Chatbooks with Lil O and Mr. UpCyclist

A year ago, I didn't know my college would grant me a sabbatical to write a book.  I didn't know my family would out-run a blizzard from Colorado to Maryland in a 32-hour nonstop drive.  Or my word for 2014 would be Brave.  I didn't know the summer of 2014 would be one of my favorite summers on record.  There are just so many things I couldn't predict.

But, I do know one thing.  I am thankful.  Thankful for the past year.  Thankful for my family and for my friends.  They have cheered me on with book writing, let me practice coaching them, and simply put up with me when I was no where to be found refueling.  I am thankful for my college and my amazing colleagues there who have supported my professional dreams.  I am incredibly thankful to those three above (Jedi is at their feet).   We do much laughing together and growing.  I'm also thankful for you.  You keep coming back to this blog, reading, engaging, and reaching out every once in a while.

I know you are there and for that, I say thanks.




My Favorite Line So Far

Fall in love with failure - Jen Lara

Yesterday I started Chapter 3 in my book.  Chapter 3 is all about what I call the Power Triad - growth mindedness, play, and creativity.

This line might be my favorite in the book so far:  Fall in love with failure.   I wrote that line in relation to nurturing a growth mindset.  If you can't remember what a growth mindset is, check out my posts here and here.  Dr. Carol Dweck's research on mindset is truly amazing.

Back to writing, I go.  Have a great day!



PS - My goal by the time my sabbatical ends in January is to write the first draft of four chapters (the entire book is eight chapters, plus an introduction and "Grow Yourself" activities) and to have a completed book proposal pitched to an agent/publishing company.


Big Thinking

Lil O running - Bay Bridge 10K

Nine months ago, Mr. UpCyclist asked Lil O if she wanted to do a 10K together in Annapolis, Maryland.  This 10K is a pretty special one as it goes over the famous Chesapeake Bay Bridge and has lovely views of the Chesapeake Bay - a treasure in Maryland.  Lil O agreed and seven months rolled by.

In early September, we returned home from our Colorado summer.  It was time to start training.  For seven weeks, Mr. U and Lil O ran three times a week together.  They started with just one lap around our neighborhood (which is roughly 1.3 miles) and grew from there - their longest training run was the race distance - 6.2 miles.

Mr. U and Lil O finished the Bay Bridge 10K

Jedi, the pup, trained with them every single step of the way.  He literally didn't miss a training run - that sweet dog.

Yesterday, Lil and Mr. U ran the race in a respectably time - 1 hour and 15 minutes.  They ran the entire distance without walking.  Lil O even did a cartwheel when she summited the bay bridge.

Jedi will do anything to run with Mr. U

Jedi couldn't run the actual race.  There was a no-dog policy.  But, he and I greeted Lil O and Mr. U around mile 5.5.  Jedi was elated to see them running.  In fact, I swear, he would have pulled me on my bare knees to run with them.  He was yelped and howling to get their attention.

A few friends have asked why I didn't do the race, too.  I have two thoughts about this.  First, running isn't my jam.  Sure, I trail run with Jedi, but that's just because I like forests and I have to keep up with his furry self; Jedi's an antelope in the woods.  But, second, I love the fact that Lil O and her daddy shared this special accomplishment together.  Not with me.  Not because of me.  Not anything to do with me.  It was them.

Big thinking is like that.  It isn't always about you or me.

Mr. U and Lil O thought big.  They set a goal.  They worked hard towards that goal.  They endured their fair share of sweat and tears.  And ultimately, they reached their goal together.

10K training schedule

I'll blog soon about running with kids (or doing any type of co-training with kids).  I actually think I have a few tips to share on this from being a bystander during their 7-week training.  You can see a sneak peak of their training regimen above.  I'm laughing as I just noticed the giant checkmark on the schedule.  That's Lil O's way of saying, "We did it!"

Congratulations to Lil O and Mr. UpCyclist!  I am so incredibly proud of you both.

As Michael Port writes in Think Big Manifesto (affiliate link), “Big thinking is always, always, always worth the expenditure of energy.”

I totally agree.




We All Need One of These

JBL clip speaker

Mr. UpCyclist and Lil O are running their first 10K race this month.  In order to listen to their playlist on the run, Mr. U purchased the cutest JBL speaker to hook to his running pack ($49.95).  See?  Isn't it so adorable?  The speaker is bluetooth ready or you can physically plug it into your device.  The speaker also has a built-in carabiner; you can hang it off a pack or lanyard easily.  Not that you plan on wearing the speaker around your neck.  But, you could and rock the 1980's.  Mr. U told me the battery lasts for five hours.

JBL clip speaker built-in carabiner

The speaker is a little bigger than the iPhone 4 and not as big as the iPhone 6 length-wise.  I love how round and chubby it is.

What a fun gift, right?  So great for work & the classroom, cool for a picnic, and awesome for a 10K run.

Go treat yourself or a friend!  You can find the JBL Clip Speaker here.

xo and Happy Sunday,

Amazon affiliate links within the post.  Woot, woot!


Soul Money

Soul Money Lynne Twist quote

Perusing Instagram this early morning, I came across this photo.  It made me stop and think about money.  You see, I have a lifetime struggle with money.   In the past, I felt like I never and would never have enough.

It is somewhat surprising, too.  I have so much to be grateful for and so many neat ways my husband and I spend our money, which we earn from both of our salaries.  As I think you already know, we have two small places to live - one in Maryland and one in Colorado.  A say small, but really they are just the right size for our family of four (Jedi included, of course).   If you want specific square footage, our Colorado condo is right around 900 square feet.   Our Maryland home is 1,800 square feet.   In fact, I would say our Maryland home is one room too big for us.  We believe two small homes equals one big place to live.  Plus, we are thrilled to share time in both states.

We also believe a learning environment that resonates with Lil O's learning preferences is of the utmost importance to her being.  Thus, we go out of our way and drive by two public schools to send Lil O to a private Montessori school where she soars.  It is surprising to some of our friends as our public school district has a great reputation, yet we choose to pay over $10K a year for Lil O's schooling.

I tell you all this because with two mortgages and private school tuition, we are certainly not living the life of paupers.  We have enough.  And that is the point of this blog post.

We have enough.

A wise coaching friend, when I shared my lifetime money struggle, suggested I read The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist.  I did.  And so many of Twist's words spoke to me.  The biggest message for me was there is always enough money when we do what we love and align with our values.  That's me!  I am addicted to doing what I love and living a life aligned with my values (which includes my values of joy, connection, creativity, and taking initiative).

More of Twist's words spoke to me.....

  • Be a steward of money and not a gatherer.
  • What you appreciate appreciates.
  • Money carries your intention.
  • If you do what you love, sufficiency follows.
  • We create our most lasting legacy in the way we live.
  • Let your money express your soul.

I am not through my lifetime struggle with money, but I am redefining what money means to me. Money doesn't have to feel scarce.  It doesn't have to be never enough.  Instead like Twist suggests, money can express my soul and my family's soul, too.

Does the way you gain money or spend money express your soul?  It's an interesting question to ponder.  I'm thinking about it myself.

Deeply yours,


Amazon affiliate link included in this post - talking about money and making money all in the same post. Ha!



Bracelet, text, Upcycled Education

Fall is in the mid-Atlantic air.  The trees haven't quite read the email, time to change your colors.  I just finished my first full chapter - 6,200 words later.  I need a tee that reads, embrace the first draft. Meanwhile, this is what's open in my browser (which is my clever way of procrastinating or celebrating)....

Could someone please open one of these near me?

Word Hippo is my new BFF.

You've heard of the Slow Food Movement.  How about Slow Education?  Thanks, Christina!

My 8-year old self would do cartwheels for this subscription service.

I needed to read this.  Especially the butt in chair part.

Heading to NYC soon for a conference.  I'm going here for sure.

I'm a sucker for pumpkin and anything chai-related.  Plus, how awesome is this photography?

The weekend is a-comin'!  My mom is in town and we have some fun plans.

Enjoy yours,



Brave Lessons {No. 5}

Brave Lessons No. 5 Teaism

I cannot believe how much I've needed to lean into Brave these last few weeks.  Do you remember when I was wondering if I even needed Brave?  You can find that blog post here in case you missed it.  What was I thinking?  I bet a few of you were like, oh, she needs Brave, for sure.  Wait for it, Jen.

My word for 2014 is rightly chosen for me.  I need Bravery.  Period.

Here's what I've learned about Brave since the last update:
  • I am afraid of many things.  I know I may not look like I am afraid or sound like I am, but I am. I'm afraid of failing, letting others down, letting myself down, sounding like an idiot, dreaming too big.  Fear, fear, fear.
  • The antidote to all of those fears is one simple thing, Bravery.  I only have to be Brave.  
  • I've learned I am not alone.  Recently at a leadership retreat I attended, I found about 30 people (out of 40) who feel like I do.  Fearful.  And we all agreed, if we could just be Brave the fear would be a non-issue.  A non-issue!  Gone.
  • This book I'm writing.  Oh, man, have I had to own it lately.  Here's a true story - one that took Bravery and is a good example of dreaming too big (or dreaming just the right amount - depending on how you look at it).  I am on the airplane to Chicago to attend the leadership retreat I mentioned.  The guy next to me asks what do you do?  You know what I say?  I say, I'm an author.  I'm writing a book.  What?  Have I lost my mind?  Yep.  I'm an author (amongst many hats I wear, which I further described to him later in our conversation).  Bravery to say I'm an author aloud, plus a whole lot of audacity.
  • Oh, here's another true story.  I spoke to my literary agent last week.  I mean, if you are writing a book you need an agent, right?  She happens to be a childhood friend of mine, too, which makes our conversations equally serious and playful.  Anyway, she was sharing information about some of her authors and their "two book deals" they've received.  When I awoke the next morning, I said to Mr. UpCyclist, I think I have two book deal in me.  What the bleep?!  I haven't completed one book and I've got ideas for book #2?  And that's the day, I started a new list in my notebook, Topics for Book #2.  So far, I have two ideas written down.
  • That was also the day I started to question myself - is this Bravery or arrogance?
  • But, this I know.  Arrogance doesn't get you anywhere.  People dislike you.  No one wants to be around you.  Bravery is just the opposite.  The braver I become, the more magnetic life becomes.  So, what feels like arrogance, I believe is confidence.  And what feels like Bravery really is because I can feel and see the path clearing in front of me.  The more I lean into Brave, the clearer and wider that path becomes.
I hope you have one of those path-clearing-weekends - even if its a path right to your couch for fall movies, which totally sounds delightful.

Bravely yours,