Totally Rad Summer

From Glacier National Park Instagram Feed

This summer we have some fun plans involving Colorado and Wyoming, plus two new states to us - Montana and South Dakota.

If you have any tips or must-sees in Glacier National Park or Badlands National Park, please share them with me.  Until then, I'll be stalking Glacier's Instagram feed (thanks, KP!) and kidnapping photos like the one above.

I mean, really?  Mother Nature, you outdid yourself.

Happy Weekend!  See you on the other side.




weaving example

Weavings are all the rage right now.  Actually, if you grew up in the 70s, you are probably giggling. Didn't we have weavings everywhere!?  I'm giggling as they have made a huge comeback.  As they should because they are pretty fun.  And crafty.

You can check out a great Weaving 101 tutorial here or take a class here (which is no where near me). I was pretty excited this spring as some of the older children at Lil O's Montessori school learned how to use a real loom with pedals!

To celebrate the comeback of weavings, I purchased a mini-loom for Lil O.  If you know someone who would like one,  I purchased this one for around $25 - less if you live near a Joanns and have a coupon.

Time to weave!



PS - The loom link above is an affiliate link.  That means, if you click on the link and purchase anything, I earn a commission from Amazon.  Can you say "summer play money?"

PSS - The photo at the top of this post is from here.  I like the shaggy part of the weave.

PSSS - Lil O is on her second weaving using the kit above.  She digs it.

Love. This. Quote.

When I was a kid, I loved to dance, be outside, roller skate, talk, make things (especially cards and beaded necklaces), and play school (or restaurant).  I still love those activities, though I've traded in my roller skates for skis.  For my entire childhood, I wanted to be a choreographer.

Sometimes I wonder how my life would be different had a pursued a career in dance.  Not wonder in a regretful way, just curious.  It's amazing to me how what we love becomes what we do or do not do as we grow up.


It's probably no surprise I met Mr. UpCyclist at a salsa dancing class.



Dreaming of a Trailer

Trailer watercolor

You know how I dream of living in a trailer or RV and traveling the US with my crew, right?  If you have forgotten about that dream of mine, read the original dream post here.  In the meantime, I am admiring Ashley Ann's new to her 1966 trailer.  Look at how cute she made it in these photos or these.

Since I am trailer obsessed, I will keep embracing my Sharpie markers and watercolors to create my own version of a trailer.  Or stare at this cuteness from KP.

Happy Weekend - See you on the other side (or on Instagram :),


Celebrating Molly

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.  You can find past celebrations here and here.

At least four years ago, our great friend, Sarah, in Breckenridge introduced us to Molly.

Oh, Molly.

She's the kind of person you like immediately.  The kind of person who is not only smart, a go-getter, and awesome, but kind and big-hearted, too.  Through her work in Summit County, Colorado, she has helped hundreds of high school students find their way to college and be successful while they are there.  Most of her students are first generation college goers.  

I can tell you every. single. time. I am with her (or Lil O or Mr. UpCyclist is with Molly) we laugh and laugh.  Literally, I will get off the ski lift with a belly ache from laughing so hard.  Molly is just that kind of person that when you are with her, you feel alive.  You feel valued.  And you wonder why the entire universe can't be made of Mollies.

Oh, the thought of a Molly universe makes me smile from ear-to-ear.

I am not the only Molly admirer in the world, gratefully.  Lil O saw the photo above about three weeks ago - a photo Molly posted on Instagram celebrating Team Upcycled Education and cycling in the Rockies.  Lil O struck a Molly pose for herself (below).  If Lil O has an ounce of Molly in her, I will thank all the stars in the universe.

Lil O; Team Upcycled Education

I bet you have a Molly in your life.  If you do, celebrate her.  If not, keep your eyes, ears, and heart open.  She's out there. And she's totally amazing.

Celebrating Molly,


Nurturing Her Spirit

Nurturing Lil O

Over a year ago, I blogged about creating an innovator in Lil O.  You can read the original blog post here.  The more I think about it, the more I want to nurture her spirit.  I want to nurture all the little things - and big - that make her tick, fulfilled, joyful, and aware.

I've been thinking about how I will do that as her mom.  How will I nurture her spirit?  Here's what I need to say no to this summer in order to do so.  No to.....
  • Rushing
  • Quick judgment
  • Shoving too much into one day (like too many errands or too many activities)
  • Too much laptop or phone time
Here's what I need to say yes to this summer.  Yes to....
  • Early morning Jen time
  • Journaling
  • Reading a great book to wind down the day
  • Leaning into the present moment (I will paint one of my nails a different color to remind me)
  • Following Lil O's lead with more yeses than nos.
What will you say yes to this summer?  What will you say no to?  Will you nurture your spirit or those around you?


Be Hippy {+ Giveaway}

Be Hippy Stickers

I am way excited for Leigh and Bart.  Their new company, Be Hippy, is rocking it!  In just a short amount of time, they have over 10K Facebook fans, lots of sales, and their crowdfunding campaign raised a chunk of money for their VW bus.  Plus, could their logo and spirit be anymore contagious?

Be hippy!

To celebrate, let's giveaway their fun Be Hippy stickers that Leigh sent me.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on Upcycled Education's blog, Facebook page or Instagram account about how you plan to Be Hippy this summer.  After this weekend, I will announce four lucky winners and send out the stickers, so you can Be Hippy, too.

Of course, I think this Be Hippy hat is awesome.  I love how it fits and can adjust on the fly.  It is part of my summer uniform.

Be Hippy Hat

Hippy and happy,


Summer and Upcycled Education

I was so impressed about two months ago when one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, announced they would be cutting back on their weekly blog posts.  As professional bloggers, they used to blog once or twice a day, but with the birth of their second child and other projects in the works, they knew that schedule wasn't doable for a good work/life balance.

Following their lead, I am cutting back, too.  As you may or may not know, I announced some pretty big projects in the podcast with Elise.  My college supported my sabbatical request and thus, this fall I will take off a semester from teaching to write a book on engaging adult learners.  When I leave my college for the summer, I will not return until 2015.  Part of that feels bittersweet, though I am uber-excited about the book and my research.

Adding more kindling to my life's creative fires, Lil O and I are launching a mom-daughter business called Olive and Jen.  We will spend a good part of the summer learning about business, marketing, sourcing supplies, and manufacturing as we hope to offer some neat - mostly hand-crafted - products in the fall.  I keep thinking, I don't want Lil O to wait until she's an adult to learn those business skills, so we are going to explore them now.

You will notice a bit less of me this summer and into the fall on this blog as I get my work/life balance adjusted.  Of course, if you are on Instagram, you can find me there easily.  I generally post photos and captions 4-7 times a week - more than I do on Facebook or any other social media outlet.  I heard someone once call Instagram "micro-blogging."  That I can do.  Micro will work for me!

Before I go, thank you.  Just taking the time to check in on this blog, me, reading this from your inbox or stopping by Upcycled Education means so much to me.  I am grateful for this space and awesome readers like you.


The Email that Changed my Life

Jen and Sue

Almost two years ago, an old friend from teaching in Ecuador, Sue, sent out one of those mass emails.  You know the kind.  When you email your entire contact list.  Her email announced her new career - life coaching - and she asked for volunteers to practice her skills on.  Doing her a favor, I said, sure.  And we scheduled a (free) 30-minute appointment by phone for Sue to coach me.  I had zero idea what life coaching was at the time.

When I hung up from my 30-minute appointment, I remember saying to Mr. UpCyclist.  I don't know what Sue costs, but I need her.  Thankfully, Mr. UpCyclist takes me seriously most of the time and said, hire her.

I did, bought a package of 12 coaching sessions, and the deluge of life changes ensued.

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know I not only adore Sue and her skills, but I went to coaching training myself to acquire those skills, too.  Like a said way back in the fall, every molecule of me has changed as a result of that training.

But, it's bigger than that.  Since working with Sue, I know there are several things in my life that came as a direct result of her coaching, my openness to change, my own coach training, and endless support from my village.  I'm pretty certain, I would have not pursued....

  • The cycling team
  • Stamp Shop (which just closed last Wednesday for the summer)
  • Keynote speaking
  • Taking on coaching clients
  • This blog on such a regular basis
  • This podcast with Elise
  • My new website
  • My upcoming sabbatical in the fall to write a book (I announced this in the podcast)
So many amazing things have happened as a result of that one mass email.  I thought about that over the weekend as I spent time in person with Sue.  That one mass email totally changed my life.  My confidence has risen, my life purpose is more clear, my parenting has become more spacious and open, and my connection to what's truly important to me (my husband, family, dear friends, Jedi, my students, time in nature, being creative, following my passions - all of my values) is where I place my energy.

Grateful isn't a strong enough word for how I feel. 


Life Updated: Early June Edition

This May into June has been so good that I actually asked my acupuncturist (who is a good friend of mine) to take some of the bliss away during my last acupuncture treatment.  Yep!  I'm too excited lately. Here's what's going on......
  • Sue!  Sue's here in the States from Canada.  We are sooooo excited to see each other face-to-face.  I think the last time I saw Sue in person was in Canada about six years ago;  She helped teach Lil O how to ski.  One day I'll dig up those old ski videos and share them with you.  They make me smile.
  • June 7th workshop - Are you coming?  Sue and I are over-the-moon about that day.
  • Remember how I told you Jedi is my favorite airport greeter?  See that photo above?  Sue's getting the deluxe, full-face greeting.
  • It is strawberry season in our neck of the woods.  Is there anything more to say than yum?!
  • Lil O and I are on a mission to visit every Smithsonian museum in DC.  Last week, we visited the US Botanical Gardens (hence the adorable pineapple photo above).  Technically, the US Botanical Gardens is not a Smithsonian, but since it is on the mall in Washington and feels like one, we've included it in our list.  It did not disappoint.  I highly recommend it.  Reportedly, around Christmas, the gardens get even lovelier for the holidays.
  • I can't believe I just mentioned Christmas when all I do lately when I walk outside is sweat. Jedi, on every hike these days, goes for a full, all-out swim.  Apparently, the weather in Maryland has caught up with us.  Ugh. #ineedcolorado
  • Color makes me smile (and forget about how sweaty-sticky I am), which is why I needed to make a fabric, rainbow garland for our deck. To make this style garland, I used Ashley Ann's tutorial here.
  • Did you get a chance to listen to the podcast I did with Elise Cripe on creativity (episode #11)?  Chatting with her was too fun.  Plus, I reveal my fall plans.  Woot, woot!
Have a fantastic weekend!  See you on the other side.


Brave is All Around

Lately, I notice Brave everywhere.  It seems to be all around me.  All around others.  All around you?

Like this Brave couple mourning the loss of their four-year old son.

Or, this Brave family fully embracing their transgender child.

And this Brave teen, who at 15 years old, is quite remarkable.

Or the dogs and humans who fight for freedom.

Brave, I'm discovering, is part of the human experience.   Whether its your word or not, I think its inside both of us.

Bravely yours,


Love. This. Quote

Doesn't this quote totally speak to yesterday's blog post?  Sure speaks to me.



50 Rejections Update

Back in February, I challenged myself to rack up 50 rejections.  I have to be honest.  I stopped counting around 25.  I'll explain more in a moment.  Before this challenge, I believe I misinterpreted most rejections.  In fact, it is almost hard to call them rejections right now.  What I discovered is that when people do not agree with me right away, or take my call, or jump on board with an idea I have, I take that as a rejection.

Now that I am more aware, this is what I've learned about putting myself out there and embracing rejection:
  • I take things way too personally.
  • Thus, I am embracing the Q-TIP philosophy to Quit Taking It Personally.
  • Most of the time when I put myself out there during this challenge and was rejected, the person wasn't saying, "No, never!"  Instead, they tended to say, "Not right now, but interesting idea."  I took that as a rejection originally.  Now, I realize - at that moment in time - what I was pitching wasn't aligned with their needs.  More Q-TIP needed on my part.
  • Other people's finances, time, and business strategy seemed to be why I racked up the most "no"s.  And of course, I was taking that personally.  It was all about me versus where that person's business or values were at the moment.
  • Me!  That's probably the biggest lesson.  It is not all about me.  I became aware that the people or businesses who need me find me.  And the one's that don't need me at the moment, weren't saying, "We dislike you.  We will never need you."  Again, more Q-TIP needed.
  • I also realized I felt rejected when friends or family members weren't taking my calls.  Yep.  I realized I even took those informal "I'll call you back later" throw-away lines as rejection.  
So, you can see why I could stop counting at 25.  Being so aware and looking for that feeling of rejection was a big light-bulb moment for me.  In hindsight, even the "no"s I received during this challenge took on a new air.  I felt more curious about the "no"s.  I stopped being hard on myself for not garnering support for an idea I had put out there.  I also realized that most "no"s don't mean no forever, but "No, not right now."

Rejection, I'm onto you!  You aren't so scary anymore.


Stamp Shop Closing This Wednesday Morning


It's almost summer time, which means many things.  But, here's the one thing you need to know today.

The Stamp Shop is closing this Wednesday morning.  And..... I don't have plans to reopen it for a while.  I've got some other fish to fry.  Not bigger fish, just other.

If you'd like to order any Upcycled Education original stamps, do so here.  I now offer a special 6-stamp package for $57!  It means you save $10 and get six lovely stamps.

Who doesn't like a savings?  A great stamp? And how cute is the "Today I learned."

My favorite,