Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Get Your Thanksgiving On All Year Long: 6 Ways to Practice Gratitude Every Day

Now that the turkey’s gone and the food coma has set in for a good week give or take, let’s not throw out all that delicious Thanksgiving gratitude. Taking a moment to be grateful every day can help us feel happier and more connected all year long. It can also help us feel our best so that we have our best to give to others—you know we’re all about making the world a better place!

Here are six ways to practice gratitude every day:

1.     Literally count your blessings. Every day before bed, take a few minutes to think of three things you’re thankful for that day—you might even write them down. Then, at the end of one full year, you can read through your collection and reflect on all that is so good in your world.
2.     Pay attention to the small things. Don’t just wait for the big, amazing things to happen. Focus on small, everyday joys like a delicious meal, a break on a deadline, or a sweet parking spot. Once you start to pay more attention, the reasons to be grateful are endless.
3.     Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Helping others can serve as a great reminder of all we have to be grateful for, instead of focusing on everything we wish we had that we don’t. Remember there is always someone who would be delighted to be in your spot. Put your time and energy into helping someone who could really use a friend to be grateful for. You see how that all adds up? Cool!
4.     Perform at least one random act of kindness every day. It may sound like a lot, but once you get into the swing of it, it’s not much at all! Everyday kindness is in opening a door for a stranger, in just letting it go when someone cuts in line, in surprising a friend with her favorite treat for no reason at all. Regularly practicing kindness helps us better connect with our world and those in it, allowing us to focus on smiling faces and the goodness of people rather than all the not-so-good stuff.
5.     Surround yourself with positive people. Positivity is contagious! If you spend all your time around folks who consistently focus on the negative, you’re going to have a hard time staying positive and grateful. Negativity is part of life, but it doesn’t have to be a focus in your life! Practice positivity and hang around people who are into it as well, and watch your gratitude soar to awesome new heights.
6.     Commit to it! Mindset is a powerful thing. Decide to commit to gratitude and see how you just start noticing more things to be grateful for. This will come in super handy, especially when tough times roll around.

So come on. Join us. Let’s get our Thanksgiving on all year long, substituting that coma-inducing meal for a healthy serving of grateful every day! It will make such a difference in your life and in the life of those you love.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Troop Capitol Hill Member, Senator Barbara Mikulski Honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom

On behalf of the entire Girl Scout Movement, Girl Scouts of the USA is proud to congratulate one of our own, U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, for receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A Girl Scout alumnae and a leader of Girl Scout Troop Capitol Hill since its inception, Senator Mikulski has served as a living embodiment of the Girl Scout Promise & Law, tirelessly working to serve her country, demonstrate courageous leadership, and make our world a better place. 

For nearly four decades, Senator Mikulski has served as a role model for girls on the national stage, demonstrating the principles and values of Girl Scouts, which she carries in her heart. This well-earned honor comes on behalf of a grateful nation, and has earned her the respect and admiration of Girl Scouts everywhere. 

This Winter Break, Get Out and Get Active, Girl Scout Style!

Off from work for a week or two? The kids on winter break from school? Don’t just cozy up in the house the whole time. This holiday season, spend quality time with family and friends in the great outdoors, Girl Scout style! 

Why? Because the outdoors is infinitely FUN. There are endless things to discover and learn from! Plus, spending time outdoors is critical for physical and emotional health. Specific to girls, research has shown that even one outdoor experience a month benefits them, especially girls of comparatively low socioeconomic status. In other words, the outdoors is not just fun, it improves health and wellbeing—one of our favorite combos! 

That’s why the outdoors is an integral part of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. At Girl Scouts, we offer girls outdoor experiences in a safe, all-girl space where they’re free to stretch their minds and expand their skills, taking on challenges they might not feel as comfortable with in a coed environment. 

Did you Know? 
  • Girl Scouts has partnered with the National Park Service to encourage girls to visit a national park, monument, historical site, or seashore near them. While there, they’re encouraged to earn our Girl Scout Ranger patch introduced in 2015. 
  • Girl Scouts is actively involved with the National Park Service initiative Every Kid in a Park, which offers all fourth graders in the United States unlimited free admission for one year to any national park, historic site, seashore, or monument. 
  • At Girl Scouts, girls have access to more than 24 AWESOME outdoor- and STEM-related badges across Girl Scout grade levels—plus outdoor opportunities are woven into all of our core program materials. These badges (details below!) encourage girls to become environmental stewards by exploring the natural environment around them. Girls learn about how STEM and the outdoors are linked, and they connect with female role models in environmental careers.
    • Naturalist Legacy badges (Bugs, Flowers, Trees, Sky, Water) 
    • Science & Technology Skill Building badges (Home Scientist, Entertainment Technology, Science of Happiness, Science of Style) 
    •  Outdoors Skill Building badges (Hiker, Camper, Trailblazing, Adventurer) 
    • Adventure Skill Building badges (Letterboxer, Geocacher, Night Owl, Traveler) 
    • Innovation Skill Building badges (Inventor, Product Designer, Entrepreneur, Social Innovator) 
    • (New!) Outdoor badges (Outdoor Adventurer, Paddling, Archery, Horseback Riding, Ultimate Recreation Challenge) 
    • …plus new Outdoor badges will be introduced in 2016—yeah!
And guess what? Even the Obama administration recognized Girl Scouts’ commitment to outdoor education and healthy living for girls this year, welcoming us onto the White House lawn for the first-ever White House campout. We couldn’t be more honored! 

Plus, our More Than S’Mores research (2014) found that 50 percent of girls surveyed said they wouldn’t have been able to do a certain outdoor activity (e.g., archery, horseback riding, canoeing/kayaking) had it not been for Girl Scouts! Additionally, 72 percent of girls said they’d improved a skill through their outdoor experiences in Girl Scouts, and 29 percent even said the experiences helped them overcome a fear of the outdoors—so inspiring!

Now if that’s not enough reason to get outdoors and get active this winter break Girl Scout style, we don’t know what is.  Join us outside! It’s always a great time.

9 Fun Powerful Ways to Pay it Forward this Thanksgiving

Kindness truly comes in all shapes and sizes, and it can be incredibly powerful in its various forms. In a world that can feel filled with darkness, you can make a meaningful difference in someone’s day and life by channeling your inner Girl Scout and paying it forward with a little (or BIG) dash of love, light, and service.

This Thanksgiving, savor every last bite of turkey and mashed potatoes, ravish that pumpkin pie, and fill your belly with laughter as you enjoy quality time with friends and family. Just don’t forget to leave room for a little gesture that can make a BIG difference. Here are nine small yet powerful ways to pay it forward this Thanksgiving, and to remind others how much AWESOME there is in the world. And make sure to encourage friends and family to join you on these fun, make-the-world-a-better-place adventures in giving!

1. Did you buy a little more food than you ended up needing for your Thanksgiving meal? Quick, head to a local homeless shelter or charity, or a neighbor’s home—anyone you know who might be running a little low this year—and offer up your unopened and unused items. As a nice touch, if you’re giving to a neighbor, leave a basket with the items at their door and include a well-wishing note, giving them the extra special joy of receiving an anonymous gift from a kind stranger.

2. Lucky enough to have some very special people in your life? We sure hope so! Get your writing hats on and pen or text thank-you notes to friends and family. Let them know three reasons you are especially grateful for them this year; you’ll fill them with warmth.

3. Have a friend in need of a little pick-me-up? Surprise them with a just-because-you’re-awesome lunchbox filled with her or his favorite Thanksgiving leftovers. (Turkey sandwich, anyone?) Include some inspirational sticky notes to lighten their mood, and you’ve just given a special someone a meal to remember!

4. Is there a homeless person you see often in your neighborhood or on your way to work? Next time you see them, give them a hug—and make it a good one! It might do them even more good than that dollar (but still give them the dollar)! We all need human connection, and hugs are simple reminders that we matter.

5. Do you have a coworker that is particularly stressed out at work or at home? Make their day: get to work a little early and leave a gift card for coffee or some other small treat you know they’ll love, along with a note with something like “Have a GREAT day! You deserve it!” So simple. So powerful!

6. Have an all-time favorite book that makes you feel all kinds of good inside? Order a couple copies and give them out to three complete strangers. Include a note on the inside cover that explains why you love the book so much and what you hope they’ll take away from it. After all, sharing is totally caring.

7. Ready to shine a little light on a stranger’s day? Let’s do it! Make it a goal to give out at least one compliment every day next week. Then see if you can stop yourself from spreading the love every week thereafter!

8. Looking to make some very brave and amazing people very happy? Contact your local USO and ask them for a list of most-needed items for their soldiers. Then, get together with a bunch of friends and family to make care packages filled with necessities, treats, and notes of encouragement. Ask the USO when you can make your delivery, and get to spreadin’ that cheer!

9. Ready to do some really meaningful giving back? On Thanksgiving Day, forfeit the turkey and football, and take the family down to a soup kitchen, shelter, or hospital to serve food or help out in some other way—even if it’s just passing out hugs. You’ll bring joy to folks who desperately need it this holiday season. It’s a great opportunity to bond and focus on what’s really important with those closest to you. Now that’s what we call Thanksgiving!
Thursday, November 5, 2015

Texas Troop Uses Cookie Money to UP the Joy of Reading for Children’s Hospital Patients

There are countless treats to choose from when a craving for sweets kicks in, but there’s something extra special about Girl Scout Cookies that makes them an exceptional choice.

Of course, cookie lovers rejoice when Girl Scout Cookies become available in their community because of their limited availability (cookie season is just three to four months a year) and unique flavors—but that’s not what makes them exceptional. Girl Scout Cookies are SO much more than just delicious treats!

Every time a box is purchased, a customer helps a Girl Scout learn five essential twenty-first-century business and financial skills—goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.

And that’s not all! Buying Girl Scout Cookies also truly helps girls make the world a better place. Girl Scout Cookie sales fund the amazing work that Girl Scouts do to improve communities nationwide. But don’t just take our word for it. See how a Texas troop used their cookie money to make reading more accessible and fun for patients of the Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin though their inspiring Take Action project.