Set a New Trend for 2010!

Yes, we hope you love yourself exactly the way you are right now. But life is about continuously growing and evolving, and what better time than the new year to make positive changes?

“I’ve been wearing my hair the same way since I was 5.”
Ponytails and headbands are great, but could it be time to update your do? Cropped pixies and bobs are expected to be popular in 2010 if you’ll let your stylist go scissor-happy. (C’mon, be brave!) If you’re adamantly against short hair, go shoulder length but play with it: buns or low ponies, curly or straight, middle or side part.

“I have OK clothes, but I don’t really have a style.”
So, you throw on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt most days? Great, but put a little personality into your look! You can really punch it up with accessories. Take a fashion trend -- hats, shawls and denim jackets are hot this season -- and make it your own by adding, say, that punk-rock pin you keep stuck to your bedside lampshade. Stylin’!

“I’m so sick of the drama between me and my friends.”
If you and the BFFs consistently have conflicts, remember: You can’t change their behavior, but you can change your own. So, take an honest look at your actions and promise yourself three things:

1.    “I will not put my friends down.”

2.    “If it’s not my biz, I’ll stay out of it.”

3.    “I won’t hold grudges.”

Follow these rules, and your relationships should improve.

“My grades aren’t too bad, but I know I could do better.”
If you know you’re not doing your best work, then you’re not trying hard enough. It’s one thing if you’re giving it your absolute all and still only coming out average, and that’s OK. But if you’re just getting by when you know you could be even slightly better? Crack the books. If you need a little boost, ask your teacher for some pointers.

“I just wish my parents would get off my back.”
Sometimes it seems the parentals are pushing you too hard, and the very next sec, they’re reining you in. Yeah, we know. Your best bet? Demonstrate maturity. Show them you’re responsible by coming home at curfew, keeping up with schoolwork and doing chores without being asked. We can almost guarantee this will keep them off your case -- and maybe even give you bargaining power for negotiating extra privileges!

Holiday Mission: Start a Family Tradition!

No matter what holiday your family celebrates, we have some unique ideas for making the season spectacularly special! Turn any of the following activities into an annual fam event, and there you have it: a family tradition.

Trim a Tree … Outdoors
We’re not talking about lighting up the shrubs and hedges with 1,000 bright-colored bulbs. Instead, give a gift to your neighborhood wildlife by decking out an evergreen with decorative edibles: garlands made of popcorn and cranberries, pinecones rolled in peanut butter and birdseed, dried apple slices tied with red-and-green ribbon. Watch the hungry birds flock to your yard!

Turn out the Lights!
Well, not all of them -- let the decorations shine on. But for just one night, turn off the main lights in the house, break out some candles, spin the holiday tunes and enjoy the illumination coming from your holiday decor. Use this time to make handcrafted gifts together, sing carols or video-chat with a relative who’s far away.

Ornament Trading Company
Many people have cookie-swapping parties, but how about an ornament trading get-together? Everybody in the family must make (not buy!) creative holiday ornaments. Glue popsicle sticks together to make sleds, build snowmen out of felt pieces or swirl different colors of paint inside clear glass ornaments. Then get together and swap away!

’Tis the Season to Give
Lots of families like to show generosity during this time of year by getting involved in volunteer opportunities. Check your local library or community center to find out how you and your family can sign up to work in a soup kitchen, “adopt” a needy family, visit nursing home residents or donate last year’s gently used toys to make room for the new batch of goodies you’re about to get.

What-a-good-time Capsule
Fill a shoe box with items from this year’s holiday festivities: a party napkin, wish lists, a few snapshots and so on. Stash it away, right along with all of your holiday decorations, and forget it about it for a while. Then on the following year, open it up and enjoy the memories from the previous holiday.

The Home-cooked Stretch
It’s always a letdown when the holidays are over. So why not extend them for just one more day? About a week or so after the fun has ended, schedule a sit-down family meal with a twist. You know how Aunt Sophie always serves her cornbread pudding or Mom makes the same chestnut stuffing every year? Hit the library for some offbeat cookbooks and make all new dishes for an “after party.” Place one small wrapped present at each place setting, even if it’s just a little something from the dollar store. The fun has just begun!

May the Force Be With You

Nikki Goldstein, author of GirlForce: A Girl’s Guidebook for the Body and Soul, gave us the inside scoop on how air, fire and Earth elements dominate your well-being, based on the ancient practice of Ayurveda. One elemental energy rules for most girls. What’s your type? Read below to find which one fits you best…then be your best you!

Are You an Air Girl?
Girls who are air types are generally creative and adventurous with slim frames. They can be tall or short, but usually have brownish skin, dark freckles, frizzy hair, small eyes, small teeth (sometimes cute and crooked) and dark eyes.

Standout traits Imaginative and quick-witted, you’re a natural-born innovator. You’d make a good fashion designer or astrophysicist. Too much to do, so little time? You also tend to get stressed, scatterbrained, nervous and exhausted.

Make it work Get plenty of rest and eat warm meals. Light and gentle exercise, such as yoga or tai chi, is balance for your body and mind.

Are You a Fire Girl?
Fire-type girls are passionate and determined. They often have medium-sized athletic builds, reddish and blond hair tones, and piercing green-blue or hazel eyes. Skin tends to get sunburned.

Standout traits You make everyone’s party list because you’re dynamic, passionate and magnetic. Still, you’re not always right! It’s a virtue to be a good loser and let others share some of the spotlight.

Make it work To take the pressure off, try swimming and outdoor sports to keep you cool and balanced. Also skip the coffee and fried foods and eat salads and fresh fruit instead.

Are You an Earth Girl?
Earth types are often dreamy and low-key. You might have a larger, curvy build, skin that is pale for your race, thick hair, and large, dark brown or blue eyes. Earthlings generally don’t like exercise.

Standout traits You’re the one everyone depends on in a crisis. You’re a devoted friend who brings balance to any relationship. But when you let yourself go, you end up horizontal.

Make it work Don’t give in to your laid-back nature to the degree that you become lazy and lackluster. You need a light diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, plus plenty of regular exercise. Push yourself to meet new people and avoid relationship ruts.

What's Buggin' Ya?

Forget yesteryear’s “whatever” attitude. Today’s teens care about what’s going on in the world. We’ve done our homework, and what we learned is that, sure, kids worry about which jeans to wear, who’s crushing on whom and next weekend’s big game. But the issues that really weigh on your mind add up to some pretty hefty stuff. Check it out.…

You Love Mama Earth
Teenagers worldwide are acutely aware of global issues, particularly those affecting our environment. In a recent study, a whopping 72 percent of teens surveyed understand that global warming is a serious problem. Still, 58 percent of teens don’t consider themselves “environmentalists.” Even so, another study of kids from 13 different countries reveals an “activist attitude,” and the No. 1 viewpoint, held by six of ten global teens is this: “I would fight for a cause I believe in.” So what’s stopping you? We all share one planet -- let’s do what we can to protect her.

You Want Good Grades
You might say, “Ugh,” when it’s time to get up for school in the a.m., but education remains important to most teens. A 2008 Australian study showed that more young adults are finishing high school and seeking college -- and making the grade gives teens around the world the most pressure. In the United States, one in three teens sees science and technology as the most important subjects in school for preparing themselves to deal with the global economy, and 38 percent wish their schools had more up-to-date technology. Topping the list of future expectations for eight out of thirteen global teens? Being rich, financially secure or better off than their parents.

You’re Sick of Bullies
Spending an average of 11 hours a week online, teens are “superconnectors,” constantly engaged in a virtual world. A creative outlet, yes, but cyberspace also provides a platform for kids to pick on each other. Sixteen percent of U.S. teens report having been victims of cyberbullying. Whether it’s derogatory postings, e-mail rumors or IM harassing, online bullying is seen as a greater threat than traditional bullying by nearly one-third of teens. One study shows the primary online perpetrators and victims are girls: A third of girls report being bullied, compared to 10 percent of boys; 17 percent of girls say they had bullied others, while 10 percent of boys admit to it. And researchers believe these numbers are even higher, as many incidents go unreported.

You Have Mixed Feelings
In the 1990s, teens were optimistic about their world. But by 2006, this took a turn as personal safety became a major worry, with 62 percent of kids concerned about terrorism and war, and only 14 percent of global teens confident that the world is becoming a better place. Overall, though, 21st-century teenagers remain positive -- a passionate and determined generation of young people who believe in themselves and their abilities. Willing to tackle difficult problems, today’s savvy teens recognize the important role technology plays in the future. And in their worldwide social networks, equality abounds with an increased intrapersonal and global understanding. Peace out!

Cool Girls Round the World

What’s not to love about a girl who’s out to make major world changes? We’ve rounded up three of our favorite do-gooder gals.…

Hannah Teter: Couldn’t be Sweeter
Competitive snowboarder Hannah Teter, 22, won gold in the 2006 Winter Olympics, but she didn’t let that medal muddle her head. Instead, she put her newfound clout to good use. “I’ve always wanted to help out in the world,” she says. “I now have the opportunity to pursue this dream.” So she decided to “sweeten the world one bottle at a time” with maple syrup from her home state of Vermont. Huh?

No, Hannah doesn’t think the Earth is flat as a pancake. But all profits from sales of her Hannah’s Gold Maple Syrup help poor children in the African community of Kirindon, Kenya. “I got to see the difference between clean water and dirty, disease-infested water that the kids were drinking previous to their rain water catchment system,” says Hannah of her trek to Kirindon. So far, she’s raised over half her goal of $100,000. Sticky sweet!

Ayna Agarwal: Doggone Do-gooder
During a trip last year to visit family in New Dehli, Ayna Agarwal, 16, was appalled to see helpless, homeless dogs wandering the streets. So she started Stop Pet Overpopulation Together Globally (SPOTGlobally), an organization to prevent animal overpopulation, starvation and cruelty.

SPOTGlobally has project sites in several locations worldwide: South Africa, Thailand, Nepal, Italy, Philippines, Mexico, Lebanon, Dominican Republic, Columbia and India. At the Friendicoes shelter in New Dehli, over 200 pets are cared for at any given time, but sadly, most have little hope of being adopted. Ayna’s program provides medications and surgical supplies. How does it benefit the world as a whole? Stray pets on the streets can lead to the spread of diseases -- such as rabies, a great endemic in India.

Amira Mortenson: Making Changes out of Change
What’d you drop on your last mocha latte? Three bucks? Five? A single cent in Pakistan can buy a pencil, and a dollar educates a girl for a month, says 13-year-old Amira Mortenson as she travels the world with her father promoting Pennies for Peace. Pennies for Peace inspires kids to collect spare change to support causes, such as building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Amira’s dad has received death threats and even been kidnapped, mainly because he wants to help educate girls in volatile countries, as documented in his book, Three Cups of Tea. Amira continues to follow her father and her heart, influencing kids to care and share. “Our generation should be totally dedicated to peace, not war,” says Amira, “and we should make sure every kid in the world can go to school.”