It’s hard to believe we are on the heels of our celebrating the start of our EIGHTH year of Mini Mermaids. Just this past weekend on a road trip to Santa Barbara to show off our programming at She.Is.Beautiful- one of our many exciting car conversations was about grit and resilience. I’m currently obsessed with the book Grit by Angela Duckworth. Our conversation was about how challenging it is sometimes to explain what we do BESIDES get kids stoked on crossing a 5k finish line. I wonder all of the time, how are we (as in Mini Mermaids and Young Tritons) helping kids grow into themselves with strength, courage, and bravery? Reading Angela’s book - I am reminded of the powerful roads opened up when someone has grit = a combination of passion and perseverance. It’s the perseverance part that we work on.
When our kids and coaches cross a finish line it feels almost….magical. This “magic” is actually hard work, it’s six weeks of coaches showing up for kids, it’s kids as young as six years old finding out they don’t actually have to be perfect, that their fears, their INNER CRITIC can be heard and then quieted down so they can achieve the thing they set out to do. Grit is such a cool word to me, I love the way it feels when I say it….it feels well, it feels gritty. Like I’ve dug deep to do something, I’ve used my gut and my heart and my strength to achieve something. It feels like I didn’t give up even when it was hard. Grit makes me feel like I’ve silenced the voices that tell me I’m not good enough. I am thrilled to think of helping raise up generations of kids who have the grit to reach their goals. That road-trip talk took me back to the woman I was eight years ago who said, “Yep - let’s make a program for 10 girls, we can do that”, I’ve learned A LOT about grit, about sticking with it even when it’s really hard. 6000+ kids later, every choice we make as an organization starts first with who we are, what are our curriculum speaks to and how we want to show up. Who I am now as Executive Director is some of the same from that first year but with a whole lot more grit to keep moving forward to the finish line…..thanks for sticking with, standing up for and encouraging us as we build our grit every day.
This past summer, we revised ALL of our curriculums it was a crazy wild ride and worth every minute. In our newest version, we created the Mini Mermaid Flow. Why? We had something called the Treasure Chest in our old versions. It included three steps: stop, look and listen. These tools are designed to help girls take a moment and process what they are feeling BEFORE they react. We’ve taken it one step farther with the help of Amy Cuddy and her book Presence, “Amy Cuddy’s research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry — simply by changing body positions.” I had always felt committed to our posture, how we hold ourselves and how that posture affects our emotions and the outcomes we are looking for. I wondered, what if we could teach kids steps, actual motions to help them get centered to identify how they are feeling and then ask for what they need (advocate for themselves and others). So we took our treasure chest and we added a step, then we turned it into the Mini Mermaid Flow. I do the flow EVERY SINGLE DAY, probably 20 times. It helps me get my head on straight, to understand what I’m ACTUALLY feeling and then feel strong, empowered and ready to face whatever is ahead of me.
Take a breath. There’s time. There’s always enough time. Stand, feet together, with hands at your heart. 16 seconds to inhale and exhale breathe in for 4, out for 4, in for 4, out for 4.
Find the emotion you are experiencing and NAME it. Are you sad? Angry? Happy? Afraid? Raise hands together above your head, lift your sternum to the sky and do a little back bend.
Hear your inner truth, your Mini Mermaid voice. Tell Siren to be quiet so you can hear Mini Mermaid. Return to stand, feet together, and cross your arms, in an “x” across your chest.
Stand in your truth for yourself and others. Stand, feet together, arms down at your side, palms open, then place your hands on your hips for your strong power pose.
Throughout all four of our Mini Mermaid curriculums, coaches have a chance to teach their girls how going through the Mini Mermaid flow can help them focus and work through any situation. From movement, to emotionally charged situations, to feeling strong and powerful to stand up for themselves. YOU can use it too - we are happy to share this bit of mindfulness and intention setting with our entire MMRC nation. Be sure to get some serious swagger when you go into your STAND TALL power stance, you might be surprised how strong and ready you feel to conquer anything in front of you!
Young Tritons Head to Toe Scan: Boys need and deserve to have their own tools to check in, notice and name how they are feeling. Learning grit, perseverance and resilience takes practice AND requires tools to put it into action. In Young Tritons Curriculum 1 “What is a team and and how do I fit in?” boys learn the head to toe scan. Here is what our coaches read in week 6 as they and the boys prepare for their 5k run.
“Internal Dialogue-Have you started noticing that voice that speaks to you when you do something? We want to learn to pay attention to that voice and recognize when that voice is being unkind and not helping us. One way we can check in with ourselves and our internal voice is by checking in with our bodies. If we are speaking badly to ourselves, often our body feels tight, uncomfortable, maybe we are taking quick breaths instead of calm breaths. This can severely disrupt your sense of success at a race. We can quickly check in with our bodies by doing a ‘Head to Toe’ scan.
Start with your head and see how it feels. Go down your body and notice how your body is feeling. Does your head hurt? Are you scowling/frowning? Are you shoulders tight? Are you breathing quickly? Does your stomach hurt? Are your legs shaky? Do you just not feel good all over? If so, take a moment to shake it off. Literally shake your arms. Shake your legs. Sing some Taylor Swift. Then, take some slow deep breaths. Be kind to yourself. Change your internal voice to one that is kind and understanding. Imagine what you would say to a friend. Now say it to yourself.
This Head to Toe check can be done anytime with no one knowing. Before or during the race, in the classroom before a test, while we are doing something that is hard, scary, uncomfortable. As we begin to pay attention to our bodies and speak to ourselves more kindly our body will relax, and we will feel better.”
Whether you do the Mini Mermaid Flow or the Young Tritons Head to Toe Scan - your heart, mind and body will benefit from taking a moment to uncover what you are feeling and move forward from there.
Mini Mermaids at Bay Area Ivivva Stores
We are excited to announce a pilot program with 2 Bay Area Ivivva stores. Ivivva Corte Madera and Ivivva Valley Fair will be training groups of Mini Mermaids for our San Francisco session (October 3- November 13). Sign up today!
Carrie Kingsley is a writer, mom and Mini Mermaid Running Club coach at Bay View Elementary School in Santa Cruz, CA. Here is what she shared with us about her experience as a coach:
This is my first season with MMRC, but I’ve coached youth soccer in Santa Cruz for 10+ years, and briefly coached college lacrosse.
We’d been talking about doing an after school running club at Bay View for a few years, but hadn’t put together a plan. Natalie from Mini Mermaids showed up at our PTO meeting one night to tell us about this program- with a full, amazing curriculum, a plan to get us going in just a few weeks, and the assurance of lots of patience and support. When a fantastic opportunity for our girls fell into my lap, I had to take it! I’m so thankful.
My favorite parts of coaching were: Hearing the girls use the positive Mini Mermaid language with each other outside of practice, and watching a girl who didn’t think she was athletic absolutely crush her first two-miler. The surprised smile on her face was fabulous!
Would you like to help us expand? We are looking for volunteers to put up flyers and distribute marketing materials. You can be located ANYWHERE for this opportunity. Please email email@example.com if you are interested!
Sessions begin the week of October 10 and
end with the Bakersfield Turkey Trot on November 19
Sessions begin the week of November 7 and
end with the Sacramento Santa Run on December 17
Sessions begin the week of February 13 and
end with the Mermaid San Diego on March 25