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A Little Piece of Life

Adventurous: Ashley, The Solo Traveler

Adventurous: Ashley, The Solo Traveler

Meet Ashley, or also known as @ohdarlingletsseetheworld. By day she is a wife and dog mom to three cuties, as well as a walking motivation to all women to get outside of their comfort zone. She has labeled herself as a Solo Female Traveler, and that is just what she is! Her Instagram is filled with fun-filtered, and adventurous photos. You’ll leave her page being nothing short of inspired! Check it out here:  Our only question is- who takes these awesome photos on these solo trips? Or did we just find the world’s best selfie taker!?


Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello! My name is Ashley, and I’m a young at heart thirty-year old from Michigan… Born and raised! I now live with my husband of five years and our three Miniature Dachshunds. I love my little family so dearly, and I’m truly a home body at heart. That is, a home body who loves to travel!! A few years ago, I had my first solo trip… By accident!! My girlfriend and I were going on a magical girl’s trip to Disney World when she got terribly sick and had to cancel. Well, I was already down in Florida, so there wasn’t really much else I could do, besides make the most of it. And I’m so glad I did! It was one of the best times of my life!! And that is what sparked my solo female travel adventure!!

What are some of your hobbies/ passions?

My first and foremost passion would, of course, be traveling! I specifically gravitate towards destinations where I can be outdoors. So… Exploring on an African safari, snorkeling with sea turtles in Hawaii, or kayaking sea caves in Portugal are my types of places and activities! I love being outdoors when I’m at home too, and Michigan is such a glorious place to live for this!

 

What are some of your favorite places you've traveled to!

So far, they’ve all been in the United States! The United States has so many various places to travel, and I’m always encouraging others to take advantage of this beautiful country!

Hawaii 

with my favorite activity being swimming with sea turtles in the ocean.

Joshua Tree 

with my favorite activity being hiking and climbing among the various rock formations.

Oregon 

with my favorite activity being white water rafting.


Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? What are some dreams you have for yourself?

My dream is to be a full-time travel blogger!! I want to show the women of this world that traveling by yourself is an option and it can be so beneficial for you! And within this niche, I want to focus heavily on finding those amazingly unique experiences for women to partake in! Women, often times, feel very overwhelmed with the idea of traveling solo. So, with this in mind, I also am developing my own solo female travel coaching business, where I will help women conquer their fears and travel the world!

What trait(s) do you wear and why?

-Adventurous because I am always up to travel and try new experiences. The world was meant to be explored!

-Independent because without my independence, I would be nothing. My freedom and independence are what drives everything I do in life.

-Dreamer because what is life without a little dreaming? If I didn’t dream, my life would have no color and I would not be where I am today.

How has Pieces of Me made an impact on you?

It serves as a constant reminder to me that I am loved and am an amazing person.

I am different than every single person on this earth and that needs to be valued.

Most importantly, I need to always remember to value myself and appreciate my unique characteristics and personality. These bangles help remind me of this every single day.

Who/what inspires or motivates you?

This life, and that it is the only life I have to live. One aspect that I love in life is engaging and having conversations with the elderly population. And I always ask them the same question, “If you could give the younger generation one piece of advice, what would it be?” And they all say around the same type of answer… “Live your life because it passes you by so quickly”. This is why I challenge myself to live every day to the fullest, travel as much as I can, and have no regrets.

Any words of wisdom you would like to share with others?

There never seems to be a time in life where it’s the “perfect” time to do something. There can always be restrictions and excuses. But then you’re left with the “what ifs” of life… And those will always stay with you. What if I told that person I loved them? What if I took that trip to Africa? What if I took that job interview?

Don’t let the “what ifs” take the joy away from life. Take a chance. Give in to that spontaneous feeling. Live life to the fullest. Always.  

International Women's Day: Redefining What's Expected

International Women's Day: Redefining What's Expected

Today we celebrate International Women's Day with the stories of six incredible women. Different ages, and completely different walks of life, all impacted by Pieces of Me in different ways. We hope you're as inspired and encouraged by all these women as much as we were!

Bree Sabin

Bree Sabin (23) is an alum of Bowling Green State University. After receiving a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing last May, and has since moved from New Philadelphia, OH to Chicago, IL (with her mini golden doodle puppy) to chase her dreams. She is excited to continue her career in Public Relations and see where life takes her next! 

What are some of your hobbies/passions?

I'm a varsity cheerleading coach. I cheered in high school and always loved the spirit and pride I felt as a cheerleader. When the athletic director asked me if I wanted to coach I had to take advantage of this opportunity! I also love spending time with my friends and exploring Chicago! The best thing about living here is there's always something fun going on.

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? What dreams do you have for yourself?

In 5-10 years I see myself staying in PR and maybe involving myself in entrepreneurship in some aspect. I've wanted to create a podcast about post-grad, city living and dating for awhile, so I think that's my next plan! This may sound silly but my dream was to live in Chicago and have a job that I love- which I do! I haven't started thinking about my next dream but my hope is that I'll be able to identify when the right opportunities are presented to me and take advantage of them!

What trait(s) do you wear and why?

I wear the bold trait every day! I got this trait as a gift from my mom towards the end of my senior year of college after a big event for my internship. I had a huge part in the planning and executing of this event and I worked with that event for three years. The bold trait is for individuals that stand steady and secure, unafraid to stand out from the crowd. That's exactly how I felt during that time.

I wasn't afraid to take control and be a leader. 

How has Pieces of Me made an impact on you?

Pieces of Me holds a special place in my heart! I interned with the Hatch the year Elsa was a hatchling and Pieces of Me was made. That was actually my first year as an intern and I just remember being in awe at how amazing the process was! This is actually the event that solidified my passion for PR and entrepreneurship. 

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

As women we really need to build each other up, not knock each other down.

Working in high school and coaching, I deal with teenage girls daily. I've had multiple conversations with them about being nice to each other and being there for one another and not letting people get in the way of their friendships. To me, International Women's Day means celebrating great friendships and the successes of all women!

Any words of wisdom you would like to share with others?

I actually have a tattoo that says "love yourself first."

I believe you have to love yourself and practice self-love to be happy in your own skin!

Do what feels right and leaves you feeling happy and loved at the end of the day. 

Maya Ramirez

Maya may be young but she is nothing short of worldly experience and travel. After winning Project Runway Jr. she gained not only perspective but confidence that has encouraged her to graduate from high school early, and travel from Ohio to Europe all while continuing to design. She is now working in Madrid, Spain as a Au Pair, and is deciding between schools in NYC, LA, Milan, and Paris. 

What are some of your hobbies/passions?

Besides design, my biggest passion is travel! I lived as an exchange student in Sicily last year and I'm back in Europe this year! I love learning about new cultures, and I'm working on language #3!

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

In 5-10 years, I see myself fresh out of college and working on my own women's wear company. I want to own my own company because I love the idea of being able to see my vision from start to finish.

I was often told as a kid to "find what I love and then figure out how to turn it into a career." Starting my own business would do just that for me!

What trait(s) do you wear and why?

My three favorite pieces of me traits are ambitious, confident, and creative! I love the symbols are simplistic, yet are all different and reflective of the traits in their own ways! 

Who/what inspires or motivates you?

I have so many inspirations! Michelle Obama for her grace, Zendaya for her confidence, and my mom for her strength!

My mom, Traci, really taught me to think for myself and to stand up for what I believe in, so I will always admire her.

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

International Women's Day is so important to me! It's a way to celebrate strong women, but also to recognize the work that has been and will continue to be put into making a more equal society.

 

Lexi Johnson

Loving mother to two, #bossbabe, and a creative soul- Lexi Johnson currently lives in Grand Haven, MI with her husband and two boys. While being a mom to two young ones is a full time job in itself, Lexi also channels her creativity into her blog, In the Hutch. 

What are some of your hobbies/passions?

I enjoy anything creative- it's life giving to me! Trying new foods, restaurants, and recipes. Traveling! I love to curl up and read a good book with a cup of tea. I also like to paddle board.

How did you start blogging? What made you interested in that?

I knew I wanted to do something creative- and blogging for this stage of my life is a good fit for me. 

What inspires your work from In the Hutch? How do your children play a role in that?

I'm a pretty spontaneous person and the blog allows me to lean into that while also being creative. Whatever has my attention at the moment– a product, recipe, craft, etc. I share a menagerie of my favorite things with my followers. My son Axel jumps at any chance to help me out with Hutch things which makes me so happy.

The name Hutch came from several years ago when I refurbished a large, antique hutch. It was a transitional time in my life (a nice way to say a tiny bit shitty.) I needed some soul searching + self care... during that refurbishing time I realized that being creative made me feel alive and that I need a creative outlet to be my best self.

The hutch was both literally and metaphorically instrumental in pull me out of a low spot. So the name hutch reminds me to be creative.

Who/what inspires or motivates you as a person?

So many things inspire me– a walk outside, traveling, flipping through a magazine. I find it so fun to glean inspiration from beautiful, everyday things and then make it "my own".

I hope that sharing things I'm passionate about brings inspiration and joy to others. 

How has Pieces of Me made and impact on you?

I love wearing my pieces and glancing at them throughout the day–it's like a pretty little reminder to keep being me!

It's also impacted me because I really love giving people gifts and I feel like Pieces of Me Me is one of the most meaningful gifts to give. 

Taryn Kutches

Originally from Norton Shores but relocated to Spring Lake Michigan with her husband and two daughters. Taryn is nothing short of a superwomen. She brings to light exactly what International Women's Day is all about. Finding your passion but not losing sight of your other priorities. As a co-founder of Parker Design co. and being a mom and a wife, finding balance is difficult but it's very rewarding. 

What are some of your hobbies/passions?

I love spending time with my family. A wonderful husband and 2 daughters, a 1 year old and a 3 year old. They keep us pretty busy, but we enjoy spending time outside and hiking with our pup, Tahoe. We also love to travel. I love going new places and experiencing new things! 

What is it like being an entrepreneur? Best parts? Worst Parts?

I would have to say it's a lot like drinking beer.

At first it's calm and you feel like you have it all together, then you might have a few too many and it gets really fun and crazy, but then all of a sudden you wake up the next morning and you feel awful. There are so many highs and lows and so many things to consistently be thinking about it the present and in the future. Even with all the ups and downs, it is very rewarding to sit back and realize this is something that you built.

Where do you see yourself and/or your company in 5-10 years?

I would love to see our company grow and offer additional products. I think we are in a very critical time right now. We're trying to figure out exactly who we want to be. Our bag is great for everyday use, work, and travel, but we are trying to narrow our focus and dial into one of these areas. So depending on which route we take, we would like to expand our product base within that segment.  

Who/what inspires or motivates you?

Hands down- NPR's How I Built This podcast. If you don't know what it is, listen to an episode right now, and you won't regret it. In summary it interviews founders of very large companies such as Crate & Barrel, 5 Guys, Kate Spade, etc. and it goes into all the details about how they got their start. It is so encouraging because in most cases the people behind these companies started off just like me and you. They didn't have a million dollars in the bank, or they didn't have family who already ran a business in a certain space. They just had an idea that turned into a dream and they turned that dream into reality.

My personal favorite is Sara Blakely. Sara founded SPANX and sold fax machines as a full time job for the first few years SPANX was founded. Her first production shipment came to her apartment door. I can relate to that!

What Pieces of Me trait(s) do you wear and why?

Part of this reasoning is why I wear determined. It's a constant reminder to stay focused and positive when the days aren't so bright and the answers aren't right in front of me. 

How has Pieces of Me made an impact on you?

I really relate to hearing other people's stories and I think we have so much to learn from one another so I love that Pieces of Me highlights other people's strengths, passions, goals, and inspirations. Usually I can find a way to relate or reflect on these stories and use them to help me keep going. 

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

Women are amazing. They do so many amazing things, and this day is really about celebrating who women are rather than if they work, stay home, have kids, don't have kids, etc.

I think this day is about accepting that there is no more "norm" for women. 

The new norm is they get to decide what kind of person they want to be. If they want to be CEO at their firm, more power to them. If they want to do both, more power to them! It's not about setting boundaries or standards for women, it's about accepting them for who and what they want to be.

Any words of wisdom you would like to share with others?

One thing I have learned recently that I think is so powerful is you don't have the power to affect what happens to you, but you do have the ability to react to the things that happen to you.

In other words, you are in charge of your own happiness.

A simple example: you step in a puddle on your way to work. You can allow yourself to get upset, make yourself believe that today will be an awful day because it started out horrible, or you can decide that it's just a little bit of water and it will dry in the matter of an hour or so. You can't change the fact that your foot is wet, but you can change how you react to it which will ultimately change your whole attitude for the day. 

Jessica Lauren

Making the trek from Detroit, MI to Chicago, IL like so many other Michiganders has suited Jessica very well. After struggling with a turbulent acting career, she found her love channeling her creativity into TWO outlets, a blog and a podcast, No Real Jewelry.

What are some of your hobbies/passions?

Lately, I've been really getting into DIY projects + cooking. When I first started my blog back in 2015 it was because I needed a creative outlet. It was such a huge hobby but in recent years I've been blessed to call it a business. So it's been fun discovering new things that I like outside of it.

I'm also a very passionate at home backup singer/dancer for Beyonce. I'll put her music on, throw on some heels and get my dancing on!

How did you start blogging and start your podcast? What made you interested in that?

Well I was not a successful actress here in Chicago and I was sick and tired of dealing with the constant rejection in my acting career. I was over having to wait on some casting director to book me if I wanted to be creative.

I was done asking for permission and hearing no so I created my own "yes".

What started out just as a creative outlet blossomed into a podcast, an online store, and so much more. I'm really proud of the lane I created for myself.

What Pieces of Me trait(s) do you wear and why?

I rock my hard-working trait as a daily reminder what I have to go hard in order to make my big goals and dreams happen!

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

It's a day to recognize the major contribution + impact us women have in our homes, communities and the world and I'm pretty excited about that!

Adelia Lauren

Originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia but now going attended Miami University  in Oxford, OH. Currently focused on blending her love of science with her premedical studies and her love of creativity and communication while maintain her lifestyle and beauty blog! (She Laughs)

What are some of your hobbies/passions?

I love to dance, I have danced for over 15 years, I love expressing myself with style or beauty, and I also love to blog! 

How did you start blogging & vlogging? What made you interested in that?

Blogging was something I had always wanted to do, and when I finally started my brand I realized there was no better time! I had been following several influencers and from studying their content and how they run their websites I found the confidence to get started myself!  

Who/what inspires or motivates you?

Aside from my family and friends who helped me get to where I am now, I draw a lot of my motivation from the people I have met through social media! When I get to have real connections with people around the country just because I decided to put myself out there in blogging, it is such a cool thing. Also I just love creating content that I know my audience loves and they inspire and motivate me to continue blogging. 

What Pieces of Me trait(s) do you wear and why?

I wear the confident trait, and I also love the creative and ambitious traits because

I believe everyone should love themselves, do what they love, and follow their dreams. 

How has Pieces of Me made an impact on you?

I am especially impressed with all the philanthropic initiatives that Pieces of Me has done. It is amazing to see a brand encourage women with the concept of unique traits, but it is especially amazing to see the brand give back as well. 

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

International Women's Day is one of my favorite holidays! It is a time to remind the women around you that they are special and they mean something to you!

Any words of wisdom you would like to share with others?

You're never fully dressed without a smile! Also the only opinion that truly matters is your own. 

Basics are the New Black: Your Everyday Accessories

Basics are the New Black: Your Everyday Accessories

A three level closet with a huge selection of pieces to make any outfit spectacular. Sounds magical right? Imagine a Carrie Bradshaw mixed with a Kennedy’s closet. All you could ever dream of...

keep on dreaming because that's not likely to ever happen.

As a savvy shopper, I have created a fundamental rule for every single thing that I buy:

Each item must be worn three (or more) ways, otherwise Don’t buy it.

That means if you can’t picture that distressed jean jacket with three separate outfits, WITH THINGS YOU ALREADY OWN...

Don’t do it.. just don’t.

This is a rule that shouldn’t just be followed with a cute top or new shoes, but with your jewelry too. Find jewelry that can accentuate every outfit you own, because it is those everyday pieces that finish of your look. Pieces of Me jewelry is designed to be simple and sophisticated. The dainty necklaces or cuff bracelets are a perfect go-to option to add to any outfit.


Remember that old fad? The statement necklaces that took up your whole chest cavity- well they certainly made a statement but they weren’t very diverse.

^^^ I think that is why the trend didn’t last long.

#Basics are the new black

I don’t mean boring, never buy boring! Don’t waste your money on something that doesn’t spark joy (can you guess the reference?) because it will just sit in your closet.

My favorite trend right now is dressing down certain pieces, and dressing up others. For example adding a cotton sweater to your joggers and pairing some cute booties! Or even wearing sneakers and a jean jacket with a slip dress. There is something about taking control over your pieces and making them your own that I absolutely love.

Every woman's wardrobe should include:

  • Little black dress
  • Classic Jean Jacket
  • Perfect fit jeans
  • Black slacks
  • White tennis shoes
  • Classic heels
  • White t-shirt
  • Wear-it-anytime jewelry

Jewelry that can be worn anytime is as much of a staple as any of the items listed above. Make sure, the pieces you wear everyday are simple, beautiful, high-quality, and classy- because this is how you will elevate each outfit into a true #ootd.

There are plenty of options, but if you’re looking for a great place to start check out Pieces of Me staple necklaces or classy cuffs- take the Pieces of Me quiz (INSERT LINK) to find the traits that describe you best that you can wear with pride. Or pick a trait that will motivate you to be the best version of yourself.

It’s not just the how you style your pieces but what you style them with, and the context of the outfit. Time to get out of your comfort zone. Let’s dig into all the different styles and how to accessorize from your casual looks, business professional, and even on your wedding day.

Loungewear 

Let’s be honest loungewear isn’t just for lounging. So don’t save these outfits just for Netflix marathons and days you work from home. There is nothing better than a nice pair of leggings or those cozy joggers. There should be no shame in running errands in fancy pajamas. Because let’s be real, sometimes we put more effort into these outfits than our Sunday best...


The first outfit here, while seems easy and cozy is actually full of perfectly paired accessories. From the soft denim shorts and the cheetah slides- I love this outfit! Pair it with your favorite cuff and while you’re wearing your coziest clothes, everyone will still be star struck by your style.

There’s no reason that you shouldn’t add jewelry to your best sweat suits, look how flawless this creamy pink outfit looks.

The important thing here is to remember that you shouldn’t be afraid to dress up your loungewear! Get the most out of your money, don’t reserve these outfits for inside the house, when a few accessories can take these pieces to the next level.

Everyday Casual

This next category are your casual outfits. These are the outfits you wear to class, shopping at the mall, a lunch with a friend or on a date. This category is huge, but bottom line is just like loungewear, these are outfits are made by the accessories you add. Check out the looks below to see how Pieces of Me jewelry took each outfit to the next level.

A nice flannel, black distressed jeans and your favorite purse- with a gold Pieces of Me cuff is a great go to style. Or take a simple look, light jeans and a white top- when you add a simple hair scarf and cuff bracelet you’ve completely transformed such a simple outfit to be a unique expression of who you are!

I love this next one, a basic t-shirt layered with a couple necklaces, a basic t shirt, a blazer and a nice pair of jeans. Take notice of those accessories, the hairband, cuff jewelry is what really pulls it all together.

Sometimes all you need with a neutral outfit is to add a print or pattern like in outfit #4 but it’s those accessories that definitely make it pop!

This is the category where you really start to see the diversity capable with all these different types of pieces!

Business Casual

The way a couple simple accessories can transform loungewear into daily wear is exceeded by the way it can elevate a business professional outfit. When working in a career with a dress code, it can be easy to let your own style fall away in black blazers and color-less pantsuits.

DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN.

Keep your personality in your career wear, and no that doesn’t mean just a “pop” of color being the only way to go. Take Outfit #4 which has a neutral black color scheme with just a couple gold accents it is bold and still striking.

Now on the other hand, don’t be afraid to incorporate color with a bright blazers, pastel skirt, or a bold dress. This is why finding quality gold and silver jewelry is so important. These simple metals will not only match these options but will take them all to the next level.

There are few accessories that are designed to somehow work on a spectrum this broad, but Pieces of Me was designed with that intention in mind. Whether you’re running errands, or going to a formal occasion you can look and feel your best, with a piece that at the same time will remind you to be your best self!  


Semi Formal/Formal aka Dressy


Personally, my favorite category because there is nothing better than wearing a pretty dress on a summer day. At this point, you guys know that there is so much more to an outfit than the clothes you are wearing. It’s all the other choices, your hair, your makeup, and most importantly YOUR ACCESSORIES. In the second photo, pairing that dark toned dress with the red heels is such a fashion forward move, and it looks so put together. When you wear a strong pattern like in outfits #1 and #3 you don’t want to overwhelm the outfit with too much going on. Adding dainty, simple jewelry like our cuff bracelets is a great way to accessorize with a bold print.

Don’t count out the brides- yes Pieces of Me has a special collection just for bridesmaids gifts, but who said you can’t match your bridesmaids! For example, the fourth photo here is a beautiful bride wearing a cuff on her special day, a perfect bridesmaid gift would be matching cuffs or necklaces for each of her special girls! Picking out all traits you appreciate about each of them individually and a piece that they can wear long after your special day will be a gift that they’ll always remember.

Alright, so what’s the lesson here?

Do your research and make sure to find jewelry and pieces that you can style and truly make your own. And remember accessories are the key to finishing off any look from your leggings and joggers to a beautiful formal occasion gown.

Most of all, wear all your outfits and all your accessories with confidence. Even if that means staring at your closet for 10 minutes in the morning and putting on the wackiest outfit- be unique in your style. It’s the first impression you are giving the world, take this opportunity to transform your wardrobe and wear who you are!

Love Your Pet Day: Myla's Story

Love Your Pet Day: Myla's Story

“You and Steve should adopt her!” my good friend was gleaming when she showed me a picture of a tiny goldendoodle that I had no idea would change my life forever.

How could I possibly say no to this face? 

My husband Steve had a plan: build a house, get a dog, and meet a girl. He had two out of three, so it just seemed like perfect timing. 

I just knew deep down that she would add so much to our little family.

That night (I remember it so clearly), I was already completely attached and couldn’t wait to go meet Myla.

It is not often that there is an opportunity to adopt a beautiful three-month-old goldendoodle .

And because we were unlikely to get a dog from a breeder, and definitely not from a pet store, we knew that this opportunity was once in a lifetime!

Okay so the big question...

One, how did we get so lucky adopting a goldendoodle, and two, why on earth was a three-month-old goldendoodle even in the position to be adopted? An older couple had purchased her from a pet store and had her for only 10 days. We’re not exactly sure why, but they wanted to return her and get their money back (so sad, I know), so this woman who has a huge heart for dogs (not sure of their connection) ran over and said she’d take her because she was fearful what might happen to Myla if she was returned to the store.

It is hard to imagine anyone giving Myla up after any amount of time with her, but selfishly, I am so happy they did! It's impossible to picture my days without her cuddles and even her (not so adorable-but adorable) barking.

Goldendoodles are sassy- they take charge of whatever room they are in, and my Myla is no different.

Myla's traits and why?

SASSY- with a capital S! She's all sorts of Sassy.

CONFIDENT- Myla's not afraid, and she thinks she’s sooo tough.

LOVING- She's super lovable, loves to cuddle, and always sits on my lap when we ride in the car.

I know I speak for all of us pet owners out here when I say that #nationalloveyourpetday should be an every day celebration.

It’s hard to not notice the way Myla turns her head in trust when she sees me walk into the room, or the way she thinks she watches over Steve and I in a protective way.

How has having a dog changed your life?

It’s hard to imagine life without her. She brings us so much joy and really is the light of our lives. When I’m down or stressed out, she’s always there to jump up and give me a ‘hug’ and immediately cheer me up when I see her.  We’re fortunate that Steve can take her to work every single day, and I’m able to bring her into the office as well. As entrepreneurs, at this stage in the game we are working all the time-- including weekends-- and it’s great to bring Myla with us wherever we go and she never has to be alone.

“Before you get a dog you can’t quite imagine what living with one might be like; but afterward you can’t imagine it any other way” -Caroline Knapp

Adopting Myla is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.   

All Things Women: Teacher Jamie Slenk Goes the Extra Mile to Empower Young Girls

All Things Women: Teacher Jamie Slenk Goes the Extra Mile to Empower Young Girls

What is the nicest thing a teacher has ever done for you? This is a trend that is popping up all over the internet; did they take into consideration your hardships at home? Extend a deadline because they truly care?

Luckily, if you go to Holland Christian High School in Holland, Michigan, you are taught by teachers who not only care- but go the extra mile.

TEACHERS WHO GO THE EXTRA MILE

Jamie Slenk does just that and goes above and beyond to make sure the kids in her school grow up to be strong and intelligent adults. She did this by taking the time to not only educate them, but give them each a Pieces Of Me charm to remind them what they have to offer the world.

During the first week of January, HC has a week long Winterim which allows students to spend a week outside of traditional curriculum, exposing them to new ideas, potential careers, even lifetime skills.  

TELL US ABOUT YOUR COURSE: ALL THINGS WOMEN

"All Things Women is a course designed to allow girls to discuss things like identity, empowerment, and healthy relationships. High schoolers, especially young women, are constantly bombarded with messages from society, media, adults, and even each other about who to be, how to act, what to like, and what to wear in order to create the “right” perception of themselves. It can be such a confusing and overwhelming environment to spend some of the most formative years of your life in."

Girls spent the week working to build authentic community with each other by identifying their strengths, what they stand for, what defines them, and who they ultimately belong to.

"My hope is that when girls walk away from the class, they can stand a little taller in knowing these things, and help other women do the same."

WHAT ACTIVITIES DID YOU DO TO TEACH WOMEN EMPOWERMENT?

"Throughout the week we watched some TED talks, took some personality tests, read articles/blogs, and did a lot of discussing and reflecting. Some things we asked ourselves were:

  • What do you like about yourself (that question proves to be a tough one almost every year)?
  • What about your personality strengths and weaknesses can you use to your advantage to know and love yourself and other people better?
  • How can you identify and manage healthy/unhealthy relationships in your life?
  • What really defines who you are?
  • What does feminism really mean, why has it become a politically charged word, or one with a negative connotation, and how can we be strong women in today’s society?

My favorite activity is the one we do on the last day, because the girls have a chance to speak positive truths about one another after spending the week together. They each write a letter of affirmation to another girl from the class, and after each girl’s letter is read out loud, the rest of the girls have a chance to tell that girl what they admire about them. After everyone has gone, the girls take time to write a personal statement about themselves in the shape of their thumbprint to articulate what, who, and whose they are, and what they want to strive for in their future (see photos). This year, on the last day of class, I was also able to surprise each girl a necklace, specifically chosen for them, as a reminder of all those things they learned during the week."

"The girls were so excited about this because the necklaces are so cute and something that they actually want to wear while also serving as a very symbolic and sentimental reminder. I don’t think a day has gone by where I haven’t seen the girls wearing them at school."

WHY PIECES OF ME?

Jamie said she chose Pieces of Me because of her strong connection to the tagline, “Wear Who You Are.” She wanted these girls to stray away from what society wants them to be and remind them that they are driven, compassionate, funny or athletic by themselves.

“In the world we live in today, we are fed so many lies about who we are and what it is about ourselves that make use matter."

"Something as simple as wearing a beautiful piece of jewelry that reminds you the truth about who or what you are, (a strong, intelligent, hard-working, loving, etc. woman), can help shift your mindset and create a new, positive reality for yourself or someone else--who doesn't need some more of that in their life?”  

Here are some quotes from the girls who participated in All Things Women:

"I learned about myself, things that I am good at, and things that I still need to work on. It was a great time to think about my life and things that I really enjoy. It was also a time to build the other girls up around me and to teach ourselves to love ourselves and find the good in one another.”

"I learned how to appreciate the other women around me on such a larger scale. There is so much more to women than just their beauty, and I came to realize the wisdom and kindness and gentleness so many girls have around me."

"I learned that I need to be jealous of myself. I also learned that we are all unique in our own special ways, but most importantly we are all children of God whom He loves so very much. I gained a new sense of confidence and excitement for myself and my life."  

No matter your profession, age, or hobbies- we all need a little reminder of what makes us valuable. We all face insecurities and hardships but having people and things there to remind you of what you are and more importantly… what you can be.