The Passing of Perfect

I'm wearing my black flip flops this afternoon as I am mourning (or celebrating?) the passing of Perfect.  Yep, she or he died today.  Perfect no longer exists.

During my first official coaching session with Sue, the topic of perfect came up and Sue asked me to name a perfect person.  I couldn't think of one perfect person.  Not one.  No celebrities, activists, politicians, friends, family members, students, or anyone.  Perfect does not exist.

Which makes me think, why have I been striving for Perfect and fearful of anything less?

(Huge sigh of relief).

Bye, bye Perfect.  May you rest in peace.


PS - Confused about me & life coaching?  If yes, read here.

National Parks for Free

Thanks to reader Amy N, we have more to celebrate than a free Museum Day this Saturday, we have a Free National Park Entrance Day, too!   Yahoo!  You can visit a museum AND a national park for free this weekend.  Double score.  Woot! Woot!

Speaking of woot, woot...did you know Mr. UpCyclist and I were married in a national park?  The first one to guess which park this is by responding in the comments section below will win a special upcycled prize.

True love!

Happy Weekend, Upcyclists!


Life Updated - Fall Afternoon

What a fabulous weekend.  The kind where everything is just so fun.  So enjoyable.  So relaxing.  So lovely.  It helped to have my mom in town from Memphis.  It helped to have so much good cousin time for Lil O.  It helped to have a night out with Mr. UpCyclist.  It helped to have lots of puppy playtime for Jedi.  

The following is a photo montage of our afternoon today.  Mr. U, Lil O, Puppy Jedi and I went to this darling historic district near our house.  Don't you just love the word darling?

Lil O in her new outfit from Grammie (my mom).....

These pillows were pretty and perfect.  Think I could make them?

I heart arrows.  This will soon be on my pinboard.

Such a clever way to repurpose an old book.  Mr. U said he would break out a saw for me.

Me. This dress. Want.  It was $54.  Should I have bought it?  Susan thinks so.

This toy store is delightful.  Just like the one in Breckenridge featured on Lil O's Yes Day.  Jedi is also welcomed there which made him very happy and sniffy - as there are lots of little nooks to smell.

I could climb into this delicious bed. Does anyone else love this color combo lately?

More arrows....(and a touch blurry, forgive me).....

I read the Elise enJoy It blog like its my religion Monday - Friday.  I dig her simple style, love of life and her tenacity to get things done.  Have you seen her new line of stamps?  They remind me of these below.  Elise, if you are reading, have you seen these stamps before?  

Lil O could choose one item to bring home from our afternoon besides all the fun memories and the chocolate laced with Old Bay that Mr. UpCyclist found.  She chose these wings from the darling toy store photographed above.  Aren't they great?  She said they have so many uses - bird wings, butterfly wings, fairy wings, beautiful bat wings.  I love this winged kid.

And I loved this weekend.  You?


UPDATE:  If you like any of the products photographed for this post, just email me at jen at and I'd be happy to share with you the product and store name.  

Dear Crayola - Last Call

Dear Crayola,

They say three times is a charm, no?  I mean, I did write to you the first time here.  Then, 219 days later, I wrote this to you.  And, yes, I've grown.  Notice I am not keeping track of the days anymore. And it is not because I am too lazy to do the math and the whole leap year thing is throwing me off.

I've just matured.  I mean, I have a life coach now.  Geez.

I've updated my Crayola wish list in effort to give you once last chance to redeem yourself, big, super-important, multi-national company (so, what if I've been listening to an over-abundance of political speeches lately?).  In addition to the first list I started here, please send the following to me and my college students immediately:

I think these anti-roll, triangular crayons would be perfect for little kids or children with special needs. They are just about as cool as the crayons featured here by Crafterhours.   I like how you marketed them as "promoting a proper writing grip."  Clever.

I am digging all your odd-shaped items this fall.  A sturdy base on a glue stick?!  Very innovative, Crayola.  Kudos to you.

What student (or professor) doesn't like a touch of embellishment on a college project or paper?

Eco-made and has a baffling crystal effect?!  Stop.  We. Need. These. Now.  Have you seen the windows of most college classrooms?  Send immediately. K?

I'm a big lover of gel pens, so I imagine these gel markers will be right up my alley.  Not to be greedy, but I'll take a carton of these as there is always someone who leaves the cap off and your markers dry out pretty quickly - no offensive.  Just speaking the truth.

Shhh....don't tell Lil O because I want it to be a surprise.  I feel like you owe her something as all this letter writing is taking away from time I could be spending with her.  If you send the Dream Bakery, it will kinda make up for lost mother-daughter time.  Kinda.

Alrighty then.  That's my last and final letter to you.  My next correspondance will be a handwritten thank you card for sending all this awesome stuff.

Thank you, Crayola.  I knew the third time would be a charm.


Circle of Concern, Circle of Influence

We've discussed Stephen Covey's work before.  Remember the emotional bank accounts?  Today, we'll look at another one of his models that is helpful in prioritizing big to-do lists for work and life.

May I introduce his Circles model?  Covey's Circles model, this is a fabulous blog reader.  Fabulous blog reader, this is Covey's Circles Model.  

Stephen Covey Circle Model

Basically, the model goes like this:  We all have things, topics, challenges or issues in life that affect us.  If I made a list of those, it might look something like this for me:

Items that are on my mind:

  • Parenting Lil O
  • Connecting with my college students
  • Grading the giant stack of papers in front of me
  • Marketing our condo in Colorado
  • Fall
  • My life tune-up (if you missed that post, read here)
  • My cousin's documentary release this weekend
  • My grandfather's health
  • Growing Upcycled Education

However, if we use Covey's Circles model,  I would realize that I only have influence over a portion of those items.  Can I really control how the documentary release goes this weekend?  Can I tell Mother Nature to speed up fall?  Sure, I can send good healing vibes to my grandfather, but can a "cure" him and his ailments?

No, I cannot.  

But, I can be "concerned," and thus, all of those items would go in my "Circle of Concern."  I am concerned about them, but I am not influential.  According to my interpretation of Covey, it is a passive stance spending time being concerned.  Why not be active and influential with the items that you can have some effect on right now?

My "Circle of Influence" is just that.  It is those items that I can directly affect today.  It is a powerful, proactive stance.  Today, I do have influence over how I treat and interact with Lil O.  I have influence today and can grade all those papers in front of me (perhaps, I'll grade 3-4 a day so it isn't overwhelming).  I have influence today over how I market our condo and need to come up with a marketing plan like I did last fall, so we secure many ski rentals.

Do you see the difference?  Sit around and think (and often times worry) about an item (that's your Circle of Concern).  Or take charge now and be influential.  Your Circle of Influence.

Look at the items on your mind.  Which circle do they fit in?  

All the best,


Note to Self

Crack out more sidewalk chalk with my college students.  Maybe I will, too, this weekend.

Have a great one, Upcyclists!


PS - This photo is from 4th of July in Breckenridge, Colorado.  The Arts Council blocks off one full street and holds a sidewalk chalk drawing contest.  Each participant is assigned a square and given a ziploc full of chalk.  It is a hoot for the kids and adults, though those really vibrant colors are tricky to wash off your hands and clothes.  What do you think of that view? Ahhhh.......

Trio of Change and My Story

Like a car, every once in a while I need a tune-up.  I can almost always feel the "need" for a tune-up creeping up on me.  I'm more emotional.  More stressed.  More critical.  More busy.  Since fall is a time of change, it is not surprising this is how I feel right. this. minute.

Interestingly, this week has brought a trio of helpers.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Helper #1:  My Pinterest class on Skillshare

This class, which is all about telling your brand story using Pinterest as the medium, is forcing me to sit down, learn, and think "What is my brand?  What brand story do I want to tell?"  Do I even have a brand or story to tell?  I think yes to both.

Helper #2:  Seth Godin's blog post, "What is your super power?"

In trying to wrap my mind around my brand and story, I came across this helpful blog post on identifying your super power.  Do I have a super power?  I think yes.  See my doodle above.  As you can see, I haven't quite narrowed down my power.  But, I do believe there is something that makes me unique, courageous and super somewhere in there.  I imagine all adults and children (and pets) have a super power.

Helper #3:  Life coaching with Constant Journey

An old friend from when I taught in Ecuador is embarking on a new career, life coaching.  I think Sue calls it co-coaching, but to me it is a lovely mix of life coaching and a having a really good listener on your side.  I think I could use both right now to assist in my life tune-up.  Sue wanted to practice her coaching craft and asked if I would participate in a sample 30-minute session via Skype.  Since Sue lives in Calgary and I've never been life-coached,  I obliged.  After our session (which lasted more than 30 minutes as we are friends and needed to catch up on life), I felt.....refreshed.  Invigorated.  Happier.  Fed up that I let life's junk run me over.  No more.

I left the session - in which I cried no less than three times (see, I told you I need a tune-up) - and now want more coaching sessions.  I just looked at Sue's rates and I think I can swing the discovery session and four follow-ups ($375 total).  I am worth it.  Yes, life you heard me.  I. AM.  WORTH.  THE. MONEY.  AND.  TIME.

So, that's my story.  It may not be my brand story.  I know I need help in fine-tuning my story and identifying the brand story for Upcycled Education.   But, I'm about to write the next chapter and that feels refreshing.

Like a crisp fall day.


IFSP, IEP, ITP - Special Education Acronyms

My college students and I will be discussing IFSPs, IEPs, and ITPs this week.*

Do those acronyms mean anything to you?  They definitely do to children with special needs.  They also mean a lot to their families and teachers.

Want to join us while we get-to-know these special education acronyms and learn more?

These are the links we will be using in class:

Still confused between IFSPs and IEPs?  Click here for a side-by-side comparison

Want to see a sample of an IFSP or IEP? Click here.

Understanding ITPs:  Life During & After High School

Sending acronym love your way,


* IFSP = Individualized Family Service Plan
* IEP = Individualized Education Program
* ITP = Individualized Transition Plan

Museum Day = Awesome!

Thanks to Professor KP, we all might be going to a museum of our choice in our communities for free on Saturday, September 29th!

Just click here and choose your state to see which museums in your area are participating.  Both Professor KP and I are thrilled to see our local, amazing art museum on the list - the American Visionary Arts Museum (in Baltimore, MD).  I mean just look at their website.  Fun, funky and sooooo my style.  Our friend, Jacob, had his Bar Mitzvah there recently and it was the perfect place to have an a-ma-zing party.

Thanks, Professor KP, for the (awesome) lead.

Happy Weekend, Upcyclists!  Go reserve your free museum tickets now before your weekend fun begins.