Things to Do List UPDATED {Free Printable}

Jen's Things to Do List

A few weeks ago, I shared a "Things to Do" printable list I liked here.  I still like that list, but I needed to tweak it just a touch to meet my current needs.


I added a "Mantra" box at the top of the list.  A weekly mantra will help me stay focused and intentional that week.  I also wanted the days of the week to begin with Monday (and not Sunday), so I retyped the to-do list and started with Monday, which allowed for Saturday and Sunday to be right next to each other at the bottom.  Lastly, I wanted just a little more space to write since my handwriting is slightly chubby.

If you'd like to use this updated to-do list (pictured above) or share it with a friend, please find it here. It is ready to print on standard 8.5 x 11 paper.

Happy to-doing until you're to-done,


Lessons From a Ski Bum

Ski Bumming It

When I graduated from Michigan State University with my undergraduate degree, I did exactly the opposite of what my parents wanted me to do.  I moved to Aspen, Colorado and became a ski bum. Yep. I made my parents un-proud and awakened their expletive vocabulary.   They had just spent thousands of dollars on my college education and I chose to forego a real job to follow my dream - living the life of a ski bum.

I moved to Aspen.  Worked the typical 2-4 jobs at a time.  Skied and snowboarded my winters away. And three and a half years later, I re-entered the real world by way of graduate school.

Now, before you weigh in, let me share the best lessons I took away from ski bumming.  In fact, maybe you will read this post and plan your ski bum experience (or encourage someone else to take one themselves).  Either way, email me.  I'll come ski with you.  Pinky swear.

Lessons From a Ski Bum

Lesson #1:  When you ski bum, you become a master at balancing work and play - a lesson that most of US America could stand to learn.  As a ski bum, you work your tail off doing whatever jobs you can to support your addiction - skiing (and/or snowboarding). You always make time for both - work and play - as you understand their symbiotic, essential relationship.

Lesson #2:  You understand the value of a dollar and how to stretch it.  When you ski bum, your thrifty-side awakens (if it hadn't already from undergraduate school).  You learn to live with so much less and know it's totally doable.  You live in a 150-square foot studio apartment with a roommate?  No problem!  At least you have a futon to share.  You consider a bowl of Stove Top stuffing a meal?  No problem!  Who knows, you might be eligible for a free employee meal when you arrive to your third job of the day.  This thriftiness translates well into the real world where you discover you don't need a slew of material items to be happy.

Lesson #3:  You meet the most interesting people from all over the world and all different industries. Most of the people who can afford to vacation in ski towns have money.  They have interesting jobs and lifestyles, which they often take for granted - sadly.  Getting to rub elbows with such a diverse, privileged crowd is a great way to jump start your entry into the real world when you decide to leave the ski bum womb.  Ski bumming is a great opportunity to network and meet influential people.

Lesson #4:  Life is people.  People are stories.  Living as a ski bum gives you thousands of stories to tell.  Being a storyteller is a gift.  For example, I once worked as the personal assistant to the personal assistant for a very wealthy family from Chicago.  A sheik from Saudi Arabia would call me weekly to see if anyone from said family needed a ride to LA or NY on his private jet.  "Oh, no...but, thank you.  The family is already on their private jet to London for the week."  Or the time Gary Busey wanted to be seated immediately in the very busy restaurant where I hosted.  "I'm sorry, we don't have a table available.  What did you say your name was again?  Could you spell it for me?  I'll add you to the waiting list."  My very favorite stories, though, involved seeing John Denver daily in his white, one-piece ski suit using my work's pay phone (JD, may you rest in peace).  I guess pay phones should rest in peace, too.

Now, trust me.  Go!  Be a ski bum.  Encourage others to do the same.  The real world will be waiting for you whenever you return.  Quite frankly, the real world would be a better place if more people had ski bum on their resume.



Thursday is Brought to You by Jedi

Jedi the dog collage

Today is brought to you by Jedi.  This dog is responsible for bringing immense joy to our family, getting me outside to hike (or run) on days where I have zero interest, and for making the start of my day meditative.  Petting him for 5-10 minutes when I wake up is the best way to start the day - peaceful, calm, and loving.

I am contemplating trying real meditation again.  Just about every public-figure-person I admire meditates on a daily basis.  Are you like me?  I'm so not good at meditation; my mind goes 101 places.  I hear Tara Brach has a great collection of guided mediations, so I'm going to give her a try. I'm starting with her Smile Mediation.

Smile + Mediation?!  Sounds like my kind of combo.

If you have any meditation tips, please share.


Teaching Gear

from ski to running shoes

I am a complete gearhead. I love gear.  Part of my obsession is I love the outdoors.  Many sports in the outdoors require specialized gear.  If you want to downhill ski, you need ski gear.  If you want to cross-country ski, you need another type of ski gear.  Whitewater kayak?  More gear.  Backpack? Still more gear. Bouldering?  Thankfully, very little gear.  Gear, gear, gear.  That is why Mr. UpCyclist wants the toy-hauling RV pictured here.  More room to store our family's collective gear.

Now, before you judge (or applaud), I like gear because it has a purpose.  It doesn't just take up space (although, I certainly have gear that gets used less often - like my ice crampons for climbing glaciers).   Typing that line makes me miss teaching in Ecuador.  Sigh.

Thankfully, my profession includes teaching gear!  My favorite two places to purchase teaching gear is Training Wheels and  Experiential Tools.  I'm serious when I say, I could forego just about any material item in exchange for gear from either of those online stores.  Not that I'm hinting around for my upcoming April birthday (ha!),  I'm just trying to save you time when you are looking for teaching gear to use with your students.  Both online storefronts offer the most creative teaching gear I've seen.  I own my fair share of items from both stores.  These miniature metaphors are too cute and useful.  How smart are these button conversation starters?  I just used this body parts debrief in my class; my students thought it was uber-creative and memorable.  I really cannot get enough of this deck of Chiji cards.  It is my go-to item.  Oh, and wait until you see the new teaching gear from Sue! She's brilliant and just created her own deck of curiosity cards.  After I buy a set, I'll review them right here on the ole' blog.

Now, it's your turn.  What is your favorite gear - teaching or not?  I'd love to hear.

All the best, fellow gearhead,

PS - I just noticed this!  Now, that's a creative piece of gear.

Skiing (Hashtag) Rocks

ski selfies

Back in 2008, Mr. U and I asked our employers if we could work from a distance for three months. We wanted to properly teach Miss O how to ski.  Sure, you can learn to ski going 1-2 days a week. But, we wanted her to be fully immersed in the sport.  Our employers thankfully agreed (do I have the coolest college ever?) and we left Maryland and lived in Lake Tahoe for seven weeks and Breckenridge for seven weeks.  Both resorts share the same ski pass, which made the three months more financially doable.  This is also when we feel madly in love with Breckenridge and had to buy a small place there two years later.

I have proof in the videos below of Miss O's improvement over the three month ski experience. Immersion is grand.

Video #1: Miss O is skiing off the Magic Carpet here (remember this video is 7 years old).  Notice how she only makes one turn at the end to stop and squeals with delight the entire way down.  We pretty much hung out on this Magic Carpet for a week straight.  In Week 2, we would ski the bunny hill when she started to get the hang of making turns and stopping on a dime.

Video #2:  Just three short weeks later, look out how much she improved here.  Isn't it crazy?  From doing zero turns and barreling down the bunny slope to skiing the entire mountain at Heavenly in Lake Tahoe on any of their blue runs.

Video #3:   This video is shot almost at the end of our three month ski experience.  She's in the halfpipe in Breckenridge!  This video cracks me up and truly shows what happens when you get to ski daily for three months.  So much growth.

To me, skiing is such a incredible activity - you get to spend immense amounts of time in the outdoors and visit many different places around the world to ski.  Skiing is also a fantastic sport that you can do for a lifetime. I love when I see older skiers.

It is now seven years later and we still love to ski.  Some days the three of us go out together.  Other days, just two of us.  This year, we've been skiing only locally in Pennsylvania, which I thought I wouldn't like, but it has totally surprised me.  The snow has been great.  The lift lines are OK for such a populated part of the country.  I love seeing all the local ski teams; kids that ski rock, in my opinion. Since Miss O qualifies for the free PA ski pass, she's been using that all season.  I just saw it is closed for this year, but if your child qualifies, mark your calendar for next fall when applications open again.

Really, I can't say more good things about skiing.  A chance to be outdoors, glide down mountains, push yourself to conquer new slopes, meet interesting people, see the world, and if you are like me, collect lift chair selfies of the people you adore.

#skiingrocks  - Just sayin,