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Showing posts from 2010

UNDERDOGS: The Story of a Successful Public School

I am proud to be kicking off fundraising for my first feature-length documentary project, "Underdogs," which follows a public school in Newhall, CA (outside of Los Angeles) over what should be a monumental school year this year.

The school is considered a classic "school of poverty." It should be failing, like so many other schools with similar demographics, but the students, staff and administrators at McGrath Elementary School have created a culture of success. This year they want to do the unthinkable -- have 90% of their students score as proficient or advanced on the state's standardized tests. The 6th graders at the school set this goal. And, they're inviting President Obama to go to the movies with them next year if they achieve this goal.

The students are at the heart of the film. I'm enjoying getting to know them through the editing process and am proud of the filming that Ramon is doing on the project and of the teaching he is doing, as he is te…

More Than Enough - The Power of Giving: One Child, One Dollar

One of my fondest memories of the after-school program I used to run was the Alice in Wonderland Tea Party at the after-school program I run. There were cookies, cupcakes and pizza slices being sold. There were "mad hats" being made and other art activities. The goal was to raise money for clean water in Burkina Faso (a small country in Africa). 
The students hoped to raise $250, which would provide a toilet for students at a school in a small country across the world. When, the activity booths were closed, and the cookies and cupcakes and pizza were gone, everyone gathered in the cafeteria. I proudly announced that we raised $225. After the claps died down, I heard a small voice.

"Miss Jen, here," came the words of a little boy, who extended his hand and offered another dollar. Then, another student raised their hand and offered up a couple more dollars, then another and another and another. $5 here, 35 cents there, and on and on and on.

I was noticeably moved by t…

Post-Sky Diving Photo from August 2006

Abundant Living #2: More on Conscious Consumption (or Non-Consumption) - Five Non-Vestments + Five Potentials

As a conscious consumer, I'm also mindful of NOT spending money on things that I really don't need. Here's five things that we often "think" we need, but really don't. 

1. Cable/TV - we don't have any type of TV service. This is great, primarily because it means the "one-eyed baby-sitter" is not just always on, but also because it makes me really consider more deliberately the media I consume. Between hulu.com and espn.com, I typically catch the few TV-related things I might be interested in and avoid the rest.

2. Baby "gear/toys" -- I'm not really into crowding our house with baby stuff. We've been blessed to be given a lot of stuff from friends (hand me-downs and new). Plus, babies are innovative. Sky doesn't really need a lot of toys. The box that my Toms shoes came is very entertaining, as are diapers (clean ones of course), measuring cups, an old remote control, etc.

3. Morning coffee -- I make it at home, instead of get…

Abundant Living: A Commitment to Conscious Consumption

In my commitment to the good long road, I strive to be a conscientious consumer and to consume as little as possible (sometimes successfully, other times, not so successfully), to reuse as much as possible, and to be generous and giving, even with a limited income. Here's my Top Ten "Investments."

10. Toms Shoes - Pregnancy did a number on my feet and shoes, so after I had Sky I invested in a new pair of shoes. This time, Toms Shoes, which I have found to be quite comfortable (physically and mentally - knowing that my purchase meant that a child would also now have a pair of shoes). I also purchased a hoodie from Tom Shoes, since pregnancy had broken the zipper and several seams of my previous hoodie. (I now have my second pair of Toms Shoes).
9. Books - Two specifically that I want to mention: Yoga Mom, Buddha Baby by Jyoth Larson and Ken Howard, which I purchased at the local thrift store and True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh. I didn't purchase True Love for myself. It wa…

Brushes #1 - "Fingerpainting" by Baby

BRUSHES
3-27-10
About the Artist

Wild Thing was born on November 7, 2009. He shows great promise as an artist with his work reflecting his fun-loving nature and ability to bring a smile to the face of all he meets. His talent as an artist must be related to his regimented lifestyle. For example, while Sky enjoys tasting everything, he maintains a very strict diet (milk only, please) and takes frequent naps throughout the day. He also sticks to a regimented exercise routine that includes rigorous leg workouts with lots of kicking and jumping, yoga at the exclusive MomBa studio in Val Verde, and power walks with his personal trainer, Jennifer. In addition, he studies dance with private dance instructor, Ramon. Aside from visual arts, Sky's artistic interests also include music. He can often be heard singing (in a crooner style) and enjoys playing a keyboard that was specially designed for him. He even plays it with his feet. Intellectually, Sky's endeavors are impressive. He loves …

Rays of Sunshine (AKA Hope)

My last blog was all about obstacles and roadblocks, and the importance of remembering to breath and of not forgetting that the road is good, even when there seem to be lots of roadblocks and obstacles getting in the way. Not long ago, that is how things felt for our little family -- as if there were just lots of roadblocks. 

We were frustrated that we were working to do so much good and yet kept butting up against such challenges. Then, as Ramon says, we started to see little rays of sunshine breaking through the clouds. We were told that the landlords were selling the house we lived in and so we started looking at apartments. It was cloudy indeed. Yet, a single ray broke through the clouds as we started thinking that maybe we could buy the house. We got the list price. We ran the numbers. It all made sense. We could buy the house we were already living in. 

We made an offer and then had to meet a counter offer (that raised the price very little). Today, the real estate agent called…

The Good Long Road: Overcoming Obstacles

My brother, Kyle, came up with this name for my blog. In fact, he set up the blog for me when I was embarking upon the journey of my Run for Peace just about 3 years ago.

It is an appropriate title/theme, for the blog and for life, I suppose. For it is a good, long road. At times, it seems, that it is a very, very long road and that certain stretches are particularly treacherous with road blocks all around that constantly block the path. It is at these times when I find that I most need to remind myself that Peace is Every Step, no matter if that step is small or even backwards. I have to remind myself that I do "Run for Peace" or, as the case may be, walk/crawl/dig/scramble and fall (flat on my face - particularly when I might forget that peace is every step.) I must remind myself to always keep the Peace part front and center. If I falter and if I lose my way and if I am not promoting peace with each step and each action, I must learn to stop and breath and find the ce…

First Family Photo - 10 Years Later!

10 Years

Ramon's Birthday is today. Ramon is my life partner, work partner and, now, parenting partner. We have been blessed with more than 10 years together. Today, I am listing 10 wonderful memories from our life together in, more or less, chronological order

10. Our trip to Alexandria in 1999, which was when we first expressed our feelings for one another.
9. Spending Christmas together in Bethlehem, also in 1999.
8. New Year's at the Pyramids in Egypt 1999-2000.
7. Thanksgiving - 2002
6. My graduation from Harvard - I couldn't have gotten through it (or in) without you (June 2003)
5. Going to Fenway (in particular Derek Lowe's no-hitter), but in general this one represents all of the memories in Boston and my gratefulness to Ramon for sharing his city with me.
4. Running together at the park in Brockton - I loved doing that. (2001-2002) and the burgers and sausages you cooked for my "30"run (2007)
3. Our first Christmas with Sky (2009)
2. Our trip to the park - Dec. 2009 …

I know that we don't know enough - the power of meditation

Oprah: What do you know for sure?

Nhat Hanh: I know that we do not know enough. We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality. When you climb a ladder and arrive on the sixth step and you think that is the highest, then you cannot come to the seventh. So the technique is to abandon the sixth in order for the seventh step to be possible. And this is our practice, to release our views. The practice of nonattachment to views is at the heart of the Buddhist practice of meditation. People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don't suffer anymore.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk who is largely responsible for this entire blog and the actions connected with it, was on my mind and his teachings on mindfulness and deep breathing flowed through my day. In the morning, I noticed that my friend (and fictive brother) Chris had…

My Heart

Clearly, I am not that great of a blogger. I go way too long between posts. Life can do that. I decided last fall, though, to focus in on the theme "Ten," which is significant to my life. As I mentioned before, I just celebrated 10 years with my amazing life and work partner and, now, parenting partner, Ramon, and I have a film project entitled "Ten" that I would love to get myself together and bring to fruition.

Now, about 5 months after my last posting (that's half of 10), I'm back with 10 things that nurture my heart (in no particular order). Ramon and I don't exchange gifts at Valentine's Day. We do, though, work on valuing, loving and appreciating one another 365 days each year. So, this posting is my only act in recognition of Valentine's Day.

10. My family (Mom, Dad, Kyle, Brent, Ramon, Sky, etc.)
9. My work - I love nurturing and encouraging young people . I don't always have all the answers regarding what the students I work with need…