A Little Piece of Life

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.

I’m a grown woman, enough with the cliche jewelry!

I’m a grown woman, enough with the cliche jewelry!

'Aww, I love it.' Actually, let's paint a more accurate picture: 'Oh... I mean, aww-- thanks. I... love it.'

When we repeat that horridly rehearsed line above, what we're really saying is 'Aww, I really l love that you got me a gift.' We appreciate you, and of course that means we don't want you to feel bad, even though you bought a necklace that bears a striking resemblance to the one we got out of a gumball machine when we were six-- for a quarter. 

Yes, Valentine's Day is more than just the gifts you give and the gifts you receive. It's about making your special someone feel exactly that-- special. But the hard truth is, no one feels special when they get a necklace or bracelet that makes them wince.

It's not just the sheer gaudy-ness or annoyance that comes from these charm bracelets whenever you do- well, anything- with your hand. It’s the fact that they aren't special. They're always super cliche designs, rendering them “pretty” at best.

(Now, I won't name names, but you know what I'm talking about. In fact, SNL made a funny skit one time that describes it perfectly.)

Guys: Please show us that you did more than Google "jewelry” and then click 'valentines day gifts’ on a tab in the upper right corner of some half-rate jewelry website. This isn't just a PSA for guys buying their special someone a gift on Valentine's Day. 

In general, no girl, actually- no woman wants a vibrant pink heart around her neck. It's tacky, and when we wear it (only because we love you), we feel tacky.

If you want to buy your S.O., your bae, or just your "complicated friend" a gift for Valentine's Day to show how much you are crazy about them, don't buy them a CRINGY gift! This means if it clanks when you walk or has a heart pendant the size of your thumb, maybe you should think again.

We did you a favor and pulled some of what we think is the worst cliche jewelry on the market right now for Valentine's Day. Instead of thinking of this as a gift guide, think of it like an 'AVOID BUYING THINGS THAT LOOK LIKE THIS AT ALL COSTS' guide.

HOW ABOUT NONE OF THIS: 

Now here's the thing we don't want you to get confused by: It's not that women don't want jewelry. Trust us- most women LOVE jewelry.

Finding a gift that explains how you feel is hard enough, which is why some (unlucky) fellas always go for that heart shaped necklace because a heart means 'I love you', right? Well, that's what they thinks it means. In reality, it actually means 'every guy since the beginning of time told me this was an OK gift', but never a woman. I wonder if that means anything?

It is the RIGHT kind of jewelry that makes all the difference. 

Brands like Pieces of Me are the right kind. It's different than all those cliche jewelry lines out there because it serves a different purpose. Not only does it show you love them, but it allows you to show them WHY you love them for who they are.

Pieces of Me is not just a jewelry line-- it's a concept. Someone can receive a daily reminder to tell themselves 'I am driven. I am confident. No one can take that away from me,' or, a giver can remind someone 'I love you because you're unwaveringly passionate.' Pieces of Me can articulate all these expressions in a single gift. There are a variety of traits to highlight each person's individuality, so start here:

What is it that you love about (name)? Navigate to 'Explore the Traits' on the site, and find the trait or several traits that fit best, and then select a medium (pieces of jewelry) for the trait to go on. Not only will they take the moment and person with them wherever they go, but also the 'why' on a deeper level that can't be achieved with hearts, roses, and cupid. 

Whether you spend three or three hundred dollars this Valentine's Day, for the love of all that is good... no more heart shaped jewelry!

Everything You Need to Know About Galentine's Day

Everything You Need to Know About Galentine's Day

Whether you are celebrating Valentine's Day with a pint of ice cream or your special someone, don’t forget to celebrate with all your besties on Galentine's Day!

What is Galentine's Day? 

Galentine's Day (made famous by Leslie Knope from the tv show Parks and Rec) is the day before Valentine’s Day where you have the opportunity to celebrate with the love interests in your life- yes, your best friends. So this February 13, pop the sparkling beverages, champagne or juice, and celebrate the people who are there for you during the job interviews, breakups, and all the awkward moments in between!
 

How to Plan the Perfect Galentine's Day Party: 

In order to make this the best Galentine's Day you’ve ever had, make sure you PLAN PLAN PLAN. Having cute invites, snacks, party games and girl talk will keep even Sad Sally from crying about her single status.

Pre-Party Essentials

Good Ole' Fashion Valentines:

We might not be in middle school anymore, but we can still show people how we feel with some stunningly simple valentines. Head over to the Pieces of Me website for cute and meaningful printable valentines. These valentines will highlight one of ten qualities you admire about your friends. 

Choose from: Confident, Creative, Determined, Leader, Loving, Loyal, Passionate, Sassy or Strong for the perfect way to say 'I love you' for who you are! 

The Best Gifts to Get your Gals for Galentine's Day:

#CuffYourGals

Do you struggle finding the right words but want your best friend to know that despite her fears, she will be great? Gift her a strong cuff or necklace to let her know you believe in her. Pieces of Me gives you the ability to tell those closest to you exactly what you appreciate about them for who they are and all the strengths they have to offer the world!

Pieces of Me jewelry connects you to the ones you love, and will always remind them how and why they are valued. Give a constant reminder in the form of a cuff or a beautiful necklace that they are compassionate, loving, or driven.

Gift “sassy” to the friend that always knows the right, witty thing to say to bring a smile to your face and never shies away from confrontation. There are 24 traits you can choose from to show your friends just what makes them… them!

Showing your appreciation through jewelry will never go out of style, and neither will jewelry from Pieces of Me. This is because each piece is designed with thoughtful consideration and a simple-yet unique design!

Set the Stage: Party Preppin'

Decorations for the party:

There’s more to planning the best girls night than cleaning and fluffing some pillows (but yes, do that too). Make your environment a focal point of the party. Cut some fresh flowers, pink, white, yellow or any color that gets you excited!

Before you get started, find some inspiration. Check out Franceska Garza on Youtube, for her video about planning the perfect Galentine's Day Party. It's packed with so many cute DIY's that are perfect for you and your gals.

Choose the room you want the party to be in but make sure the other rooms are party-prepped too. If you picked the living room, add some decorative pillows to the couch, move the coffee table, and place pillows or thick blankets around it. Make the room feel comfortable- that's how the juicy gossip will start! If you picked your bedroom, make sure the bed is made, there aren't pajamas on the floor and you have plenty of room for all your girls to get comfortable!

Tie blankets are not just a Grandmas favorite Christmas gift, but they can also be an inexpensive and personal touch for your party! Head to your local craft/fabric store like Joannes or Hobby Lobby, pick out your favorite fleece fabric, grab a nice pair of scissors and choose good netflix show to watch while you tie. (Highly recommend: Queer Eye, and Jane the Virgin)

A quick Pinterest search, or Randi, creator of A Fresh Squeezed Life, gives an easy to follow, how-to-guide on making the best fleece tie-blanket! You can never have too many blankets, so pick out some colors for Galentine's Day or even match your room and keep these blankets for future use!

It doesn't matter what room you're in, as long as your decor is on point! Make this decor the best for you and your group. This year, lets shy away from the passionate red decor. Save that for the lovers on V-Day, let's put pink frosting on your cupcakes and switch out the red wine for rosé.

There’s no shame in going #extra with table cloths, napkins, and plates all matching the same theme. Consider a bold X and O pattern DIY from Meghan Winsor Design , or a plain white tablecloth and provide markers to all your friends. They can write their names and messages down so you can keep it forever. Bring back the high school yearbook nostalgia with this one, even years down the road you can look back at this table cloth and reminisce.

Throw some pink confetti around the tables and on the floor, this is a cheap but perfect touch to showing your girls that this party means business! Check out the confetti from PaperBoy Party on Etsy. 

What to serve at a Galentine's Day Party:

Girls night will always feature junk food and wine, but this year for Galentine’s day, let's take it up a notch! Keep this night feeling sophisticated and fresh by skipping the greasy pizza and overpriced Chinese takeout.

There is nothing better than hearing your friends compliment YOUR cooking, so wow them with simple-yet-delicious recipes and show off your knowledge of wine pairings.

Begin the night with a sophisticated cheese plate, packed with a variety of cheeses, sliced meats and even a few nuts. Take the time to find the best drink to pair with your tray, this is a great way to welcome your friends to a fun Galentine's Day party.

If you make it right, the cheese tray will not last long, so be prepared with a couple appetizers to serve your guests. A proper Galentine's Day won’t have a three course meal where you are stuck at a table for hours- but an open concept with constant snacking!

Make sure you have a variety of sweet and salty snacks. Take into account any dietary restrictions and you will really hit it out of the park if you can wow your friends with a tasty vegan recipe they have never tried before.

For those salt-lovers, feed them these spicy but tame jalapeño poppers topped with cream cheese and wrapped in crispy bacon. Make sure you make plenty because none of your friends are going to have just one! Being Vegan is in, but eating grass and bread all day-is out. So show your friends that being vegan can be tasty (disclaimer: you don't have to be a vegan to enjoy these!) with stuffed mushrooms -they are perfectly bite sized and delicious!

Now for those sweet lovers, don't just make the classic chocolate covered strawberries, because what goes great with chocolate? MORE CHOCOLATE. Consider making brownies, cookies or a cake for dessert. Rachel, founder of Stay at Home Chef has recipes that can put your grandma out of business. Show off your baking skills, and remember- there is no such thing as too much butter :)

Finding an assortment of tasty drinks that are both alcoholic and non- alcoholic are a necessity for this upcoming holiday. There's nothing better than a delicious dessert you can drink! So take the old classic root beer float, and trade it in for a CUPID FLOAT!

Substitute root beer for Cherry 7-up, vanilla ice cream and provide a red licorice for a fancy straw. These drinks are age friendly, so even the youngin's can enjoy these. Those of drinking age can add their favorite creamy alcohol (highly recommend: Baileys Almond, this will match perfectly with the ice cream. Trust me!).

You want your party to be sweet- significantly sweeter than the banter you will have with your friends. So for those of you of drinking age, try this Sweet Strawberry Sangria. Garnished with strawberry hearts and vibrantly pink. This isn’t just a drink but it’s decor as well!

Galentine's Day Game Night:

Every girls night should include an old fashioned game of truth or dare. Find out who Becky's work crush is, and make Sarah finally send that text to Chad. But don't stop there, head over to Amazon to find some of this years hot new games!

What Do You Meme, is for all you internet-pop culture lovers out there. Think of Cards Against Humanity  but for meme lovers! Most Likely To, is a great option for your best friends, “who is most likely to show up late for their own wedding?” call out your friends in a fun, hilarious way. Whether you keep score and hand out prizes, or just play for fun, game night is always a good time!

diyballoons image

Do it for the Gram:

Document your Galentine’s Day with a sassy Instagram post! Create a backdrop for photoshoot in front of a blank wall with this incredible DIY Galentine's Day Balloon Tattoos project by Studio DIY. Cuffing season is far from over, and make sure everyone knows that even if you’re single, you're still cuffed by your best friends and those gorgeous Pieces of Me bracelet cuffs! 

Take a group shot doing the classic sleepover move- jumping on the bed, popping the champagne or pouring wine! And don't forget to show off your decorating chops with a few “before the guests arrive photos”.

(Check out this amazing photographer I found: Alexandria Monette this is her photo)

Here are some fun, witty caption ideas you can use when posting on social media:

  • “They brought the booze, I brought the party.”
  • “Just taking the time to celebrate my wing woman and maybe they'll find me someone to celebrate on Valentine's Day with.”
  • “It’s like Valentine’s Day, but better.”

Valentine’s Day can be wonderful whether you're single or in a relationship. It’s a day where Hallmark forces us to be a little bit nicer to the ones we care about, what can be wrong with that? So this year just make sure you bring all the best vibes into February 14th, by living it up with your favorite girls on February 13th.