By Karyn Bechtel, Portola Valley Middle School mom

Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting a salon with Global Co Lab partner Brie Mathers of Love the Skin You’re In and a few 8th grade girls from my daughter’s class. Brie spoke at Portola Valley Middle School and I was excited to welcome my daughter and a few of her friends in my home following. I have to admit, my daughter usually comes home at the end of a school day pretty spent—ready for downtime and not much else. But she and her two friends were upbeat and engaged as Brie checked in with them about the ideas she had presented during her talk. Interestingly, different topics stood out to each of the three young ladies as most interesting. And while the conversation started pretty tightly focused on themes like self-confidence and relationships with peers, there was an impressive and inspiring branching out that took place from there. The girls found touch points relevant to the US Presidency, political activism, commercialism… I was so moved. This was not the heart-to-heart confession of teenage insecurity or confusion I was expecting. These young ladies (who I mistakenly still look at as little girls from time to time) verbally claimed their place time and time again in their school, with each other, and in society. They showed a sense of purpose, intellectual curiosity and strength. Brie’s message seemed to affirm and strengthen their resolve to be uniquely themselves, and to help create a world in which that is both promoted and applauded. I felt very grateful to be a part of this afternoon of thoughtful conversation, with potential and positivity bubbling up all around us. Such a gift.