Love. This. Quote. {and Artwork}

This lovely birthday gift from Dr. Irwin - a BFF and great friend of Upcycled Education - brought me to tears and spoke to me at the same time.

Could the opening of this quote be any more divine?

"The whispers of our lives want us to take notice."

I'm pretty certain that if I don't listen to those whispers now, they will turn into screams.

Thank you, Dr. I, for the totally me gift.  And to the artist, Kelly Rae Roberts, wow, your work is fantastic.



Rate My Professors {for Tech Tuesday}

Rate my professors logo

I'm laughing that Rate My Professors is today's Tech Tuesday.  Here's the backstory....

Mr. UpCyclist is working on his Ph.D.  He has a not-so-great professor this semester, to say it mildly and kindly.  I asked him what his classmates thought about his professor.  He didn't know.  I said, Didn't you check him out on Rate My 

What?  He had never of that online resource before.  Geez, you can tell he's been out of college for a while.

So, doing the most romantic move possible on our date night, Mr. U checked out Rate My Professors on his phone.  His current, slightly-awful professor wasn't rated; Mr. U was thrilled to see his stellar graduate advisor had received positive reviews.

I'm not saying I totally agree with the ratings on Rate My Professors, but since I do have a chili pepper by my name, there has to be some truth in it, right?



Arts, Crafts, and STEM, Hurrah!

watercolor crafts; STEM

I just finished a three-day {life} coaching training.  While I get my thoughts in order, here's something to sink your teeth into....

I think a dream just came true.  Real life evidence that all this crafting, broadway show going, and Lil O's dance lessons correlate positively to the fields of STEM - science, technology, engineering and math.

Mr. UpCyclist likes to tease Lil O and I about our crafting adventures.  And since he is an engineer, wait until he sees these amazing findings from the lovely Michigan State University.  Evidence that the more we craft, dance, and embrace the arts, the more likely we will launch a business or generate US patents.

Notice the "we."  This study's conclusions are for children, but I am not missing this ride.

Here's to more, and more, and MORE crafting!

Pinch me,


Profound Gratitude

This weekend I am celebrating my birthday and also completing another {life} coaching class.  The focus of this class is being in the present moment.  Last night's surprise, intimate gathering for my birthday gave me a fantastic opportunity to practice being in the moment.  I didn't waste the opportunity.

When I woke up this morning, I thought, why not continue to be in the moment?  Here it goes.

At this moment, I feel a profound sense of gratitude.  The image that comes to mind is the Grand Canyon.  Every time I've seen the Grand Canyon in person I am in total awe.  Could it really be that vast?  Expansive?  Magnificent?  Radiant?  Astonishing?  And quiet?

The gratitude I also feel is related to abundance.  It goes on and on and deep and far reaching.  I'm standing right now and I feel all my emotions shooting through my feet like roots of a tree in a time-elapse video. This profound sense of gratitude is literally anchoring me to the earth.

From this vantage point, I am seeing possibility.  And, holy moly, my eyes cannot believe what they see.   If you were here with me (in my kitchen), I would call you over and say, do you see that?  Do you see?

.....I just released a gigantic sigh......

It's like what you want.  What anyone wants.   And what the world needs is right there.   Feeling this evokes calmness, delight, and awe.

....Is this a dream?.....

Oh, there it is.  The ugly side.  The this-really-is-a-dream-side-and-doesn't-exist side.  The side that likes to sabotage moments or thoughts like these.  Gosh forbid there is this beautiful land of possibility and gratitude and abundance.  What if there isn't enough?  Or I fail?  Or get hurt?  Or go unliked?  What then?  I'm shaking my head.  Again?

....That stupid story again?  Ugh.

This is my birthday.  I am over four decades old.  I didn't invite the saboteurs and their stupid story to this party.  They are not welcomed at the Grand Canyon in my mind.  This is my land (and yours?) of possibility.  I am grateful they remind me how fragile life is.  I'm grateful those saboteurs show me how high the stakes are. But, they don't serve me anymore.  In fact, they box me in.

So, right now.  In this moment.  I am noticing a take-back sense.  A "this is my life" feeling.  A "do you see this?" feeling.   A profound wave of gratitude that is as exuberant and as expansive as the Grand Canyon, indeed.

...If you could see me in person right now, you'd see this inquisitive and mischievous look on my face with a gigantic splash of awe.....

I like the mischievous part best,


Workshop and Weekend

I am off to a three-day coaching training this weekend.  You know how I totally, totally love those.

In the meantime, how about you sign up to join me for a creative thinking workshop I'm leading at Greenberries, yes?  The workshop is aimed at parents, educators, and assorted allies.  If you attend, I can squeeze you in person and we can talk all about creativity, coaching, Colorado and whatever else we can muster up that starts with the letter "C."

Come, ok?  The workshop is May 8th at 7:oopm.  The fee is a simple $10.

Can't wait to see you in person,

Lunchin' Love Notes

Since Lil O was really a little O, Mr. UpCyclist and I have been writing her a lunchbox love note daily (when she's in school).  To date, we're probably written close to 500 of them, which means I've made close to 500 of them.

And, I must say, I never get bored of making them.  This time, I even used Upcycled Education stamps.  Can you spot the I really, really like stamp above?  Or Thank you?  Or Today I learned?  Plus, I have sooooo many carnival tickets from a recent project that I decided to sew some of those together, too.  I love making these.  I get to use all my stuff - scraps, sewing machine, stamps, washi tape and odds & ends for a great cause - Lil O!



Dear Moccasins

Dear Moccasins -

You and I were BFFs all through my childhood in the 1970s and 80s.  Remember how I would swoop you up at the Teepee Western Wear shop?  You were all white and shiny with those lovely beaded thunderbirds on the top? I wore you until there was no more wear left.

You never let me down.

Now, however, I've changed.  We've grown apart and apparently my little feetsies need more support not your soft sides and flat bottoms.  Funny how that is probably what I need in life - more support from those around me, near & far, friends & family, in-person & online.

I still think you are the coolest. I will still cherish our BFF days.  But, now, I must say goodbye to you and surround my feet (and self) with the best and most awesome support possible.



Celebrating Mistletoe and Dr. H

There are so many people doing so many neat things in the world, this new series Celebrating Others will do just that.  Celebrate all the good, creative, and lovely.  Two weeks ago, we celebrating mom-blogger-crafter-entrepreneur, Elise, today, we move to a celebration in the medical field.

mistletoe in medical field

Here's the long story short....

Dr. Hinderberger - a Baltimore-based doctor who has treated our family before - recommended to one of his patients, who was battling liver cancer, a non-traditional treatment. Evidently, mistletoe (yes, from Christmas celebrations!) is used outside the US as a cancer treatment. Apparently, mistletoe is highly poisonous and semi-parasitic - a good substance to foil cancer's big plan.  You can read all about the mistletoe treatment and success - yay! - in this article.

Who knew the plant we all kiss under during the Christmas holidays would be so powerful and life-saving?

Today I'm celebrating Dr. H, his patient (who started a fantastic non-profit from her experience), magical mistletoe and for open minded medical practices.

We need more of minded medical practices.



Simple Gratitude

Sometimes I can be a real stick in the mud.  Can you?  Recently, Lil O had an idea to bring a family member (who hasn't been feeling very well) a big, colorful balloon and instead of me saying, Great idea!  How fun!  I said something to the effect, What if they don't like it?  How much is that balloon?

I mean, come on.  Who doesn't like a big, colorful balloon?

Two things. Sometimes the simplest acts of gratitude are the most meaningful, right?  And how come I have to learn this life lesson from my wee one?

Thank you, Lil O.  You teach me more than you know.


Mommy (aka:  Jen)

DIY Arrow Magnets in 30 Second

I have a thing for arrows and magnets.  And cool friends, like those photographed below.

You can imagine how psyched I was to find these little gems at the $1 spot at Target.  Chunk arrow clothespins!  They come in a few color combos.

To make the clothespins into magnets, I hot glued a magnet onto the back.

And within 30 seconds (the time to heat up my glue gun), I was ready to go.  Arrow magnets were made.

Don't you love an easy, functional, inexpensive DIY project?

Plus, look at all those happy faces and happy arrows.

Have a great weekend,

Love. This. Quote.

Can I hear an amen?  This quote totally speaks to me.

And wouldn't you agree, this Etsy shop owner and blogger, Lindsay of Pen + Paint, is uber-talented right?  I could literally take one of each of her prints.

Here's to no more excuses.  Hello, Progress!


Photo Credit from Lindsay's Etsy shop

Conscious Discipline

Today we welcome student blogger, Judeth!

Welcome, Judeth!  Take it away.....

Conscious discipline. I have heard it a couple of times before, but I never really thought much about it. The main principle of Conscious Discipline is when a child is acting out, or misbehaving, it is a call for help, not a sign of disrespect. Embracing conscious discipline, the adults create a “safe place” for the child to go; The safe place is not to be confused with a time out where most children are left alone or left in isolation.  The safe place in Conscious Discipline is used to promote self-regulation and create a judgment-free space for the child to work through their emotion. 

To create a safe place:  It can be a small section of a classroom or a small area in a home.  The set-up of the safe place should be comfortable – offering a place to sit, the ability to engage with hands-on manipulatives, and offer a couple of different options for the child to express their anger, sadness, or whatever emotion they are feeling.

The standard process in Conscious Discipline (CD) is:
  1. Have the child sit down.
  2. Pick a breathing icon to help calm down (show in the picture below).
  3. Pick which emotion the child is feeling (shown in the chart above).
  4. Pick an activity that will calm the child down.  That's why you want to have interesting hands-on manipulatives available in the safe place.
  5. Once the child calms down, the teacher or parent is to sit and talk with them, ask curious questions about the child’s behavior, and explore what a better option might be in the future when the child has an emotional urge again.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why Conscious Discipline? There have been many other successful discipline tools for years.” Exploring the research and many videos at Conscious Discipline, you can see there are quite a few things that current discipline tools are not teaching, or actually making worse. To quote one of the handouts on the CD website, “Conscious discipline teaches everyone how to respond wisely to life events rather than unconsciously react from a set of pre-programmed skills that may or may be effective or wise.”

If you are interested in this style of discipline or just want to try something new, say good by to stop lights in classrooms (which teach humiliation, now how to behave appropriately) and rewards & punishment (which teach manipulation) and try Conscious Discipline.

Thank you, Judeth!  I hadn't heard of Conscious Discipline until your blog post.

What do you think, blog readers?  Might you give CD a go?  Their website is packed full of helpful materials.

All the best,

I May Have Spoken Too Soon

How ironic that yesterday I blogged about perhaps not needing the word Brave this year as it might be too strong.

Then, I found myself getting my first root canal that late morning and kept thinking, Be Brave, Jen, Be Brave.

Dear Universe, I get the message.

Bravely it is,

A Delayed Attitude of Gratitude

There is something our family is not good at doing in a timely manner.  Writing thank you notes.  We are horrible.  We typically write them months after the actual event or gift was received.  I am usually so embarrassed that it has taken so long that I will spend half of my note saying, "This thank you is long overdue...."

This whole issue must be genetic, because Lil O is pretty delinquent, too.  Ugh.

Do you have any tips to help us?  

My grandmother would be appalled if she was still alive.



PS - As you can see from the photo above, we do like to handmake our thank yous.  At least, we can be proud of something, right?

Brave Lessons {No. 3}

To keep myself accountable for my word for 2014, Brave, I started a new series, Brave Lessons. You can find the first installations here and here.  This is what I have learned since those two posts about Brave and here's what I am celebrating:
  • I am wondering if Brave is too strong of a word for me.  Brave can mean "ready to face or endure unpleasant conditions."
  • With that kind of intense meaning, I don't necessarily need Brave on a daily or even weekly basis, but I do need to Be Strong or Be Bold.
  • Can I change my 2014 word?  I imagine the universe and whomever keeps the rulebook on words wouldn't call foul, right?
  • So.... I've been playing with Be Strong for over a week now.  I'm finding that phrase keeps me focused, courageous, bold, and in the moment.  Perhaps, better than Brave.
  • But, I'm also not 100% ready to jump ship from Brave.  I need another couple of weeks to try all the words on for size.
As for celebrations.....
  • I am celebrating that I'm open minded to switching words.  It seems most people pick a word and stick with it.  I think there is some Bravery in saying publicly, I may have made a mistake.
What's helping me since I keep forgetting I have a word this year.....
  • Structures!  For example, one of my structures is the sun.  When I feel the sun intensely beaming on my face, I stop, face it and think about how I am honoring Brave (or Be Strong).  In coaching, we call those little reminders "structures."  The structure reminds me of the word (and action) and anchors me back to it.
  • Another structure I've been using is painted just one of my fingernails a different color. When it catches my eye, I think about Being Strong or Brave.  A coaching friend taught me that structure and I love it.
What structures do you use?  Got any nifty ideas to share with me?

Bravely Yours (or Strongly, which doesn't sound as poetic),

Weekend Plans

carnival tickets

Are you ready for the weekend?  I am.

What plans do you have?  Me?  I'm still debating, but on my possibility list includes:
  • A Smithsonian Sunday with Lil O
  • An Easter Egg Hunt
  • A trail run with Jedi
  • Drive Mr. UpCyclist crazy while he does his Ph.D. homework.  I'm good at being annoying.
  • Dance salsa with Mr. UpCyclist.  We are 18 days into our 30 day challenge.
  • Encourage Lil O to write her birthday thank you notes; they are only a month overdue.  Eek!
  • Buy something at REI - after all, I have two 20% off coupons
  • Wear my new moccasins (fingers cross they arrive today)
  • Work on a project with Lil O using that rainbow of ticket rolls pictured above
Have a fantastic weekend! See you on the other side.


Celebrating Others

Make 29's Owner, Elisa Blaha Cripe
Photo credit from here.
There are so many people doing so many neat things in the world, this new series Celebrating Others will do just that.  Celebrate all the good, creative, and lovely.

To kick us off.....

I read two handfuls of blogs on a daily and weekly basis.  Elise's blog is one of my favorites as she combines art, craft, business, parenting, and lifestyle all in one.  This year, she started a new business venture called Make29.  Each month, she makes or designs something that is only sold in lots of 29 or 290 - limited editions, so to speak.

Elise is just two months into Make29 and both months, her items have sold out within a day or within hours.  You can read all about Make29 here.  She even made a neat video to launch it (I don't usually like videos on blogs, but this one is short and fun).

If you like to listen to podcasts, Elise just launched her own podcast series, Elise Gets Crafty.  Now, when I fold the laundry, I listen to her EGC podcasts and the folding zooms by.

Go, Elise!


Leadership Lesson {Advice from Women to Women}

At a recent Women's Leadership Symposium, I garnered advice from the closing panel - all amazing women leaders.  Here's what that powerhouse of a panel had to say:
  • Seek role models.
  • You only lead if others follow.
  • We are given two ears and one mouth - listen twice as much as you speak.
  • Be generous with your time - in the community, towards your passion, & building your skill set.
  • It never matters what happens to you; it is how you respond.
  • Make mistakes and learn from them.
  • Never compromise your values.
  • Be respectful; Tackle an issue, not each other.
  • Make yourself valuable. Take the job no one wants and excel at it.
Which one do you excel at?  Which one could use some improvement?  My personal favorite is tackle an issue, not each other.



Gapminder {for Tech Tuesday}

I love statistics and data. Do you?  I love them even more because of Gapminder.  Gapminder takes statistics and data and visually graphs them over time, which can then be animated.

Say what?

Animate my stats, data, facts and figures?  Yep, animate them.  See that play button above (lower left hand corner of graphic)?

Thanks to Hans Rosling, who has appeared on TED Talks over a handful of times (yes, that's how bright and creative this guy is), we can now "play" with our stats and data.  Play!  Do you know how awesome this is for kids and teens?  How about us adults?

Life and statistics just got totally better with Gapminder.



PS - The graphic above depicts poverty statistics from around the world over time.  I was so bummed to see how high Ethiopia is as I was thinking of all the kids at AHOPE and our Rainbow Loom Project.  Ethiopia is one of the upper, medium-sized, royal blue circles.  Boo.

Ruby on Rails for Girls

I attended an Atlantic Live event in Washington, DC that showcased fresh ideas in education and technology.  Ruby on Rails, the web application + programming language, kept being discussed and touted as what to know for the 21st century.

It didn't seem like Ruby was the what to know, but the basic idea that we all - man, woman and child - should understand coding and web application creation.  It is the 21st century, right?

I'm thinking if I'm going to learn Ruby on Rails then I want to bring the Rails Girls to my college. Why not make this an empowering event, slightly social, and be life changing?



Teaching Adult Learners

I teach an online and hybrid class for professors, adjuncts, corporate trainers and other kindred spirits called, Teaching Adult Learners.  Just as it sounds, it is all about how adults learn, how to engage adults in learning, and tips & tricks to woo them over.

Either come join me for the class at my college or please help me curate more adult learning pins for my Pinterest boards.

....Although I selfishly hope you enroll in the class.  I want to squeeze see you in person.

Join me,

Serious String Art

Dominique Falla's work, The Loom

I have a thing for string art as you know from this post and DIY project.  This Australian artist, Dominique Falla, takes this genre to an all new level.

Check out her installation for an apartment (!) "The Loom" photographed above.   Or watch this video of her making a corporate piece.

I'm in love with her work.  Where would you put string art?  What would it say or look like?


Hiking the Rim to Rim Trail

From Backpacker Magazine Grand Canyon

A great friend of Upcycled Education, Dr. Irwin, is soon-to-be hiking the Rim to Rim Trail of the Grand Canyon.  Have you ever hiked that trail?  You basically start on one rim of the Grand Canyon and hike to the other rim.  Cool, isn't it?

Over a decade ago, when teaching on the Navajo Nation at the coolest high school ever, a group of friends and I hiked the Rim to Rim Trail.  It took us 13 hours to complete.  We hiked from 6pm to 7am.  My group started on the South Rim.  The other group started on the North Rim.  And when we crossed paths, we traded car keys (that way we all had a ride home and didn't have to shuttle cars or pay for a shuttle).

Since we hiked all through the night in October during a full moon, we didn't need to bring anything else with us except for snacks, water, a first aid kit and some light clothing (although we watched the weather report and there wasn't a chance of rain or snow; it is high elevation, you know).

I've done a ton of hiking, in my time, all over the world.  The Rim to Rim Trail is probably one of my favorites.  Plus, how often do you get to say, yes, I hiked the entire Grand Canyon from rim to rim in one night?

Enjoy the hike, Dr. I.  I know you are going to love the solitude and experience.



PS - As I was researching this topic, I came across the photo above from Backpacker Magazine and this video of their Rim to Rim to Rim hike.  Wild!

Whose vs. Who's

After writing a post over a week ago, I Googled whose vs. who's.  I think I learned something new or relearned something I forgot.

This post does a lovely job of clearing the confusion in my mind of when to use "whose" and when to use "who's."  I'm simplifying the difference to this:  whose always shows an element of possession.

Hope it helps you, too, although you probably already knew the difference between the two, didn't you?

Smart, grammarian, blog reader - ha!