Change Your Shoes, Lean in, and Believe!

What we think, we become. With our thoughts, we shape our world.

What do you believe of your life and of the world? What do you want from your life and your journey through this world?

Are your most exciting dreams for your life becoming lost in a present that is full of busyness, or in a past that holds you back?

As I sit in our Change Your Shoes and Lean In circle with young girls aged between 14 and 17 who have been victims of sexual exploitation, we contemplate these questions. This is the second circle of girls to start their journey through these and other questions that we hope will help them make choices to "change their shoes" and "lean in" to all they want for themselves.

These are just a few of the millions of young girls we want to reach who are victims of a multi-billion dollar industry of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Happening now. Happening in your neighborhood.

One thing is clear as the girls share their stories, their desires, all that holds them back, and all that might move them forward. The power of belief crosses all boundaries.

As the girls listen to Sheryl Sandberg's introduction to the Change Your Shoes and Lean In circle, they are moved to tears, "This lean in circle is all about you and your dreams for the future... I don't know what it is truly like to stand in your shoes, but I do know that what has happened to you in the past, does not determine what will happen to you in the future... No matter where you come from, you can get to where you want to be... Aim high. ...Ask yourself, 'What would you do if you weren't afraid ... and go do it.'"

A few months ago, I saw the same teary reaction from the first group of girls that went through this circle. They too, had been moved to tears, and they gave the same explanation as to why--that someone as busy and as successful as Sheryl would spend the time to create a message for them, and believes in them.

The belief we have in ourselves, and the belief others take the time to show in us, can change the path of our lives. Belief enables us to step forward in hope. Belief enables us to let go of a past that holds us back, and bravely step into all we desire for our future.

As the girls share all they want to "lean in" for themselves, we discover one of the girls has music within her and wants to be a singer and song writer. Another wants to care for children. Another wants to be a funeral director. Another wants to find a job to be a good mother and travel the world. Throughout the circle sessions, we will take steps to get closer to those futures.

Each of the girls believes they can make the life they want happen. Each believes their past will not hold them back, but give them strength to create the future they want.

They are determined, resilient, and defiant. They have attitude that will be their force to move forward. They are bold, they are brave, and they may get called bossy.

Do you know what you want for your future? When was the last time you wrote down all you want for your life and the world? Do you believe you can make choices today to change your tomorrow? Do you believe you can defy your past and conquer your challenges? These girls do. And they would say that you can, too.

So, today, what do you want? Today, what steps can you take to step out of the shoes that hold you back, and step into the shoes that will enable you to lean in to all you want for your life and for the world?

Today, change your shoes, lean in, and believe!


For more by Kathy Andersen, click here.

For information on the Change Your Shoes and Lean In circle, or to start a Change Your Shoes Lean In circle, click here. For information on child sexual exploitation and how you can help, visit Kristi House here, or visit UNICEF here.