My Word for 2017

You might remember, each year I choose a word to be my focus or intention for the year.

Rainbow over Breckenridge, CO

In 2016, my word was "savor."  I chose that word because I wanted to slow down, be more in the present moment, and savor what was around me.  In 2015, my word was "brave" - man, was that a great word for me.  I leaned into brave so much that year that 2015 was probably one of my biggest personal and professional growth years on record.   Brave, you ruled!

Jackie - my colleague, business partner, and friend - just texted me and asked what my word for 2017 was going to be.  Hmmmm, that's a great question.  What do I want my focus and intention to be?

What do I want to invite into my life for 2017?

Do you have any suggestions for me?   

Here's a great question...what do YOU want to invite into your life for 2017?  What is your word going to be?  Please share below or contact me (via email, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter).  I'd love to know what word or words you are considering; perhaps, they will inspire me.

So curious,

Happy Holidays!

From our family to yours....HAPPY HOLIDAYS!  Jedi sends his love, too!

Lara family love


Jen, Mr. UpCyclist, Miss O and Master Jedi

Having too much fun with PicMonkey

Y'all know how much I adore PicMonkey.  It is probably the only web-based tool I blog about consistently.

How funny is this clone below?

Now, you see the people skiing around us....

Now, you don't!

And, yes that is really what the scenery looks like.  

I have a history of cloning photos like here and here.  It is just too much fun!  If you want to learn how to clone, visit PicMonkey's blog post here with full video tutorial.

Plus, I'm certain there will be something annoying you'll want to clone out of your holiday photos. 

Looking out for you,


Being authentic about age

I just got off the phone with a dear friend who mentioned her desire to be courageously authentic. When I took the photos below yesterday, because I was having what I consider a self-proclaimed good hair day, I thought, man, I hate those wrinkles.  I look so old.  Truth be told, I am aging.  As if that is a news flash:  Every human ages. are the photos.

I come with changing hair texture, gray highlights, and plenty of signs that I've lived a good life and have spent much of it outside sans sunscreen (in the 70s, 80s and 90s).

Jen Lara ages - new flash!  Ha!

Jen Lara ages, part II - new flash!  Ha!

Those crows feet, I've decided, represent all of the groups of friends and family in my life - from my friends growing up, to my camp friends, to my friends from Michigan State, to my friends from living in Aspen, to my friends who I taught with in Northern Arizona on the Navajo Nation, to my friends from my year in Quito, Ecuador, to my friends, colleagues, students, and family now in Maryland.  Those crow feet represent all the groups of people who have impacted my life in some positive way.

Those two long creases between my eyebrows - the ones I used to loathe - now, represent two places in the world I love - Colorado and the Southwest.  I could sit amongst big mountains and sandstone canyons all day long and be fulfilled.  I swear, I could.

Those long wrinkles by my smile represent all the gratitude I have for the joy and love I have felt during my life.  I am now hoping those smile lines get deeper as I want deep joy and love in my life to continue.

Lastly, those lines on my forehead represent learning.  Learning to me is being open and being curious.  I plan to lean into openness and curiosity as the rest of my life's journey unfolds.

As for me, I don't plan to color my hair, photoshop my wrinkles, or obtain a facelift (though I did once read a scientific article that correlated the effects of a facelift with expanding longevity!).  I am going to be me.  Gray hair, wrinkles and all.

I will, of course, continue to wear Patagonia.  This coat is 20 years old and literally looks brand new. The wild side of me wants clip-in hair extensions!  Yes, you heard me.  I really want to do some fun braids and for a woman who wears make-up maybe five times a year (which consists of mascara and lip gloss), these clip-in extensions just look courageously fun.  I wonder if they make extensions with some gray highlights :)

Just keeping it real, friends -


Plus, minus, equal

The Laras Thanksgiving Day

Are you like me?  When I read non-fiction library books, I take notes.  I then type up my notes (which is normally not more than two typed pages max) and refer back to them from time-to-time.

I was just re-reading my book notes from Ryan Holiday's, The Ego is the Enemy over Thanksgiving weekend.  I love the plus, minus, equal concept he shares.

Ryan* suggests to have a plus in your life - someone who is better than you are so you can learn from them.  A minus - someone who is currently lesser than you are (in skills, experience, etc.) whom you can teach.  And someone equal, so that you can challenge yourself against (or challenge yourself with) that person.

What hit me was my equal person.  Jackie, my friend, colleague and business partner in Hello, Strategies is soooo my equal person.  She challenges me in the best ways possible in my teaching, in our business, and just being a thoughtful human being.  I have some ideas who are my plus people and my minus people, too.

Who are your plus, minus and equal people?

Speaking of people, today is the last day to buy any of your people our Hello, Strategies products - our ebook, Question cards, wooden nickels, etc. - at a 25% off discount.  Just use the code:  CYBERSALE2016 at checkout.

hello strategies cybersale2016 discount code

Off I go to read more of my book notes; I'm excited about taking notes on this book next....


*I believe, by the way, the original idea for plus, minus and equal came from Frank Shamrock (a martial arts pioneer) who Ryan writes about in the book.


Jackie and I are psyched to offer a site-wide sale at Hello, Strategies!  Do you have a favorite educator, coach, or leader you want to surprise with a super affordable, fun, and meaningful gift?

Here's what you need to know...

Go to

Shop your heart out!  For teachers, consider our ebook, Question Cards, and wooden nickels.  For coaches, how about our Coaching Cards and a bundle of nickels?  For leaders, our Leadership Cards make a swell gift and you guessed it, a pack of nickels.  Why the nickels so much?  Because each nickel says YOU ARE AWESOME and when gift-giving, everyone likes to hear they are awesome.

Once your cart is full, use the code CYBERSALE2016 for 25% off your entire order.  Sale ends on November 29th, so get to it, what are you waiting for?  Go, now :)

All the best, you superstar gift-giver -



Levity + Chat Takeover

I've been absent a bit from blogging.  Mostly because I'm focusing more and more on being present in my life and sometimes blogging feels like an interruption of that.  Couple that with last week's election in the US and all the dismay swirling; a girl could use some levity.

Tonight, I found it.  Here's the skinny.

I recently ordered these pants from Patagonia and these pants - both of which I love.  I also ordered these pants that I didn't love as much.  I started an online chat with a rep from Patagonia to figure out how to return the pants I didn't want.  You can see our chat screenshots below, but I'll type in the conversation next.

Me:  Yes, I would like to keep the Happy Hiker pants and the small/short Serenity tights.  I'd like to return the rest.

Will (rep from Patagonia): Okay, cool.  Could you please just confirm your shipping address and email.

Mr. UpCyclist does a chat takeover:  Please do the macarena to proceed!

Me:  ...that was my husband on the "chat takeover." Evidently, engineers do like to have fun :)

Will:  Haha!  Macarena done! Now do the boogie woogie.

Me watching Mr. UpCyclist dance:  Ha!  He (Mr. UpCyclist) needs to work on that, but I am laughing hard here in Maryland.

(Then, Will helps me by generating a shipping label for my return.)

Me:  Fantastic, Will.  Shall we close this very short exchange with a dance move?  I am inspired.

Will: Haha, the wave was just sent your way!

Me:  Back at you.  Very creative choice, Will!  Have a lovely evening!

Will:  You as well Jen!  Thanks for the fun and laughter!!!

That, my friends, is just what was needed.  Ease in returning products from one of my favorite companies on the planet, Patagonia.  A husband who went against the norm and turned up the silliness.  And a stranger - Will - who took the playfulness and ran with it.

Thanks, Will, I'm still smiling that you didn't miss a beat and embraced the macarena-infused chat while GSDing (getting stuff done).  I am grateful.  Thanks, Mr. UpCyclist - you never cease to amaze me.  Just when I have you figured out, you surprise me.  Thanks, Patagonia for hiring a culture of awesome, openminded rockstars like Will.  And thanks, Universe.  Levity is exactly what I needed.

Peace, my dear friends -


Identifying Your Core Values

If I could offer one coaching session to all the humans in the world, I would offer this: Identifying your core values.  Why?  Because knowing what is most important and meaningful to you in life has great power in (and over) your life.

Core Values

Your core values - when identified -  can serve as your internal GPS.  Your core values are what make you tick and what ticks you off.  Since it would be impossible to offer a one-on-one coaching session to every human in the world (that would be almost seven billion coaching sessions I would have to offer - oh, my!), I've compiled a few resources to guide you in identifying your own core values.  I still think identifying your core values with a (life) coach is the best way to do this and there is worth in the suggestions below.

By the way, you can see my four core values in the photo above.  I now consult those four values I've identified when making life decisions and saying YES to some decisions and NO to others.  Plus, when I am feeling icky, I can generally determine which core value of mine is being squashed and respond more effectively (versus overly dramatically).

Here are four resources to guide you in identifying your core values.....

1.  This Huffington Post article explains six easy steps to identify your core values.  Plus,  I love the introduction to this article and all the juicy core value information.

2.  Zappos Insights (yes, the shoe company) has a blog post on the topic of identifying your core values.  It is a little sparse with the "how to"s, but it might be helpful to some.

3.  The authors from Tribal Leadership (probably my favorite leadership philosophy + book) suggest this strategy to identify your core values.

4.  Hire a (life) coach (cost is between $70-$250/session and you are totally worth it!).  I adore many coaches like Sue, Anne, and Steve.  Plus, I probably have 20 more to suggest :)

What other strategies have you used to identify core values?  Have you identified yours?

With joy, connection, creativity and initiative (my core values),

Love. This. Quote.

Isn't this the truth?

Matthew Kelly Quote People love change

Cheers to the fall and all the change-transition-struggle-emotional-hot-mess-awesomeness coming your way!


Reality and Giveaway

I recently wrote this short note....

Every single August for at least a decade I feel the same way.  Bummed the summer is ending. Wishing I could live amongst big mountains.  And excited about returning to school.  Talk about bittersweet.  Man, I feel like I'm living a tug-o-war.

Hence, my bad attitude lately.  I'm a curmudgeon - a word a didn't even know how to spell until right now. Like one second ago now.

Part of the problem is I spent my summer living like this photo below in Western North Carolina, chasing waterfalls, and swimming in that state's exhilarating rivers.  Miss O agreed; western NC is delightful.

To get over my bad self, Jackie and I are going bananas and giving away our ebook for free.  Yep, you heard me.  F-R-E-E.  Why?  Because it was her idea and she's crazy.  I'm a curmudgeon (which I just had to look up again to spell correctly).  And, it is the beginning of the school year.  If there is one thing we educators need to transition from summer to back-to-school, it is good ideas and some ease.  Our ebook is full of good ideas and ease (Oh, my! Now, I am an arrogant curmudgeon).  But really, our ebook is full of 50+ teaching strategies to easily use with kids, teens and adults.

Please go download our ebook for free.  It would decrease my bad attitude and would make the school year for you (or an educator you know) less bad attitude-y and more awesome.  To do so, go to and add an ebook to your cart.  Then, use this code to score it for free:

LETTHEFUNBEGIN2016 (expires August 21st, 2016)

If you don't teach, but know someone who does, please share this blog post with them.  We need less curmudgeons in the world - especially curmudgeons who work as educators.  Can you think of a worse combination - a curmudgeon who teaches?!

Oh, my -


We are better than this

Franklin Thomas Quote

Looking at the national and world news makes me think....

We can be + do so much better than this.

Come on, fellow humans, embrace acts of kindness not fear or hate.


PS - An educator friend, Sarah, just posted a great question that has me thinking from a place of action versus a place of hopelessness.  Her question is this: How are you using your strengths (and privilege) to serve others?  Thanks, Sarah!  That is exactly the mindshift I needed.

Love. This. Quote.

Another fine quote is speaking to me.  Does it speak to you, too?

Worry is the misuse of imagination

Here's to reguiding our energies back to important matters besides worrying.

Happy start of the week to you!


Sue's newest endeavor - A book!

You know how much I adore, (life) coach Sue.   She literally is one of the top five most impactful people in my life.  And, just when I thought she couldn't inject more awesome into the world, she has. Sue wrote a book and there's a Kickstarter campaign to go with it.  Here, I'll let her tell you about it....

That's a really good question cover by Sue Abuelsamid

Take it away, Sue....

Curiosity is the engine that drives all connection, relationships, and innovation. And if we all show up in a curious way in our lives, we will be happier, and so will those around us.  Curiosity moves us.

What compelled me to action.

A few years ago I read a book by Margaret Wheatley that reached down into me and spoke to my core, to my most primal self. It is called “Turning to One Another” and it is all about thinking together in conversation. This line changed my life and inspired me to run with that idea and eventually create the Curiosity Project and this book, “That’s a Really Good Question”. We can change the world if we start being curious again. 

What’s in this book.

This book explores how being curious will help us build relationships, create safer communities, allows us to become more engaged, be more personally invested in our world, and possibly most important, curiosity motivates us to learn.  And this book isn't just about conversation. It's about all the ways that curiosity weaves itself into our lives and our world. How it makes us better leaders, better friends, better educators, and better partners. How it makes us happier and healthier. 

Why I wrote it.

I believe in this because I've experienced it, and I've lived it. Our world is in a place of disconnection but I believe it wants to change. And we want it to change. Help make that happen.  Be a part of the movement. Start your curiosity revolution by supporting this project. 

What’s in it for you.

There are many ideas in this book, some you will connect with and some you may not. If you find one thing in this book that makes your life better then that’s enough for me because that one thing could lead to many other things. My only hope is that you get curious.

Sue, YES to curiosity!  I personally think curiosity and the willingness to be open to it might single-handedly change the world.

So proud of you, Sue!  Now, who wants to support her Kickstarter campaign with me?



Summer Book Recs

Jen's Favorite Books Round-up

I don't buy a lot of books because I am a lover of our awesome public library system in my county, but these four books I do own and I highly recommend 'em.

Unthink - This is a simple read and like the title suggests, it is a great kick-starter for thinking more creatively and freely.

Orbiting the Giant Hairball - I cannot believe how often I recommend this book in my coaching practice.  It seems most people including me could lean into this metaphor a bit more.  What hairballs are you orbiting?

Big Magic - I love this newest release from Elizabeth Gilbert.  Not only did I dig the messaging and theme, but her writing has evolved into something I really admire.  I didn't see it sold at Costco recently, but that's where I bought mine at a discount.

Drive - Daniel Pink, my favorite author; Need I say more?  Please read this 2011 release if you are a parent, educator, or business owner.  You need to know what three things motivates all humans.

Now, what do you recommend I read this summer?  Leave a comment below or email me.


Love. This. Quote.

Seth Godin quote

It's all about perspective, my friends, and which perspective you choose.

Quote from Seth Godin's Linchpin,


My Favorite Fonts Round-Up

I am font addicted.  Are you?

Here are my current favorites....

DIN Condensed (I can't remember where this font is from...)
Coffee Break (from PicMonkey)

Do you have a current favorite font?  And as always, when you are at Dafont's website, do not click on the sexy font selection unless you are planning a risque event.  Oh my!  I lost a bit of my innocence by being curious.




Because life is too short for perfect, Jackie and I celebrate life's outtakes.

Have a great imperfect day, y'all!  If you need to have your own funeral for Perfect, go here to read about mine.



PS - On a side note, did you share our 100 ebook giveaway with your favorite teacher education graduate!?  If not, go check it out.

PicMonkey, Masking, Double Exposure, and Graduation - Boom!

PicMonkey Masking Graphic

I had so much fun making the text graphic above using PicMonkey's masking tutorial here to celebrate our 100 ebook giveaway.  Seriously, it couldn't be easier to make text more exciting using PicMonkey's ideas to mask - which, by the way, was a totally new skill for me!

Although, I am a HUGE fan of their cloning feature (remember when I cloned out the signs on the highway in Colorado here?  Or the time I cloned out Jedi's leash here when he was dressed up as Super Dog?), well, both of those were fun (and easy!) and so is masking.

Oh, and here's another new skill I learned from the PicMonkey blog, double exposure.  Don't you love the mountains double exposed on our Hello, Question Cards?

Or, Miss O's double exposed, mountain hair?  It's like a ombre of heavens, mountains, and greenery.

(Shhhhh....don't tell her I ombre-ed her hair with mountains.  You know those tweens.  They can be finicky about this kind of stuff.)  Am I right or am I right?

Go to PicMonkey to play around and use their blog to broaden your skills.

All the best, superstar blog reader,


PS - If you haven't shared our graduation ebook giveaway yet with your favorite graduate, go here for details!

Graduation Subway Art


I think we all know there is one traditional that lives strongly on Upcycled Education....

Graduation Subway Art 2016

Graduation Subway Art!

See the original post here to download the 2016 version.  Wouldn't this be fun framed, made into notecards, printed on tee shirts, or made into a backdrop for photos?  Oh, the possibilities!


And Graduates, I sure am proud of your accomplishments!


PS - Did you see the free book giveaway for graduates!?  Go to my post here for details.


Graduates, This is For You!

Dear Graduates -

Jackie and I feel the same way......

Jen Lara and Jackie Gambone
To celebrate all of the graduates in teacher education across the world, we are giving away 100 ebooks for free!  Yep.  You heard us correctly.  Giving em' away!

If you are a graduate in teacher education or you know a graduate who will be working with students (of any age - we don't age-discriminate here), go to and download your free Hello, Teaching Strategies ebook using the code: yourockgraduate2016.  Our ebook is full of 50+, ready-to-go teaching strategies ideal for grades K-16 students.  Half of the strategies are classics we've adapted; the other half are all new!

Directions how to enter code

To claim your ebook, very simply, add our ebook to your shopping cart and when it is time to check-out, type in the discount code:  yourockgraduate2016.  Your ebook will be totally free!  The code expires June 30th, 2016, so don't delay, ok? Plus, we are giving away just 100 copies, so go now, so you can claim yours and be part of the 100 ebook graduation giveaway celebration!

Once you claim your free ebook, you'll be prompted for your name and email address.  The ebook download is automatically sent to you via the email address you entered.

Graduates, we are so excited you are embarking on the next leg of your teaching journey.  We know you have so much promise and will have a fantastically positive impact on your future students.

We adore you,
Jen and Jackie

Love. This. Quote.

Alessia Cara quote, Know it all

Miss O and I are Alessia Cara fans.  We saw her perform at Jingle Ball in DC and we both appreciate her talent and natural, carefree beauty.

This line from Seventeen speaks to me.  I am such a know it all.  My problem is I just don't know enough


Oh, the power of yet.  Watch Carol Dweck's talk for more about the power of yet....

So powerful - this Alessia quote and yet.


When Your People Get You

Trailer birdhouseTrailer metal ornament
Trailer ornament

You can tell when your friends and family get you.  They foster your love of all things RV/trailer.  If you are new to Upcycled Education and my obsession with living on wheels refer back to this post or this one.

And, why not end on the most adorable note.....

How awesome is sweet B in this dentist office waiting room?!  Say what?  That is my kind of dentist! Thanks for sharing, Shelane!

Can't stop, won't stop dreaming, y'all....

Wheels for thrills - Happy weekend!


Big thank you to Jackie for the trailer birdhouse, Dana and family for the metal trailer ornament and my mom (I think) for the trailer ornament with the cute lil tree atop.

My favorite podcasts

Sometimes I pray for long drives or traffic.  Why?  Podcasts.  A modern invention worth celebrating.

Are you hooked on podcasts, too?

Jen's favorite podcasts

Today, I'm sharing my four favorite podcasts with you.  Ready?  

The Lively Show (with Jess Lively):  This podcast is published twice weekly with one main episode and one short in-between-isode.  If you are like me and like podcasts that are coachy, self-reflective and lean towards personal development, The Lively Show is for you.

Elise Gets Crafty (with Elise Cripe):  Elise brings a fresh take to entrepreneurial and small business topics.  I just bought her Get to Work Book (love that name, by the way) and I'm ready to crank on some upcoming projects with it by my side.

Start Up (with an array of hosts):  Again, more small business focused, which apparently resonants with my educator-soul.  I love hearing about how small businesses start, maintain, stay and/or die.  I'd start with season one if you are new to this podcast series.

The Tim Ferriss Show:  Tim does a super job deconstructing world class performers, as he likes to say in his podcast intro.  I wax and wane about listening to this podcast weekly only because each episode can be up to two hours long.  I prefer finishing a podcast on my 30 minute drive to work, so Tim's podcasts usually take four drives to complete and sometimes that bothers me (which is why I wax and wane with subscribing to them; I feel like I want to hear his podcasts in their entirety in one sitting).  My favorites from Tim recently include:  Joshua Skenes (a world class chef; trust me!), Seth Godin (marketing and business legend) and BJ Miller's interview (I now have a widened perspective on living and the often avoided conversation about end-of-life; I love this podcast with BJ).

What podcasts are you listening to?  Hit me up with an email or comment below.  


Colorful Abandon

There are certain people I admire.  Often, I'm pretty quiet about my admiration.  But, y'all starting a business, maintaining it, being a parent along side of it AND developing a new non-profit isn't easy work.

I am in awe of folks who do all of the aforementioned.  Heck, I'm in awe of people who do one or two of those activities listed.

Colorful Abandon on Jen

Today, I'd like to tip my hat to Erin from Roll Up n Dye - a (totally fun) tie dye studio in Ellicott City, MD.  Erin owns the studio and is a tie dye artist herself.  But, man, is she more!  She is a dreamer, doer, and collaborator like none I've seen before.  She wears her heart on her sleeve with so much passion.

Her new non-profit is called Colorful Abandon.  It will combine tie dye arts (plus, other arts) along side with expanding kids' and teens' mindset, perspectives, and compassion.  You can read an article about Colorful Abandon here.  Since Colorful Abandon is in the development stage, you can sign up for their newsletter and be notified when their workshop series goes live.

Erin, you amaze me.  You've said I inspire you, but really, it is the other way around.


PS - Look at the gorgeous tee I'm wearing above.  That's Erin's tie-dye work and that logo!?! Oh, I love it.  You can shop Erin's 5-star Etsy site here.  The heart boxers make me smile :)

One year older

I'm not much of a birthday celebration type of gal.

But, why not have a sale on Hello, Strategies today to #1: celebrate my birthday this week, and #2: make me work harder because it is my turn to ship products this month and next!?

Use the code:  Jengetswiser for 20% off everything on Hello, Strategies for this weekend only!  Offer expires on May 1st (at midnight).

Here's to growing older and wiser!

I can't believe I am 32!


Join me?

Hello to all....

Local friends, I will be at the Roll Up n Dye Fundraiser on May 1st from 1-3pm to support Erin's newest endeavor, Colorful Abandon (read more about this way below).

Won't you join me?

There will be fun tie dyes to purchase, face painting, music, crafts and me!  I'll be selling some Hello, Strategies goodies.  Yay!

If you are wondering what Colorful Abandon is, it is Erin's new workshop series for kids and teens to expand their growth mindsets and compassion while combining those important attributes with learning to tie dye.  How cool is that?

Come see me, meet Erin, and enjoy a May day together!  I'll be there from 1-3pm!


Sale ends Monday 4/25 - 25% sitewide

Last call, my loves.

Teacher Appreciation Sale ends tomorrow.  25% of everything sitewide at Hello, Strategies with code 2016YES.

Teacher Appreciation Sale Hello Strategies

Time to say YES to our fabulous educators!

What will you order for them?  So many lovely choices!

Shop now,
Jen - who is lead shipper this month and next - Yay!

Only a few days left!

Just a sweet, little reminder.....everything on Hello, Strategies is 25% off until April 25th.  Use the code 2016YES to order your teacher appreciation gifts before Teacher Appreciation Week begins (May 2nd).

It's time to show our teachers and educator allies how much we appreciate and adore them.


Teacher Appreciation Sale!

Hello Strategies Teacher Appreciation Sale

Get ready to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week - May 2nd-6th!

Order now to receive your teacher gifts in time and use code:  2016YES for 25% off everything on Hello, Strategies!  Yep, it is our biggest sale to date!

What might you purchase to say Teacher, I adore you?....How about....

  • Our Hello, Teaching Strategies ebook - filled with over 50+ ready-to-use teaching strategies appropriate for K-16.  This item comes as an ebook that you can easily email the link to your favorite teacher or print the ebook (at Fedex Kinkos or Staples) and secure it in a three-ring binder.
  • Question Cards - This deck of cards is a must-have for any classroom teacher (or home schooler).  Each card has a critical thinking question on it and can be used to debrief learning in the classroom for any topic.  Yes, any topic!  This item pair handsomely with the ebook above and would make a great gift together that doesn't break the bank.
  • For educators who like to grow students' leadership skills, our brand new Hello, Leadership Cards are fantastic and make great discussion, writing, and reflective prompts.  You can read more about those fabulous new cards here.
  • Why not let your favorite educators or even your entire teaching staff know how awesome they are with our YOU ARE AWESOME wooden nickels?!  Seriously, these are just too fun and such a lovely token of appreciation to give to teachers, support staff, office managers, and school leaders.  You can purchase a bundle of 25 nickels here.
Remember to use the code:  2016YES - that will save you a little bit of money for your next Starbucks run.  The sale ends April 25th.

Let's show our fabulous teachers how much we appreciate them!

Go to Hello, Strategies now, fabulous blog reader!


Tribal Magic

leadership quote Putnam

I just finished a great book, Tribal Leadership, which is fantastic for educators, business owners, leaders, and allies.  I'll be sharing more from that book soon.  But, in the meantime, this Putnam quote from another source says it all.

"....the most complex problems can only be solved by a group that has developed a strong social bonding." (Putnam 2000).

It's all about tribes, my friends.  You, me and others entangled together to make the magic happen. The next time you think, I'll go at XYZ alone, stop yourself and tribe.  Oh, and here's a tribal tip: Groups of three (triads) are an optimal amount of people to begin the magic.

xo - I'll tribe with you anytime,


PS - Coming soon!  Hello, Strategies is having a Teacher Appreciation Sale!

Leadership Cards, Yes!

Drum roll, please....the newest offering from Hello, Strategies....

Leadership cards!

Leadership Cards Hello Strategies
Because if there is one thing this world needs, it is more awesome, thoughtful leaders.  Sadly, most K-12 schools do not explicitly teach leadership skills.  How are kids and teens supposed to learn those skills then?  By observing our current leaders?!  Yikes.

Side note:  The majority of independent schools in Maryland and DC do teach leadership skills to their students.  Can I hear an amen?  If you want to learn more about that network of thoughtful schools, go here.  I wish public schools made it a priority to teach their students leadership skills, too (and yes, I realize some thoughtful public schools do, but the majority do not, sadly).

Back to the Leadership Cards....

Like our other useful decks of cards, the Leadership Cards consist of 40 leadership-focused, critical thinking questions.  Designed for ages 11 and above, the deck aims to deepen students' understanding and skills related to the ten leadership attributes identified below.

Who doesn't want a leader who is...?

  • Resilient
  • Visionary
  • Mindful
  • Courageous
  • Resourceful
  • Collaborative
  • Advocative (which, by the way, is a new word for me!)
  • Curious
  • Authentic
  • Inclusive
Right?  Can you argue with that list of leadership attributes?  We all want leaders who embrace those attributes.

So, can a deck of cards change the world totally?  No.  But, can this deck take a stab at growing all kids, teens and young adults' understanding of leadership and what attributes need tending?  Yes. Yes, this deck can.

Leadership Cards Hello Strategies Prompt Examples

In the spirit of leadership and collaboration specifically, these Leadership Cards were created in collaboration with Sue from the Curiosity Project and Jay from Mountain Element.  Sue, an educator, certified coach, and thought-leader completed CTI's Co-Active Leadership Program in 2015 and will be assisting in that program starting in May;  Jay, a traditional and adventure educator and small business owner, is an alum of the GCLI Leadership Lab.  Jackie and I got to spend time virtually with two leadership rockstars - Sue and Jay.  We are eternally grateful.  Thank you, Sue and Jay!

And, pre-thank you to you, amazing blog reader, for purchasing your deck of Leadership Cards and helping to grow our kids, teens and young adults' leadership skills.

Now, that is a noble cause!

My best,


New Favorite TED Talk + Cheers to Procrastination!

Hearing that procrastination is a sign of original thinking makes me say Heck YES!

If you haven't watched Adam Grant's The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers TED Talk I highly suggest it.  I love the line to "Doubt the default."  I'm going to use that line in an upcoming keynote address on leadership I'm giving this week.

Speaking of leadership, wait until you see the new Hello, Strategies product that is coming in two days! Leadership-palooza!


PS - For more favorite TED Talks check out here and here.  Do you have a favorite TT?

On Marriage (or deep relationships in general)

Good friends of mine are getting separated.  In support of them, I attended Second Saturday with the wife of the couple.  I would 100% recommend Second Saturday for any couple or person considering separation or divorce.  I thought it was great for me, too, which probably sounds odd since I am married to. Mr.UpCyclist.  Why?  Because I am a curious soul.  I love to learn.  It was great to support my friend and the information made me think about how deeply I adore Mr. UpCyclist and that often times, I take things for granted in our relationship.

At Second Saturday, there is usually a team of people who present - a lawyer, a mediator, a financial consultant and a coach/therapist/psychologist.  Though, I thought each presentation was highly, highly valuable, the coach's presentation really spoke to me.  It was this quote below that just nailed it for me.

Marriage quote

Man, that quote made (and makes) so much sense to me.  The coach, Karen Winter, went onto say that "we need the deepest level of intimacy in a relationship to do the hardest work of healing and improving."  It made me think of how I can be at my absolute worst with Mr. U, Miss O, and Jedi. They see me at my lowest of lows and most crankiness of moments.  Yet, they still love me, support me, and ultimately only want the best for me.

Deep relationships like marriage are like that.  Not all deep relationships, but the ones that really matter and are really worth healing and improving for.  I think those relationships are a gift from the universe that points me (and you) to the areas in life that need improvement, healing, and/or cultivating.  

I've alluded recently to how cracked open I feel lately because of the six month coach certification program I am in right now.  This quote sums up that cracking in such a beautiful way:

There is a crack in everything.  That's how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen

What relationships are you in right now that are pointing you to important places within yourself that need healing, improving and/or cultivating?  Are you brave enough to face those areas?