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I have lost count of the number of team building, moral boosting, personality testing opportunities I have been asked to participate in by various employers. I've team built in nature. Read about moving cheese. Figured out my personality color. My strengths. My Myers Briggs type. I've been asked to get on the energy bus. To fill people's buckets. How many many others I have forgotten?

Mind you, I'm not totally against all of these various motivational activities as the whole process very much plays into my nerdy side. I will admit, it's hard for me to pass up taking those highly scientific look-at-this-picture-click-the radio-dot-you-most-agree-with personality "tests" found sprinkled around ever corner of the internet like glitter infects your home after 1 tiny sparkly craft project.  I can get as wrapped up in the hype and excitement of it all as much as anyone. Hi, my name is Jennifer and I am a self-help, self-discovery junkie.

While my nerdy side kinda likes all those tests and evaluations, my practical, plain and simple side gets a little tired of the gimmickiness of the whole motivational, team building industry. Do we REALLY need 1 more label to show us how yes, we are all different types of people; and yes, we all excel at different things; and yes, some of us are naturally drawn to work well with each other while some of us would like to stab some of the others in our group in the eye with a plastic spoon; and yes, even with all of those similarities and differences, likes and dislikes, we all have to figure out how to put on our big girl panties, get along, and move the overall mission of our organization forward in a meaningful and positive way. It's called adulting.

(Surprise! Aren't you glad you wasted so much of your carefree youthfulness wishing you could grow up and become an adult just a little bit faster than time was turning because being an adult was going to be the MOST awesome thing in the world? Stupid youthful naivety.)

The most recent culture improvement/motivational activity I've been asked to participate in is choosing my ONE WORD for the coming year. Choosing one guiding word is kinda the current thing, as you can read about in this book, or this book. Or by searching #oneword on any social media platform.

Actually this is the 2nd year that I've been asked to chose a word for the year. My word for 2015 was inspire. It is a word that has always spoke to me, and will continue to do so as long as I am serving others on this earth. I hope to inspire my girls to be strong, independent, caring women. I hope to inspire my kids at school to wonder about the world around us. I hope to inspire those in my community to offer up their unique abilities to the world move us towards a healthier, more peaceful society. Just because 2015 has passed, my intention to inspire, and to be inspired, has not.

Choosing my word for 2016 was actually a pretty easy process. I've had lots of internal conversations going on lately about the current state of affairs in many areas of my life, so when the request came to my email inbox for me to have MY word for the year ready to share at not 1, but 2 different staff meetings this week it took me only a matter of minutes to decide on a word.

My #oneword for 2016 is: cultivate.

I am naturally a dreamer. An eternal optimist. A hopeless romantic. A believer that any thing IS possible. Even with my struggles with depression/anxiety, having an optimistically dreamy outlook on life is still a pretty sparkly way to live, and I can't imagine living without the bright, warm light that is created by having hopes and dreams.

That being said, I realize that one of the downsides of being a dreamer is the tendency to get easily distracted by the next sparkly glimmer of possibility without giving one's full attention to the life situations at hand. Cultivating requires careful, planned, extended care. Whether that be a garden. Or a professional pursuit. Or a relationship. Or a dream. It requires one to stand the course even when a new shiny distraction pops up and tries to pull attentions in a new direction. I am, admittedly, not always good at cultivation of many of those gardens of life over the long haul. I can easily get distracted from doing the work necessary to take the next step, or to make a more full commitment, or to find contentment in my current stand in life. It's so easy for me to instead dream about the what ifs. The what could bes. The if onlies.

Does that mean I'm giving up dreaming in 2016?

Hell no!

But it does mean that as I think about planning new gardens, I need to take a look at those that I've already planted and go about doing some work to weed and feed them all, the old and the new.

I'm still trying to wrap my brain around how one goes about such a task. How one continues to dream and plan for new directions while honoring and enjoying the current path. Luckily there's still 350 some days left in the year for me to wrestle with my #oneword.



My Most Read Thoughts


Today while I sat in a classroom supervising students as they worked on their math assignments, I watched Lexi through the window enjoying time with her friends during recess. My heart smiled.

Those moments, moments of learning and carefree fun, those are the moments that SHOULD make up a school day. As a Mom, and an elementary school employee, my heart is breaking over the news and images coming out of Connecticut today. 
I send my kids off to school everyday without a second thought that they will return safely come day's end, just as I'm sure each one of those parents in Newtown did this morning.
Every day I walk into my school for work without a second thought to my personal safety, just as I'm sure each of those teachers, paras, custodians, sectretaries, etc in Newtown did this morning. 
Theories will be published. Evidence will be presented. Words will be exchanged about gun control and the need for change in our current culture of violence. I don't suspec…

DIY: Reusable Produce Bags

With Earth Day festivities gearing up for tomorrow, I thought I'd take a moment to post a short DIY tutorial on making your own reusable cloth produce bags. (Tutorial inspired by my favorite crafty mom blog, Crazy Mom Quilts. Produce bags inspired by running into my friend Laura at the grocery store while she was stuffing her produce into these.) This is my next step in the fight against the excessive use of plastic bags.

Our family has been making small environmentally minded changes in our daily lives over the past few years. We use reusable shopping bags. We've stopped buying/using Ziploc bags and plastic wrap. I'm trying to commute around town via bike more. I'm being more mindful about where the food we buy comes from and how it was produced. We more often hang our laundry on the line to dry in the spring and summer instead of just throwing it in the dryer. (Which is convenient at the moment since our dryer has decided to quit drying.) As we use up chemically clean…

Sunday Morning Silly...

Once in a while Dando's curiosity urges him to venture off the bookshelf so he check out other toys in the house.

I think he thinks Froggy is missing a few marbles.