Wednesday, July 10, 2013


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Friday, July 5, 2013

Stuff and Stuff About Other Stuff

There is a myth in our society.  Actually, there are a lot of myths in our society….but only one that I’ve come to notice and scrutinize lately.  The others I don’t really give a damn about at the moment.  In fact, I don’t really care about most of them, but I guess I feel like writing right now so here goes nothing.

I call it: The Myth of Exercise.  Now don’t be confused; exercise is not the myth.  Exercise is a good and wonderful thing, we should all do, ya-dee-ya-dee-ya.  However, the myth is RELATED to exercise (kinda like I’m related to Daniel Boone by generations apparently, but unlike my relation to Daniel Boone, right now, I give a damn about this myth).

So here’s the sitch: You’re thinking about your exercise program.  You want to exercise, you know it makes you feel good, look good; there’s good coming out the wazoo. 

So, you says to yourself, if I am gonna make this exercise thing work, I need to start doing it.  But (nope, you’re already on the wrong track) I can’t do it right now or during lunch breaks because I’ll get sweaty and I can’t go to work sweaty (oops, you took another wrong turn) And I’m gonna need some good running shoes/biking shoes/yoga shoes/push-ups shoes/Scrabble shoes (ha! Craptown USA ahead!).  And I’ve got to have something comfortable to work out in because I don’t want my clothes to get stinky (uh oh, you’re running out of coal (yep, this is an old-fashioned train, bitches)).  And I can’t go after work because I’ve got to entertain the kids before they go to bed (uh-oh, you’re boiler just blew! [coal trains have boilers, right?]).

So you end up determining that best time to workout is at 6am before you get the kids up and go to work, which I’m sorry, but if you are a human being, this only happens for MAYBE a week.  That’s right, I am saying that you folks that actually get up at 6am to work out are NOT HUMAN.  Or, in your language, DCPOWIEM(*@IOJ.

Blame it on commercialism, Fortune 500 companies, Global Warming, gravity, whatever you want but the fact is we sure make working out a hell of a lot harder than it is.  Think about our intellectual forefathers, the cavemen (ahem, and cavewomen).  You know what exercising was to them?  “Me awake.  Food.  Animal.  Catch.”  Of course, we don’t have the benefit of having to chase down our food anymore (unless you count the bitchy blonde chick at wal-mart the other day who tried to snag the last bag of frozen chicken wings.  That’s right, I gots me my chicken, I gots me a workout, AND I gots to see a toehead go bowling in the bakery section).  And computers have ensured that we sit on our asses at least 10 hours per day.  But seriously, we REALLY think we have to have all this “stuff” to do a simple work out?

Case in point: Kids.  I tell you, it does not MATTER where I take my daughter.  She will climb on, jump in, push over, roll around in anything she finds.  This kids is so creative that she now looks forward to going to the grocery store so she can play on the bar thing in the parking lot that holds the shopping carts (I believe that is “officially” what it is called).  So let’s take a little lesson from this, eh?  Give a little credit to the youngins? 

I gave it a try the other day.  Alyssa wanted to go to the park, Chris wasn’t home, and I had Ascher too so the three of us walked to the park nearby.  When we got there, Alyssa headed joyously to the swings and I got ready to settle my little (sigh, ok, it’s HUGE these days) butt on a parking bench to watch the baby.  Then I thought, “there’s a nice big park here with a nice little trail that wraps nicely around the nice little playground.  Why don’t I take a jog?”.  So I hauled this little [gigantic] ass off the bench, got behind the stroller and jogged around the park 4 or 5 times.  And guess what.  I DID IT WITHOUT A JOGGING STROLLER.  In flip-flops.  And normal everyday clothes.  And no ponytail.  And the flu, cancer, and a broken sternum.  It's not like I ran an Olympic mile or anything (what the hell is an Olympic mile?!  It's like I'm making this crap up as I go!), but it was still something.

And the most amazing part?  MY LIFE DIDN’T END.  Seriously!  I thought for sure people would look at me funny, children would shout profanities, animals would prepare for attack, and the axis of the world would begin to fold in on itself – but none of these things happened!  I did get a little sweaty though.  But here’s kind of a funny thing about sweat: IT DRIES.  I thought, Good God, this changes everything!  You might start to see adults playing on the playground, grown men jogging around the store as they do their shopping (or running away from me if they were in the wrong product aisle at the wrong time), women making laps in the parking lot in dresses and heals while waiting for their prescription (most likely for some mental illness since women are frackin crazy), grown adults disturbing the peace of the office by WHEEZING.  CHAOS!!

Oh wait, this already happens.  It’s called Parkour.  The most awesome frackin sport I’ve ever heard of.  No, I’m not going to tell you what it is.  You’re just going to have to put down the Universal Remote, get off the goose down couch, walk over to the laptop you left on the kitchen counter next to your cream puffs, and look it up your own damn self.

Oh, and if any of this sounds sexist, judgemental, or otherwise rude, you might want to double-check where you left your last bag of potato chips because I think you got one or two stuck up your...well, you know, because most likely all those offensive parts describe me.

We all gotta start somewhere, right?

Oh, and I love Bruce Willis.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Confessions of a Habitual Failure

I suck.  I am a failure.  I have tried so many things this last year that have not worked.  I still haven’t held a single job or been with a single company for more than 2 years.  I still haven’t followed-through on a business idea.  I have a nice laundry-list of ideas I’ve tried to instigate that haven’t worked out.  Oh, and lots of parenting techniques, art ambitions, and relationship strategies that have blown up in my face.

I have never been so proud of myself.


It's true.  A few years back, I was told a very eye-opening, paradigm-changing story.  As a lifelong perfectionist, this information was vital to my progress.

(Disclaimer, I’m telling this story from memory, so I may not have all the details exactly correct).  A study was done to determine how children learn and progress best.  In this study, children were divided into two groups and asked to replicate a certain picture through drawing.  One group was asked to draw the picture as many times as possible in the allotted timeframe, while the other was asked to simply draw it once and get it as accurate as possible on the first try.  Which group drew the best picture?  The first group.

This is becoming a well-known fact now in the business world, but it’s becoming more and more apparent to the world in general that the more mistakes you make, the more times you try, the more times you fail, the faster and greater you improve.  This goes completely against my upbringing and attitude as a young adult – my goal was to always get it right the first time, and I exercised great control over myself to make that happen.  I see now that that attitude stunted my growth in many ways for years.

So this last few years, so full of mistakes, failures, feable attempts, and overly-ambitious plans has truly been the most accomplished several years of my life.  In a lot of ways, I’m writing this post for myself because I still haven’t figured out what “I want to be when I grow up”.  Maybe the answer to that question is that I will just keep trying and exploring new things for the rest of my life without ever settling on one.  Who knows?  But for now, I have a nice growing portfolio of failures that will someday serve to uncover that discovery! (in some ways, literally, now that I have a bit of an “art” portfolio started – which believe me, has some real hogs in it!!).

So here’s to more mistakes, more lessons, more screwing up, more ruining perfectly good potential, and maybe…someday… seeing it pay off.

Made any big mistakes lately?  I highly recommend you get started!  It's the most awful blessing you will ever give yourself.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Real" Dress-Up Time for Kids!!

As I mentioned in my last blogpost, one of my requirements for my various creative projects I've been pursuing is that I HAVE to finish every project!  Now, I've got a project I've been playing with for a few months, and for a while there I thought it was going to end up in the trash.  I just couldn't motivate myself to finish, and I just kept filling myself with doubts that anyone would find it valuable.

Ever done that before?  STOP IT!!!!

Luckily, my new goals required me to complete it at the very least, even if it's a complete failure.  Here's the project:

The idea sparked from an afternoon when my daughter came running in to the living room with a pad of paper and a pen and said, "Mommy, what would you like for lunch?  Do you want a sandwich or milk?".  She was playing "waitress", imitating what she's seen at various Denny's, Outback Steakhouses, etc. that we've been to.  And it occurred to me: why are we inundated with princess, superhero, and cartoon character dress-up products when what our kids really want is to be like other "real" adults?  Or maybe we should be encouraging them more often to imitate real adults rather than pretend ones?  Allow me to add that I don't have any problem with princesses and superheros - I think they're important to kids' imagination development and giving them a certain sense of "What's possible" outside of reality - but why don't we find more fun ways for them to imitate the "real" things in life?  What little boy doesn't want to put on a suit and tie and go to work like Daddy?  What little girl doesn't want to sit down and sign paperwork like Mommy does at the end of a long day at work? (my daughter imitates this one all the time too!).

And so was born "Kidz Career Kitz" or "Kidz Dress-up Kitz" (I'm testing both names).  I recently participated in one of these fun consignment shows where a huge event is held at a local hotel or venue and you can bring your gently used kids clothes, toys, etc and sell them.  Quite a few people also sold handmade hair clips and other items, so I decided this would be a good place to test my idea.

Of course, I don't really have any manufacturing capital, so I got creative and hit up the local thrift stores and made use of my computer design programs!  I would prefer to have some more colorful pieces, but I think this was a good start.  I made 2-3 kits (a boy one and a girl one) for 4 different careers (10 kits total) that I thought would be fun to replicate, and would likely catch kids' attention:

Lawyer (boy shown):

It's hard to see in the picture, but this one has a "briefcase" (basically a vintage game case - perfect size for kids!!), a tie or purse, a Daytimer, a name badge (on one of the pull clippies that kids love to play with), a folder with a laminated Client Checklist and dry erase marker (reusable!), a small notepad folio, a "Deposition", a pair of reading glasses (frames only), a few pens and a USB port.

Businessperson (boy shown):

This one has a full-size leather folio, a tie or purse, a name badge (on one of the pull belt clippies that kids love to play with), a folder with laminated Sales & Marketing charts and graphs and dry erase marker (reusable!), a small notepad, a Sales & Marketing Proposal, a pair of reading glasses (frames only), a checkbook with a pretend business credit card, a few pens and a USB port.

Real Estate Agent (girl shown):

This one has a clipboard with a laminated House Inspection Checklist and dry erase marker (reuseable!), a tie or purse, a name badge, a folder with various housing documents to "fill out", a Phone & Address Book, a set of Open House invitations, a pair of sunglasses (for showing houses in Colorado!), a set of keys (for their next showing!), an Available Housing Catalogue, a few pens and a USB port.


This one is a little different.  It has a serving tray, apron, 4 laminated menus, a Sales Order book, pretend dollars and coins, a name badge, a couple of Gift Certificates (to give to customers), a credit card, a pen, and a purse (for the girl one)

Ideally, these kits would come with a short DVD video that shows a cartoon of someone going to work to do each job and using each item so the kids know exactly what each item is for - but I'm not that talented yet!!

So what do you think?  Would you buy one of these for your kids?  I'm putting them in the next JBF Broomfield/Brighton sale so we'll see how it goes!  If I sell one of them, I will be happy. :)  If not, I will be content to have tried and failed.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Well, another day in Denver, another snowstorm.  Another opportunity to blog!  Today I wanted to share a fun craft I did recently: my first custom book!!  This was a lot of fun.  I ripped the pages out of an old book, redecorated the cover, cut, pasted, punched, painted, and decorated in the inside pages and then bound it all together with scraps from an old t-shirt!!  And I used only materials that I already had on hand (from old scrapbooking projects of yore) and stuff I got from the local thrift store.  It was a fun artistic and practical challenge.  I made this for my niece who will be turning 7 (I think?) in a couple of weeks.  I'll explain what the different pages are as I post the pictures.

Since I am now working part-time in marketing, waiting for a baby to pop out, and trying to focus more of my energies at home, I've decided to just let myself pursue whatever crazy, whimsical crafts I've dreamed up over the past year or so.  Now that I have the time and energy to devote to them (and not much time and energy to devote to anything physical!)!  So my next few posts will likely be random, strange, completely unrelated crafts or projects I decided to take on in my spare time to feed my creative appetite.  I've decided on two rules for these projects:

1) I must finish every project before moving on to the next one.
2) I can only have 3 projects going at a time.

And I will probably break them both.

I will still be singing with Pure Jukyn (gig next week!) and working on pursuing a long-term project working with songwriting and teens (see my New Years post), but those will most-likely be on hold until after the baby comes and life gets somewhat predictable.  So for now: Creative Jane Rears Her Ugly Head!!

 The Cover.  "E" for Emily!  I found a fantastic post about gluing paper towels to the cover of the book and then painting it to give it some nice texture.  It worked out great!

The first page, and several other pages in here, are just for making notes about things that have happened, thoughts, she has, or anything she wants to write.

The "nicesies" on the inside cover are little notes that say nice things like "Thank you" or "I'm sorry" that she can give to family members or friends when she feels the need.  Sometimes it's easier than saying it!

There are several "Secrets" pages throughout the book.  These are places where she can take some special paper (included in the back of the book) and write down any private thoughts, feelings or "secrets" that she wants to keep special for herself and put them in this pretty envelope.  They are always there for her to look at - for her eyes only!

I added a small "About Me" section where she can write a few small details about herself.

This is just another spot for writing notes - I tried to make the spaces fairly small - big enough to write it, but not big enough that she feels like she has to write a novel.  This is one of my favorites because I found some old wedding invitations at the thrift store that make a cute "book opening" look to this page!

Another Secrets page on the left, and on the right is a decorated plastic baggie where she can keep an "Stuff" she wants to - artwork, movie tickets, notes from friends, whatever!

Another notes page with a more vertical writing space (might be actually too small for her to write in, but oh well).

Another Secrets page, and a small card on the left with a fun mini burlap bag for storing stuff she likes.

More writing space!

 Secrets page and another baggie that says "I'm Bored" with 20-30 activity ideas - many craft and creativity focused - for when she is looking for something to do!

The right page is a place for her to keep photos (I know, no one develops film anymore, but it seemed like there needed to be a place for pictures!).

More writing space on the left, and then a stack of colorful scrapbook paper on the right for writing, pasting, drawing, whatever she wants to do.

On the right is the pretty paper for her Secrets envelopes - you can't tell, but it's purple and shiny.

The back of the book.

And the binding!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Finding Your SuperPower (We All Have One)

As tends to happen just preceding one of my blog posts, I read a very interesting post from another blogger a few weeks ago (hooray for stealing other people’s thoughts!).  The blogger is Erika Andersen, a business-owner who consults with top business professionals around world about various topics surrounding people management and leadership within the business world.  I follow her posts regularly because there is so much insight into the way businesses SHOULD be run and often aren’t.

Anyways, this particular post was a little more personal in nature.  She was discussing the way to discover your career “sweet spot”.  One element of this is discovering your individual “superpower”.  This is  a difficult thing to define because you have to minimalize your various talents and wittle them down to one very basic skill.  For example, she describes her superpower as this: “I’m uniquely good at understanding the essence of a thing and expressing it simply and clearly.”  

Here’s the post, it’s worth a read if you have the time (and much shorter and more concise than mine!):
Her post goes into more detail, then adding “What drives your economic engine” and “What are you passionate about” to the formula.   But I want to focus on this “superpower” piece because I think this is the most difficult thing to identify, and often the most crucial to a person’s success.

Throughout my career journey, searching for an answer to this question of my “superpower” has been particularly intriguing.  It requires a lot of self-reflection and self-watching.  I know that sounds weird, but noting how you act and react during certain tasks, and which situations in which you find the most joy are very helpful exercises in working this out.  There was something particularly difficult about my “superpower”, and I’m guessing most people run into this same conundrum: the activities I enjoy the most, and where I excel the most seem to have very little relation to one another.  Here is a list of a few tasks that I’ve noticed I’m especially good at:


Analyzing  and interpreting graphs and charts

Building marketing strategies

Understanding the root of others’ challenges and difficulties


Developing business ideas (large and small)

Huh… Well, that’s a little strange.  Songwriting and analyzing/interpreting graphs and charts???  That makes no sense at all!!  For a long time I thought all these skills were basically unrelated and that maybe I’m not as good at them as I seem to think I am.  

Well, I think I figured it out.  And I hope that this story and detailed (heh heh) explanation can help you do the same because I would be VERY interested to know others’ superpowers and see them come to optimal use in your life as well.  My superpower:

“I am uniquely good at taking many pieces of information from a variety of sources and mixing & melding them to create an interpretation or idea that takes into account all relevant parameters.”

Ok, that’s a bit of a mouthful.  I’m hoping I can condense that more over time, but let’s look at that in the context of two of the earlier-mentioned skills:

Analyzing marketing data requires taking in the information presented by various charts and graphs, looking for trends and upsets, and interpreting it or creating a basis for a marketing strategy that also takes into account many other factors including the performance of past campaigns, common customer complaints, available resources, and the complications of execution.  Quite a few variables!

Songwriting, on the other hand, though generally seen to be the creation of something completely new out of nothing, but it is actually more of a process of combining all kinds of different information: feelings, styles and genres of music, instrumental capabilities, theory of chords and rhythms, words read and spoken on a daily basis,  stories, general cultural interpretation of what “sounds good”, right down to the sound of a car driving by or the feeling of sitting in the forest alone.  All these things must be mixed and melded and combined to create one piece of art.

Kinda cool, right?  The coolest part of this is that since I’ve recognized this and started to wield this skill more and more, I’m seeing some great results.  My boss has commented on more than one occasion that I’ve got a great eye for catching trends and upsets in marketing data that others don’t see.  I’ve always gotten decent compliments on my songwriting.  I’ve been invited regularly into brainstorming sessions at work.  I simply feel better and I feel like people are starting to work with me on achieving the career direction that I want!

So what’s your “superpower”?  If you already know it, please share it!  If not, challenge yourself to pay a little more attention to what you’re exceptionally good at and what common skills can be pulled from all your various talents.   I guarantee it will build your confidence and your ability to achieve your goals – you won’t regret it!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Stepping Forward Into the New Year

An old year closes and a new one begins.  It’s pretty typical for me to make a resolution every year, and I’m not so bad at sticking to it.  But this year is different.  This year, rather than making resolutions, I have decided upon a theme that will guide my life in 2013.  I like this idea because it offers opportunities for many resolutions that fit under the theme and lots of flexibility for living under the theme depending on the road upon which life carries me.  I’m VERY excited about this, and I want to preface it with a little back-story that really gives life to what I hope to achieve in 2013.

I read a very interesting blog post from a girl that I think I need to meet someday – she calls herself the “Shy Singer-Songwriter”.  Talk about my twin!  In her blog, she mentions that in her youth, she rarely felt any other emotions other than discomfort and fear.  I can relate very closely to this.  Granted, I recall some good feelings – happiness, satisfaction, love, enjoyment…but the only negative feelings I recall are discomfort, anxiety, and fear.  To give you an example, I distinctly recall the day my Mom and Dad gathered all five of us kids in the living room to announce that they were getting a divorce – no doubt an announcement that would trigger some deep emotions.  But I can still see myself sitting there watching my older brother and sister get angry, and my younger brother and sister start crying, and having absolutely no idea how to react.  So I didn’t.  Now I don’t know why this is, but I suspect it’s connected an inability to give myself validation of my own feelings, and to a mantra I put on myself at a young age to be the savior of the world – how selfish was I to waste time with negative feelings when there were so many problems around me?

There was only one time I freely allowed myself to explore my feelings, to be human, and to feel things that I closed myself off from elsewhere: songwriting.  For some reason, when I was writing music, I was allowed to do or be anything.  I could be sad, frustrated, lovesick, angry, jealous, whatever awful feelings I felt I was not privy to.  Now, I RARELY shared these emotions or songs with others.  For some strange reason, I would love and worship others who expressed conflicting and avid emotions through song (famous or not), but I was always far too insecure of my own feelings to give myself the same permissions.  I do remember one song I wrote that articulated everything I felt about myself and expressed for the first time the inner struggle I had with perfectionism.  I think Mikey Michaud is the only one who ever heard it – “What I Wanna Be”.

Back to my New Year’s Theme. 2012 has been very much a preparation for 2013, even though I didn’t realize it.  Life is awesome that way.  2012 marked my venturing back into songwriting and singing after a near 6-year hiatus (with a little bit of dabbling in music theatre here and there).  It also was fraught with hours upon hours of brain power and career counseling as I tried to work out what I want to do with my life.  I watched my best friend wield confidence and intense love to make a difference in Denver – the majority of my inspiration for chasing my dreams.  I moved into a more suitable job role with a more suitable company.  I did my first live performance of original music written by me and my guitarist.  I began making my first CD.  All with much love and support from my husband and daughter.  Now I plan to take all that, mold it, mesh it, and take the next step forward with my 2013 theme:

Wield Passion to Make a Difference

I’m not sure yet how I’m going to accomplish this.  I only know that it will likely have an element singing/songwriting, and it will hopefully involve a lifelong desire to work with youth.  I know the first step will be to record and publish “What I Wanna Be” on my future album, and finally allow myself to be open about that crazy insecure girl I once was, and in many ways, still am.  But I’m trying not to define it too closely just yet.  As it has been known to do, life takes unexpected turns, and this theme could end up meaning something entirely different than I’d planned.  But I have a starting point, and  many people to thank for getting me here over the past year, and over life in general:

Chris – my husband.  For being the first person I ever really felt I could express my deepest, most private emotions to and who never judges me for or holds me back from being who I am.

Alyssa – my daughter.  For inspiring me to chase my dreams.  Every day I wonder what kind of example I’m setting for her – I so desire for her to never lose her innocent desire to pursue her dreams and desires.  She will only do that if she sees her parents achieve the same.

Sarah Weight – my bestie.  For showing me how to love without bonds and turn that into something tangible to make a difference.  Her confidence in her own feelings and aspirations is truly inspiring.

My Dad – who always believed in me and is constantly overwhelmingly supportive and proud of even my smallest accomplishments.

My Mom – for having the foresight to start me in piano lessons at the young age of 4, and for starting me in a program that I believe helped me build creativity and musical mind.  I am prepared to start Alyssa on her journey in the exact same way and see where it takes her.

Belinda – who was always my biggest supporter as a songwriter in my youth.  We had some rough times in those days, but I always, always remember how excited she was about the songs I wrote, and how much encouragement and motivation she gave me to pursue that talent and share it with others.

Close Friends old and new – who put up with me and my OCD and perfectionist tendencies which I once did not understand, and which the world tended to value and reward despite their often debilitating side effects.  For helping to open my eyes a little bit to what the world has to offer when we relax and let ourselves screw up and just be who we are.

And many more.  Let’s make 2013 the best year yet and get one baby step closer to who we want to be.

Happy New Year!!