Posts for girls leadership

Grateful to be Honored as a BlogHer Voice of the Year

Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - July 29, 2016

As an adolescent, I used to win awards for playing softball. After practicing at all hours with my team, traveling to tournaments across the county, wrapping up minor injuries and playing right through them…every once & awhile, we’d bring home the big trophy. State champions. And that moment when someone in our matching uniform would cross home plate for the win, we’d all rush to her, ponytails flying, tears streaming and yes, dumping water all over our coach. Winning is awesome.

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When I got notice that my piece, “If I Took Care of Myself Like I Take Care of My Daughter” was being honored at BlogHER16 as one of the few Voices of the Year, I was tempted to scream and cry and dump water on someone. That’s how excited I am to to show up and be a learner alongside thousands of women entrepreneurs and media makers.

In the face of so much injustice, tragedy and violence in our country, I get to go and learn more about how to be a contributing voice for what matters most to me. Raising a Go Girl is my platform to advocate for alternative families, celebrate self care for parents and practice being the Go Girl I want my daughter to see.  As I’m learning to take up space and find my voice, I get to go to L.A. next weekend for the biggest conference of the year and be with women who are doing it best. How do they take centerstage in their own lives? How do they create content that serves a bigger purpose?  How do they write their personal stories in ways that are of service to the wider community?

I can’t wait to find out…

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Can my daughter learn connection through competition?

Girl Power, Learning, Parenting, Play Time, Pop Culture - Lynn Johnson - June 17, 2015

The other morning at breakfast, the Squirrel noticed that she and I both had the same amount of orange juice left in our glasses.  “Let’s race to see who can finish first!,” she screamed.  “Ugh,” I responded.  I just wanted to enjoy my orange juice.

This ordinary breakfast moment made me wonder/panic, “What will be my daughter’s relationship to competition?”  And this morning, in the wake of my town’s fervor over the victory of the Golden State Warriors, I feel the need to explore the concept of competition a bit further.

My competition-panic comes from the fact that I have always been a bit competition-phobic.  My grandfather, who was an Olympic-class runner in his youth, used to tell a story about me that I absolutely love.  One summer while I was visiting my grandmother and him in their home in Evanston, IL, he entered me in a little kids’ race in connection with a 4th of July festival.  I was around 5 and was running the race with other 5 year olds.  How cute is that?

According to my grandfather, I was fast.  I took off with an early lead and kept that lead for a long time.  Until, I noticed that I was in the lead.  I noticed I was no longer with all of the other kids.  So, I stopped.  I was waiting for them to catch up.

I love this story because I feel like it so beautifully depicts my values of community, connection, and equity.  I have committed my adult life to examining and promoting how to bring people together; how those left behind can catch up.

At the same time, as a girl advocate, the story troubles me.  Why couldn’t I take my place out ahead?  Why was I uncomfortable leading the group?

One thing I noticed while witnessing the aftermath of last night’s championship game was the massive amount of community and connection that was created by the Warriors’ win.  Right at the final buzzer, I ran outside my door just because I was curious what folks would do to celebrate.  I heard yelps and hollers and car horns and gun shots and firecrackers and general jubilation.  There was even someone on my street playing a horn of some kind.  Not well, but with the sheer joy of someone welcoming home an old friend they hadn’t seen in 40 years.

curry and jamesI was inspired and pumped up by how this simple competitive sport was connecting me to my neighbors.  I thought about how connected the players felt to each other – not just the victorious Warriors but also the defeated Cavaliers – how taking on a task as mighty as an NBA championship can bond you to each other, win or lose.  I meditated on the connections that can even be built between competitors in that moment when LeBron James congratulated Stephen Curry at the end of the game.  It made me realize that, when people are courageous enough to take their place out ahead of the group, they put themselves in the position of not just winning a game, but winning the respect and admiration of others who recognize their efforts and celebrate their hard work.

This is what I want for my daughter.  It’s what I want for myself.  It’s want I want for all women and girls.  As I wonder/panic about how my daughter yields her own power in the world, I want us all to be able to access real competition in healthy and dynamic ways.  My wish is that we can work hard, take our rightful place out ahead when appropriate, and celebrate the wins of others when defeated.  I want my daughter to be known as both a fierce competitor and a compassionate community leader; always looking for ways to use her power to help others who have been left behind.

And I also want her to let me enjoy my orange juice.

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“This is Hard!”: A Go Girls! Moment

Foster/Adoption, Girl Power, Learning, Parenting - Lynn Johnson - May 7, 2015

It’s okay to try something hard.

This is a phrase you will often hear around Go Girls! Camp in response to “This is hard!,” especially when said in that slightly high pitched, complain-y way with a touch of whine.  “This is haaard!!!”

You have likely heard this said before.  I heard it the other day when Allison and I decided that we would walk the dogs around the block while the Squirrel rode her bike.

When you come out of our house and turn right, there is a slight incline to our street.  The Squirrel was struggling with this incline on this particular day.  She had navigated this route before but, for whatever reason, she had decided that, on this day, “This is haaard!!!”

“It’s okay to try something hard,”  I say.

When faced with a challenge, humans who lack or are not able to access their advance level coping skills go into the fight, flight, or freeze mode.  9 times out of 10, our Squirrel freezes.  Upon hearing my “It’s okay to try something hard,” she stopped riding her bike in the middle of the sidewalk, dropped her head as low as it would go, crossed her arms, and pouted.  I tried coaching her to jump off her bike and push a while.  I encouraged her to ask for help.  I even tried to give her a little push to get her started again.  Nothing.  Just like Queen Elsa, she was completely frozen.  After a few attempts to start again, I ultimately wound up taking her back home while Allison gave the dogs their much needed walk.

“It’s okay to try something hard” is such an essential part of Go Girls! culture that, if you were to ask a camper, “What makes you a Go Girl!?,” you would likely hear “I try my best even when it’s hard.”  This past weekend, Allison and I ran our annual Go Girls! Leadership Team (GGLT) retreat for the middle school girls who work as counselors-in-training at our camps over the summer.  Our opening ritual was that each of us brought and shared a photo of a “Go Girls! Moment” with the rest of the circle.  Pretty much each of the 18 girls shared pics and stories about overcoming some kind of challenge; paddleboarding for the first time; jumping from a tall cliff into a waterfall below; giving a speech; winning a sports competition.  I was so proud of these girls in the this moment, and throughout the weekend, as they continued to say yes to new people and new experiences and build their identity as someone who is ready and willing to accept anything that comes her way.

Our Go Girls Moments

GGLT’s Go Girls! Moments

I thought about how annoyed I had been at my own daughter’s  “This is haaard!!!” and unwillingness to keep going up that hill.  I thought, “I can’t wait until she gets to camp and can spend time with older girls like these.  I need their Go Girls!-ness to rub off on her.”

Then, I thought about it again.  Okay, the Squirrel didn’t continue up that hill on that particular Tuesday afternoon.  But, what about all of the other hills that she has said yes to throughout her life?  Sure, jumping off a cliff is hard.  But so is leaving behind everyone you have ever known to take on a brand new life in a brand new city.  Our Squirrel has never given a speech in front of her classmates, but she has, in just the last 7 months, dared to say yes to new mommies, new dogs, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, a whole new wardrobe, set of toys, and a brand new community of people.  Every day, she learns words she has never heard before, tastes food she has never tasted before, dances to songs she has never heard before.  Every day, she makes the choice to take one more giant step into this new life that has been thrust upon her.  I don’t know about you, but I would say “This is haaard!!!”

I am excited that the Squirrel will be coming to camp this summer and will be inspired by our amazing GGLT.  I do think that these older girls will have a lot to teach her about being a Go Girl!.  I do hope the experience will help reduce the amount of times she freezes in challenging situations.  However, I also imagine that she won’t just be the student.  I imagine that our Squirrel will have a bit to teach us all about what it really means to try hard things.  I imagine that we will all grow from her example.

What about you?  What’s a time that you are your daughter have faced a challenge and said yes to try hard things?  I’d love for you to share your #GoGirlsMoment with us.

And check out more highlights from our GGLT Retreat…

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