Refections of the Summer Program

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We had a blast with our students this summer!  Learning about each other and growing into a more authentic self for the upcoming Freshman year in High School.

Our students where all 8th graders making that transition into High School, which I think we all remember that summer when everything was a clean slate.  I remember looking forward to meeting new people but scared that I wasn’t going to fit in,

 

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My Best Friend and I in “that” summer between 8th and High School. 

This year we were honored to hear all about the stories and the fears of the new phase of their lives.  Knowing that we all have gone through the same thing, which I think is the key.  The knowledge that we all go through the same in some way shape or form makes transitions a bit easier.

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I know that with each week our students became stronger!

 

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I look forward to hearing from all of the students as they make their way through freshman year!

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Just Be You!

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Feeling the Love…

I always feel so honored to have one of my RBU girls give the project some love! 

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Introducing Elena B

Elena B. w:quote

Growing up in a family with eight siblings, I was the middle child. To say the least, things was not simple for me. The more I look at the world around me, the more I found flaws in my self. For instance, I was bigger than girls my age, and my complexion was not the way I wanted it to be. The other girls seem to be thinner and prettier with smooth light brown skin and their hair always look nicer than mine. However, in my mind this is what beauty was to me. On the other hand, I wanted to be black as tar so no one could see me, my self-esteem at that time was very low.

Unfortunately, my self image of life carries me well into my early twenty, late thirty. I did not like the way I look. I became an alcoholic, this was my way of dealing with my self image. Drinking made me feel pretty and sexy I had a false confidence. However, one day I said “enough is enough” and I had to love me for me no matter what I look like. Real beauty begins when one excepts them self for who they are and how god made them. Also, not allowing the world to dictate on how one should look.

Beauty to me is understanding one’s self and being able to help another person who is feeling down. Also giving of one’s time and energy, bringing out the best in someone, that they may feel better about themselves. Real beauty is skin deep, no matter how you look on the outside, what’s on the inside will come out rather it is good or bad. Therefore, real beauty is being true to thy own self, and one will always be the most beautiful person in the world.

My life Motto is “To Thy Own Self Be True”

Featuring Dani

So I guess it’s time for me to write my story.  Ever since I can remember I would always question the way that I looked.  I think for me the biggest change had to be when I first came to live in the US.  Being the only spanish kid in my grade for a very long time, I realized then I was different.  Not that my parents didn’t make it any easier sending empanadas to school for my, “almuerzo.”  I would get, “ay mija why didn’t you eat your empanada today?”    Or the, “I know that you are learning English in school, but here in the house you can only speak Spanish.”

At times I would look at my peers and wonder how I could convince my mom that peanut butter and jelly was not something that was just a small snack.  And that I really shouldn’t be eating  fried brains for dinner!   As time went on, the awkwardness became something of the norm for me.  I was the tallest in my class including the boys, and was the first one to officially wear a bra.  It was devastated!  On top of all those differences that were in front of me, I was and still am one of the clumsiest people that you will ever meet.  Ouch is pretty much a daily word in my world, so much so that my kids hardly even ask anymore if I’m alright.

The list can go on and on with insecure moments in my youth and for the most part of my adult life. From not feeling pretty enough, or smart enough, or even seen enough.  I worried that I wasn’t doing it right.  That I was disappointing someone. That if I was just a bit more organized, or a bit more fit, or if my nose was just a bit smaller that everything would be perfect.  But what is perfection? If not the illusion in which we are feed constantly through the media, through our thoughts, through our perceptions.

I came to understand through all of the self doubting and through some hard lessons that I’ve had to go through, I am beautiful!

So how did I come to understand that I am beautiful?  I understood that I was just me.  I learned to love the “flaws”  that makes me who I am.  I understood that loving all  of the little aspects of myself lets me see not only myself as the woman I am, but also to see everyone as they are.  Loving myself has made me love others in such a deeper and more connected way.

I’m not going to write here that I don’t have days in which some thoughts creep up.  But I am going to say that by allowing myself to just be who I am it makes it easier to let go of those thoughts.  To let go of the idea of what I thought was perfection.

Real Beauty: Uncovered at Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ

Yesterday was an emotional day for us.   We finished our 5 week workshop with the most amazing kids.  I really enjoyed spending time with the boys and girls learning and teaching them the importance of accepting our own uniqueness.   In the end I really felt the connection that made my heart leap for joy.  With the philosophy of Growing With The Seasons, I think or at least I hope we planted some seeds for the future.

XOXOXO

Radio Interview with Cristina Maria Rojas-Fernandez for Transforming Gifts!

I was so honored to be interviewed by Cristina for Transforming Gifts! She made me feel right at home and talking to her about how Real Beauty: Uncovered became what it is today.  For anyone who knows me this is not such an easy task because I do tend to get a bit shy when I talk about my personal things.  But I wanted to audience to really get to know me and the reason why this movement is so important!

Before we started she guided me and told me some of the questions she was going to be asking.  Even when we had a little hiccup she was right there cool and collective!  Such an amazing women who I have the privilege of getting to know!

Thank you again Christina for your light and your wisdom!

Take a listen!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/transforminggifts/2015/06/11/live-wdani-allen-co-creator-photographer-of-real-beauty-uncovered

Introducing Nicolette V.

And now, it’s a great honor to introduce Nicolette!

Her Story…

“When I was in high school, my older sister battled an eating disorder. However, the way it came about is a little different than what they preach about in the media. My sister didn’t start restricting because she was unhappy with herself. She was never overweight and was absolutely beautiful. Her stress and anxiety took control of her mind and body and caused her to become extremely underweight. Her organs started failing and she was slowly killing herself without a choice. Throughout the entire process, she knew how sick she looked. She wanted to gain the weight back, her body just wouldn’t let her.

Fast forward 4 years and now I’m in college surrounded by people who have no idea what my sister went through. You wouldn’t believe how many times “I’m gonna stop eating” or “sometimes I wish I was anorexic” gets thrown around in casual conversations each day. These statements would infuriate me because I knew that my sister did that, was there, and absolutely hated herself for it.

From watching my sister fight her battle, I didn’t learn to eat solid meals, I didn’t learn to you have to be a certain weight, and I sure didn’t learn you had to follow trends to be beautiful. I learned beauty is what you make of it. If you’re overweight and feel beautiful, then you are. If you have a six-pack and are proud of it, then you have a reason to be. To me, there is no definition of beautiful. If you feel beautiful, you are.”