

7.       Connecting to your Purpose

8.       Setting Healthy Boundaries

I’m SO excited to share this with you!

CLICK HERE to grab your spot!

With love,

Deanne

UNSTOPPABLE CONFIDENCE for TEENS: Choosing ME Challenge!

Valentine’s Day brings a LOT of pressure for teens (and, quite frankly, for adults too!)

There is pressure to show your friends that you care, by giving them gifts of chocolate, or a thoughtful card, or supporting the leadership club’s Valentine’s Day fundraiser by having a flower delivered to their homeroom. (While you hold your breath and hope that they did the same thing for you. Is your BFF really your BFF?)

There is pressure to ask out your “crush”, or to tell your friends who your “crush” is (or to be constantly wondering if it’s safe to tell your best friend that your “crush” is someone of the same sex)

There’s pressure to ask someone out because the other kids are dating, or at least telling stories about dating.

There’s pressure to take the relationship you’re in to “the next level”.

There’s the constant worry that the relationship won’t work out, or maybe it will, and do you really want that?

Let’s take some of the pressure off, and focus on the TRUTH:

The ONLY relationship that you will have for your ENTIRE LIFE is the relationship you have with yourself.

So, how’s that going for you?

If you’d love to build UNSTOPPABLE CONFIDENCE in yourSELF

AND

Have a chance to play on Facebook and Instagram to win some cool prizes

Then I have the perfect opportunity for YOU!

CHOOSING ME 5-Day Instagram Challenge for teens (and adults too!)

In this FREE challenge you will receive

  • Daily video lessons to build your CONFIDENCE so you can TRUST yourself to make good decisions
  • Access to our EXCLUSIVE Gratitude Lounge Facebook Community
  • Daily strategic action items for you to do to figure out what it means to LOVE YOURSELF
  • The opportunity to WIN big prizes that will help you to nourish your inner life

Authentic CONFIDENCE happens when we know how to give ourselves what we need at the deepest level.

 

You have nothing to lose, and so much CONFIDENCE to gain!

I would LOVE to be your guide in this 5 day Choosing ME challenge to help you become your own best friend. The challenge begins on February 10th, so go ahead and

CLICK HERE to get started!

With love,

Deanne

 

Having the freedom to love

All the heart shaped chocolates in the stores these days reminded me of this e-interview that I did this past summer! I know that part of the process of growing up is figuring out who you are, and I know that the usual teen drama is amplified when teens are struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity, because there are so many people who haven’t ever thought about something other than their own experiences. I had the great fortune of connecting with the folks at Free2Luv, an award-winning nonprofit dedicated to rockin’ individuality, celebrating equality, spreading kindness & standing up to bullying through arts & entertainment, and they were gracious enough to have both Tonya (President and Co-Founder of Free2Luv) AND a youth volunteer answer my questions!

How did Free2Luv begin?

1 out of every 3 children experience some form of bullying and 9 out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment at school and online.  Further, 20% of high school students say they have seriously considered suicide.  As parents, Tonya and Kym Sandis believed this epidemic needed to stop and Free2Luv was born. “We know the scarring and lasting impact bullying has on our youth, robbing them of their innocence and emotionally stripping them of their well-being.  Coming from the entertainment industry, we understand the power the arts have to heal, uplift and empower and we utilize this platform to spread our mission of celebrating individuality, rockin’ kindness and standing up to bullying,” says Tonya, President and Co-Founder of Free2Luv.

How can shy teens show their peers that they can be free to love anyone they choose?

We like this question as it opens up the reason why we named our nonprofit Free2Luv.  We believe first and foremost, self-love is key, whether you are a teen, child or adult.  When you are confident in who you are and treat others with love and respect, you show everyone around you unconditional love.

“If a shy teen wants to advocate everyone’s freedom to love, I recommend they tap into their passion and share from their place of comfort.  This can be done through art, music, dance, sports, you name it.  We have had youth advocates share poems, art, stories, even their passion for race car driving and they have used it as a platform to spread LUV, kindness and compassion with others,” says Tonya.

“There are many LGBTQ+ groups, either at school or online, that are a great way to express yourself.  They are both a safe space and a place where you can share and be yourself. You can also talk about and share things that you love that are related to your identity; i.e. LGBTQ+ books, music, TV shows etc.,” says Free2Luv LGBT Teen Ambassador.

What can teens do if they are in a situation where it is not safe for them to share the message that love is love?

Safety is of the utmost importance.  If you feel that an environment is unsafe to share your message that love is love, find a supportive community and/or environment.  It could be a gay/straight alliance at school, an online organization such as ours or an informal community gathering.

“Find a safe space online.  There are so many people going through the same thing that want to share and speak out, but are not safe to do so in their home or where they live.  Finding a place online where you can be yourself and talk to others who are going through the same thing can help so much,” says LGBT Teen Ambassador.

What is the best part of being a teen in today’s society?

“As the Co-Founder of Free2Luv, I work with teens and youth daily and I’m so moved and impressed by how socially aware and conscious they are.  If we could focus on that every day instead of all the news we hear through the media and online, there are real, young inspirational people that are true game changers in the world and we are proud to hold hands with them.  There are so many wonderful vehicles today that offer youth a way to express their voice that weren’t available even 10 years ago, so it’s a really exciting time to be a teen.   And with that, also comes a big responsibility because as easy as it is to spread kindness, new technology can also be used in destructive ways to spread hate.  The age-old adage, treat others as you want to be treated, still applies.   We need to model kindness and compassion to create a kinder world for all,” says Tonya.

“Technology is a big part of why being a teenager today is amazing.  The ability to learn anything and learn quickly, the ability to talk to anyone anywhere in the world, the ability to hold the world in your pocket, the ability to be a part of a movement that is happening on the other side of the world and to speak out and stand up is amazing.

I think another, if not the most amazing part of being a teen today is that we are changing the world for the better every day.  We are passionate and we care about the world we live in.  We are using our voices and standing up for what is right.  It’s so important and wonderful,” says LGBT Teen Ambassador.

 What evidence of their work would the Free2luv team love to see in ten year’s time?

We would love to see thousands of advocates holding hands with us in communities around the world sharing our message of love, unity and the importance of kindness and compassion.  We are passionate about growing our empowerment events and workshops and reaching more and more communities throughout the U.S.  We are especially passionate about sharing our programs with underserved youth who may not normally have access to the type of programming we offer.  We know the power of one person to stand up and make a difference and for us, success is one more child becoming self-aware, standing up, speaking out and letting their voice be heard.  Will you join us?

check out www.free2luv.org for more details!

 

Show your teens some LOVE

I know you love your kids. I also know that sometimes you pour so much love into your kids that it hurts. It hurts because you’ve sacrificed  a lot of your time, money, and life force energy to support your kids.

It hurts your heart when you feel like you should’ve done more.

It hurts your heart when they don’t seem to appreciate all that you’ve done for them.

It hurts your heart when you give and give and give and feel so depleted.

This kind of giving is not sustainable.

So how do we figure out how to show them that we love them without depleting ourselves?

How often do you give YOURSELF the time, money, and life force energy and support that YOU need?

Even more than showing our teens that we love THEM, we need to show our teens that we love OURSELVES.

We need to love ourselves to model for our teens that they can love themselves.

The sooner we’re able to teach our children that it’s their job to figure out what they need, and to find a way to give it to themselves, the stronger our teens will be.

Teens who can fill themselves up are more confident and make healthier choices because they’re not looking for other people to give them the feelings they crave.

So, how can YOU start to show YOURSELF some love?

Let me just say it,

Self love feels selfish.

Whenever I schedule in some time just for me to do something that I enjoy (like have a long bath, or go for a walk by myself, or drink a cup of tea and look out the window), I feel like I’m taking time I could use to work, or be with my family, or run some errands. Once I realised that if I feel like I’ve been deeply nourished, then I can be more playful and present with my family when I’m with them, then I no longer felt like I was TAKING time, instead I was GIVING my family the best version of myself.

CAUTION. If you haven’t been taking some quality time for yourself, you will feel like you are a bottomless pit. After one blissful hour to yourself, you’ll feel like an hour isn’t enough. It will feel SO GOOD that you’ll worry that you’ll need more and more time away for yourself.  You’ll feel like you could just check in to a hotel for a few days and then…just…never…go…home.

Don’t worry. That’s just a signal that you need to schedule more time for yourself, and once you get the hang of incorporating time for yourself into your schedule, you’ll realise how NECESSARY this time is to be at your best. Once you’ve started giving yourself the time, and space, and emotional availability to listen to your deepest needs, you’ll have a greater sense of clarity around what YOU need, and what your family needs.

Of course, you will go home, because you’ll start missing your family. You’ll remember all the quirky and wonderful things you love about them and you’ll be interested in what they have to say. What an amazing gift for your family to have you back with them with love in your heart for yourself, and for them.

When we give ourselves love, then giving love to others is no longer depleting, it is sustainable because we have a better sense of clarity around how to best show our family that we love them.

With love,

Deanne

P.S. What would really nourish you on a deep level? Jump on the phone with me for 30 minutes and we can create an amazing plan that will have your LOVE levels so high, you’ll have love to give! CLICK HERE to connect with me!