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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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

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.”

Introducing Michele F.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Michele F.  I hope that through her story you will find inspiration!

Michele F: “I had a subscription to Seventeen magazine when I was 12 and can remember trying to recreate looks in my bathroom mirror.
Wishing my hair curled like hers, my eyes wider, legs slimmer.
I strived to attain that perfection on the page.
I always considered myself confident but the physical comparisons I made between myself and others never really left me.
25 years and 2 kids later, I find myself bombarded with images of physical perfection. Specifically, an image of a mom holding a new baby surrounded by her other 3 or so kids.
She was fit, ripped, and had a caption reading, “What’s your excuse?”
And I found myself wondering that too.
Then Dani called and wanted to take my picture 5 weeks after baby #2 was born sans makeup.
“Uh, no.”
Except this project stuck with me and I couldn’t help but wonder, “What if I said ‘yes’?”
What if rather than complaining about the Photoshopped images we are bombarded with each day, I was part of showing the real woman.
Who loves her family, herself and her body.
The body that pulled me out of a 4-year illness with nothing but self-exploration, nutrition and herbal supplements.
The body that helped turn a 100-year-old run down house into a home.
The body that created carried and delivered 2 amazing children.
Children who are completely unique and their own.
A daughter that I hope never knows the word diet. That picks clothes because they express her individuality not hide her “problem areas.”
A son that will see a woman’s smile and want to know her heart and what it feels like to be loved so completely by another human being.
Who won’t choose where to look for that love based on a jean size.
What’s my excuse?
I don’t have one.
I live, I love, and I appreciate my body.
Every pound, every inch, split ends, wrinkles, freckles, and cellulite.
I can say this now because I saw how beautiful I can look.
Without the mask.
Without the smoky eye.
No Photoshop.
Dani showed me how beautiful I was.
Just as I am.”