The Secret Handbook 4 Teens

Are U a Good Match 4 Matcha?

I’m not going to lie. I’m completely and totally addicted to matcha (a powdered green tea) so I’m pretty much going to try to convince you that you ARE a good match for matcha! You’ve probably noticed that matcha is showing up on more and more coffee house menus (although Starbucks calls it a green tea latte) but perhaps you’ve been afraid to try to this alien green concoction. Fear not! I’m here to tell you how simple it is to make and why it’s good for you too!

I switched to matcha after my panic attack when I was looking for a less caffeinated alternative to coffee. The first thing I’ll tell you about matcha is that yes, it does have a less caffeine than coffee but it gives you this lovely energy boost (that I personally feel almost immediately) that lasts for a few hours. It doesn’t blast you with caffeine like coffee does but sort of imparts a nice alertness. Just perfect.

Anyway, you might be wondering what matcha is and why it’s a powder. Matcha is a green tea that is grown in the shade for the last few weeks of its growth and then ground into a powder. You’re drinking the entire leaf when you drink matcha which is why you get so many more health benefits. Matcha has lots of antioxidants and catechins (which can help with cholesterol) but it’s chock full of other good things too! Because you’re drinking the whole leaf it’s also why you get this lovely sweet flavor (if you’re drinking good matcha). I don’t recommend trying to skimp on matcha and buying a cheap brand. I started out this way and it’s very bitter so it’s probably ok for baking or smoothies but for pure sipping pleasure, spend a little more and get a ceremonial grade tea. You don’t have to hold a tea ceremony when making matcha like they do in Japan but you can make preparation a little mindful and special which, to me, is part of the joy of partaking of matcha.

Sure you can just dump a teaspoon of matcha in a mug with some hot water and stir it but with a few simple steps and tools, you can make a much more special and tasty drink. I highly recommend buying the following (and you can just google these and find lots of online sellers. I bought my stuff on Amazon because it was easier but it’s up to you!)

  1. A sifter. Putting the tea in a sifter over your bowl and sifting it through takes out the static and clumps and makes for a smooth tea with no overwhelming matcha sludge. You know those gross clumps you get when you make powdered hot chocolate? That’s because you’re not sifting so sift when making matcha for a smoother end product. Personally I’m probably going to sift hot chocolate from now on too!
  2. A bamboo matcha scoop or chashaku. Yeah yeah you can just dump in a teaspoon in a sifter but using this lovely little bamboo scoop is so much more fun and you always seem to get just the right amount (although you can obviously add or subtract depending on your own personal tastes.) Have fun with this and experiment!
  3. A bamboo whisk or chasen. Believe me, I tried just using a metal whisk but the fine pieces of bamboo make a lovely creamy foamy top (or crema) and it’s also super fun to do! It’s hard to stop whisking actually but try to control yourself people!
  4. A bowl. Sure you could drink matcha from a mug but there are lots of beautiful bowls out there to sip from. I bought one on Amazon from Japan with bunnies on it and it makes me happy every time I take it out.
  5. Finally and obviously you need some matcha! I just bought some at Teavana in the mall but there are lots of online purveyors out there to check out. Just make sure it says “ceremonial grade” so you know you’re getting better quality.

That’s it! With five simple tools you’re ready to make some matcha. This part is easy. Ready?

Just take a scoop of matcha with your chasen (or about a teaspoon of powder) and sift it into your bowl. Then take your heated water and pour in about an ounce or so (only a little bit in other words) and use your whisk to create the foam and try to get a whole bunch of small bubbles on the top. Once you have your crema on top you just gently pour in some more water and enjoy! Savor this process and slow down when you take your first sip! Try to bring some of that ceremony to your tea drinking and try to be mindful and aware of what you’re doing. Consider it a mini-vacation from life!

So there you have it. A little matcha 101 for matcha newbies like me. Once you get the basics down you can make lattes, iced matcha, etc. Any matcha fans out there? Let me know your tips and tricks and favorite brands! Namaste!




End of the school year got you stressed? Just breathe!

Last night at dinner my daughter and I were talking about how she and her classmates were all starting to experience elevated levels of stress with end of the year exams and standardized tests looming in the not-so-distant future. I’m sure she inwardly roller her eyes (maybe, maybe not) when I immediately used this as another opportunity to talk about the power of your breath to help calm you down.

As I’ve previously discussed here, I have embarked on my own breathing and meditation journey since experiencing a panic attack a few months ago. In fact, today is my 58th day of meditating using the Headspace meditation app and my second week of my beginner yoga practice which is a whole ‘nuther post. Through meditation I’ve certainly become more aware of my thoughts and breath and I’ve found that frequently during the day, I check in to see how I’m breathing. When things get tense at work or with life, I remember more and more to just take three slow deep breaths. I pause to look at my bracelet which read “Be Present” to ground myself in the present moment (because everything is actually always ok in the present moment when you’re not worrying about the past or future) and I breathe.

Breathing is a powerful tool to use when school pressures start to mount and it doesn’t have to be complicated either.

Just take three deep belly breaths.

And I do mean belly breaths. No shallow half-hearted breaths here! Breathe in so deeply that your lower belly expands (you know, like when you eat too much and get a food baby pooch? Yup, like that.), and sloooowly let your belly flatten as you exhale that breathe. You’re almost done – just take two more breaths like that.

Breathing like this to help manage your stress doesn’t mean you get to study less or that all your worries will fade away but studies have shown that this type of breathing actually causes your brain to change in positive ways. So who knows, maybe meditation and paying attention to your breathing will make it easier to take your tests and finish out the school year in a more positive way. I’m not making any promises but approaching stressful situations with a little more peace and a calmer body can’t hurt. Namaste my friends and wishing you many successes as your close out your school year!


One Important Thing 2 Remember in High School That Could Impact the Rest of Your Life

Last night was Back to School night for my daughter who is a sophomore in high school. I have to admit, while I dread having to go out after a long day of work (on a rainy dreary evening no less), I love Back to School night. Yes I enjoy meeting my daughter’s teachers and hearing what she’s learning about and I love the enthusiasm of the teachers for their craft. It’s easy for me to feel these things as an adult though because I don’t have to sit through these classes and have enough life wisdom to know that what you’re learning in high school will shape your future and outlooks for the rest of your life. But did anyone tell you that in high school? I bet not and that’s what got me thinking.

As I was sitting in the English class presentation I found myself fondly reminiscing about the first time I read To Kill a Mockingbird and those first deep dives into literature and reading where you turn from a regurgitator of facts to a critical thinker. I felt that love of writing and reading bubble up in me again and wished that someone had told me when I was a teen to pay attention to those feelings. While my college and graduate school path led me into science (another love) I easily could have been an English major and may have been if I had honored those high school feelings a bit more.

So my advice to you is this: pay attention to how you feel about certain classes, topics, events and experiences in high school. Pay attention to what sparks your interest, what leaves you stone cold bored, what makes you want to learn more, etc. You have plenty of time ahead of you to carve out your career and academic choices in college and beyond but these first exposures to all these different classes matter. They are your first deep dive on a higher learning level into so many different worlds and topics and, if you pay attention, you may see a certain path or interests developing along the way.

I know there will be classes with bad/boring teachers and classes that you’re only taking because you have to so the moments and sparks of interest may be fleeting and limited but all the more reason to pay attention to them. Your sudden interest in a topic is something you can explore as you go along and either embrace more fully or reject along the way. But that “Oh, that’s interesting” moment could also lead you into your future career path and choice of study.

Small moments matter and so do your feelings. Honor them in high school and they will serve you well in the rest of your life.

Hate Writing Essays? Here’s a Tool 2 Make it Hurt Less

For some, hearing a teacher say, “For homework you need to write an essay…” causes immediate anxiety, angst, fear and dread. As a former dissertation coach who helped students write the dreaded dissertation keeping them from their PhDs, I promise you that the advice I gave to them is the same advice I will give to you. I also promise that this advice will be just as relevant now as it will be in college, grad school or anywhere else you’re asked to write something.

Ready for the advice? Ok, here it is:

Learn to outline. 

Don’t start without an outline. 

Always make an outline. 

Did I mention the outline? 

Sure everyone tells you that you should outline a paper before you try to start writing but so few people actually do this. Here’s the thing about an outline. With only a little bit of effort and using the bare minimum of words, you can create yourself a map and guide to where you need to go. Outlining helps you to get your thoughts on track and, because you haven’t invested minutes and hours crafting the perfect sentence you may never use, you have the freedom to sketch, think, brainstorm, cut, paste and scribble. An outline is pure freedom. It’s just thinking on paper. But, eventually something starts to creep out of all the mess and before you know it, an actual map starts to emerge. This map is key because this map becomes your “To Do” list for writing the rest of the essay.

Here’s what to do:

  • Sit down and just write freely. Don’t worry about format, spelling or anything else. Just write out your thoughts (even if those thoughts are “I don’t know what to write. I hate writing essays. I hate my teacher for making me write essays.” Get it all out and eventually you will start to write about your actual topic.
  •  Once you are done free writing, look back at what you’ve put together. Are there any good ideas in there? Anything to keep that you could use? If so, great. If not, go ahead and write freely again. Repeat this process until  you actually start to see a theme starting to emerge with some coherent thoughts.
  • Now start to take those chunks of writing and put them into a more specific outline (this is your map) for your intro, middle sections and conclusion. Don’t try to start writing from this just yet. You still have more work to do. Once you have those sections starting to take place go ahead and continue to flesh them out even more so your outline because fatter and longer and more organized.
  • Eventually you will know when it’s time to start writing but don’t try to jump into this process too soon because you will just become frustrated and quickly lose your way. Ideally, your outline will become your “To Do” list because you can break it down into tasks (and I mean very specific tasks) like 1) Write sentence for introduction. 2) Write second sentence and include quote. 3) Read section of book again to help with transition into main thought. All these little tasks on your “To Do” are super important for making progress once you have your outline but that’s another post!

The next time you’re asked to write an essay or paper, do me a favor and please please please think about using an outline. It might seem like more work to begin with but it’s a really simple but powerful tool for getting your thoughts together and giving yourself some structure to move forward with ease. I promise!

Now you tell me, what other essay writing tactics work for you? Do you use outlines? How else do your approach your writing assignments?

You Know U Can Hit the Reset Button Right?

How was your day yesterday? Are there things you that you wish hadn’t happened? Things you’d like to do over? Feelings you’d like to not experience again? Well, I’ve got good news. You don’t have to relive yesterday. In fact, feel free to pretend it never happened. Take what you want from it. Learn from it. Then let it go. The amazing thing about being human is that you get to hit the reset button and start afresh at any given moment of your life but yet most of us forget to do that.

Think of it this way. Imagine you have in your ear buds and a song comes on that you don’t like. For some reason you can’t stop it from playing and are forced to listen to it until you can get to the next song. But then, 30 seconds into the new song, that old song comes on again and starts playing. This time you manage to skip to the next song but yup, once again, just a few seconds into the next song that damn old song starts playing again.

This is basically how our mind works when it comes to replaying those old memories. We can be part way into a new song and enjoying life when WHAM! Our mind takes us back to the old depressing moment that we just can’t seem to stop playing.

You don’t have to live your life like that and, yes, as usual, I will once again caveat this with a warning that this is not easy to change your way of thinking. It’s much easier to relive the past or worry about the future (that is based on…yup, you guessed it, the past) but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Just try it for today. Let yesterday go. Embrace the new day. Be who you want to be in it. If you start to slip and that old song starts to play there is good news. You still get to stop it and start over again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.

Knife or Spoon? Choose Your Weapon

The rule in carving holds good as to criticism; never cut with a knife what you can cut with a spoon.

Charles Buxton

When you disagree with someone or have a point to make, do you whip out a “knife” and make that point with as much venom and damage as possible or do you gently offer a spoon filled with warm suggestions and a taste of vanilla? Both ways are certainly effective at making a point or offering a criticism but why use a knife when a spoon works just as well?

Here’s the thing, there are going to be plenty of times in life when you disagree with someone, need to make a point, need to correct someone or stand up for yourself. What matters is how you do it. There are plenty of people who I’m not incredibly fond of (and who probably aren’t very fond of me though how this can possibly be true I’m really not sure but I digress…) Anyway, back to those people I’m not fond of. Even though I might not like them or particularly respect them, I do have to deal with them or work with them throughout my day. I have found that learning how to handle people and how to offer up suggestions and changes with honey instead of vinegar always gets me to where I want to end up.

Think about your approach to people especially as you head back to school and, may I gently offer, as you deal with your parents or other figures in authority. Rather than attacking and rolling your eyes and muttering under your breath (which is what we really want to do when we’re frustrated or disagree right?) take a deep breath and think before you speak. Control those emotions for a minute and try to  have a conversation instead of a battle. Spoon a little honey into your conversation instead of threatening them with a knife. A little kindness and understanding will go a long way to not only helping you achieve your goals, but also to create rather than destroy relationships. Trust me on this.

The Only Thing U Need 2 Know Before Heading Back 2 School

Ok, this might not be the only thing you need to know before going back to school but I do think it’s one of the most important things you need to know. It’s also really simple which is a bonus.


Only you can hurt yourself.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s not true. Plenty of people hurt my feelings all the time. I respectfully and gently disagree. People may say or do things to upset you along the way but it’s up to you as to whether you feel hurt or not. You see, we create our own internal experiences so you can choose to react to a hurtful word internally with much drama and reaction or you can choose not to react. It’s up to you. You can change your mind at any minute or moment to not feel this way. Pretty powerful right?

And yes I know this is actually really hard to do and I am by no means an expert myself on this, but every time I read something to remind me of this, a little lightbulb goes off like “Ohhhh, yeah….I’m the only one who can make myself miserable.”

So, as you head back to school remind yourself that you are in charge of your brain. You decide what you let in and who you let in. You decide whether you’re going to let the little stuff upset you or if you’re going to rise above and try to live as your best self and the hell with the haters. I say, the hell with the haters. Go be you.

Tell Your Parents 2 Stop Telling U You’re Smart!

“You’re so smart!”…research shows that such feedback from parents actually undermines academic success rather than enhance it….[A Stanford researcher] found that kids who are told they’re “smart” actually underperform in subsequent tasks, by choosing easier tasks to avoid evidence that they are not smart…kids who are praised not for their smarts but for their effort – with praise specific to the effort made and not overblown – develop a “growth mindset. They learn that their effort is what led to their success, and if they continue to try, over time they’ll improve and achieve more things.”  – Excerpt from the book “How to Raise an Adult” by JulieLythcott-Haims

Do your parents or teachers or other adults tell you you’re smart? You got an A! You’re so smart! You figured out how to solve that problem! You’re so smart! You’re taking honors classes! You’re so smart! It’s nice to be told you’re smart but if that’s all you’re ever told, you may have problems later in life. Studies show that students, especially girls, often think of the label “smart” as unchangeable and static. If you’re told you’re “smart” and then you hit a challenge and struggle, it’s quite likely that you’ll give up because being “smart” is some sort of cut off and if you can’t figure it out, you just must not be “smart” enough. You may even take easier classes or not challenge yourself (per the quote above) because you don’t want anything to interfere with your “smart” name tag. This is a real shame.

Here’s the thing. Smart is just a label and not a very helpful one. I know I’m smart but I don’t remember people telling me that when I was younger. I was encouraged to work hard, to pursue my dreams and that there was nothing in life that I couldn’t accomplish if I set my mind to it. It’s no different for you. Whether you think you’re smart or someone has told you that you are or you aren’t, don’t let that label stifle you. Resolve to work harder. Resolve to try different tactics to see what works and what doesn’t. Resolve to ask for help. Get a tutor. Get a coach. Talk to a teacher or helpful adult. Try different things. Do what you love. Stretch.

Here’s an example of how this can all work. My daughter just finished an online math class. Yup. One solid month of 12 hour days of math, five days a week. She hated it. She’s a straight A student and very good in math but, for the first time, she failed some quizzes, she struggled, and she didn’t immediately “get it” like she had in other classes. In retrospect, I don’t think I ever told her that it would be ok because she was “smart.” Instead, we encouraged her to work harder. We told her she needed to figure out where her weaknesses were and where she needed to spend more time studying. We suggested that she might need to develop different study habits but that as long as she was working to the best of her ability, we would be happy with the outcome. Did she get an A? Nope. Did her grades steadily improve throughout the month? Yup. Did she work to the best of her ability? Yup. Did she learn how to take on a challenge? Yup. As a parent it was hard to watch her struggle and not step in to tell her she was “smart” but I have never been prouder – truly, I have never been prouder – and never been so thrilled with a solid B on her report card.

So, when someone pats you on the head and tells you you’re “smart” just smile kindly and know that you really are courageous, hard working, dedicated, devoted, resilient and solidly encased in a stunning pair of “ass kicking” pants that allow you to take on any challenge and, in fact, the world. Don’t be smart. Be your best self. That’s all the matters.

Why U Need 2 Picture Yourself as a Spry & Sassy Granny

My parents are pretty old. My Dad is 89 and my Mom is 83. My Dad is dying (which I can’t even bring myself to type about because I will burst into tears) and my mother has a whole suite of her own health issues. I was home to help take care of them last weekend and you can’t help but think about your own mortality when you’re around elderly people – at least I can’t. As I watch my parents struggle though I find myself thinking about what I can do now to improve the quality of my life when I get older. I know there are some things about aging that are inevitable but I also know that my parents didn’t take the best care of themselves and if they had, they might be more mobile and agile now.

I know as a teen that pretty much the last thing you think about is getting old but it actually really is important to start getting into healthy habits now that you will retain throughout your life. You know the drill – eat right and exercise. It’s not rocket science but trust me, it actually really makes a difference in your life especially as you get older. But really, you can see the benefits of eating right and exercising even now (do you get winded going up the stairs? Might be time to do a little more cardio) so imagine how that will help you when you’re older.  Oh and let’s not forget about your parents or other adults in your life who you care about. Encourage them to take care of themselves now so they can age with grace and good health for as long as possible. Trust me, watching them get old and struggling just to live their daily lives is so incredibly painful. Give them a little nudge in the right direction now so you and they can enjoy the future, whatever it may bring.

Sorry to be a little lecture-y but it is sooooo important to take care of your body so it will take care of you and allow you to truly enjoy and live your life whether you’re 18 or 81. Think about it once in awhile (trust me, the older you get the more you will think about it) and remind your loved ones too. Keep a vision who you want to be when you’re older and make a plan to get there. Who do you want to be when you’re elderly?

Be Brave. Take Risks. Nothing Can Substitute Experience.

I’d love to take credit for the catchy title of this post but sadly it is a quote I “borrowed” from the author Paul Coehlo. While I can’t take credit for the quote, it doesn’t diminish the importance of these simple but powerful words.

Life seems pretty risky sometimes. From feeling nervous about wearing red sneakers because they’ll make your feet stand out (a favorite post of mine from a fellow blogger about anxiety) to setting your sights on a dream and taking the steps to make it come true even though you might fail, there is much to be fearful about in the world.

As someone who has actually survived and is thriving in my adulthood, I’m here to tell you that you will be ok and the worst you can imagine is almost never going to happen. Ok, I lied. Sometimes the worst may actually happen. Here’s a personal example. When I was in college I started applying to graduate school. My grades were average, my GRE scores were crap and I was applying to pretty competitive programs. I was super nervous about it and guess what? Surprise surprise I didn’t get in. Was it the worst I could have imagined? Was I devastated? Yeah, I suppose so but it did make me volunteer for the professor I wanted to work with, take a graduate class to show I had what it takes to make the grade and take a test prep class to raise my GRE scores. When I reapplied did I get in? I sure did. In fact, I went on to get my Ph.D. but I doubt I would have ever gotten this far if I hadn’t taken the risk and learned from the experience. In fact, that experience is part of what makes me want to help you guys today. I am living proof that you don’t have to be a superstar to succeed and to live your dreams. You just have to take risks, work hard, try and try again and I promise you’ll get to where you want or need to be.

Here’s the best part about taking risks though – even if you fail, you will grow and learn SO much from the experience and by growing and learning, you become your True Self.

Now you tell me? What are you afraid to do? Where are you holding yourself back? When did you try, fail and come out all the stronger as a result? Share your stories with me and help other teens too!

Shift Your Life & Perspective with One Simple Exercise

Have you ever noticed that you can just sort of float through life without really noticing what’s going on around you? Think about your day for a moment. You get up, stumble into the bathroom, get dressed, head out, drink some coffee, start your day, get through your day, eat some lunch, drink some coffee, come home, eat some dinner, drink some more coffee (ok, maybe I just drink this much coffee), do whatever it is you do in the evening and go back to bed to start all over again. We all get into this rhythm of life but we’re so asleep while we’re living we miss most of what’s going on around us.

Here’s a little exercise you can try to see every day things in a new light. Let’s take a tree as an example, A long time ago, someone decided that this large thing in front of us with a trunk and leaves should be called a tree. Ever since then, we have all walked around like little robots acknowledging in our periphery: Tree. Tree. Tree. Another Tree. Tree. Big Tree. Small tree. Dead Tree. Pretty Tree. Green Tree. Blah blah blah.

Now imagine that you have never seen a tree before. Imagine that you are just seeing this amazing thing for the first time and you have no idea what it is and you have no idea what it’s named. In fact, maybe it doesn’t even need a name. Maybe it just is. Really take some time to look at it. Look at how the sun filters through the leaves. Listen to how the wind blows through the branches. Look at the birds and bugs that use it’s trunk and branches for food, for support, for protection. Step back and really notice this thing that you previously have just skimmed over as tree.

Sort of makes you look at life a little differently doesn’t it? Once in awhile, try this little exercise with different items that you see and encounter in your every day life. Decide to notice it for the first time. Forget what you think you know about it including it’s name. Open your eyes to what is really before you. It’s a small but powerful way to shift your perspective which inevitably, shifts who you are just a little bit and that’s a good thing.

You try it now. Look at something around you. See if differently. Notice it. Describe it. Really really notice it. How did it shift your perspective? What did it make you think? Share with me and others to help teens live happy!

Carli Lloyd’s Recipe 4 Success 2 Achieve Your Dreams

Ok, I’ll come clean. I’m not a huge football/soccer fan but even I couldn’t help but get caught up in cheering on the US Women in the FIFA Finals against Japan yesterday. This morning there was an interview with Carli Lloyd, one of the keys to success for the team, and they asked her, “Carli, we know you talk a lot about visualization. Did you visualize this win? How did that help or make a difference?” Her response? “Yes, when I would practice out on the field I would visualize a US finals win and also visualized kicking 4 goals during a finals match. You should never underestimate the power of the mind.”

Um, mind blowing? Yes and no. Visualizing what you want to achieve is incredibly powerful but she followed up on this with an interesting statement. She said dreams can come true but you need “hard work, dedication and sacrifice.” The take away message? Visualization is nice and it’s an important ingredient when it comes to achieving your dreams but it’s not enough on it’s own. You have to put in the hard work. You have to be dedicated and devoted to your goal and you may even have to make some sacrifices along the way. What kind of sacrifices? You may have to give up some down time to practice. You may have to text less and study more. You may have to exercise even when you don’t feel like it because you need to be stronger and fitter.

Hard work.



and visualization.

Carli Lloyd’s recipe for success with a US Finals win to prove that it works.

What can you achieve with the same recipe? What have you achieved? I’d love to hear about your recipe for success and I’m sure other teens would love to hear it too!

Three Ways 2 Recover After You’ve Been Hurt by Someone

Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you. -Sartre

People can hurt. Well, what I really mean is that throughout your life people are going to hurt you, either intentionally or accidentally or unknowingly, and as a result, you’re going to hurt. So, people can hurt. They will hurt you. You will hurt in response.

If you can step back and let go of the pain for a moment and put your ego aside, you actually have a pretty unique learning and life transforming opportunity in front of you when you’re hurt. Here are three quick things to remember/do when you’ve been hurt that can turn the hurt into something bigger:

1. Keep your emotions in check. 

It’s going to be really really easy to just react with anger, sadness or whatever other emotion you’re feeling. The more you give in to raw emotions, the easier it will be to drown in them. When you’re hurt, pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Allow yourself to feel the pain (I’m not suggesting you be a robot about the whole thing) but don’t wallow in it. React and then release.

2. Remind yourself that it’s not about you. 

Don’t. Take. Anything. Personally. Four very powerful little words that can transform your life if you really live by them. It’s very possible and likely that the person who hurt you is actually juts acting out on some of their own pain or issues. If you find out that your friend has been badmouthing you behind your back, that person is likely insecure and could be jealous. There is probably something about your life that they covet. You might not be able to see it but maybe they don’t have a good family life and you do. Maybe they can’t afford to buy the new shirt they want but you can. Maybe they struggle in school and you don’t. Maybe they struggle to fit in and you find it easy. Maybe, just maybe, they feel like they’re losing you so they are acting out in anger. You’ll probably never know what the issue really is but I guarantee you that you aren’t the issue, they are. This is not an easy thing to practice, especially when you’re reeling from the sucker punch, but it’s an amazing way to move through the hurt a little more quickly.

3. Learn.

After you’ve been hurt by someone you have a choice. You can try to just brush it off and move on or you can try to learn something about yourself and the world.  What are you going to do with the hurt? How are you going to react? Are you going to become mean like them? Selfish? Uncaring? Vengeful? Catty? Petty? Are you going to seek revenge? Lower yourself to their level? Or are you going to rise above? Learn something about yourself? Use it to make you a better person? Use it to figure out how you don’t want to act and who you don’t want to be? In addition to learning about yourself, you can also use it to figure out who your true friends are and the different types of people out there in the world. Trust me, the person who hurts you in high school is the same person (figuratively) who is going to hurt you later in life too. Figuring out how to avoid or lessen your exposure to toxic people like this while you’re in high school can save you a world of hurt when you’re older.

So there you have it. The next time you’re hurt try to remember that you are being presented with an opportunity to grow and learn something about yourself, about people and about the world. What you do with it now is up to you.

But now you tell me – have you been hurt recently? How did you react? What did you learn from it? Share with me and help other teens to live happy!

Losing a Friend Sucks but Some Tips on How 2 Handle It

Last night I attended an event where I got to watch a teen I know (let’s call her BFF#1) interact with her “BFF” (let’s call her BFF#2) of several years. I put “BFF” in quotes because it’s clear (at least to us adults who have lived through this) that this friendship is likely doomed. I suspect, sadly, that it’s mostly because of a boy but there might be other issues which I’ll also explain.

You see, BFF#2 has her first boyfriend and it’s starting to impact the amount of time she spends and gives to BFF #2. You’ve seen this happen before right? Maybe it’s even happened to you? You have a great friend, you’re closer than sisters, you spend all your time together and then WHAM! Your BFF becomes someone you barely know overnight as she becomes completely consumed with a boy. It’s sad when this happens (and sadly, it happens even as you get older) but it’s a learning experience for sure. You may never experience this during your teens or you may experience it several times but here’s some advice on how to handle it.

1. First, try to be understanding. I know, I know. This sounds like completely bizarre advice for the person who is obviously hurting you. But, it’s really easy to just get mad or sad or upset that your BFF has flown the coop and it’s also very easy to say “I would never do that to my friend!” but maybe you would! Your first boyfriend is a big deal and you too may find yourself completely consumed with a boy at some point. So, try to understand why she’s acting this way and put yourself in her shoes for a moment. I’m not condoning how she’s acting but it’s really easy to say you would never do something when you actually might if you were in the same situation (at least for a little while and perhaps unintentionally). The biggest reason to be understanding, however, is not because I want you to accept what she’s doing as ok but because you shouldn’t build up hate or anger towards someone. It’s easier to shrug your shoulders and say, “I don’t like it and I hope I wouldn’t do it but I guess I get it and I can get over it.”

2. Ok, once you have tried to understand why she’s acting this way it’s time to actually talk to her about it. These conversations are never comfortable but she may not even realize she’s doing it or if she does, she may just think that you’re so happy for her that you must obviously understand why her time is now occupied with someone else (yeah trust me, people can act pretty dumb when it comes to boys). You could start the conversation out by just telling her you miss her and that you’d like to spend more time together. That might be enough of a clue for her (unless she’s completely clueless) that you’re reaching out. You could say something like “Hey, how about we go shopping on Sunday afternoon just the two of us. I really miss you.” If that doesn’t seem to work you could try being really honest and tell her that you’re hurt. If she really is a good friend she shouldn’t want to see you hurt and might try harder to find balance. If she doesn’t come around, well, that’s information for you to process too.

3. Ok, this is a hard one but sometimes people just aren’t what they seem and/or people change and you just need to accept this. The BFF you thought you knew better than yourself may be changing. She may not share the same interests as you anymore. She may have stuff going on at home that is making her pull away. She may, and trust me this one happens ALL THE TIME, be jealous of you and it makes it hard for her to be your friend. I’ve seen jealousy impact a lot of friendships (my own included) and it is a really powerful negative force. You would hope that BFFs would just be happy and support one another regardless and with a true friend, this will (hopefully) be the case. The reality is that jealousy often gets in the way. Again, I’m not saying it’s right but it happens. When someone changes or jealousy tears you apart there isn’t too much you can do but learn from the experience.

Does any of this help? The most important thing to remember about these kinds of experiences is that it has nothing to do with you. I know that sounds weird but you really didn’t do anything wrong (unless you did in which case you need to own that) and your friend is just struggling with her own fears, inadequacies, feelings and needs. Yes it obviously impacts you but really, and I mean this, it has nothing to do with you. This is a super super super important lesson to learn about life and people. In fact, I wrote an article for parents about it that you can read here if you’re interested. You can’t take anything personally in life because it’s not about you. It’s someone else just dealing with their own stuff and taking it out on you. Trust me on this. It’s hard to practice but if you can learn it and accept it now in your teens, you will be an amazingly well-balanced and lovely adult. I promise.

I hope this helps a little. Losing a friend is a gut wrenching experience and it’s ok to feel upset about it. But, as with all painful experiences in life, it will help you grow. It gives you an opportunity to figure out what kind of friend you want to be to others and what kind of friends you want to attract in your life. I hate watching it happen to the teen I know but I know she will find her own way and be stronger for it. I know you will be the same.

Want to talk about a similar experience? How did you handle it or how did you not handle it?! Comment here and I promise I’ll try to help!

Want 2 Live Happy? Be Willing 2 Lose Control

Throughout your life you will discover that many of life’s painful moments end up being the ones that teach you the most. My parents are in their 80s and both have serious health issues so every day is filled with stress, sadness and the very strong desire to be in control of the situation because I can obviously fix everything and make it right, right? Ah, that’s the thing. I’m learning that I can’t make it right. I’m also (slowly and painfully) learning that I can’t control the situation. I can’t make my mom rest. I can’t make them get the help they so desperately need. I can’t make them move to a place that would be safer and more comfortable for them. I obviously have all the answers! Why don’t they seet his? If only the world would listen to me, it would be a better place.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Throughout out lives and even throughout the day, we are constantly examining other peoples’ behaviors and actions and coming up, in our oh-so-perfect minds, with better ways of doing things. If only he would drive faster. If only she would study more. If only she would break up with him. If only he would eat healthier. If only she would listen to better music. If only, if only, if only, if only the world would listen to me, it would be a better place!

Here’s the thing. If you really want to live happy, you need to give up trying to control or wishing you could control the decisions, behaviors, choices and actions of others. Sometimes you might actually be right and that person’s life would improve if only they would stop drinking 6 sodas a day but you can’t change them and, in order to be happy, you need to stop trying.

Focus on you. Focus on your own happiness. Focus on what you can control. Focus on your own behaviors. Focus on living your own best life. I promise if you do this, you will be happy and, you never know, by setting a positive example for others, you may just end up changing some of those things you’d like to change!

4 Ways 4 Teens 2 B.E.A.T. Stress

I see how stressed out my teen daughter and her friends are about school and their crazy and intense schedules (up too early, to bed too late, too many activities, too many responsibilities….sound familiar?) Basically, stress if going to be a part of your life unless you decide to manage it.  Lucky for you, there are a few easy things you can do every day to help you manage this stress. I’ve made it really simple for you. Just remember the letters B – E – A – T. These are four easy ways to BEAT stress.

1. Breathe.

When you’re stressed, whether you realize it or not, you start to breathe more shallowly. You deny your body of oxygen and getting more oxygen via a few deep breaths is one of the easiest things you can do to calm yourself down. This doesn’t have to be complicated but there are a few different techniques out there. One of my favorites, and one that helps me to fall asleep really quickly, is called the 4-7-8 technique. Basically you just breath in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of 7 and then exhale for a count of 8. It might feel weird at first but it works. If you want to do something simpler just count your breath. Breath in and count to one, breathe out and count to two. Breath in and count to three, breath out and count to four. Now start over. Honestly, do whatever feels comfortable for you but just breathe.

2. Eat Right.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Eat right. Don’t drink sugary soda. Avoid fast food. Blah blah blah. I know you’ve been told to eat your veggies since you’ve been little but what you eat can really impact how you feel. Our instincts when we’re stressed are to eat comforting and fattening junk food but eating healthy makes you feel better inside which makes you feel better outside and so when you eat right, you feel right. I’m not saying you need to give up your comfort foods completely but don’t drown your stress in food. It will just make you feel worse.

3. Accomplish Small Tasks.

As a life coach I worked with graduate students who were trying to write their dissertations for their PhDs. They would come to me with huge lists of what they wanted to accomplish each day. “Write for 2 hours!” or “Finish one book each day” and I have to tell you, this is just crazy and reaaaaally adds to your stress. If you are going to learn one study/work habit make it this one – break everything down into small tasks. Got a paper to write? Write down a list of all the things you have to do to get it done: 1) Research the author and find 5 articles about her, 2) Write one paragraph on the author’s childhood, 3) Outline the last paragraph of the paper, etc. Sure you already sort of know all of the steps but writing them down into reasonable chunks and then checking them off when you do them is a huge stress reliever. You get to see everything you have to do and then get to see your progress. Again, sounds simple but do it consistently and you will see how much less stressful school tasks can be.

4. Take Time 4 Yourself

I’m not going to tell you to stop watching videos of puppies and delete your social media accounts to relieve stress because that would be, well….stressful! In order to manage your life you need to take time for yourself and do the things you enjoy. But here’s the thing, you can plan for these things to make them seem like more of a part of your life instead of constant distractions. When you get home from school tell yourself that you’re going to take 30 minutes just to do whatever you want to do. It can be watching TV, texting your friends, going outside, sitting and staring blankly at a wall…whatever makes you happy and relaxed. Do it and enjoy it without guilt. But when those 30 minutes are up, get back to whatever you need to do until your next break. I know time management can sound like it might be stressful but it’s really just being organized and managing your precious free time smartly. You’ll see that you actually do have time for everything and may even find that you have time leftover to do ever more of what you love. Trust me, it works.

So there you have it. Four easy things to do to BEAT stress. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. You tell me what you do to manage your stress. Share it with other teens and share it with me! We all lead crazy stressed out lives but by being aware of yourself and your time and body and energy you can go a long way to managing stress, as a teen and forever.

Did U Know U Can Choose 2 B Happy?

You can be happy right here, not tomorrow, not in ten minutes, but now. You can be happy right now. Byron Katie

It feels good to be unhappy sometimes doesn’t it? Oh go ahead and admit it. Once you start sliding into your funk for the day there is a perverse pleasure in being angry, annoyed, pissed, irritated and surly with everyone and everything. Your parents are irritating. Your classmates are annoying. Your teachers…don’t even get me started about the teachers. Even your best friend is getting on your nerves. All you want to do is just sit and listen to sad music on your ipod and wallow in misery. Then something happens and all of a sudden, you forget why you were so blue and start moving through life once again.

Much like you choose to wallow in misery you can actually choose to be happy too. For some reason it seems harder to be happy than sad but with practice, you actually can jolly yourself out of a mood and make the conscious decision to be happy immediately. And I mean immediately. You don’t need to wait for things to help with your mood. You can just choose to be happy. You can start to see good things around you. You can see that your best friend is a good, that your parents just care, that your teacher is trying to help you grow and spread your wings and that your classmates are just struggling with the day just like you are.

See how easy it is to put things in perspective? What’s happy is making the mental decision to change the way you choose to dwell in this world but it just takes practice. So why not start now? Right now! Why not give up whatever crappy mood you’re in at the moment and choose to be happy. Smile at someone. Smile at yourself. Actively choose to not be moody.

Choose Happy. It might just make others around you happy too and wouldn’t that be nice?

Why There is No Such Thing as a Fail

You study really hard but you get a C on your test.

You train really hard but you still don’t come in first.

You prepare yourself for days to have a conversation with your crush and they walk away and laugh.

It’s easy to look at all of these things as fails right? You tried but then you didn’t achieve your goal (in either a mild or really embarrassing way) and it’s a major fail.

I’d like to erase the word failure from your vocabulary because life isn’t always about the achievement – it’s mostly about the attempt. When you attempt something you plan, you scheme, you train, you study, you try, you stretch, you challenge yourself, you take giant leaps of faith and sometimes, yes sometimes, you don’t accomplish what you set out to do. But my have you learned a lot along the way!

Rather than walking away in disgust and thinking that you failed or, even worse, that you’re a failure, it’s really better to just look at it as another one of life’s experiences. By trying and not succeeding, you learn something about yourself. You regroup. You reassess. You may even find that your goal wasn’t the right one and that when you change directions, everything comes easier. I’ve had plenty experiences in my life, from relationships gone bad to jobs that weren’t a good fit, that I could easily look at as failures. Instead, I realize that without these “fails” I wouldn’t be who I am today and I might have actually missed out on who I am supposed to become if it had not been for those “fails.” You have similar experiences in your past right? Think back to things you tried that didn’t work out. Did they change or redirect you in some way? Did you learn something from them? See! It’s not a failure – it’s just a different experience!

So the next time you try to achieve something and it doesn’t happen please promise me that you’ll try to change the way you think about what happened and not immediately jump to the word failure. In fact, I’d really like you to just erase the word failure from your dictionary ok? Ok.

Wake Up 2 Who U R

“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” ~Alan Watts

Who are you? If you ask yourself “Who am I” what’s the real answer? What are you really telling yourself? Do you imagine yourself as someone who is happy, confident, loving and someone who achieves their goals or do you imagine yourself as someone who just sort of gets by, that life is good enough, or perhaps something even more negative?

We tell ourselves stories all the time about who we are but these are just that, stories. They are images of who we think we should be or, worse yet, who we want to be for others. We eat, breathe and live these stories until we believe them. We become a piece of fiction, one we’ve authored or one that’s been authored for us.

You need to let go of these stories to become the real you. It’s scary, don’t get me wrong. I say this as if it’s easy to just say, “Oh, I don’t really want to be that way. I think I’ll let my True Self come out today.” Sorry, it’s not that easy. But can you imagine what might happen if you really let your heart and spirit speak? What does that little flame of you flickering deep down inside look like? What would happen if you gave it some oxygen to let it burn brightly? What would happen if you let go of that imaginary you and woke up to the real you? I get excited just thinking about it.

I see the amazing potential in you. I see you struggling with what others want you to be and who you want to be for them. I see you quickly snatching up the real you when it tries to sneak out lest someone discover who you really are. I see you dousing the flame of your True Self every day just to fit in and get by.

It’s ok to let go. Slowly and surely start to open your eyes. Day by day let little pieces of yourself start to emerge. Realize that it’s ok to be you. The real you.

It’s time to wake up.

The Hidden SuperPower that Protects U from Just About Everything

Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us. – Stephen Covey

Did know you have a superpower? Did you know that this power is with you all the time and that you can whip it out like a giant cape or shield to protect yourself from people and situations that could hurt you? Well, I’m here to tell you that you do and it’s time for you to understand what this power means to you and how/when to use it. Lucky for you, there’s no better time to start honing this power than in your teens.

As a teen you have surely realized that you have people and situations coming at you every which way from the moment you open your eyes to the time you crawl into bed. From peer pressure to parents to friends to social media to commercials and advertising, there is a constant onslaught of people and things not only vying for your attention but also trying to influence who you are, how you think, how you look and how you feel about yourself.

Sometimes this can be positive (like a compliment from a friend) but it can also be really negative (like a snarky comment from a friend that leaves you reeling) but there’s good news in all of this. Thankfully you have the power to decide how you are going to let these things affect you. Yup, it’s time to whip out that magical protective cape.

You see, it turns out that you are actually the one who chooses to sit and obsess about things or to let things roll right off your back. You are actually in control of you and that is a powerful thing! What’s equally powerful though are all the negative and positive things out there in the world so you need to actively choose to be in charge of your emotions, feelings and how you react to things and what you let in or what you shut out. You need to remember that you have this power and remember to use it. I’m not saying it’s easy. It takes practice but, like any good superpower, you need to figure out how to use it.

For example, the next time someone says something to you that’s upsetting or hurtful pay attention to how you react. Do you become fixated on what they said? Do you replay it over and over in your head? Do you endlessly analyze it and discuss it with your friends again and again? I get that sometimes it’s hard to not do this when we’re really hurt but you can actually choose to turn it all off.

Just take a deep breath. Now take two or three more. Slow down and quiet the chatter in your mind. Take a moment to realize that their words are just words and that you, yes you, are actually in control of your mind. You get to choose and control how you react to everything in life and I’m not going to lie, it takes time and practice to learn how to do it. But you can do it. You just have to start doing it and keep doing it. I’m also here to tell you that learning this power in your teens will give you a huuuuuge advantage later in life (when the same people you know in your teens will still be the same people trying to hurt you as adults, I’m sad to say).

So the next time you find yourself getting upset about something take a quick moment and remember that you have the power and freedom to take charge and move past it. You choose to let it in or turn it out. Basically, you have a hidden superpower so why not use it to protect yourself?!

Now you tell me. How do you deal with tough situations or events that really get you down. How do you move past it? How do you take control? How do you use your power and freedom? Show me your superpowers!