This week I had the pleasure to be the keynote speaker for the Empower
Her event in the school district. Empower Her is an event put on by a group of fabulous female leaders who work in the school district, each year they strive to put on a day for young women in Grades 7, 8 and 9 from across the district. This year it was wonderful to see the number of community members who came to support the event by leading breakout sessions on yoga, painting, health and nutrition and card making.
Below are the words I shared with the young women who attended Empower Her.
I would like to start by sharing a quote that is incredibly meaningful to me in my work and personal life. Alice Walker said “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
Each of you is filled with an incredible power, a power that allows you to shape your present and define your future. All too often as women we face challenges or obstacles that attempt to limit or take away our power such as:
• Unrealistic images of what is defined as beautiful
• Stereotypes of what it means to be 13, 16, 20, 30, 40 and 50 year old woman
• A glass ceiling that too often keeps women from achieving their goals in the workplace
The theme of today is mind, body, soul and spirit, each of which make-up the woman you are and gives you your power. The power to define who you are today and the life you want to live.
For the majority of my teenage years I was consumed by what I was not – I was not tall, I was not thin and I was not overly popular. All of this negativity took me away from recognizing who and what I was – intelligent, ambitious, stubborn and opinionated. Traits and qualities that are not always positive but they are who I am, and I no longer deny that, in fact I respect those qualities and they have brought me to where I am today.
It was when I accepted who I was and began to feel comfortable in my own skin that I was able to see the life I wanted for myself and felt the power to do my best to create that life. With this comfort I was not detracted when I was told that I was too young to be a school principal or a later a Superintendent – comments that I am confident would not have be said to a man.
But the last thing I want to leave you with today is that far too often we as women taken power away from other women through negativity, gossip and jealousy and too many times we limit the power of ourselves and the women around us by participating in these behaviors. As women we need to support each other in life rather than working to bring each other down.
To each of you I celebrate that you are strong, that you are smart and that you are beautiful.
Please note that Gold Trail also strives to support young men in the district with an event called Turning Masculinity Inside Out.