Category Archives: Janae

Leadership Reflection

I spend a lot of time writing papers for school. Some of them wouldn’t be interesting to share on my blog, but I believe that some are. This week I had to write a quick reflection on a moment in our lives that began developing our leadership skills. This is what I shared:

   As we discussed in class last week, we were supposed to pick a time in our lives that had an impact on us and helped develop our leadership qualities. As I thought back over my life, I remembered small but significant experiences that made a difference in my life. This is the first meaningful one I can remember.

     I was young, probably eight years old. I went to McDonalds with my dad to get a Happy Meal. This didn’t happen very often and so I was extremely excited! I remember watching my dad leave the car to run in to get the food. On the way in, he smiled at a lady and talked to her for a minute. I wondered who the woman was because I didn’t recognize her. After I waited in the car for what seemed like forever, I saw my dad emerging from the beautiful doors with the golden “M.” I could hardly contain my excitement!

     When he jumped into the car, I asked him who the woman was. He told me that he didn’t know. I asked him why he was talking to her if he didn’t know who she was. He said,  “Janae, I don’t know who she was but she’ll spend all day trying to figure out who I am.Did you see how happy she was to have have someone say hi to her? You don’t need to know someone to smile and say ‘hello’ and she will have a better day because someone took the time to talk to her.”

     It was a simple message that hit me to the core, even at such a young age. This wasn’t the only time I remember my dad doing this. He talked to strangers everywhere he went, always. Sometimes, as I got a little older, I remember feeling embarrassed that he would do such a thing. He looked silly, from my perspective, and sometimes I had to hide my face while he had seemingly meaningless conversations.

     As I got even older, I remember my dad being a principal at a junior high and then a high school. On special occasions I’d get the chance to go to work with him. It was always so fun to watch him pull out a big wad of keys for the building, and I loved that he could get us access to any room in the high school. We would swim, go ice skating, “help” in his office and even sometimes go to dances. He walked faster than I could ever keep up with, and so I learned to run/walk beside him. But everywhere we went and no matter who we saw, he always waved hi and smiled. He took particular interest in each person, even if they looked very uncomfortable. And because of this, he was loved.

     Everyone spoke highly of my dad because he took the time to invest in them, if only for a moment. He genuinely cared for the general well-being of people, and I could feel it. As I grew, he’d remind me of this simple truth, that if I would say hi and smile, I would always have friends. And he was right. I have always had friends from all sorts of backgrounds. I genuinely love people and I appreciate their journeys. They don’t have to be like me for me to love them. Some people would say this is unsafe or naive, but I’ve chosen to live this way instead of inside a hard outer shell of safety. Maybe this is where my “Woo” comes from on the very top five “Strengths Finder” test. I’m sure I was born with a tendency to be this way, but watching my dad understand the implications of human nature really helped me to further develop this skill.

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New Year Resolutions 2017

Guess what! It snowed, right on Christmas Even. It was a miracle!

I’m sure nobody on planet earth reads my blog anymore – or any other planet for that matter. And why would they? I never post, and if I do, it would be on facebook or instagram – or an occasional snap chat.

I know there are some major reasons why social media is not good for us, but there are some reasons that it has been good for me. I enjoy reflecting on my day and writing about it. I like to remember the reasons I laughed hard or felt deeply enough about something to cry. It helps me learn more about who I am and why I’m here on this earth. And although I’d love to believe that I won’t forget anything, it’s been clear that I do. I forget what happened yesterday, for heaven sake! And when I look back on my old blog posts (more than a thousand of them) I see that they were for myself and my children. I know that I used to have many hundreds of consistent “readers” and it did help me to keep going when I didn’t feel like writing, but at the end of the day – it was for me.

My life is busier than ever, and yet, I have this major pull to try to keep writing. I don’t even know how I will fit it in and so I can’t possibly commit to it – and then I feel sadness. So much of life is striving for the balance that works for us. When it find it, we also experience more peace, hard work, and happiness. And the hard part about it is that it never stays the same. Life changes, and so must our balance. It’s a moving target!

A few days ago, I was sitting down to recover from all the Christmas crazy (hosting 2 huge work Christmas parties, 5 movie theaters full of clients, and multiple family parties) and Whitney walked in. We talked about random things and then I looked up to find her snap chat app in my face. Next thing I know, my features were warped into all sorts of images and I began laughing, and the harder I laughed, the more I was inadvertently encouraging her to continue. And well, a video is worth more than a thousand words, so here you go!

There is nothing like raising teenagers! Nothing. One minute you wonder who they are and what they did with your sweet baby, and the next minute they are your best friend. It makes my head spin – and with six daughters and one little caboose boy, my head has spun for a long time.

SO much has been going on in our home that I could never catch up writing about everything. The stories that would be the most interesting to read about my children and our lives, are private. But there is a lot I can write, such as my New Year Resolutions for 2017! I attacking a few things that would potentially, if I can control myself, change my life.

  1. I am officially going back to college for the first time in over twenty years! I was accepted into a women’s leadership program during the fall, and Dr. Susan Madsen encouraged me to do it take the full plunge and finish my degree. I’ve wanted to do this for many years, but it hasn’t ever been the right time, but I believe that now it is – heaven help us. I’ve decided to get an Integrated Studies major, including Leadership and either psychology or sociology.
  2. Not only am I returning to school, I have chosen to do exactly what many people don’t recommend, and that is to take MATH on my first semester back. And true to the “Janae Way”, I’m not only taking math, but I’m also enrolled in a class called Ology that helps you pass ALL OF YOUR MATH FOREVER in one semester! It will be so scary intense, but I want to get it over! I’ve also dragged Kinley, Ethan (Kinley’s fiance!), and Whitney into it with me. My theory is that if we all struggle together, we can overcome! I’d have to say that I’m a bit nervous because the class will also be running during the three months leading up to Kinley’s wedding! I’m also taking my Ethics and Values class.
  3. After five years of severely neglecting my health, I have a plan in place to hit it head on. I’m so scared, but I have to do it. I’m only half way through my life and I want to enjoy the rest of it and if I can’t figure out how to take control of my body – I won’t. Why do I feel like I’m helping myself by only helping others? How can I find the energy to help run companies, start and run non-profits, and be mama to many kids – but I can’t take care of myself? I think it’s a pretty common thing for women.
  4. And just so you can all laugh at me, I will also be supporting our businesses with PR and strategy, continuing to build the Parent Advocacy Council, most likely launching a very small business (TBA), and helping to plan a wedding. Not to mention being mom – my most important job.

So how to I plan to achieve my goals? Good question!

  1. All of my kids are gone all day, from 7:30-3:30. That is one benefit of getting old. I have 8 hours a day to do what I need to do. During this time I will go to school, work, exercise etc.
  2. After twenty years of raising kids, Jon and I hired a nanny last year to help during the after school hours. We divide up driving, cooking, homework etc. Kelsey helped us all last year and recently moved away. Kenzie is now her replacement and she has also been assisting me with party planning and work errands.  I feel like a huge cheater, but like Jon says, “Let her help you with things that I can’t help you with because I’m too busy at work.” and that makes me feel better. He’s been saying this for the eleven years that Maria has come and helped to clean our house. I feel so guilty/embarrassed even talking about this, but I feel like if I don’t, then people compare what they are able to do and think I’m some sort of super woman when really I just have a team of people trying to keep up with me!
  3. I’m going to be successful in school because I want to be a good example to my daughters of continuing education in any way that they can. It’s important to me that they know that women can lead in whatever ways they want to, whether it’s in the family, business, non-profit, work…whatever. They can be self-sufficient and not wait for a husband to do it for them. Too often in our Utah culture, young women just assume this – without realizing the many things that can get in the way of this plan. Sickness, job-loss, divorce, death etc. all happens – all the time.
  4. I should also add a big number 4 and that is prayer. I won’t be able to carry out these goals without help from above! I sometimes get distracted, tired, lackadaisical, irritated, lazy when I’m working on something I’m not excited about (such as school, math, and my health) and I’ll need every blessing I can get!

So, here goes nothing and everything all at the same time. Oh, did I mention that I’d like to write on my blog more often, too? There are simply not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. Not enough, at all.


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Dear Diary,

I’ve been sleeping in a hotel room for four nights, and it feels quiet, clean, comfortable and strange. I can hardly believe how old my kids have gotten since this picture was taken that I just found on wordpress!


It’s the fourth year I’ve come to the Alliance for Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds conference, and this marks the first full year of being the co-chair of the Alliance National Parent Partnership Council. I can hardly believe that the time has gone so fast and I’m honored to have been able to be a part of this group.

The parents on the alliance that came before me, the members that came before me and the people who work to run the organization, are wonderful. I have really loved getting to know people from all over the country, and listen to how each state runs so differently. One thing that works in one state, may or may not work in another. This creates a challenge to duplicate systems – and it forces everyone to get really creative.

I spoke yesterday about partnering with parents in the work with programs. It was exciting, intense and altogether fabulous! I am becoming more confident speaking in front of groups, and I hope that I can continue to build this skill. It used to rattle me pretty bad, but now I am to a place where it energizes me. I do get nervous in the way that I want to do a good job, get my message across and make sense – but I’m okay with the attention of a room full of people who are listening.

I will be returning home today and my focus is turning toward things coming up in my life next. My kids have been home with two different nanny’s that have taken turns. We hired Kelsey a year ago to help out when Jon and I were busy, and she’s been an awesome addition to our family! She plays with the kids, she’s great at helping me make sure the homework is done, and we juggle the insane driving schedule of lessons and making dinner for the kids. She will be graduating from her physical therapy assistant school in a few months, and so we recently hired Kenzie to begin taking over. I used to feel really guilty for having help, but now I realize that I shouldn’t. Jon travels a lot and even though my work day is usually done by 3:30, I still can’t physically do everything by myself. I figure that I’ve done it for twenty years by myself, so I’ll enjoy having more help for the last few years of having little kids.

While I’ve been gone to this conference in Arizona, Kenzie has been making decorations with the kids for making our house look like Howgarts! I can hardly wait to come home and see my house transfigured! Kenzie is a wedding planner and she often makes her own decorations – so the kids have been  having a ball! Jean, my friends that owns dream dinners is making some crazy-fun Harry Potter foods, and we will have them at a few parties we will be having at our house during the next month.

On a totally different note, I have recently been accepted into a program at Utah Valley University for women leadership in Utah. Dr. Susan Madsen from the Woodbury School of Business is leading this program, and I’ve enjoyed it so much. I’m even considering going back to school officially in January. This would mean that I could potentially be sharing classes with two of my daughters! I can only imagine the fun we’d have together trying to remember how to do math, find our classes, write papers – and more! I can also only imagine how much this could cost…. I’ve gone back and forth between studying a sort of degree that is geared toward things I want to study, or going for a business degree. When I was at the Governors Gala last week with Barbara Barrington Jones, I saw Cameron Martin, the Vice President at UVU, and asked him who I should talk to if I was considering studying business, and he pointed to a man that was already sitting at the table with me! It was a funny coincidence.

So we will see. First, I will be traveling home today, hosting a blogger party tomorrow, and settling in back at home until I will travel to the Protect Child Abuse Conference in October, where I will be co-training on Resilience. And then it’s Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas…. the time seem to fly this time of year! And if I start school in January – that will be a whole other change….

Okay, well I’m off to pack up my room, and get ready for the day!

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32432131 - funny grandma's studio portarit with a tie on her forehead, showing thumbs up

After twenty years, seven kids, three dogs, two hamsters, two cats, five suburbans, infinity-times-infinity dirty diapers, two grand daughters, an unfathomable amount of dirty dishes, dirty clothes, scraped knees, and shuttling little humans to a myriad of lessons – I’m officially walking back into college, today.

Yes, you heard me….I can barely breathe as I say it. It won’t look the same as it did when I was seventeen and I walked up to my parents’ room the night before I drove away with my cousin, in her little blue car. It was packed to the rim with a few pillows, a few bags of clothing, a clock for the wall, and some other “necessities”. I wasn’t sure exactly sure what my goals were at Utah Valley Community College, but I did know that I was ready to face the big world, and of course, enjoy the time of my life! I had barely any clue what I’d study when I began class, but I remember penciling in the bubble next to “Sociology”and handing it to the busy woman behind the desk.

Little did I know the chain of events that would soon take place, but that is the beauty of naïvety and youth; marching straight into fire, without realizing it. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s exactly how we should be, at least once in our lifetime; absolutely positive we know everything!

I can’t help but reflect back to the day I sat across the desk from my high school counselor, and listened to him read from my  permanent record before graduation.

“I’m genuinely concerned for Janae’s future and her ability to navigate life in the adult world.” He read.

The jovial man looked up slowly from the manuscript to carefully gauge my reaction. Much to his bewilderment, he watched me bust into a gut splitting laughter… and then realize he was being completely serious.

How could any human forecast my demise when I was eleven years old? I remember being ordered to “Stand in the corner with my mouth open for fifteen minutes” or watch him roll his eyes when I shot a rubber band at Jason, the boy I had a crush on. But from my perspective, it all seems pretty common pre-teen craziness. It’s a good thing he wasn’t my teacher when I jumped out the class window on a beautiful Spring day in Junior High, so I could be out in the fresh air, or seen the time I switched my best friend seats in French class and swore we were the other person, for no less than fifteen minutes, until we were sent to the principles office. Or the time I mummified a cabbage patch doll with Amber, while studying the Egyptians, and decided to put the little bags of flour into the tail pipes of the teachers cars – only to have to sneak back out to retrieve them with a ruler because a smart boy told us, “That could kill someone”. Or the time I shoved a two-inch needle in a boy’s bum when he wouldn’t let my friend out of a rolled up chain link fence, because he’d caught her in kissing tag. Or the time I was laying out on the bleachers in my underwear during high school hours – or a million other random acts of teenager-ish things I did.

But he didn’t see me and I wasn’t caught, so how in the world could Mr. Kartchiner know that I would be a menace to society? No, I’m sure he really was way off-base. Because somehow, someway, after leaving my college experience over two decades ago, I’ve been accepted into the Utah Valley University, Utah Women Leadership Project with Dr. Madsen, in the Woodbury School of Business.

It’s highly possible they’ve picked my name on accident, but I’m going to run with it!

I will look a bit different walking into college tomorrow. I’ve gained a few pounds, a few grey hairs, and a few experiences that have prepared me with a different perspective from before. Life has prepared me to walk with confidence in being an older woman with many days under my belt and a lot of voice to share. My heart beats strong and my eyes are open. I’ve learned that I can be edified from anyone I spend time with, and that everyone has a background that can add to creation and collaboration. I’ve practiced being a little nicer to myself, and I now know that I don’t know it all – and I shouldn’t.

I will share my voice and listen to the other fifteen women in the program, and it will be beautiful. And if they order me to stand it the corner with my mouth open for fifteen minutes, I’ll be ready for it because I’ve already mastered that class.

Wish me luck.


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