The Secret Handbook 4 Teens

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!


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.

Sunshine Blogger Award!

A huge thank you to Tiffany for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I hope I bring a little sunshine (and helpful advice) to all of you every day!

The rules:

  1. Thank the people/person who nominated you. (Thank you Tiffany from Rants About My Daily Life for nominating me!)
  2. Answer the questions from your nominators.
  3. Nominate eleven other bloggers and give them eleven questions.

Here are my questions:

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, and find line 4

“For the two Georges, getting into Yale was less a seal of approval and…” This is from the book Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni. It’s talking about how many students who attend Ivy League universities are “legacy students” i.e., they get into these schools because a family member went there. Turns out it’s easier to get in to these elite schools if you have a family legacy there which doesn’t seem fair does it? It’s all about the almighty dollar. This is a great book for those of you who are feeling stressed about college and the name of the college you attend. Go to the school where you know you will do the best and if you work hard, dream big and figure out who you are and where you want to go, you can achieve your dreams even if you don’t go to Harvard.

2. Who was the last person you texted and what did it say?

I texted my sister last night about getting some in home care for my father who is dying. Not very pleasant but life is filled with these moments. They make us grow, even when they are this painful.

3. What was the last dream you remembered?

The last dream I remember was a gathering of lots of deceased relatives who were all sitting around singing an old Polish song. I think with my Dad nearing the end of his life I’ve been thinking about those who have passed on but it was a happy dream and I woke up smiling so it’s all good.

4. What quote do you live by? Why?

This is a hard one because there are SO many great quotes about there! I think my current favorite, however, is by Julian of Norwich who was a Christian mystic. The quote is: “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” It always gives me perspective on life and an opportunity to take a deep breath and remember that ultimately, all will be well.

5. Can you whistle?

Yes I can whistle but my daughter can’t and it’s pretty funny

6. Cultural food or American food?

Um, all food. Especially if it involves cheese!

7. Have you read the Harry Potter series?

Yup but I don’t love the movies.

8. Do you make wishes at 11:11?

Of course! It can’t hurt right?

9. What are you reading now?

I’m usually reading two or three books at the same time but I’m currently engrossed in the Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It’s about the German occupation of France and two sisters who have to deal with the Nazi’s who have moved into their small French village. I’m not too far into it but I can tell it’s already going to provide some interesting insights to humanity and the choices we make. I’m not sure I would be as brave and daring as one of the sisters but I’d like to think I would.

10. Can you walk in heels?

I can walk in heels but I usually choose not to wear them because I move around so much at work and because the floors are so slippery. Actually, I think I just move through life pretty quickly and heels slow me down!

11.Who makes you happy?

So many things make me happy but I am really blessed to say that my husband makes me incredibly happy. He is always there for me and treats me like a princess. He is my rock and my best friend and I don’t know what I would do without him.

Ok so now I’m supposed to nominate 11 other bloggers for this award but I have tons of work to do so I’m just going to pick a few! Looking forward to reading everyone’s answers and don’t forget, you can always bring a little sunshine into someone’s life with a simple smile or a kind word. Who are you going to shine on today?

I nominate the following bloggers and recommend you check out their sites. Lots of thoughtful and very real feelings and emotions!

1. Hannahsbliss

2. Story of my Life

3. Socially Confused Girl

4. Every Word You Say

5. Just Elm

Here are your questions:

1. What is the hardest thing about being a teen?

2. Do you know how to meditate?

3. What do you do to relieve stress?

4. Do you believe people when they say you can achieve your dreams or do you think it’s BS?

5. Apple or Android?

6. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

7. If you had 1 hour in mall where you could pick out anything you wanted, no matter what the price, what would you buy?

8. Chocolate or vanilla?

9. What scares you?

10. What song are you currently obsessed with?

11. If you could choose a superpower what would it be and why?

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?

Help Me Help You!

Hi guys! I could use some help and I could use it from you!

You see, I write this blog to help teens live happy lives. I try to provide tips, tricks, advice & thoughts (I don’t confess to have all the answers) to some big questions like, “Who am I, Why am I Here, and What is Life all About Anyway?”. What’s most important to me though is providing content that’s most important to you. How can I help? What can I write about that will help you get through these teen years with grace, style and happiness? What questions can I answer? I’m not a therapist by any means (but I am a life coach) and I’m here to provide some guidance and honest answers just for you!

If you’d rather not post here you can DM me on twitter (@handbook4teens).

Your teen years really can be your best years and with a little help and guidance from the Secret Handbook, they can be even better.

Hugs to you!

A Poem 2 Make U Think: Sweet Darkness

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

 — David Whyte


I love the last three lines. They really make you think don’t they? What or who in your life doesn’t bring you alive? If they don’t bring you alive, what is their role? Why do you cling to them? Do you have someone like this in your life? Let’s discuss!

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!

Want 2 Feel Happy? Stop & Help a Turtle (or something like that)

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can make you feel happy and it’s important to let that happiness bubble up in you and savor it for awhile. My little moment of happiness today was when I saw a turtle struggling to get up a curb after crossing the street. I pulled over to the side of the road (the opposite side of the road that I was supposed to be driving on actually) and a postal truck came rumbling around the corner and immediately beeped and the driver threw up his hands as I got out of the car. I held up my finger in a “Please wait one minute!” gesture and picked up the little turtle, put him on the grass and he toddled off on his merry way. The postal driver was now laughing and waving after he realized what I was doing and we both drove away smiling.

If it felt that good to help a turtle imagine how good it would feel to help one of your fellow human beings. What can you do to help someone today? It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Maybe you can clean up your room or do the dishes or take a minute to chat with your parents or a family member (because believe it or not they actually do like to talk to you!) Happiness truly comes from helping others and when you can make it a habit, you will see how much happier you can be in life.

Don’t believe me? Go on, dare yourself to be happy and help someone out today (or if you can, at least help a turtle). 🙂

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!

U R What U Think So Why Not Think Yourself into a Ferrari?

The mind is everything. What you think you become. – Buddha

Every moment of every day you are thinking your way into your own reality. If you think things are going to turn out badly they probably will. If you think the world is your playground and that it will rise up to meet you in greatness, it probably will. So why are you wasting your time and energy thinking negative thoughts?

You are what you think. Or, as Buddha said it, what you think you become. I’m not suggesting that you can think your way into owning a Ferrari. No, you actually have to do the work to make the money to buy your dream car but if that really is your goal and you don’t let negative thoughts get in the way like “Oh, you’ll never own a nice car because you’ll never be successful.” then yeah, you probably will trade in that old clunker for a sporty Italian sports car.

A car is a simple and silly example of the power of your thoughts but I offer it just to help you understand that everything – literally everything and anything – is possible if you stay positive and keep your mind focused on it. Let me be clear though. This isn’t some magic power that you can just cross your fingers and wish your way into your reality but, with a positive outlook and hard work (did I mention the hard work – it’s sorta critical in all of this), you can live the life of your dreams AND live happy.

Isn’t it time to stop thinking so negatively? What thoughts are you caught up in? What dreams do you want to achieve? How have you become your own worst enemy? How can I help you live happy?

Afraid of Change? Here R Five Ways 4 Teens 2 Deal With It

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. -Einstein

If you don’t do well with change you likely aren’t going to do well with being a teenager. It sounds harsh I know but change is pretty much the only thing we can be certain of in life and your teen years are chock full of it. Everything changes when you are a teen. Your body changes, your mind changes (sometimes several times a minute it seems), your friends change, your interests change, your viewpoints change and it definitely seems like your parents change their minds all the time (though at some times they likely won’t budge and you wish they would change their minds!).

Here’s what I want you to remember though when you are struggling with some kind of change in your life.

Change is good. I promise, it really is.

Here’s a few tips to help you deal with changes when they pop up.

1. Take a deep breath, step back and really look at what’s happening. It might not be as bad as you think.

2. Try to look at change as an opportunity rather than a challenge. How you view change impacts how you deal with it.

3. Say yes instead of no. Fighting change might not work but being open to a new path can be invigorating & exciting.

4. Stay in the present moment. Change feels scary so we immediately start trying to predict what the future is going to look like. Why? The only future you can imagine is based on your past experiences and that might not be the best predictor of the future.

5. Realize, like Einstein did (and he was a really smart guy) that how you deal with change is a reflection of your intelligence. Smart people deal with change well so why not be smart about it? Sticking your head in the sand isn’t going to work so suck it up and face change with confidence, calm and peace. You got this.

Now you tell me. How do you deal with change? What are some big changes you’ve gone through during your teen years that seemed monumental and life changing? How did you deal with it? How can I help you live happy (yes, even when change is in the air!)

A New Tool 2 Help U B Grateful

If you read this blog at all you know that I’m passionate about practicing gratefulness as a way to be happy. I’ve always liked the website but they launched a new site and I highly recommend that you check it out. There are lots of tools, links, resources and even a place to start a private online journal where you can record your gratefulness journey. As I’ve discussed before in this space, I have a gratitude journal that I write in every night. I list three things I’m grateful for that day and I’ve been doing it for about two years. I have to say, now that I look back on it, I really do think that it’s helped me to be a more positive person and to appreciate my life more. It’s hard to be cranky when you force yourself to sit down and take stock of three good things in your life or in life in general. Heck, sometimes I’m just grateful that I got through another day but that counts too! Check out the new site today and start 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!

Looking Back on the School Year: What Would U Do Differently?

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
Ok so maybe my quote doesn’t quite jive with the title of this post but bear with me. For the most part, I agree that we should try to not relive the past and shouldn’t spend all our time worrying about the future.  All that being said, I do think it’s important to look back on your school year and take inventory of what you did well and what you did…well, not so well. Life is a learning experience and it is through these experiences, good and bad, that we figure out who we are and who we want to be moving forward. So, look back on your school year and think about it for a minute. What happened that you didn’t like? What would you change? Would you study harder? Would you try to not obsess about your grades so much? Would you try to have more fun? Would you spend more time with friends or family? Would you try out for a sport or join a club? Would you learn to ignore the nasty comments/posts/looks from people who aren’t your friends and don’t even pretend to try? Would you try to make a new friend? Would you not have chosen a friend?
Once you’ve looked back, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to take a deep breath, be ok with the decisions you did make and vow to spend your next school year being more authentically YOU. Whether you would do things differently or whether you would do everything exactly the same, as long as you are trying to be you, you won’t fail.
But now you tell me – what would you do differently? What would you not change? What advice would you give to someone just starting high school? What would you do to more authentically you?

Dream Big But Act Now


“If you have a great idea, act on it now.” Max Levchin, founder of Paypal, Yelp & Innovator Extraordinaire

Do you know who Max Levchin is? I have to be honest, I didn’t know who he was until I saw him on CBS This Morning recently discussing his new loan business that’s likely to revolutionize banking (much like  his idea for Paypal which revolutionized the way we pay for things online.) Clearly he’s a smart and cool guy with a lot of amazing ideas but the one thing he said that really struck me was that young people need to pursue their good ideas now. In other words, don’t wait until you finish your education to pursue a dream – do it now!

History is ripe with examples of people who put aside what they are “supposed to be doing” to do, what they know deep inside, they need to be doing. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are two perfect examples of people who dared to dream big and changed the way we compute and stay connected via social media. I’m not suggesting you should or have to drop out of Harvard (or any school) in order to be successful but I am suggesting that sometimes big dreams require big leaps of faith and big actions.

Here’s the thing, yes you may only be a teen and yes, you may not quite have all the tools you need at your fingertips but that shouldn’t stop you from acting on a great idea. For example, with online crowdfunding opportunities, you actually could sketch out your idea and proposal and raise the funds to make a go of it. Look at student Jeff Powell who created a prosthetic hand with a 3D printer for a little boy who needed one.  Or 13 year-old Shubam Banerjee who made an inexpensive braille printer using Legos and a robotics kit. I bet they never said, “I have a good idea but I’d better wait until I’m in my 40s to pursue it.”

Your age is not a roadblock to your success. In fact, because you’re young and energetic and have your finger on the pulse of the latest ideas and technology, you are the perfect age to ignite change in this world!

So stop sitting around and waiting until you get older. By then, someone else could come along and steal your big idea.

Dream big but act now.

Got Passion? You’ll Need It 2 Achieve Your Dreams

katy perry

Want to go to Mars? Or be a race car driver? The scientist who cures cancer? The next big fashion designer? World’s best cupcake maker? World’s best cupcake eater? No matter what your dream is, I’m here to tell you straight up that if you don’t have passion, it ain’t gonna happen.

Dreams are great things but, as I revealed in the 10th secret, there are some concrete things you need to possess or do in order to make them happen and passion is a key ingredient. It’s nice to fill your mind with lots of “what ifs” and “maybe somedays” but if these are just random thoughts  and not something you’re really truly passionate about, they really are nothing more than that –  nice random thoughts.

Think about some of the famous people you admire. I, for one, like Katy Perry. She is someone who never gave up on her dream of singing, even when things got really tough, and now encourages others to do the same. The one thing that kept her going through it all was her passion.  Let’s face it, it’s really easy to give up on a dream when the going gets tough but if you really really want it, if you are 100% passionate about it, you will not be able to give up on that dream.

Dreams require passion.

It’s not just famous people who use passion to fuel their dreams. Check out this story about Alyssa Carson, a teen from Louisiana who wants to go to Mars. She eats, breathes and sleeps this dream and I have no doubt that she will achieve it because of her passion. Surely you have examples of your own. Maybe you are a living example of how passion can fuel a dream. If so, tell me about it!

So, take some time and think about your dreams. Which are dreams you really want to achieve and which are just random thoughts that would be cool to achieve. Which dream really makes your heart rate increase? Which one makes your skin tingle? Which one keeps you up at night? That’s the one you have passion for. That’s the dream to focus on.



The 10th Secret 4 Teens: Time 2 Make Your Dreams Come True


“When you wish upon a star

Makes no difference who you are

Anything your heart desires will come to you…”

Surely you know this song from Walt Disney’s Pinocchio right? A bit misleading if you ask me. Wish upon a star and your dreams can come true? Ready for some adult style truth? Sadly, I’m here to tell you that it’s not that easy. You can’t just look into the sky at  night, close your eyes, make a wish and wait for it to come to you. That’s the bad news.

Ready for the good news?

The good news is that you absolutely can achieve every single one of your dreams.

But wait, it gets better! Ready for even better news?

The even better news is that there are actually steps you can follow to make your dreams come true.

That’s the 10th Secret 4 Teens: You Can Create the Life of Your Dreams by Following the Dream Steps

Let me be clear about something – you NEED to follow these steps, all of these steps, to achieve your dreams. You can’t pick and choose. You can’t decide that you’re different and that you don’t need to follow all of them. You do. But it’s worth it.

There are plenty of websites, books, videos and articles out there about how to achieve your dreams. As you review them, you’ll see a lot of the same words like desire, belief, faith, action, visualization, manifesting, etc. etc. etc. You will keep finding the same words and discussions because these actually are the right words and the concepts you need to learn. The thing is, many people give you this information in drips and drabs without ever laying it all out in a simple plan or map or process for you to follow. That’s why you end up with vanilla statements about “making your dreams come true with desire” or “if you believe it you can do it” which are all very nice and inspiring but do you really know what to do with these statements?

What I’m going to do is give you a list of all the steps you need to follow to create your dreams.  They do require things like desire, belief and faith and, perhaps most importantly, hard work and action but when followed and implemented according to a simple plan/blueprint, you end up with something amazing – the accomplishment of your dreams.

So here’s your homework for now. Go back and review the first 9 secrets. These are an important part of the plan. You need to do things like stop listening to your little voice, approach life from a place of love and practice things like gratitude and forgiveness. All these initial secrets I’ve shared are all critical components of achieving your dreams and you need to practice them every day to make the dream steps that much easier to learn and implement.

So get excited! You’re about to learn everything you need to know about achieving and living your dreams. You’re going to have to work at it and you won’t just be wishing on a star but your dreams will come true. I promise.




The 9th Secret 2 Living Happy: Practice Forgiveness (& the One BIG Reason U Need 2 Forgive & Forget)


Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive. – C.S. Lewis

What a great quote right? In theory, forgiveness sounds like it should be pretty easy to do and the reasons why we should do it are also pretty obvious. But, if you’ve ever been really hurt (and I know as teenagers you get hurt a lot), you know just how hard it is to let go of that hurt and actually forgive the person who hurt you.

Let’s look at what it means to forgive.

Forgiving means letting go of hurt, anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge. It does NOT mean that you’re condoning or pardoning someone for what they did. It simply means that you’re not going to let that act continue to hurt you over and over and over again. If nothing else, think about the power you’re giving the person who hurt you! You’re thinking about them every day. They’re always on your mind. They pop into your head when things are going well and make you feel crappy. Forgiving them actually takes away some of their power over you and that alone is a good enough reason to forgive them.

This leads me to the one big reason you need to practice forgiveness: Forgiveness gives you a fresh start and cuts the ties to the past. 

Not forgiving keeps you chained to the past and, as we all know, the past is over and the place to be is the present moment! When you actively go back to the past and re-live and re-experience painful moments over and over again YOU are the one choosing to go there.  You are the one actively choosing to go back into the past and peel off the scab. Believe me, you are not gaining anything by peeling off that nasty scab. All you’re doing is opening up the wound again and again which slows your healing and, duh, it hurts! By practicing forgiveness, you allow yourself to start fresh and live in the present moment. You tear down the wall in your heart and open yourself up to a new and happy present and future.

As usual, Oprah says it best:

“Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be changed.” 

So who have you not forgiven? What hurts are you hanging on to? How would it feel to let that pain go? Who can you forgive today?

Practice forgiveness and you may just realize that the person being punished was you.


Teens + Cancer: Why “Knowing Yourself” Means Taking Care of Your Body as Well as Your Mind

summer girl 2


Scary word right? Might make you think about a family member or someone you know who survived cancer or who maybe even died from cancer.

Let’s dig a little deeper. How about this combination of words?

Cancer + Teenagers

Got your attention?

Let’s get even a little more specific:

Cancer + YOU

How does that make you feel? Nervous? Scared? Uncomfortable? Falsely courageous like “Oh that could never happen to me. I’m young and healthy and everyone knows teenagers don’t get cancer!”

Well, I’m here to tell you that teenagers do get cancer and an important part to knowing and loving yourself is to really know your body.  That means not sticking your head in the sand and ignoring a problem or brushing it off as nothing especially if deep down it seems like more than nothing.

Read more…