In the last two weeks, I’ve received two invitations to speak to groups of students. The first, to speak to a few classes of high school students at my alma mater about professional and career development. The second, to speak with a newly formed sixth grade girls’ empowerment club, who invited me to speak about being an influential woman in my community. These aren’t the first speaking opportunities to present themselves to me, but perhaps coming back-to-back they had me a little uneasy. I kept wondering what could I possibly talk to them about? What words could I find to inspire these students on their career paths? What have I done that’s made me an influential woman? What could I offer them, when I’m still figuring this whole life thing out myself?

These thoughts swirled in my head through a pretty hectic work week, with a sick child, and shortly after I finished my Saturday afternoon workout I forced myself to list ten things I was proud of myself for achieving. While I’m someone who’s constantly giving thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed upon me, I rarely give myself the credit I deserve when it comes to my work ethic, and I don’t think this is a me thing! I think women are constantly pushing to be everything to everyone, and it’s imperative that we pause to pat ourselves on the back every once in a while. And while the wave of women empowerment taking place across our nation is incredibly inspiring and encouraging, as women, we have own that power, from inside out.

Changing how you talk to or view yourself can be incredibly challenging, so I’ve gathered five of my favorite girl power books and made a quick reading list for all of the women that need to embrace their inner badass and create the change(s) they’re craving! In no order, here they are:

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Malala is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring women, and reading her courageous story, in her own words, brought me to tears. This is a great book for younger women, or for mothers to hand down to their daughter(s). While it isn’t a terribly long read, I found myself being more appreciative after reading.

Captivating by Christian couple John & Stasi Eldredge

In full disclosure, Captivating, was written by a married, Christian couple. And in full disclosure again, it took me months to get through the book from start to finish. [What’s important to note is that was not because it’s a difficult read, it was because there was so much for me to learn about myself through their interpretation of God’s word.] While reading, there were passages that made me feel inspired, others that made me feel understood, and many that made me feel it was okay for me to be who I am, flaws and all. I highly recommend spending some time with this one!

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

Before I bought #GIRLBOSS, I didn’t know much about it. I grabbed it before I flew out of town for a conference and you guys, I read it in five hours. I was so impressed by Sophia’s unapologetic ambition. It was so nice to see a woman creating her own path, despite what barriers presented themselves. Again, not an incredibly lengthy read, but one that lights your passion on fire with each word.

Letters to My Daughter by Maya Angelo

Letters to My Daugher is a book I revisit every so often. I have always found comfort in Maya Angelo’s words, and this book was no different. I’m always taken back that Angelo didn’t have a daughter herself, and for me, this book represents a token of unity between women – something that I think is stronger today than ever before!

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

I didn’t purchase Year of Yes when it first came out. I was actually on a vacation, one that wasn’t so pleasant, and wandered into a little flower shop to escape my company. To my surprise, it wasn’t actually a flower shop, it was a small bookstore. I noticed Year of Yes and the rest was history. I was inspired, again, to tears while reading this book. To read the words that articulated many of the thoughts I’d been struggling with was incredibly powerful. I might even be so bold to say that Year of Yes inspired a variety of changes in my life. I was on the brink of some incredibly difficult choices, and I found the courage to take a series of tiny steps, that ultimately brought me closer to who I wanted to be, despite those I had to escort out of my life during that evolution. Shonda Rhimes gets really real, and any woman in any situation would benefit from reading her brave journey of redefining herself.

Bonus: Strong Looks Better Naked by Khloe Kardashian

I had to throw in one bonus book, and I wish I still had my copy but I lent it out and never got it back! Strong Looks Better Naked is such a fun read. Khloe Kardashian is so open and honest in this book, and the words she uses while detailing her journey are healing. What I thought would be a surface level book written by another celebrity turned out to be a story about forgiveness – not just with others, but with yourself. I highly recommend this read for more mature women!

I’ve linked each book to view and learn more, or go ahead and order a copy. I’d love to hear what you think or any suggestions you may have for other girl power inspo – send your thoughts/reactions/suggestions my way @CaseyNCawthon.

Special note to my team of badass babes from Providence to the Big Apple to Nashville to Chicago to Phoenix and those right here in Indy, thank you for always being steadfast pillars of support, encouragement, love, and light. I’m better thanks to each of you!

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