Black History Month by Kenikki Thompson age 11

February is recognized as Black History Month in the United States and Canada. During this month, people are encouraged to learn about African and African American history. Black History Month actually started out as a week. It was celebrated the second week in February because it was between the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. They were both important to Black communities at that time.  It was began so that people would not forget about African American culture and accomplishments.  Because of slavery and Blacks not being able to learn to read or write, a lot of the history was not written down.  What a lot of people knew was by memory and stories being handed down from generation to generation. 

In 1970, the week celebration officially became Black History Month. It was especially for kids in school to learn about African American history because most schoolbooks only talked about Blacks as slaves.  The history was much more than that.  There were so many pioneers.  Their stories needed to be told too. There were scholars, inventors, musicians and more to learn about.  Many schools now make sure their students are learning about some of the very important accomplishments of African Americans during Black History Month.

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There  are a few things you might not have known. Dr. Charles Drew helped create blood banks. 

 

 

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Marie Van Britton Brown was a nurse who was worried about people possible breaking into her home so she invented the first home security system. 

 

 

 

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Garret Morgan created the gas mask and the traffic signal.

 

 

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The Underground Railroad, which helped guide slaves to freedom, even has history where we live in New Jersey. Harriet Tubman, the most famous fugitive from slavery traveled to Lawnside, NJ, where a home was used to hide escaping slaves.  She also worked as a cook in Cape May hotels during the summers of 1849 through 1852 to help raise money for her Underground Railroad journeys.

Although February is actually Black History Month, you can learn about it all year. There are so many interesting facts and people to learn about.

Kenikki Thompson

Valued Girl Talk Marlton member

Who do you want to be in the New Year?

new-year-resolutionsA new year is upon us and with it, a chance to renew.  Many of us are getting ready to make resolutions to change something about our lives in the new year. The top resolutions for me were always losing weight, eating healthy and getting more organized. As good as my intentions are, by mid-March I usually forget the resolutions and don’t think about them again till years end (or bathing suit season-ugh) only to promise myself, “this will be the year I achieve these goals!”.

01smarter-resolutions-facebookJumboNew Year is a chance to start fresh, so this year I am going to try something different and start the year off right with small, manageable changes to my lifestyle. Seriously, who is this person I believe I will become if I finally organize my house, lose the 40 lbs., join a gym, etc.? These are my LIFE goals and daily struggles not my New Year’s resolutions.  So, I started to ask myself, “Who do you actually want to become within this new year?” And the answer is an impactful positive influencer who is giving and gracious.

newyearresolutions2016-1200x630Here is my plan for achieving my resolutions. I am going to practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon all things I am thankful for.  I will start prioritizing the people that matter most in my life and make more time for them. I plan to remember important dates, be present in the moment, promote positivity by showing others small tokens of appreciation, practice daily acts of kindness, affect change by inspiring others and I will learn to be kind to myself. Whew!

Sixty-and-Me-6-New-Years-Resolution-Ideas-for-Amazing-Women-Over-60Now that I have my plan, I can think of ways to achieve my goals. Volunteering will always be a huge part of my life and can be as big or small a commitment as time allows, but it’s always time worth spending. By donating your time, energy, and money to others, you’re practicing selflessness and kindness. Please consider volunteering for a cause close to your heart at least once a year.  Helping others can improve your well-being and give you a great sense of fulfillment. There is no greater gift than helping others. You’re not just making a positive impact—you’re being positively impacted, too.

new-years-day-open-houseIf you are looking for ways to help others this year and do not have time to volunteer, one of the easiest things you can do is to donate your clothes instead of throwing them out. Donating things that you do not use or have in excess can help many that are homeless, fire victims and in a financial crisis right in your own neighborhood.

960x0Also, make your spare change count. Save up coins and then donate them to a good cause once you’ve accumulated a sizable amount. Our Girl Talk chapter saves our change and donates the funds to children in our school’s lunch accounts. Another suggestion is spending time with the elderly, or helping the disabled or underprivileged. Help combat loneliness by spending an hour a week with someone who needs a friend. We all have a special skill or ability. Share your talents and offer your skills to a non-profit that could benefit from your help.

newyear2018_25As I work on my plan, I hope you will think of your own and how you can improve someone else’s life and make the world a better place. By helping others, being kind and spreading love to those around you, the world would be a much happier place. Happy New Year!

 

~MB

Queen of Wishful Thinkin

Will YOU Give Back this Holiday Season?

joyThis is one of my favorite times of the year, it is not the weather I like (I prefer the sun and beach), but it’s the season of giving I adore.  Although giving back is a great thing to do all year round, everyone seems a little more generous and charitable as the holidays draw near. Our country has been through so much with recent devastation to millions of families from hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, and other disasters, now is a great time to help.

5a1ddc36ca37b.image.jpgIt is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle that the season brings. The endless commercials and advertisements combined with the pressures to shop, bake, decorate and wrap overshadow the true meaning of the holiday and can turn anyone into a Grinch. But take a second to stop and breathe. Count your blessings- your family, your friends, your job, and all that you have to celebrate. Just things we take for granted. Many people in our community do not have it as lucky as we do-and YES, even in our town.

give_6152c.jpgOne of the best things I believe you can do is teach your children that the holiday season isn’t just about getting gifts. Start some new holiday traditions by engaging your family in community service projects. Spend one day thinking of others and to help spread your holiday cheer to more than just your family. Donate some non-perishable foods to help community members facing food insecurity during the holiday season. No matter your income level, you can find time to donate to others.  Find ways to practice kindness, a kind word or smile to a homeless person, serving others during the holidays, drawing a picture, writing a note, or comforting a friend or family member does not cost a thing but will be priceless.5a1cb02a75e46

Enjoying the little things, special moments, and the people in your life is a great way to celebrate the holiday season. But there’s nothing like the warm and fuzzy feeling you get from making someone else happy, and that taps into the true meaning of the holiday season.

If you would like some ideas to help local families this holiday season, please reach out to me at GirlTalkMarlton@gmail.com

Happy Holidays to you & yours,

Mary Beth

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HALLOWEEN -A TWEEN GIRL PARENTS NIGHTMARE

This weekend as I was perusing the aisles at the local Halloween store, I overheard a parent and a young girl, who couldn’t have been more than 6 years of age, arguing over her costume choice. It was hard to ignore, as the girl was very vocal in her choice of a sexy police girl costume. WHAT?!SEXY” police girl costume for a 6-year-old?! NO! I identify with this mom’s concern and admire her for telling her daughter no.

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Of course, the child did not take no for an answer and kept throwing her tantrum in the crammed aisle. As I got closer, I noticed these sexy police girl costumes, in a size 4-6x, come with a mini skirt, black thigh highs and a low-cut top. FOR A CHILD?! The mom looked tired, frustrated and defeated by her daughter and the pressure from the selections of costumes the store had to offer. I leaned in to the girl and said, “I never saw a police woman wearing a skirt or any of those clothes, you won’t look like a real cop.” She looked up at me confused so I googled DIY police woman costumes and showed her how she could look like a real police woman at almost no cost. Mom smiled at me and the two of them started discussing how they were going to go home and make their own costume that looked like a real police woman. They both thanked me and were on their way.

Leopards-1024x804.jpgIt’s estimated that more than $1 billion dollars will be spent on Halloween costumes for kids this year. Halloween is meant to be fun, and dressing up should be creative but age-appropriate. Halloween costumes are a great way for kids to have fun expressing themselves and show their creativity, but sometimes it can cross the line — especially for the girls. The pressure to wear a sexualized Halloween costume is increasing both in the marketing industry and among peers. Sexy Halloween costumes, long popular with adults, are now turning up in the kiddie aisle. Revealing getups are now available for girls as young as 3 and 4. WHY?

We want our daughters to grow up feeling comfortable in her sexuality -whatever form that takes -and to have the freedom to express that however she so desires. But that doesn’t mean it’s ok with them being taught at such a young age that her sexuality and looks are more valued above all other traits — on Halloween or any other day of the year.

Pirates-1024x702.jpgIt’s normal for girls to use Halloween to want to look more grown up, but there’s a fine line between enforcing family rules and shaming girls for their clothing choices. So how do you negotiate kids’ outfits without killing their Halloween fun?

If you are a parent of a tween, (I will pray for you-lol) Halloween just got a hell of a lot more problematic for you with all the provocative costumes available. Before you decide to take your daughter shopping for a costume, have a conversation. You are going to have to help your daughter manage the image she’s putting forth with her costume. This is a parenting moment. Our children rely on us to set boundaries for them, so do it. Set clear expectations and share your values. Encourage her to express her creativity and have fun, but in a way, that is appropriate. Pre-teens/Tweens have no real comprehension of the negative message they’re sending when they put on a sexy Halloween costume. They are way too young to dress sexy, don’t give in to this.

If you are a parent of a teen (I will pray for you A LOT-lol), it’s normal for them to want to experiment with dressing provocatively, and Halloween is a prime opportunity for them to try to get away with it. As a parent, I don’t like it, but we need to understand it. As the girls are now into their teen years there are big changes in their bodies that we want them to love and accept. Adolescent girls should be able to expose a little bit of skin – whether it’s Halloween or not -without feeling ashamed or vulnerable. This is another great parenting moment. Although we want our young ladies to love their developing bodies, it is also a great opportunity to revisit and share your values with your daughter. Help your daughter to explore her creativity and choose a tasteful costume that also satisfies her desire to fit in, explaining that it doesn’t need to be focused on sexuality.

There’s something sad about the world that the trend in young girls’ clothing is so sexual. They grow up quick enough. Let them have a childhood that is free from worrying about who society expects them to be.  Our girls deserve to be free to discover who they are on their own. All these provocative costumes do is bring negative and unwanted sexual attention to our little girls. They are too young to comprehend the ramifications and it is our job, as parents, to protect them. There is never a reason a kindergartener should be dressing as a “sexy police girl” costume for Halloween.

Have a Happy& Safe Halloween

Mary Beth

You Are Unique – Just Like Everyone Else

We are all alike…we all have hearts and brains. We are all different…we do not think or feel the same way.

51PYQ4J95WL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_An important lesson in a book I came across titled We Are All Alike, We Are All Different – written for children, by children. With its original drawings and words by The Cheltenham Elementary School Kindergartners, it shows the perspectives of these 5-year old’s as it celebrates the multitude of differences in our society. The book reinforces multicultural and anti-bias learning and appreciation. Now more than ever, understanding tolerance for others and diversity in our world has never been more important. Everyone can benefit from this beautiful quick read.

There are many factors used throughout your life to forge your uniqueness: your life experiences, individual design and genetic makeup, physical characteristics like height, hair or eye color, or cultural differences, different backgrounds, environmental factors and personal vision. Everyone has a distinct personality, language, lifestyle, and culture. Because of these differences, sometimes we may not always get along with others, and personalities will collide. Even within a family, there are differences in age, gender, opinions and views. But try your best to treat everyone equal, practice patience and have compassion for others. Remember, we are all different, but the same.

IMG_3851-11bydaz.jpgIt is impossible for us to expect that everyone will react and behave just like you would if in that same situation. Some people are optimistic, while others are pessimistic. Some are active and progressive, whereas others are passive and lazy. Some are hot-tempered, while others are gentle and easygoing. Some are stingy and greedy, yet others are generous and charitable. How do we get along with all these different people?

To be happy in life, you must learn to get along with all types of people. We must learn to go with the flow. If we are constantly argumentative, act annoyed, and become resentful, others will reject us. Compassion will help us accept and be accepted by others.

images.pngThe best way to think of people is to view them as being made up of mixtures of ingredients, with different people being made up of different combinations of ingredients. Some are sweet and some are salty. Some are spicy while some are bland. The personality mixture is a set of individual differences that are affected by the development of an individual: values, attitudes, personal memories and social relationships. This recipe is what makes you, YOU.

We waste too much time comparing ourselves to others, wishing to be something we are not. Blue eyes, straighter hair, taller, thinner is just a few of the ingredients I wish I had, but even if I had those, would they make me a better person? We all have different thoughts, skills and opinions to offer that are positive and should be shared with the world. Why not focus on what we DO have. I am unique, but the same.

51wRWG8UscL.jpgOpen your mind and allow yourself to learn more about the people around you. This will help with avoiding personalities to clash. Find out the similarities in others, you may be pleasantly surprised. Encourage and appreciate differing opinions and views from others. Keep the lines of communication open to avoid any miscommunication.  Learn to be a good listener and don’t try to change people. Keep your sense of humor and learn to also laugh at yourself. Be open and honest with others. And remember to radiate positivity and smile often.

The levels of intelligence and morality among people in the world is varied. If we do not treat everyone equally, our words and actions will be misinterpreted by those around us. As the last sentence in the above titled book says, “We are all alike. We are all different. We are a family.” Let’s try our best to coexist.

~Mary Beth

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Let’s End All Racism Now

 

I believe we are all born equal and die the same way, equal in rights, equal in opportunities, equal in dreams and goals. We all begin life with a winning trust in others and an expectation that people are all good. So how is it that so much racism and hate are in the world?

a40b43290aa742579d2781809981863dRacism, researchers find, is a learned behavior exhibiting in children as young as three years of age. They state, the two most powerful purveyors of racism in children’s lives today are the media and the adults they know. Racism is an attitude of a person who with their acts, behavior, and their words differentiates another person for faith, skin color, and social and cultural backgrounds. It is sad to live in a world where racism, hatred, prejudice, and ignorance still exist.

ae1abad2fdc1fef12b419d5ca66c29b2--racism-today-stop-racism.jpgMany people are hesitant and uncomfortable discussing racism and racial differences, especially with their children. But whether you talk about it or not, kids will notice when someone is being treated different or looks differently than they do. From an early age, children should be taught to appreciate diversity and practice empathy. Despite all our best intentions to avoid and mute any mention of racism, children learn about it from their environments. Children need to be prepared for a future society that is becoming increasingly diverse and we need to encourage them to see this diversity as a positive. Parents, caregivers, teachers and, in fact, all humans have a responsibility to ensure all children learn to navigate the complexities of our diverse world with empathy and respect.  It’s time to start talking to our children about race.

53dcb51fc25df8dceb8384b386a01874--anti-racism-skin-colors.jpgThis is not a new problem. We all know that racism abounds in our society. Yet, the recent events in Charlottesville, VA. are shocking to us. The most frightening thing about what happened in Charlottesville is that these hate groups exist all over America. And they will continue to build and grow until we put an end to it. With the recent events being broadcast all over the news and social media, there is a good chance your children have been exposed to these images. Children need to be reassured that they are safe, please have a discussion with them. Reaffirm your beliefs and explain the values you wish to instill in your child.

80480ef40b8400f66535dfa84e67b296--stairway-to-heaven-stairways.jpgWill racism ever disappear completely? I am hopeful. I wish to live in a nation where no one will be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. This may not happen in my lifetime, or yours, but let’s do our part by continuing the fight against the hatred in the world.

First, we must confront it in ourselves. Anti-racism begins with a basic respect for all people. All people of all races are equal, don’t judge the book by its cover. Reach out and get to know people who are different from you, learn about them and their cultures.

Build a community that helps to prevent hate and racism issues by creating a better future through instilling values to our youth by providing support and education in diversity and ethnic awareness. Let them know that hate and racism are unacceptable. Advocate for students in your community by making a concerted effort to stop racism, hate and bullying at your school. Learn to speak up and step in when you see racism occurring, and disrupt it in a safe way.

images.pngThe ultimate goal to anti-racism is to make institutional and structural changes in our society to achieve racial equity – equal opportunity and access for all. No one person can do it all or do it alone, but we can all do things to help, and in doing so, work collectively to end racism.

~Mary Beth

Girl Talk Marlton

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HAPPINESS is an Inside Job

happiness-is-a-choiceHappiness is an attitude and a choice that begins within you. Don’t wait for bliss to come to you, with just a few adjustments to your outlook on life, happiness can enter your soul. How you let the world around you, affect you, could be the key to your happiness. You can’t control everything that happens in life, but you can choose how you respond. Learn to see opportunity where others see misfortune. It is not easy to do this, but you CAN do this. Start by changing the way you react to situations and your life can become stress-free and happy, IF you choose.6

We tend to depend on external things to make us happy. Like our favorite food, movie or music, but those are just temporary. To experience true happiness, you need to dig deeper inside yourself. This may feel undoable at first, but just breathe, relax and follow these few steps. And remember every day is a new day, and that is a blessing within itself.

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First recognize what makes you happy, find out what inspires you, whether it is hanging out with friends, going to the beach, or getting a great night’s sleep. Look at what you’re good at, particularly what you lose yourself in – whether it’s writing, travelling, cooking, reading, sports. Whatever it is, make a list and get those things into your daily routines. These activities that you enjoy will make you happy – do them more.

c762e6048a5436970066d1d7d3f73f53--quotes-about-happiness-quotes-about-lifeBegin to foster positive emotions, such as empathy, serenity, and especially gratitude. Start speaking positive words and compliment others. Learn to trust others, start being more open and loving, even to strangers. Help others and give to those less fortunate. Gratitude is a part of being happy. Be thankful for all the blessings that you have in your life and what is going well. Learn to listen to others and become genuinely interested in all they want to say, this shows compassion. Choose to forgive those who have hurt you. Forgiveness is an act of kindness and you will feel that burden lifted.

happy-smile-happiness-quotesShow appreciation and respect for all the good in your life. You ARE blessed, know it. Focus on being the best version of yourself. Nobody in the world can beat you at being you. Be who you are and confident in the real you. Fill your inner circle with those who accept you the way you are and radiate positivity. The people around you should love you, challenge you, and lift you higher. Some people just suck the life right out of you. Simply let them go, now.

c5efbff3d26263126315439829345a07--happy-quotes-wise-quotesEmbrace change. Where there is resistance, flow around it. Where there is opportunity, flow right through it. Let go of your fears, they aren’t real. Live in the now. Find out your life’s true purpose, whatever it is, focus in on what actions you can take to move towards this higher purpose. Become someone who makes a lasting impression on the world with your own amazing creations.

be-happyTake the lessons learned from past mistakes, life is all about trial and error. Learn to let go of what you cannot control and allow peace to enter your life. Don’t look to others to validate who you are or affect you in any way. We’ve all got weaknesses and areas in which we lack confidence, accept them and don’t get hung up on them. Know who you are and be confident. Get rid of the negative emotions such as pessimism, resentment, and anger. The world has enough negativity. Don’t contribute to it anymore.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAKXAAAAJDRkYTczM2Q3LWEwZjktNDI3Yi05NGE4LWIzNjQwY2IxNDc1ZQAccept responsibility for everything in your life. Never blame others for your unhappiness. Tell yourself it’s in your hands, because it IS. We have the power and ability to control our own thoughts and feelings, regardless of what is happening to us externally. Feeling in control internally is highly liberating and will make you feel happier. Remember, YOU are enough, and nobody deserves happiness more than you.

 

3b079527fa45dce6c713d4b410c6578015971ad886ed008cdc9034aee0d4abaa--happy-wife-happy-dayFinal Thought:

I know, sounds great, right? Who doesn’t want to be happy. Easier said than done. I never said being happy will be easy to achieve but it will be worth it. Try the steps, if you fail-and you will, we all do-try again. Keep trying. Every day is a new day and a new opportunity to become a happier you. 😊

The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”

-David Viscott

~Mary Beth Iannarella

Girl Talk Marlton