What Happened When I was 12

For three years my family lived in southeast Asia – first in Singapore and then in Jakarta, Indonesia. My dad worked contracts in the semi-conductor industry and we had some amazing experiences as a family. (I’m the youngest girl pictured at the left.)

However, I was awkward and clumsy – growing fast and becoming taller than nearly everyone else, (even the grown men of Jakarta) and even if that hadn’t been the case, let’s face it, it’s a tough age, anyway.

I also felt different because of my religious background, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a community almost completely Muslim.

But religious diversity was the least of my insecurities. In fact, my best friend was the daughter of a Hindu mother and a Jewish father, and I was able to learn about some of the traditions of those cultures as well.

(I believe it was during this time that I began to appreciate religious and cultural diversity. I learned that truth seekers cling to truth wherever they find it, and prefer to build on beliefs they share with others rather than argue about disagreements.)

Anyway, my insecurities really stemmed from the common concern among young women that they are ugly, or not cool enough, or not likable. Even the most beautiful of young women tend to think they aren’t beautiful enough.

The good news is that something else happened when I was 12.

It was one of the best things my parents could have done for me at the age when I was searching for my self-worth…

They gave me the opportunity to hear motivational speakers tell me how amazing and wonderful I was, to show me the beauty inside of me, so that when I returned to school and had the popular girls making fun of my clothing (or red hair or height or whatever), I had an inner assurance that said I had value, no matter what.

It was a summer church camp called, “Academy for Girls”. Even though it was primarily for girls in my church, my best friend (with her Hindu and Jewish background) came with me and loved it, too.

Leslie as a counselor for Academy for Girls, 1990

That’s when I realized that true principles are true no matter who you are or where you come from. It sort of leveled the playing field for me and helped me realize that we have so much in common with all people around the world who view themselves as children of God.

I loved how I felt in those classes. I felt like I could accomplish anything in life.

It was right then and there that I decided I wanted to grow up and be a motivational speaker. When I was 18 I returned to the Academy as a counselor. (I’m on the ground in the picture at the right.)

Look at what a simple seed planted at age 12 can do.

The experience gave me the strength I needed to avoid peer pressure, and to develop a desire to help others feel better about themselves, too… even at the risk of ridicule from others.

Would you like that for your daughter?

Would you like to give her the advantage that can put her on a path to becoming all she can be?

Time to Blossom event 2010

Consider the “Academy for Girls” of the new generation. It’s got a different name, TIME TO BLOSSOM, and it’s only for 1 week instead of two, and instead of being at Brigham Young University in Utah, it’s at the Hilton Hotel here in Mesa, Arizona (where I live now), but one of the recent speakers is even one of the same ones who spoke to ME when I was 12!!!!

Check it out:


Tell them Leslie Householder sent you!

Leslie Householder

7 Responses

    1. I’m sure there is, somewhere… but I haven’t looked for one. Try Googling BYU Summer Youth Camps and see what you find. The “EFY” program is where we’ve sent our boys, although since it isn’t just for boys, the girl distraction factor is still there…

  1. Leslie,
    I don’t normally get emotional (well, maybe…) when I read a post, but I loved this post, and got choked up before I even got to the bottom of the page. Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience! (Especially your feelings on diversity.) I thought of my own 14 year old and her particular struggles. The things I am doing right now to help her were validated as I read this story. Then, imagine my smile, when at the bottom, you promoted “A Time to Blossom” which I had already enrolled her in back in December! We are looking forward to this event. She is already a big “fan” of Debbie Forrest and the ideas she presents. Another ironic side story: When Debbie had a presentation at her home, I brought this daughter along. You were also there, and my 14 year old commented to me how beautiful YOU were! I say ironic, because of the feelings you had when you were a youth. And now you are being admired even by the young and beautiful! haha Makes me smile. Thank you for living your 12 year old dream!

  2. I am truly enjoying the information or lessons you are teaching me. The student is ready to learn. Keep up the great work. I dont know how i got your emails but it was meant to be.

  3. This sounds truly wonderful. I wish I’d had something like that when I was that age.
    It seems like a crucial time to give girls that kind of affirmation, both for parents and for the ‘outside world’.
    I struggled for a long time with my sense of self-worth and attached it to all sorts of external things, like my body, my popularity, my grades, what kind of music I listened to, whether the boys were interested in me… What a waste of time!
    Thanks for sharing this course with us. If anyone hears of a similar type of course in other countries, do let us know!

  4. I can’t wait until my 7-year-old daughter is 11 so I can send her to this conference! I have known the co-founder, Debbie Forrest, for 25 years, and she is amazing!!! She has been an amazing mentor to me over the years; I wish I had an opportunity like this when I was young.

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